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Honors in Microbiology Guidelines

Requirements for Honors in Biological Sciences-Microbiology

An honors option is offered to selected students who have completed the required 300-level microbiology courses. In addition to the requirements for the biological sciences major – microbiology concentration, an honors option requires: 

  • A minimum GPA of 3.3 in microbiology concentration courses.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.25 for all UTK courses (this is a University requirement for an honors degree).
  • Completion of two semesters of independent research taken as MICR 401 and MICR 402.
  • An honors thesis based on the independent research project undertaken during MICR 401 and MICR 402.
  • Twelve hours of honors coursework which must include at least 6 hours of 400-level microbiology courses via honors-by-contract. Neither MICR 401 nor MICR 402 can be taken as honors-by-contract.

Guidelines for MICR 401, 402 & the Honor’s Thesis

Students enrolling in MICR 401 and 402 are expected to conduct scientific research in the laboratory of a Microbiology faculty member or a scientist from another UT unit outside the Department upon approval by the Department Head or Director of Undergraduate Studies (see paragraph below for guidelines).  The goal of the research experience is to expose the student to the scientific method and process.  An ideal research project will provide students with the opportunity to actively engage in scientific methodologies and would include both experimental and/or observational data analysis and intellectual aspects of question-driven research.  Students should not serve as simply a pair of hands for another researcher. Specific criteria for the research experience are determined by the faculty research advisor and may include the following in addition to the research project: (a) attendance at group meetings, (b) maintenance of a research notebook, (c) conference presentations, (d) written summary of the research performed.  As a general rule of thumb, students are expected to spend at least 10 hrs/week for 3 credit hours and at least 15 hrs/week for 4 credit hours over a 15-week period on activities related to this research experience.

The final grade the student receives for the Honor’s Thesis will be determined by the Research Faculty Advisor based on the student’s performance on the project and the completed Honor’s thesis.  

The Honors Thesis should follow the standard form of a scientific research report. The minimum length of the Thesis is 12 pages, not including data appendices and reference lists, but most theses exceed 20 pages. The Thesis should be 12-point font, 1-inch margins with 1.5 line spacing. The department has developed a template for the final thesis, however, students should seek specific guidance regarding the content and organization of the Thesis from their Research Advisor.  Guidelines for sections are highlighted in yellow and should not appear in the final document.

The final thesis, including approval signatures, should be submitted as a single PDF to the student’s Research Advisor, the Departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies (abuchan@utk.edu) no later than the last day of classes during the semester the student is enrolled in MICR 402.


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