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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 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)Credits

    • Common course prefixes:
      • BIOL: Biology
      • BCH: Biophysics and Biochemistry
      • MBI: Microbiology and Immunology
      • NSCI: Neuroscience
      • PHP: Pharmacology and Physiology
      • PTH: Pathology
      • INTD: Interdepartmental (departments that are affiliated with the University, but that do not offer courses through the College or the School of Medicine and Dentistry)
  • 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)

* Clinical research cannot be registered as a 395 course. Clinical research is typically registered as a 391 course which does not need to go through the UPBM office.  Students should visit the online CCAS Independent Study Form to register a 391 course.

Step 2: Fill out online UPBM Pre-Registration Form

Two instructor’s permission codes (IPC) are needed to register biological science independent research (395) courses.  The first IPC is obtained through the faculty member who has agreed to instruct the course.  The second is received through the UPBM online pre-registration.  Submit the information from the course description (see above) and provide three dates and times should a meeting be required to further discuss the project.  The UPBM office will follow-up with the second IPC and further details complete the registration process.  

Step 3: Fill out and submit the CCAS Independent Study Form

Once approved, students will need to register the course with the college by filling out the online CCAS Independent Study Form, adding the additional department chair information from the UPBM office, and then click “Submit” at the bottom of the page.

Deadlines for Fall 2020

Fall 2020 Course Notice:  In-person independent studies will be allowed to resume this fall until Wednesday, November 25, 2020, when all courses must move to online course instruction.

Faculty planning to instruct research courses must work with their department chair to ensure their laboratories comply with physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Instructors of courses that need to start after the deadline will need to provide a brief explanation of contact hours to justify the number of credit hours the course is taken. Contact hours involve academic work and activities completed outside of the lab, including but not limited to, literature reviews, lab meetings, presentations, and final reports. Send letters of justification to the UPBM Directors' care of Marianne Arcoraci at email:

General guidelines dictate @10 contact hours per week for 4-credit courses. The deadline for students to submit pre-registration forms to obtain Departmental Chair approval so that classes may begin the following week is as follows:

4-credits: Friday, 08/28 - start week of 08/31
3-credits: Friday, 09/11 - start week of 09/14
2-credits: Friday, 10/09 - start week of 10/12

Students who take fewer then 4-credit hours may elect to start during the week of 8/31 and take fewer contact hours; however, please remember to submit paperwork before beginning.

Students with late paperwork and need to start later must have their instructors send an email with an explanation of planned contact hours to justify course credits to the UPBM Directors' care of Marianne Arcoraci at

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Final Reports Expectations of 395 and 395w Courses 

All Biological Science Independent Research Courses (395) students are required to write and submit a final scientific report to the Biology Department by the end of the semester.

The final report is expected to be a scientific paper that asks and attempts to answer a non-clinical scientific question through the research conducted throughout the semester.

The formatting, length, and grading of the paper are at the discretion of the supervising faculty.

Final reports of upper-level writing independent research courses are expected to undergo an additional set of edits and rewrites with their supervising faculty. Ideally, these revisions should be done incrementally throughout the semester for students to benefit from the writing experience.

Please note that students who plan to use independent research courses to satisfy upper-level writing requirements of UPBM majors will need to get their final report approved by their academic advisor. Students should specifically note their intentions to use the course for writing credit on their pre-registration form or talk with their advisors for further information.

Students with final reports that do not receive approval for writing credit for the major have a second opportunity to bring the writing up to standard through registering for BIO 396w Research Paper Writing in Biology in a subsequent semester.

Students must write final reports for independent research courses even when experimentation yields inconclusive results and for research courses registered for less than four credits.

Students will need to upload a copy of their final reports to Blackboard by the last day of exams. Access to Blackboard is set-up in the last month of the semester. Students unable to gain access should contact the UPBM Office.

Students who do not submit a final report will be unable to register for additional semesters of independent research.



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