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Graduation with Distinction in MCB

Graduating seniors in the MCB major, who have demonstrated excellence in research or academics may be considered for one of the following graduation awards, determined by the MCB Distinction Committee: "Distinction in MCB", "High Distinction in MCB", "Highest Distinction in MCB", or "Distinction for Academic Excellence". Students who qualify for both research distinction and academic distinction, must choose which honor they want to show on their official Illinois transcript and diploma. This decision should be emailed to tmknox@illinois.edu by the notification date listed below.

Click on each level of distinction below to reveal requirements for that level. Please pay close attention to deadlines as they are strictly enforced.

Distinction in MCB: (Click for more info)

To be eligible for graduation with Distinction in MCB a student must:
  • Complete a minimum of 3 semesters of MCB 290 for 2 credit hours or more each semester, in the same lab. Participation in any of the MCB sponsored Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships can be substituted for one semester of MCB 290.
  • Register for MCB 290 (or MCB 492, if submitting thesis for a grade only), for at least 2 credit hours, in their final semester. This can count as one of the 3 required semesters.
  • Maintain a minimum combined (overall) GPA of 3.25 at the end of penultimate semester (next to last semester).
  • Give at least one poster presentation or oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, MCB Undergraduate Research Symposium or other approved venue.
    • Student is expected to have presented on work from the lab they are currently working within the past 12 months. If they are graduating in May 2021 and presented April 1, 2020 through May 5, 2021, they can submit that poster or presentation.
    • If a student has applied for the Campus Undergraduate Research Symposium by March 12 (scheduled for April 26 - April 30), they can count that as their presentation for distinction consideration. However, a PDF of the poster or oral presentation will need to be submitted to the distinction committee by the earlier MCB deadline (below). Small edits can be made to the poster or oral presentation between the MCB deadline and the actual presentation, but it should be as close to finished as possible when submitted to the distinction committee.
  • Submit a PDF of their poster or oral presentation to the Distinction committee by the posted deadline. The poster or presentation must be submitted as a PDF. No other formats will be accepted. Please be sure you receive a confirmation email.
  • Obtain a letter of support from their Principal Investigator (faculty advisor).
  • Be free of academic integrity violations.
  • Note, completion of the above criteria does not guarantee that you will earn distinction. The committee will make a final determination based on the quality of the poster or presentation and the PI letter.

High Distinction for Excellence in Research: (Click for more info)

To be eligible for graduation with High Distinction a student must:
  • Complete a minimum of 2 semesters of MCB 290 for 2 credit hours or more each semester, in the same lab. Participation in any of the MCB sponsored Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships can be substituted for one semester of MCB 290.
  • Register for MCB 492, in their final semester, for 3 credit hours or more.
  • Maintain a minimum combined (overall) GPA of 3.25 at the end of penultimate semester (next to last semester).
  • Give at least one poster presentation or oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, MCB Undergraduate Research Symposium or other approved venue.
    • Student is expected to have presented on work from the lab they are currently working within the past 12 months. If they are graduating in May 2021 and presented April 1, 2020 through May 5, 2021, they can submit that poster or presentation.
    • If a student has applied for the Campus Undergraduate Research Symposium by March 12 (scheduled for April 26 - April 30), they can count that as their presentation for distinction consideration. However, a PDF of the poster or oral presentation will need to be submitted to the distinction committee by the earlier MCB deadline (below). Small edits can be made to the poster or oral presentation between the MCB deadline and the actual presentation, but it should be as close to finished as possible when submitted to the distinction committee.
  • Obtain a letter of support from their Principal Investigator (faculty advisor).
  • Submit a written thesis and PDF of poster (or presentation), according to these guidelines, by the posted deadline. The thesis and poster (or presentation) must be submitted as a PDF. No other formats will be accepted. Please be sure you receive a confirmation email.
  • Be free of academic integrity violations.
  • Note, completion of the above criteria does not guarantee that you will earn high distinction. The committee will assign an appropriate level of distinction based on the quality of the written thesis and the PI letter.

Highest Distinction for Excellence in Research: (Click for more info)

To be eligible for graduation with Highest Distinction a student must:
  • Complete 2 semesters of MCB 290 for 2 credit hours or more each semester, in the same lab. Participation in an MCB sponsored Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships can be substituted for one semester of MCB 290.
  • Register for MCB 492, in their final semester, for 3 credit hours or more.
  • Maintain a minimum combined (overall) GPA of 3.90 at the end of penultimate semester (next to last semester).
  • Give at least one poster presentation or oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, MCB Undergraduate Research Symposium or other approved venue.
    • Student is expected to have presented on work from the lab they are currently working within the past 12 months. If they are graduating in May 2021 and presented April 1, 2020 through May 5, 2021, they can submit that poster or presentation.
    • If a student has applied for the Campus Undergraduate Research Symposium by March 12 (scheduled for April 26 - April 30), they can count that as their presentation for distinction consideration. However, a PDF of the poster or oral presentation will need to be submitted to the distinction committee by the earlier MCB deadline (below). Small edits can be made to the poster or oral presentation between the MCB deadline and the actual presentation, but it should be as close to finished as possible when submitted to the distinction committee.
  • Obtain a letter of support from their Principal Investigator (faculty advisor).
  • Submit a written thesis and PDF of poster (or presentation), according to these guidelines, by the posted deadline. The thesis and poster (or presentation) must be submitted as a PDF. No other formats will be accepted. Please be sure you receive a confirmation email.
  • Be free of academic integrity violations.
  • Note, completion of the above criteria does not guarantee that you will earn highest distinction. The committee will assign an appropriate level of distinction based on the quality of the written thesis and the PI letter.

