Departmental Honors in Biology


Departmental Honors in Biology is a program designed to honor some of our best students who have achieved excellence both in the classroom and directed biological research. Departmental Honors in Biology are separate from the University Honors Program, although the research component for Departmental Honors may fulfill the research requirement for University Honors. Students are NOT required to be a member of the University Honors Program to complete Departmental Honors in Biology.

Criteria for acceptance into the Biology Departmental Honors Program:

  1. A minimum of five Biology courses completed at the time of graduation.
  2. Biology grade point average of 3.50 or higher at the time of graduation (Biology courses only will be calculated).
  3. Completion of a significant directed research project in the Biology Department. The research must be both independent and intensive, typically requiring one academic year or an intensive summer research program to complete. This research must be biological in focus and may occur at either Wittenberg or another academic institution and can be completed at any point during a student's college career.
  4. A Wittenberg Biology faculty member must serve as the Research advisor. If the project is completed off campus under the supervision of a non-Wittenberg faculty member, a Wittenberg faculty member will serve as a liaison Research Advisor. The student must also obtain a letter of evaluation from their off campus advisor upon completion of the project.
  5. Completion of the Biology Application Form during the senior year.

What research would not qualify for Departmental Honors?

  1. Research completed under supervision of Wittenberg faculty outside of the Biology Department.
  2. Projects completed at other institutions in programs outside of the biological sciences.
  3. Research that was generated as part of a class (Bahamas, Neurobiology, etc.).
  4. Library-based research in which no actual experimentation or direct observation was performed by the student.

What is the Process for completing Departmental Honors once I have been accepted into the program?

  1. Choose a Research Advisor for your directed research project. This person must be a faculty member in the department of Biology. The Research advisor will help you develop a project of appropriate scope and depth to qualify for departmental honors and oversee your research project.
  2. Choose two additional committee members. One committee member may be from outside the Biology Department. This committee supervises and periodically discusses the progress of the student's research and evaluates the end product.
  3. Write a comprehensive Honors Thesis based on your directed research project. The thesis must be in scientific format (abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion). Copies of the thesis will be distributed to each Honors Thesis Committee member and to the Biology Chairperson.
  4. Oral defense of the Honor's Thesis to the Honors Thesis Committee. This defense typically includes a 20-40 minute Power Point presentation of your paper to the committee and others in attendance.
  5. After satisfactory completion of the above criteria, the Honors Thesis Committee will recommend to the Biology Chairperson that Departmental Honors be conferred. The chairperson will then instruct the University Registrar to note "Departmental Honors in Biology" on the student's permanent transcript.

Coursework that may be affiliated with Biology or University Honors:

A student may, if desired, register for 1-5 hours of Biology 492: Directed Research per semester which may be applied to satisfy Biology major requirements. Students will be awarded a letter grade by the Research Advisor for the Directed Research course(s) based on the research efforts, the Honors Thesis, and the oral presentation.

If student is a member of the University Honors Program, he/she must register for Biology 499 (0-5 credits). For the first semester(s) of the research project, the student may register for Biology 494: Directed Research. During the last semester of the research project, the student must register for Biology 499 so that the Registrar's Office and the Honors Program can track students completing the research component of each honors program.

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