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Undergraduate Program

Independent Research

Biological Sciences 395 Courses

Our independent research courses allow undergraduates to gain research experience in the laboratories of biological science labs on the River Campus or at the Medical Center for academic credit during the fall and spring semesters.

Students have the ability to take this course for four, three, or two credits. Students in the four-credit course must work a minimum of ten hours per week (on average).

Students taking the course will need to:

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Find a Research Mentor

Before registering for the course, students will need to find a faculty mentor who works in their area of interest and will agree to instruct a research course. Once a research mentor is found, students will need to go through the process of registering the course within the first two weeks of the semester.

The research used in these courses must be rooted within the biological sciences and be non-clinical in nature. Although some scientific arguments may be inspired through clinical studies, we expect that the proposed research will yield data from experimentation that involves laboratory and/or computational methods for further analysis.

The research must be conducted under the supervision of a faculty research mentor who is a member of the University’s “teaching faculty”.

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Registration Requirements


The paperwork to register a biological sciences xxx 395 course, along with authorizing signatures from the instructor and academic advisor, must be submitted to the UPBM office for approval by the following dates:

  • Four-credit courses—due on the Friday of the first full week of semester
  • Three-credit courses—due the last Friday of the first month of the semester
  • Two-credit courses—due the second Friday of the second month of the semester

Please note that the deadlines for our independent study courses are different from those advertised on the CCAS Independent Study Form.

Late Paperwork

If the deadline for UPBM approval is missed, the course instructor will be required to email the UPBM office to confirm that the course has started prior to the submission deadlines and has been meeting regularly.

Registration Process

Step 1: Develop course description with research mentor

Before filling out any forms, meet with your course instructor and come to an agreement with respect to the following course details:

  • Course prefix (determined by where the course instructor is housed)
    • Common course prefixes:
      • BIO: Biology
      • BCH: Biophysics and Biochemistry
      • MBI: Microbiology and Immunology
      • NSC: Neuroscience
      • PHP: Pharmacology and Physiology
      • PTH: Pathology
      • IND: Interdepartmental (departments that are affiliated with the University, but that do not offer courses through the College or the School of Medicine and Dentistry)
  • Credits
  • Start date
  • Title (28 characters max including spaces)
  • Course objectives and learning outcomes (250 characters max)
  • Laboratory techniques* (250 characters max)
  • Criteria for how you will be graded (250 characters max)
  • Exposures to biohazards/note any safety training (250 characters max)
  • Obtain instructor’s permission code
    • If instructor does not know their permission code, please have them contact the Registrar’s Office
  • Please note that IPC codes are changed each semester

* Clinical research cannot be registered as a 395 course.

Step 2: Fill out the online CCAS Independent Study (IS) Form

Don’t submit; instead a printout is needed for signatures from major advisor and UPBM office.

  • Log on to the form with your UR NetID and password
  • Fill out the sections labeled:
    • Student Information
    • Course Information
    • Faculty Information
    • Special Petitions (if necessary)
  • Do not submit. Instead, print screen (see sample)
    • Use the printout to obtain the signatures from your major advisor and the UPBM office
  • Saving a screen shot or PDF of page is strongly advised

Step 3: Meet with major advisor to discuss course and possible applications to major

Students are required to meet with their academic advisor to discuss the nature of the project, cover the possible applications to their major, and obtain the advisor’s signature on the screen printout of the independent study form with the course information.

  • Undeclared majors should go to the academic advisor of their intended major for advisor signature
  • BA in biology majors may bring their forms directly to the UPBM Administrator for advisor approval

Step 4: Drop-off signed form to the UPBM office to obtain department chair approval and second IPC

Once signed by your advisor, submit the form to the UPBM office in Hutchison 488 for department chair approval. 

  • Turnaround should be expected within two to three business days of submission
  • The UPBM office will notify students by email when approval is granted as well as inform them of their next steps to completing the registration process

Step 5: Fill out and submit the Independent Study Form

Once approved, go back and refill out the CCAS Independent Study Form, adding the additional department chair information from the UPBM office, and then click “Submit” at the bottom of the page.

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Course Requirements

All 395 students are required to write and submit a final report. It is the student’s responsibility to compose and upload the report through Blackboard by the last day of exams of the current semester.

The final report is intended to be a summary of research done over the course of the semester. Length, content, and format of the final report are at the mentor’s discretion. Please note that even if the research produces inconclusive results or is unfinished, a summary reporting results thus far is still required.

A student will not be able to register for another research course until their final report has been handed in. Please be sure to put your name on the final report and upload it to Blackboard as a PDF.

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