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Departmental Honors in Research FAQs

Does a student need to apply to the Honors College to receive Departmental Honors in Research?
No. Admission to the Honors College is not required for participation in Departmental Honors in Research program.

Can a student take BIOL 499 and BIOL 497H in the same semester?
No. BIOL 497H is a third semester of research, with an extra scientific communication component added on top of the student’s research expectations.

Substituting BIOL 499/499L for the BIOL 497H requirement
Students may choose to substitute the BIOL 497H requirement with one additional semester of BIOL 499 (three semesters total), plus one semester of BIOL 499L. The final semester of BIOL 499 can be taken at the same time as BIOL 499L. BIOL 499L is a one-credit lecture course taught only in the Spring semester. Students complete their seminar and thesis requirements through BIOL 499L. The final BIOL 499L thesis must be emailed to the Honors Coordinator by the end of the Final Exam period.

Can a student take BIOL 499 and BIOL 499L in the same semester?
Yes, but to qualify for Departmental Honors, a student must do 3 semesters of research in a faculty mentor’s lab. A student must take either 3 semesters of BIOL 499, plus one semester BIOL 499L (BIOL 499L can be taken at the same time as the third BIOL 499); or 2 semesters of BIOL 499, plus one semester of BIOL 497H.

Can the Honors BIOL 499/497H sequence be used for the BIOL degree requirements?
Yes, but only for the BIOL BS degree. BS students can use two semesters of BIOL 499 and one semester of BIOL 497H as one of their upper level lab electives. Independent research cannot be used towards the BIOL BA electives.

Will departmental honors be documented anywhere in my student record?
Yes, students completing the Biology Honors program will receive a “Departmental Honors” notation on their transcript.

Do I receive any sort of certificate or cord after finishing the requirements?
Students who complete Departmental Honors program will receive a green cord to wear at Commencement. Students should receive an informational email from someone in the Biology Department a few weeks before Commencement. Please do not wait until the day of Commencement to pickup your cord. A “Departmental Honors” notation will also be placed on the student’s transcript.

How do I find seminars to attend for BIOL 497H and BIOL  499L? 
Students can find seminars across campus to attend. Biology Department seminars are held every Wednesday at noon in BS004. Eminent Speaker seminars are held on the first Thursday evening of every month. See a full list of these seminars posted on myUMBC. Seminar flyers will also be posted on the bulletin board outside the Biology Office (BS480).

Students can also attend biology-related seminars from other departments. Both the Chemistry Department and the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE) host seminars on Fridays at noon. The Geography and Environmental Systems (GES) Department holds their weekly seminar series the same time as the Biology seminars, Wednesdays at noon. The MARC U*STAR’s monthly seminars are held on Mondays at noon. If another department’s seminar is of more interest in a given week, and is biology-related, students are welcome to attend. If a student wishes to attend a seminar off-campus, they are welcome to do so as well, just ask Dr. Tamra Mendelson ( if it is appropriate.

How should I format my abstracts/summaries of the seminars I attend?
Seminar abstracts/summaries should be 1-2 pages in length. In the header of the abstract, please include the name of the presenter, the date of the seminar, the title of the presentation, and the venue/department sponsoring the event (e.g. Department of Biological Sciences, UMBC). If you attend a Biology Department seminar and need to look up the speaker/title of the seminar, you can check the department’s myUMBC Event page. The abstract/summary should be submitted as a PDF file to Nichole Zang Do at