Departmental Honors

Students are welcome to apply for our competitive advanced scholarship track, designed with a challenging curriculum that challenges you to find connections between theory and practice, and make a difference in the world through personal achievement and active engagement in society. 

The program culminates in a thesis project centering around an original investigation or topic of your choice. All students completing the Departmental Honors Program will graduate as Commonwealth Scholars with Departmental Honors.

How to Apply 

Students in the microbiology major must first apply online for admissions to the Commonwealth Honors College (CHS). Once accepted, contact Department Honors Director, Professor Kristen DeAngelis at or (413) 577-4669.

How to Prepare

Honors Research Guidance Committee 

Prior to applying for Departmental Honors, students are strongly encouraged to identify a Research Sponsor and laboratory in which you will conduct research for your honors thesis. With the assistance of your Research Sponsor, you should form an Honors Research Guidance Committee before the beginning of your senior year and arrange an informal introductory meeting to outline the planned research.
The Honors Research Guidance Committee will consist of your research sponsor, an additional faculty member, and an optional third member. At least one member must be a member of the Department of Microbiology. The Committee will meet periodically to review progress, with a final committee meeting held to evaluate the content and presentation of the Honors Project.


Students should register for Honors Research - MICROBIO 499Y (Fall Term) and Honors Project - MICROBIO 499P (Spring Term) of their senior year. Completion of this two-semester sequence will fulfill the Individually Contracted Honors Thesis or Project requirement of Commonwealth College. 

Microbiology Honors Courses

MICROBIO 391H - The Secret Lifestyle of Microorganisms, Honors Colloquium for Microbiology 310 or 311

A small group tutorial discussion taken with Microbio 310 or 311: the role of science in society combined with discussions of contemporary societal issues involving microbiology such as emerging infectious diseases and microbial biotechnology.

MICROBIO 396ISH - Honors Independent Study in Microbiology

Program participants will undertake an honors section of independent study (research) under the direction of their research sponsor. Beyond the normal expectations for independent study students in the department, the honors section may include preparation of a review of the scientific literature in the field of the research project.

MICROBIO 499Y - Honors Research 

Original microbiological research carried out under the direction of the research sponsor. The honors student will take an active role in the experimental design of the research project. While it is not expected that undergraduate honors student will be fully capable of initiating original research on their own it is hoped that participation in the design and implementation of a research project will help the student acquire the necessary skills to carry out independent research. 

MICROBIO 499P - Honors Project (Capstone Experience) 

The honors project consists of completing and presenting the original research undertaken. The presentation will include but not be limited to an abstract suitable for publication and a research summary in the form of a poster appropriate for presentation at a scientific meeting. A Departmental Poster Presentation Session will be held at the end of the semester. Honors students are also encouraged to present their results at local or national scientific meetings. Students must also complete the Manuscript requirement for CHC.