Welcome to the Honours Program website!


Program Requirements

The Honours program in Biology is designed expressly as a preparation for graduate studies and research, and provides students with an enriched training in biology and some research experience in a chosen area.

Applying to the Honours Program

1) Acceptance into the Honours program at the end of U2 requires a CGPA of 3.50 and approval of a 9- or 12-credit Independent Studies proposal (see listing of BIOL 479 and BIOL 480 for details). Students also complete a 4-credit Honours Seminar course, BIOL 499. For an Honours degree, a minimum CGPA of 3.50 at the time of graduation and adherence to the program as outlined below are the additional requirements.

2) Students must inform in writing (e.g. e-mail) the Honours Program Advisor about their intent to apply by June 1st.

3) The proposed supervisor must also inform the Honours Coordinator about their willingness to accommodate the student.

4) Students must complete an application form with an abstract describing the topic they wish to examine by September 1st. The abstract should be no longer than one page of single- spaced, 12-point text with one-inch margins. It should include: a title, a brief introduction to the research problem, a description of the proposed research project, and a list of cited references.

The abstract and application form will be submitted electronically to both the Honours Program Director and Honours Program Advisor:

Honours Program Director:
Dr. Gary Brouhard
Bellini Life Sciences Complex, Rm 267
e-mail:gary [dot] brouhard {at} mcgill [dot] ca
Honours Program Advisor:
Nancy Nelson
Stewart Biology Building, Room N7/9B
514-398-4109; e-mail nancy.nelson@mcgill.ca

5) Write up a proposal of your research project with the help of your Research Supervisor. The proposal, of no more than 5 pages (perhaps 3-5 typewritten pages) should contain:

a. an introduction (including key references)
b. a clear statement of the hypothesis(es) to be tested and/or an explanation of the research objective(s)
c. materials and methods
d. experimental design
e. analysis to be carried out
f. a list of cited references

The proposal must be submitted electronically to Honours Program Advisor by October 15th.

6) Your Research Supervisor and Honours Program Director may select one or two colleagues in the same research area to form your Supervisory Committee. They will review your Research Proposal and make final recommendations.

7) Professors on sabbatical should not accept students.

8) You will be notified of your acceptance into the Honours Program via e-mail.

9) You must remain registered as a MAJOR IN BIOLOGY until you are accepted into the Honours program. You may then switch to HONOURS on MINERVA. Make sure that you switch programs and register for the two courses [Honours Seminar Course [BIOL 499, (4 credits) - see details below] and an Honours Research Project [BIOL 479 (9 credits) or BIOL 480 (12 credits)] before the course add/drop deadline in early September.

  • The Molecular Seminar series is held Mondays from 4:00-5:00 pm, with a "meet the speaker" session from 5:00-6:00 pm.
  • The Organismal Seminar series is held Thursdays from 3:00-4:00 pm, with a "meet the speaker" session from 4:00-5:00 pm.
  • The scheduled seminars are listed on: http://biology.mcgill.ca/sem_events.html
  • Please plan your schedule accordingly for fall and winter of your Honours year.

10) The Honours program must be completed in a Fall/Winter academic year. A student may, however, return the following term to complete any missing complementary courses. 

NOTE: You will be notified about an Information session in September/October.

Honours Program Requirements (71-72 credits)

REQUIRED COURSES (32-33 credits)
BIOL 200
BIOL 201
BIOL 202
BIOL 205
BIOL 206
BIOL 215
BIOL 301
BIOL 373**
BIOL 499 D1
BIOL 499 D2
CHEM 212*

*If a student has already taken an equivalent statistics course, the credits can be made up with a 3-credit Biology complementary course.
**If a student has already taken CHEM 212 or its equivalent, the credits can be made up with a 3- or 4-credit complementary course to be approved by the Biology Advisor.

BIOL 479D1/D2 (9) Honours Research Project 1
BIOL 480D1/D2 (12) Honours Research Project 2

12 credits selected from:
BIOL 300
BIOL 303
BIOL 304
BIOL 306
BIOL 308

18 credits of Biology courses at the 300+ level if taking BIOL 479, and 15 credits if taking BIOL 480. With permission of the Biology Advisor, up to 6 credits may be taken from other Science department courses (300+-level). Up to 6 credits of previous independent research courses may be included.

First Class Honours will be awarded to successful Honours students completing their degree with a CGPA of 3.75 or greater.

Honours Courses

The following two requirements are open only to Honours students:

Honours Independent Studies BIOL 479 (9 credits) OR BIOL 480 (12 credits)

  • You may begin research work during the summer before being officially accepted as an Honours student with permission from the Honours Program Advisor and your Supervisor.
  • At the end of the Fall term or beginning of the Winter term, you must sit down with your supervisor to review your research accomplishments during the fall semester and what needs to be done in the Winter term, and to discuss any feedback that might help to keep the project on track. The associated “Mid-Year Progress Review” form must be submitted to the Honours Program Coordinator and Advisor by January 15.
    >> Download Mid-Year Progress Review form [Word format] [PDF format]
  • Your research should be finished within a year. Feel free to consult your Supervisory Committee for guidance; they are there to help you. See also "Guidelines for Independent Studies", available at http://biology.mcgill.ca/undergrad/res_opps.html.
  • Your Honours Independent Studies Research Project must be written up in the form of a thesis. The thesis should be 20 double-spaced typewritten pages or more. Consult your supervisor for the exact style to follow. Your Honours Thesis must be submitted electronically to the coordinator, your supervisor and all members of your supervisory committee by the last day of classes of the Winter term. Once submitted, no changes or additions can be made.

Honours Seminars in Biology BIOL 499 (4 credits)

      This course has two components:
    1. Attendance at 6 seminars selected from the research seminar series organized by the Biology Department Seminar Committee; 3 will be with the Cell and Molecular Biology series and 3 from the Organismal series. Students will meet with the visiting speakers after the seminars and participate in a round table discussion about their research. You must submit electronic reports on all of the 6 seminars to Dr. Gary Brouhard (Bellini 267). The final grade will be based on the best 5 reports.
    2. You will be required to make an oral presentation of your Honours thesis to peers and Academic staff of the department at the Honours Symposium held in March or April. (1 credit)

Research Interests of Biology Professors

There is a list of full-time and affiliated Academic Staff with a brief summary of their research interests in the Biology Department's Web page at http://biology.mcgill.ca/faculty.html.

McGill Undergraduate Research Journal

Call for Undergraduate Papers in Science!

The McGill Undergraduate Research Journal (MSURJ) exists to encourage, publish, and promote undergraduate science research at McGill University. Submissions are welcomed from any student or collaborative team, including honours thesis work, independent studies, research assistanceships, summer research positions, and on-going projects.

Undergraduates in any department, school, or program in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to consider submitting their own, original research as an article for mSURJ. Students can state that they have been published in a peer-review journal. Additionally, undergraduates are welcome to apply as a member of our editorial board.

MSURJ is a broad scientific journal, and each issue is the product of a careful peer-review process. Our guidelines describe the entire journal framework, and provide authors, editors, and the public with all relevant information to get involved.

For more information, please visit the MSURJ website.

Last update: June 5, 2018