Departmental Honors


The Department of Biological Sciences offers a research-based Honors Program that is designed to recognize outstanding students who have demonstrated excellence in their academic studies in one of our Majors and who is conducting independent research either in one of our labs or an approved outside lab. Students are accepted into the program as sophomores or early juniors and details of the application process can be found below. Honors students then conduct several semesters of an Honors research project and the rigor of these endeavors are communicated by the writing of a honors thesis and by a presentation at a research symposium during their final semester.


The following criteria must be met to graduate with Honors in the Department of Biological Sciences:


  1. You must complete all of the usual requirements of a major in Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Computational Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Microbiology, or Molecular Biology.
  2. Your final GPA for Biological Sciences courses must be 3.25 or above.
  3. Your final overall GPA for the 120 credits needed for graduation must also be 3.25 or above.


Before applying, you would usually already be conducting research in a lab in Biological Sciences or in an outside lab such as in the Medical School and will have discussed your participation in this program with the PI of this lab. In your application you will provide an outline of the research project you propose to conduct for Honors and which has been approved by your PI. After being accepted into the program, you must complete 6 credits of BIOSC 1904, Honors Research, before the Spring semester of your final year.

Honors Thesis

In the Spring semester of your senior year you will write an Honors Thesis to document your research efforts. To help you do this you must take BIOSC 1905 in your final Spring semester. Your research mentor will also guide you through the thesis writing process. Your thesis will be reviewed and approved by the Departmental Honors Committee.

Poster Session

You must present your research project at at least one poster session.  Some options include: the annual Department of Biological Sciences poster session (spring), or a national conference in your field (supplemental funding may be available through Pitt's David C. Frederick Honors College).

Oral Presentation

You must present the results of your research orally, together with other Honors candidates, at a Departmental Honors Symposium held before the end of classes in the Spring Term.


Students who are interested in the challenge of this program, and have a current QPA of 3.25 or above, should apply for admission. The Departmental Honors Committee will review applications twice a year; applications must be submitted by November 30 to be accepted by the Spring Term and by March 30* to be accepted by the Fall Term. To ensure sufficient time to complete the required 6 credits of honors research, students must apply by the Fall semester of their junior year.

For further information about the Honors Program please visit the Biological Sciences Advising Office.