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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 graduating seniors who:

  • Achieve a GPA of greater than 3.6 for their first seven semesters of courses taken toward their major.
  • Remain in good standing in the College.
  • 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 Biology 3500 plus one summer of research in the Department's SURF/Amgen scholars program (all in the same laboratory)
    • 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) their calculated GPA for majors courses (all the courses required for the major, not just Biology courses). GPA can be calculated from the GPA Calculator. If you have taken more than the number of required courses, you may choose which ones to apply to include in your GPA calculation. However, you should tell us about any additional Bio courses that you took but did not include in the basic calculation.

2) their transcript (an unofficial transcript, printed from Student Services Online, is fine)

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 in English.

4) a recommendation for honors from their research supervisor,

These items should be received by the Departmental Office no later than the day after spring break of the student's eighth and final semester. If there are any questions, contact Jaya Santosh at, or the director of undergraduate studies, Dr. Deborah Mowshowitz, at

Not all seniors who qualify for honors necessarily receive them because only a fixed percentage of students in each department may receive honors.