Graduating with Honors

Students in CLAS who major in biology, botany or zoology and who maintain an upper division GPA above 3.50 will graduate with honors (“cum laude“). Students can view their upper division GPA online via their ISIS degree audit.

Graduating with High or Highest Honors

Students in CLAS who major in biology, botany or zoology who wish to graduate with high honors (“magna cum laude“) or highest honors (“summa cum laude“) must have an upper division GPA of over 3.5 and must submit an approved undergraduate thesis. This thesis must report on original research conducted over at least two semesters of Individual Study/Research (with a total of at least 6  credit hours).

Any student who plans to submit a thesis must contact the Biology Undergraduate Coordinator before the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

The thesis should be submitted to the Department of Biology Undergraduate Coordinator and to the CLAS Academic Advising Center no less than four weeks before the end of the semester in which the student intends to graduate. Prior to this submission deadline, the student must give the thesis to the student’s faculty research mentor, whose obligation is to read and evaluate the work and thesis and assign a grade and an honors rating (High Honors or Highest Honors), based on the mentor’s assessment of its merit.

The thesis copy submitted to the Biology Undergraduate Coordinator must be in electronic format (preferably as a single PDF file) and should be submitted via email to Biology Major.

The Honors Program provides specific requirements for an honors thesis. Please note: CLAS Biology majors have the same requirements as Zoology majors.

Honors Thesis Guidelines

Please follow these guidelines when preparing your honors thesis:

  • You are submitting an undergraduate thesis in order to graduate magna cum laude (high honors) or summa cum laude (highest honors). For this purpose, the paper should reflect a high caliber of work.
  • If you are looking for help writing your thesis, the Honors Program recommends Conquering Your Undergraduate Thesis, by Nataly Kogan (available on or at your local bookstore). This book offers helpful and practical advice from fellow students and recent graduates. Another excellent resource is How to Write a BA Thesis: A Practical Guide from Your First Ideas to Your Finished Paper, by Charles Lipson (also available from
  • Please have your advisor review your thesis and honors thesis submission form for organization, content, grammar, and spelling before you submit it.
  • Your abstract should begin with a definitive statement of the problem or project treated by your thesis. The purpose, scope, and limit of the thesis should be clearly delineated. Then, as concisely as possible, describe research methods and design, major findings, the significance of your work (if appropriate), and conclusions. The abstract should be 100-200 words.
  • Although this will be unusual for biology students (e.g., only if you are working at the interface between science and art), you should describe process and production, indicating the forms of documentation on file as “thesis” materials if your thesis involves “creative” work such as original fine art, music, writing, theatre, film, or dance.
  • The Honors Thesis Submission Form must be completed with a typewriter or computer. Handwritten forms will not be accepted. You can download the Thesis Submission Form from here. It must be submitted to Linda O’Donnell, room 105 at the Academic Advising Center. Please ask about specific deadlines, but be prepared to do this by at least two weeks before the final due date (see below).
  • You must upload the final revision of your thesis to the Honors Program by May 4 for spring semester graduates, August 10 for summer graduates and December 21 for fall semester graduates. This can be done by completing the online title/abstract submission form available from here.