More information & required forms available via the Harvard Life Sciences Website.
For Thesis Honors, you need to:
- Write a thesis. Theses are due the Friday before Spring Break.
- Register for two semesters of HEB 99: 99a in Fall Semester, and 99b in Spring Semester. This is a supervised thesis research/reading/writing course with your Thesis Advisor.
- After completion of thesis, participate in a conference with thesis evaluators. This conference is not graded, but intended to provide the evaluators with additional context when evaluating your written thesis document.
For Non-Thesis Honors (NTH), you need to:
- Know that the NTH option is not open to joint or MBB track concentrators, and there are no Highest Honors awarded with this option.
- Take two advisor-approved, upper-level courses.
- You can receive Latin honors, which appears on your diploma, two ways. A "degree with honors in a field" is the most common. For this option, you need to be awarded honors by your department, and your cumulative GPA has to be high enough for the university to award you honors. Only a small percentage of students with the highest GPAs will receive honors from the university if they do not pursue honors in their field.
- Latin honors, awarded by the university, are as follows: cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude. English honors, appearing on your transcript and awarded by your department, are: Honors, High Honors, and Highest Honors.
- To be eligible for a degree summa cum laude in a Field, e.g., you must a) receive Highest Honors within your department, and b) your cumulative GPA must be above the University’s cutoff for a summa degree. If your cumulative GPA is above the cutoff for summa, but your department awards High Honors (rather than Highest), you would be eligible for only for magna or cum from the University. Alternatively, if your cumulative GPA does not surpass the cutoff for summa, but your department awards Highest Honors, you are still only eligible for magna or cum. In other words, the department sets the limit on the highest level of Latin honors you can receive, and in order to receive any Latin Honors in a Field, you must be awarded English honors in your department.
Thesis and Non-thesis honors determinations:
- Thesis: a score is calculated based on the grade for your thesis and your concentration GPA. This determines the departmental English honors recommendation (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors).
- Non-thesis: Your concentration GPA determines the departmental English honors recommendation (Honors, High Honors, but NOT Highest Honors).
See the Registrar’s website for more information:
- Summa cum laude in field: recommended for Highest Honors by concentration; outstanding overall; 4-5% of class. 2020 cutoff was 3.956.
- Magna cum laude in field: recommended for Highest Honors or High Honors by concentration; highest overall GPAs not recommended for summa; summa + magna = 20% of class. 2020 cutoff was 3.853.
- Cum laude in field: recommended for Highest, High, or Honors by concentration; highest overall GPAs not recommended for summa or magna; summa, magna, + cum laude = 50% of class. 2020 cutoff was 3.655.
How do I decide?
- Did you like your research seminar/91r?
- Have you enjoyed working with a professor in the department?
- What was the most interesting part of your coursework so far?
- Consider your cumulative GPA—is it high enough to graduate with Latin honors, if the department recommends you? You may want to pursue a thesis or non-thesis honors even if you are pretty sure you won’t graduate with honors.
How can I learn more?
- Talk with your concentration advisors or other students who are pursuing honors to get more information about the experience.
- Take another 91r.
- Work in a lab (term time or summer; don’t forget faculty aide option).
- Look through recent papers (e.g. PubMed).
- Approach faculty members early!
- Funding for Life Sciences research
- Harvard College's Funding Sources Database. Search on keywords, concentrations, location, purpose of activity, and much
- The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URAF) has many opportunities, and advice about Funding Considerations
- The Student Employment Office — HCRP, Dean’s summer awards, etc. Dean's Summer Awards have an early April deadline
- FAS Research Administration Services’ Funding Opportunity Databases
- Explorers Club Student Grants — Deadline: Mid February
- Sigma Xi Grants in Aid of Research — Two Deadlines: Mid March, Mid October.
Declaring non-thesis honors: Complete this declaration form (Qualtrics link) prior to the course enrollment deadline. For information on qualified upper level (UL) courses, please see the HEB course page or qualifying courses list.