Department of Biology Honors Program


The Biology Department provides the opportunity for highly qualified students to graduate with Departmental Honors in Biology. In order to graduate with honors in Biology, the student must have at least:

  • 3.5 overall GPA;
  • GPA of at least 3.5 in the major (calculation includes cognate courses);
  • have completed a minimum of 9 sh of honors courses in Biology including BIO 4518 Honors Research (3 sh); and
  • BIO 4519 Biology Honors Thesis (3 sh). BIO 4519 will count as a student's Senior Capstone Experience.

Admission to the Biology Honors Program

Students must apply for admission to the Honors Track in Biology. Applications will be considered by the department's Honors Committee and the Director of the Biology Honors Track (Dr. Matt Estep).

Students are eligible to apply for admission into the Biology Honors Track if they

  1. have completed at least 45 sh of course work with a minimum of 15 sh at Appalachian State University;
  2. are majoring in one of the degree programs in the Department of Biology;
  3. have completed BIO 2400 or 2700 with a grade of B or better;
  4. have an overall GPA of at least 3.5 and a GPA of at least 3.5 in the major; and
  5. have a Biology faculty member who has agreed to direct the student's Honors Research (BIO 4518) and Biology Honors Thesis (BIO 4519).

Space in the track is limited, and not all students meeting the application criteria may be accepted into the track.

To apply, one must

  1. meet the above requirements;
  2. find a research advisor who is Biology faculty that agrees to serve as your advisor;
  3. fill out the attached application, including the research advisor's signature; and
  4. turn in the paperwork to Dr. Matt Estep (either drop off in Biology office or at Dr. Estep's office (RSN 306)).

Application for Honors Course Contract Credit 

Biology Honors Program Guidelines and Guidance

Biology Honors Program Application

Biology Honors Thesis Defense Guidelines

The student will schedule a public defense of the thesis prior to its final approval. Notice of the defense should be made at least two weeks prior to its date and a copy of the thesis will be given to the committee (Faculty Mentor and Second Reader) at that time for review. The thesis defense should be scheduled far enough in advance of the end of the semester to allow for any changes the committee will require after the defense.

The defense typically consists of a 20-30 minute presentation of the project/findings/creative demonstration, but longer defenses are not unusual, particularly in the case of performances.

Following the presentation the committee may invite the public to ask questions, or they may ask the public to wait until the committee has completed their examination.

Once the questioning and "defense" of the thesis has ended, the student and the public are excused so that the committee may deliberate on the outcome of the defense. The committee determines if the student has "passed" or "failed" the defense. The student is invited back and informed of the outcome.

Assuming a "pass," the student will then be instructed as to any remaining work, corrections, changes that the committee require before they accept the thesis in its final form.

The thesis Director alone is responsible for assigning a grade for the thesis, and this does not need to occur until grades are due at the end of the semester, thus allowing time for any changes the student must implement. If there are substantial changes required before a passing grade can be assigned, it is possible to assign an incomplete, though this will delay graduation.

Any questions about the program can be emailed to Dr. Matt Estep (