Requirements for Honors

Honors in Biochemistry for Students working with Biology faculty 2013-2014


1.  Candidate must have a grade-point average equivalent to a "B" in all courses submitted for the major through the fall semester of the senior year.

2.  Candidate must regularly attend Biology/Chemistry seminars in consultation with your advisor, including participating in the Biology Senior Honors Seminar series.

3. Candidates must complete 2 semesters of Independent Study (at the 4000-level) devoted to research on a single topic.

4.  Candidates will submit a research description, including title, to the Biochemistry Committee.  The committee will assign reviewers based on this description.

5.  Candidates will submit a preliminary research paper (format varies by advisor) to the research advisor and reviewers.

6.  Each candidate will present a short, public talk describing his or her project in the Fall semester during Reading Period.
In January, students will be invited into the honors program by the Biochemistry faculty based on the review of their work and academic standing.

7.  Candidates will write an honors thesis; a polished draft of the thesis must be submitted well in advance of the final deadline.  This draft will be reviewed by the advisor and reviewers; the thesis must subsequently be revised to address all issues raised. Several iterations of revision may be required.

8.  Candidates will present their research orally.  These Final Honors Presentations will take place in a poster session at the end of the Spring semester during Reading Period.

9.  Candidates must prepare copies of the revised thesis according to the official requirements (which may be obtained from the Librarian). 


  • September 27** – Submit research description to the Biochemistry Committee via the Biochemistry Program Coordinator, Penny Westfall (
  • October 18 – Present poster at the Presidential Science Symposium (if you performed summer research at Bowdoin)
  • November 22** - Submit preliminary research paper to advisor.
  • December 6 - Submit revised preliminary research paper to reviewers.
  • Thursday, December 12 and Friday, December 13 - Fall semester oral presentations.

*See suggestions on back for setting additional fall deadlines with your advisor.

**Note that these deadlines are different from those for honors students in biology.


The Biochemistry program recommends that you talk with your advisor early in the fall semester about setting additional deadlines for your honors work. 

Such deadlines are particularly helpful for people who are more comfortable with more structure, who are inclined toward procrastination, or who find writing or reading the literature particularly challenging.  Such intermediate deadlines could also be helpful for the spring semester.

Possible intermediate deadlines you could set with your advisor include those for:

            Assembling an annotated bibliography of papers relevant to your project

            Writing an outline for your preliminary research paper

            Exchanging a draft of your paper with a fellow student for feedback

            Submitting a preliminary draft of your paper to your advisor


In order to have time for adequate evaluation and revision of the thesis, the following additional deadlines have been established in the spring semester:

  • April 4 - Final thesis title to Department Coordinator. 
    To be forwarded to the Publications Office for inclusion in the Commencement Program.
  • No later than April 18 - Thesis to advisor.
  • May 2 - Revised thesis to readers.
  • May 8-9 - Final poster presentation of thesis.
  • May 16 - Final Revised and approved thesis due to library 5:00 p.m. The student should continue to consult with all three faculty members until thesis is ready for final submission. The approval of each of the faculty readers is required before the thesis is submitted to the College Librarian.
  • May 23 - Two Copies of the Final Revised Thesis and one electronic copy are due to the Biochemistry Program Coordinator, Penny Westfall (

For a brief description of the fall preliminary research paper, please visit the “Biology requirements for Honors” web page