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Departmental Honors

The Biology Department faculty encourages students who wish to pursue a more rigorous course of undergraduate study to consider doing one of the two honors options at the University of Washington.
The first option is the University Honors program. Students choose from College Honors or Interdisciplinary Honors, which may or may not include Departmental Honors requirements. Honors Advising is located in 211 Mary Gates Hall.

Departmental Honors is for students who wish to satisfy honors requirements in their major only; they graduate "With Honors in Biology". These requirements are supplemental to the regular program of study required by the major in Biology.

Completing Departmental Honors Requirements: To graduate with Departmental Honors students must complete the following 4 requirements:

  • GPA:
    A UW cumulative GPA of 3.3 must be maintained for all courses taken for credit at the University. A departmental GPA of 3.4 for all supporting courses, math courses, and Introductory Biology courses as well as upper division courses must be maintained.
  • Ad-Hoc Honors Courses:
    Two honors courses, which should be 400-level BIOL, from among the required or elective courses taken to fulfill the upper division requirements for the appropriate track. To receive honors credit for a given course, please use the online honors form. Note: The deadline is 5pm on the first Friday of the quarter.
  • Seminars:
    All Biology honors students must take two different approved seminars. These must be participatory seminars and can be graded or C/NC. They typically require student participation, such as doing one of the presentations, leading discussions of research papers, etc. (Weekly lab meetings are NOT considered seminars but rather a part of the research experience.) Examples are BIOL 483, 484, 485, 486, 487, 488. Please see the honors adviser for approval of other seminars.
  • Undergraduate Research and Senior Paper:
    Doing Undergraduate Research is the centerpiece of the Biology Honors degree. It must extend over at least 3 academic quarters, and students should register for a total of 9 credits of 499, with a minimum of 2 credits in each quarter. This research will culminate in a senior paper and a presentation of that work in the Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held each May, or another venue (such as a national or regional meeting) acceptable to the faculty. Visit the Biology Advising office for suggestions on how to find an appropriate research project, either on or off campus.

Qualifying and signing up as a Biology Departmental Honors student:
Students may become departmental honors students once they complete the introductory biology series and are a declared Biology major. To sign up, please email our director of academic services, Janet Germeraad at

Honors Research Guidelines:
It is our goal to provide students an opportunity to experience the full and entire process of doing Biological Research. It is therefore crucial that they be involved in the framing of the project: defining the question, deciding on the exact starting point and the most appropriate techniques, etc. They should be involved not only in data gathering but in analysis of the data as well. It is expected that you will submit a short (one-page) research proposal, prepared in consultation with your PI (principal investigator) as well as your Biology honors adviser. Your research project must be approved by the department of biology using the Research Approval Form.

Research Paper and Presentation:
Upon completion of the research, you will write a paper, approved by your research supervisor, and then submit to Janet Germeraad for final approval. The paper should be in the standard scientific journal format.
The presentation of this work will usually be done at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, held each May in Mary Gates Hall. Other venues, such as regional or national scientific meetings will be approved on a case by case basis. In addition we encourage all honors students to present their work in lab meetings or a seminar.


Date last changed Jun 29th, 2023 @ 12:34:39 PDT