The School of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Undergraduate Instructional Program

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Undergraduate Honors Concentration Frequently Asked Questions

What are the required honors discussion sections?

There are five Honors Discussion sections: MCB 297 A, B, C and MCB 298 A, B. Each set must be taken in sequence. Ideally, 297 and 298 A are taken in the same semester as MCB 250 and 251; 297 and 298 B are taken in the same semester as 252 and 253; and 297 C is taken in the same semester as 354. However, exceptions may be possible due to a later start in the Concentration or scheduling issues. In addition to providing direct interaction with faculty, honors sections are designed to develop skills in reading and critiquing primary scientific literature, analytical thinking and problem solving, oral and written communication, teamwork and creativity. Students will also enroll in a regular discussion or lab section for the Core course. In most semesters, the regular section will be a designated honors section in order for all Honors Concentration students to be in a discussion or lab section together.

Do I have to take all of the honors discussion sections?

All five of the Honors Discussion sections (297 A, B, C and 298 A, B) must be taken in order to complete the Concentration. All five sections will be offered in each semester (unless enrollments are critically low) so students should have plenty of opportunities to complete the sequence. However, students who interrupt the sequence to priorize other classes are not guaranteed a seat in a subsequent semester. Students completing the series without interruptions may be given priority over students who delay taking the sections. Special scheduling issues should be discussed with the Honors Coordinator to determine if accommodations are possible.

When should I apply to the MCB Honors Concentration?

Ideally, students should apply during the semester immediately prior to taking MCB 250 and 251. Typically, MCB majors take MCB 150 and IB 150 during their freshmen year and MCB 250 and 251 during the Fall semester of their sophomore year. Thus, the typical student would apply for the Honors Concentration during the Spring semester of their freshmen year. Students who choose to use their AP Biology credit for IB 150 and thus plan to start MCB 250/251 in the Spring of their freshmen year should discuss their situation with the Honors Coordinator. We do not accept applications during the Fall semester from freshmen who intend to take MCB 250/251 in the spring. Such students can apply in the Fall of their sophomore year and take the Honors Discussion sections off-set from the Core courses.

I haven't finished my General Chemistry sequence (I'm still taking CHEM 104), can I still apply?

The instructors of MCB 250 have established that one year of general chemistry (Chem 102 and 104) is a prerequisite for enrollment in MCB 250 and they also strongly recommend one semester or concurrent enrollment in organic chemistry. Students who have not completed CHEM 102 and 104, or the equivalent, will berequired to complete their general chemistry sequence as a prerequisite for acceptance in the Honors Concentration. If you have not taken CHEM 104, but have taken or are currently enrolled in MCB 150, you may have a choice, depending upon which semester you are applying.You may plan to take CHEM 104 in the next semester and delay your next set of Biology courses (MCB 250/251) for another semester. If you choose this option, you can simply wait to apply to the Honors Concentration until the semester immediately prior to taking MCB 250/251. Alternatively, if you are taking CHEM 102 in a Spring semester, you may choose toapply to the Concentration that semester, without having taken CHEM 104. If you are accepted, your acceptance will be contingent upon completing CHEM 104 over the summer session (generally with a grade of B or better).

My current major is not MCB, can I still apply to the Honors Concentration?

The MCB Honors Concentration is open only to MCB majors; however, you can declare your change of major after being accepted to the Honors Concentration.Typically, freshmen Biology applicants are still officially "Biology Unassigned" and will not have declared their final major before applying for the Honors Concentration. Students who are planning to complete a double major are still eligible and should discuss their circumstances with the Honors Coordinator. Students who are not Biology or MCB majors must complete MCB 150 or the equivalent transfer or proficiency credit (AP credit is not sufficient for non-Biology majors) before they can transfer to the Honors Concentration.

I'm already enrolled in (or have already completed) MCB 250 and/or 251 and I just found out about the Honors Concentration. Can I still apply?

Yes! We offer the option of taking the Honors Discussion sections off-set from the Core courses. Please consult the Honors Coordinator about your situation.

I am a transfer student and I just found out about the Honors Concentration. Can I still apply?

Yes! If you have not yet enrolled in MCB 250 and 251, you can apply to the Honors Concentration. If you have already taken, are currently enrolled in, or have transfer credit for these classes, you may be still able to complete the requirements of the Honors Concentration (see above).

Is the MCB Honors Concentration compatible with the James Scholars program?

Yes. Honors sections in the MCB Core (250, 251, 252, 253, 354) also qualify for James Scholar credit. Also, if you complete an HCLA in an advanced MCB course as one of your Advanced Honors courses, that course will also count for James Scholar credit.

If I'm planning to graduate in three years instead of four, can I still complete the Honors Concentration?

Typically, we recommend that students consider carefully why they wish to graduate early. If you are able to complete the basic requirements of your major in a shorter period of time, perhaps you can use the extra time in your schedule to broaden your undergraduate experience; for example, complete a second major or minor, study abroad, have a more intensive undergraduate research experience, complete a Leadership program, or just take more electives. All of these things will give you more experience and make you a stronger candidate for graduate or professional school. That said, if you still want or need to graduate early, you can still apply to the Honors Concentration. You may have to work harder to complete the requirements in the shorter time frame, but it is possible to do so.

Are Honors Discussion sections offered over the summer?

While some of the MCB Core courses are taught during the summer session, we do not offer Honors Discussion sections in the summer. Students in the Honors Concentration must take the Honors Discussion courses during the regular Fall and Spring semesters.

Can I do my undergraduate research outside of MCB (e.g., IB 390) and still have it count for the Honors Concentration?

It is permissible to do undergraduate research with a faculty member who is not in MCB. However, the research must be related to molecular or cellular biology in some way and you must get special permission from the Undergraduate Curriculum office in 252 Davenport prior to registering. Also, the research must be conducted under the MCB 290 rubric and the 252 Davenport office staff can help you file the paperwork for this.

What are my choices for the four Advanced Honors Courses?

Choices for the Advanced Honors Courses are listed on the main Honors web-page.

These choices are meant to be flexible and are designed to prepare students for a continuing career in science by providing experiences in preparation for graduate and/or professional school. This includes in depth study in advanced courses, independent scientific research, written and oral presentation of independent research, and cultural expansion and experiential learning via a discipline-specific study abroad experience.

Can I choose to complete the Advanced Honors Courses by doing only research or only advanced course-work?

In order to broaden their Honors experience, students must choose a minimum of three different courses from the choices listed.Only undergraduate research (MCB 290) and the special topics rubric (MCB 493) can be repeated (up to two times each).Only certain offerings of MCB 493 are eligible for Advanced Honors credit.Please see the Honors Coordinator for more information.

For More Information:

Dr. Shawna Naidu
Coordinator, MCB Honors Concentration
165A Burrill Hall
(217) 333-6774
shawna@illinois.edu

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