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Honors Program

Honors Thesis Policy

To maintain a consistent and high standard for the honors thesis, the writing of an honors thesis and the work that contributes to it will adhere to the following policy:

1. Honors students are expected to base the writing of the thesis on a body of substantial laboratory research. Only under exceptional circumstances and with the advance approval of the Department Head will a literature-based thesis be deemed acceptable.

2. Any Schreyer Scholar engaged in thesis research with a BMB Department faculty member or BMMB graduate faculty member is eligible for receiving their honors degree from the BMB Department. Schreyer Scholars meeting this criterion but who are not majors in BMB, BIOTC or MICRB will be assigned a BMB Honors Advisor.

3. Schreyer Scholars can also choose to do research with someone other than a BMB Department faculty member or BMMB graduate faculty member. However, a Scholar must seek approval of the project prior to the start of the thesis research. Only faculty members located at the University Park campus will be considered eligible mentors. Research not administered under the guidance of faculty located on the University Park campus will not be considered for approval. To obtain approval for a project, the Schreyer Scholar must submit a petition to the BMB departmental office that contains the following:

  • A statement from the Schreyer Scholar that describes how the proposed thesis research will use molecular approaches to address a biological problem.
  • A statement from the faculty mentoring the project that briefly outlines the project. The faculty mentor will perform duties expected of a BMB thesis advisor as described in this policy.

The BMB honors advisor will serve as the representative of the BMB department and will ensure that the final thesis meets the standard sufficient to warrant receiving honors in BMB.

4. In cases where the Thesis Advisor is also the Honors Advisor, the student must obtain another Honors Advisor to serve in evaluating the thesis.

5. In order to focus their thinking and complete the literature search in a timely fashion, students are strongly encouraged to prepare a draft of the thesis introduction at least three months before the final submission date. This should be submitted only to the thesis advisor for approval.

6. A rough draft of the thesis must be submitted to the BMB Thesis Draft Submission Portal – Thesis Advisor by the Monday of week 10 of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. The Thesis Advisor will complete the online Thesis Draft Evaluation form to provide Scholar with feedback. Scholar will receive a copy of Thesis Draft Evaluation form to aid in revising thesis draft. Scholar will submit a revised draft to the Honors Advisor/Second Reader via the BMB Thesis Draft Submission Portal – Honors Advisor/Second Reader. Thesis will be forwarded to the BMB Honors Advisor & Second Reader (if applicable) for review, who will then also provide an evaluation of the thesis via the online Thesis Draft Evaluation form. No signatures are required for the rough draft. Scholar will receive a copy of Thesis Draft Evaluation form to aid in final revisions of the thesis.

Students should receive their evaluations 1-week after submitting their thesis to the BMB Thesis Draft Submission Portals. If the student has not received their thesis draft evaluations within the 1-week timeframe, students should contact their advisors to recover the draft and comments.


7. Deadlines established by the Department are rigorously enforced. Deadlines for the thesis itself, as well as for the various forms/reports of the program, are established to encourage timely progress on the research project. The exact deadlines for each semester will be provided by the Department office. The following summarizes when these deadlines occur:

  • 4 weeks before the Honors thesis submission deadline: Submit thesis draft and Thesis Draft Evaluation form to the department office. The Evaluation form should have the thesis advisor's approval.
  • 3 weeks before the Honors thesis submission deadline: Student should retrieve the thesis and comments from the Honors advisor, complete the writing of the thesis and return the final draft to the Honors Advisor for the Honors Advisor's final approval.
  • Before the Schreyer honors thesis deadline: Submit to the Scholars office the final thesis with all necessary signatures.

8. BMB, BIOTC and MICRB majors who choose not to receive honors in the BMB Department are not bound by this policy. Such students are advised to become familiar with the relevant policies established by the external department.

9. Students working on an honors thesis are expected to adhere to the guidelines for selecting a Thesis Advisor as outlined in the Policy for arranging 496 - independent research in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

10. In order for the student to receive an honors degree from the BMB Department, the thesis must be deemed acceptable. A thesis will be deemed unacceptable when either the Thesis Advisor or Honors Advisor fails to approve the thesis.  In this case, the student can choose to:

  • A. graduate without honors.


  • B. defer graduating with honors until the deficiency is rectified. This could involve rewriting the thesis or continuing laboratory work beyond the end of the semester. If the thesis is then approved, graduation with honors would occur at the end of the following semester.