Distinction for Excellence in Academics: (Click for more info)

To be eligible for graduation with Academic Distinction a student must:

  • Achieve a combined (overall) major GPA of 3.90 or higher in the MCB major (biology, chemistry, physics and math courses for the MCB major) at the end of their penultimate semester (next to last semester).
  • Be free of academic integrity violations.
  • No forms are necessary for academic distinction. All students earning the appropriate GPA will be notified that they will be receiving academic distinction prior to graduation. If they are also eligible for research distinction, they will be asked to make a decision on which honor they wish to accept by the notification deadline listed below.

Please check with Tina Knox, Assistant Director for Advising and Recruitment, if you have any questions regarding Graduation with any form of Distinction.

Submitting Thesis for credit and grade in MCB 492 (no distinction): (Click for more info)

To earn a grade in MCB 492 a student must:
  • Complete 2 semesters of MCB 290 for 2 credit hours or more each semester, in the same lab. Participation in an MCB sponsored Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship can be substituted for one semester of MCB 290.
  • Register for MCB 492, in their final semester, for 3 credit hours or more.
  • Submit a written thesis, in PDF format according to these guidelines, online by the last day of classes during the semester you will be graduating. Note the thesis must be submitted in PDF format. No other formats will be accepted. Please be sure you receive a confirmation email.
  • Obtain a letter of support from their Principal Investigator (faculty advisor).

Guidelines for Senior Thesis Format (PDF)

The research thesis should be a formal report of your results and, therefore, should follow accepted professional standards. Your faculty research advisor should be a valuable resource for details. An acceptable thesis should describe research discoveries of sufficient quantity and quality to constitute a body of work that presents a problem, addresses that problem through specific and well-defined experimental approaches, and interprets the results in the context of the relevant research field.

Recognize that communication of your results is the final step in scientific research. Therefore, your thesis should be as clear as you can make it. A well-written, concise thesis should be understandable to researchers in allied fields as well as to specialists in your own field. The senior thesis is not a “paper,” so there are no hard-fast page limitations. Since this is an undergraduate senior thesis, it is not expected that students will have the same depth and level of accomplishment that might be found for a master’s or doctoral thesis, but the format is similar. An unduly long thesis is discouraged. The goal is to have a thorough, clearly written, yet concise presentation of your research project.

Note: the word and page guidelines, listed on the Guidelines for Senior Thesis Format, are only suggestions. You should write as much or as little as is necessary to provide appropriate, clear information to the committee. We expect that you are working with your PI on formatting and length suggestions, since each project is unique and may have different needs. You will not be penalized for writing more than is suggested, but you also will not be rewarded for doing this.

You are allowed to include a supplement if it is warranted, but it is not required.

The abstract can be longer than 150 words if need be. We would recommend staying under 250 to keep in line with the campus Undergraduate Research Symposium requirements.

It is important that your title page, font and margins meet the requirements. It should be double-spaced using a 12-point standard font with 1-inch margins. Include page numbers, in the center of the top or bottom page, on all but the title page.

Submission Deadlines for Graduation With Distinction and Senior Thesis

If you intend to submit a senior thesis for high or highest distinction consideration, be sure to confirm that your P.I. will turn in a letter of support by the thesis deposit deadline.

If you are writing a senior thesis for a grade or high or highest distinction consideration, you must be registered for MCB 492. Please watch for a link to our New Automated MCB 492 Request Form soon. Please be sure to register for the course by the campus add deadline.

Graduation Term
Deadline for High and Highest Distinction
Deadline for Distinction
Deadline for MCB 492 Grade Only
Tentative Notification Date
Spring 2021
Poster, thesis and letter, for High or Highest consideration, due March 12, 2021, 5pm
Poster and letter for distinction due March 12, 2021, 5pm
Thesis (for grade only) and PI letter for due May 5, 2021, 5pm
April 12, 2021
Summer 2021
Poster, thesis and letter, for High or Highest consideration, due July 12, 2021, 5pm
Poster and letter for distinction due July 12, 2021, 5pm
Thesis (for grade only) and PI letter due August 5, 2021 at 5pm
August 9, 2021
Fall 2021
Poster, thesis and letter, for High or Highest consideration, due October 22, 2021, 5:00pm
Poster and letter for distinction due October 22, 2021, 5:00pm
Thesis (for grade only) and PI letter due December 8, 2021, 5:00pm

December 17, 2021

Forms

Theses submitted after the deadline will not be considered for High or Highest Distinction. If you miss the deadline, but still wish to be considered for Distinction, you can submit a PDF of your poster by the Distinction deadline listed above. If you wish to simply receive credit and a letter grade in MCB 492, you may still write and submit a thesis by the last day of classes during the semester you will be graduating. A letter from your research advisor approving your poster and/or thesis must also be submitted by the last day of classes in your final semester. The letter of support can be uploaded at http://go.illinois.edu/recletter and should reference your P.I's opinion of your research performance, the quality of your thesis, and the specific contributions made by you and other laboratory members to your project. Your P.I. will be responsible for issuing your grade for MCB 492 in the Enterprise system prior to the university deadline for submitting final semester grades.

For additional questions regarding Senior Thesis and Graduation with Distinction please call 217-333-6774 or email tmknox@illinois.edu.