Honours Programs

The goal of the Honours program is to provide experience conducting independent research. At the end of the honours program you will have written and defended a research based thesis. The program allows you to earn credit for research based work.

Through the Honours program you will

  • make new discoveries
  • apply the knowledge you learn in lectures
  • discover if a career in research is for you
  • work in an environment that promotes independence
  • participate in research that interests you
  • work in an intellectually stimulating and dynamic environment
  • gain a competitive advantage for future employment
  • gain a competitive advantage for entrance into graduate school and some professional programs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the difference between the Biology BSc and Biology BSc Honours Programs?
While both programs are 120 credit hours in total, the credit hour allocations are slightly different:
  • Biology BSc Hons students take an additional 9 credit hours of BIOL courses (at the 300-/400-level) compared to Biology BSc students, with 9 credit hours fewer electives
  • two of the additional BIOL courses are BIOL 498 and BIOL 499 (these are the Honours research courses), and are typically taken in consecutive semesters, but may also be taken concurrently
Note: for the Environmental Biology BSc programs ("2+2" programs with other institutions), the BSc Hons program requires additional credit hours compared to the BSc program.
How do I apply to be an Honours student?

To enroll into the Honours Program, you should...

  • be entering 4th year, or be somewhat close to entering 4th year, at the time of application;
  • have found a supervisor (a Biology Dept. faculty member, or associate or adjunct member) for your research project (BIOL 498 and 499); please plan on contacting potential supervisors well ahead of time;
  • apply for entry using this Honours/BIOL 498 Application Form (download the form in order to fill it out);
  • apply early; don't leave it to the last minute
How do I graduate with a BSc Honours in Biology?

To graduate with a BSc Honours in Biology, you must...

  • have completed the same total credit hours as the Biology BSc, but have taken three additional biology courses (9 credit hours) - two of the additional courses must be BIOL 498 (Thesis Research I) and BIOL 499 (Thesis Research II);
  • and have an overall grade point average average (Program GPA) of at least 70%, and at least 75% for the Major GPA (Biology courses and the non-Biology Science courses required as part of the degree program)
Can I do an independent research class without being an Honours student?


BIOL 498 (Thesis Research I) and 499 (Thesis Research II) may also be taken outside of the Honours program (i.e. they are not restricted to Honours students) and will count as 300-/400-level BIOL courses (but just as with the Honours program, you still need to find a research supervisor).

On the other hand, if you are looking for a one-semester research course, consider taking BIOL 396 (Independent Research in Biology).

If I am a Chemistry/Biochemistry Major, can I register for the Honours Program through Biology?
Chemistry/Biochemistry students must register for the Honours Program offered by their own department.
Can Biology faculty supervise a Chemistry/Biochemistry Honours?
Biology faculty and academic staff members are not eligible to supervise Chemistry/Biochemistry Honours.  

More information

For more information please see our Honours Program Guide, or e-mail the Honours Coordinator, Chris Somers.