Honors in Biological Sciences

Current Students

The Faculty of the College awards honors at graduation to a small fraction of seniors who excel in their major. In the Biological Sciences Department, honors will be recommended for CC & GS graduating seniors who:

  • Achieve a GPA of greater than 3.6 for their first seven semesters of courses taken toward their major. (See below for requirements for transfer students). 
  • Remain in good standing in the College or GS.
  • Carry out supervised but independent laboratory research before graduation. The research must be done at Columbia or must be supervised by a Columbia faculty member, and it must culminate in the writing of a research paper (published or not). Research required for honors must be completed before graduation; one semester of the research must be completed by the end of the seventh semester. The intensive research requirement can be met by any one of the following:
    • Two semesters of Biology 3500
    • One semester of SURF
    • A project lab (that culminates in a paper).

To apply for honors at graduation, students should be sure to submit to the Department Office located in 600 Fairchild:

  1. 3 GPAs: each GPAs should be calculated using the GPA Calculator (submit all 3 versions of this calculation).
    1. Version 1: Include all required courses for your major. However, if you took more science electives than required for the major you may choose which ones to include in this GPA calculation.  Note: This GPA must be 3.6 or higher
    2. Version 2: Include all science classes not included in the first GPA calculation.
    3. Version 3: Include all science classes (includes all classes in version 1 & 2)
  2. Their official transcript
  3. A copy of the final paper prepared for their Independent Research course or the equivalent; plus a one-page double-spaced summary of their results written so that another CU student that took introductory biology at CU would understand the research question and the findings (it should be clear what findings, if any, were obtained by the student). 
  4. A recommendation for honors from their research supervisor 

Hardcopies of all materials should be received (except a PDF of the article which should be emailed to mes2314@columbia.edu) by the 600 Fairchild Departmental Office no later than the day before spring break of the student's eighth and final semester. If there are any questions, contact Ellie Siddens at mes2314@columbia.edu, or the director of undergraduate studies, Dr. Deborah Mowshowitz, at dbm2@columbia.edu.

Note: Not all seniors who qualify for honors necessarily receive them because only a fixed percentage of students in each department may receive honors. Preference will be given to students that have done more than the minimal major requirements.

Transfer students: You must achieve a GPA of greater than 3.6 for all courses taken at Columbia toward your major. You do not need to take seven semesters of courses at Columbia but you should have completed at least four classes in biology at Columbia before applying for honors. The deadline for submission of these materials will be spring break of the academic year you are graduating.

Business Office

Department of Biological Sciences
500 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2401
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Academic Office

Department of Biological Sciences
600 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2402
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
212 854-4581