Independent Research (BIOL 395/ 395w) Course Rules and Regulations


The Differences Between Independent Research BIOL 395/W (Non-Clinical) and Independent Study 391/W (Clinical)

Research involving clinical trials and patient studies falls under a different classification of independent studies, and students need to follow a different process to register for these types of courses.

 Independent studies should be registered under the 391-course number instead of the 395-course number. Visit the CCAS Handbook for Independent Studies for more information on policies and instructions on how to register.

Please note that students are not required to use this form to register for a 391. Additionally, approval from the Bio Department UG Office is not required for 391 courses. Intending biology majors should be aware that 391 courses do not apply to biological science tracks and should consult their advisor for further clarification if necessary.



All biology independent research courses will be registered under the same course prefix and title, "BIOL 395 or 395w Independent Research". Students and faculty are not required to enter different titles and course prefixes.



  • Per Semester: Students can only take one four-credit Independent Studies course per semester.
  • Per Instructor: Students can take no more than eight credits of independent research with the same instructor unless approved.

Students can register for independent study courses for .05, 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits. Time commitment is dependent on the number of credit hours. See the graph below for an idea of when to start the course. 

Contact hours involve lab time, academic work, and activities spent outside the lab. Including but not limited to literature reviews, lab meetings, presentations, and final reports

Students may use different start dates if they invest an equivalent amount of work over a different time. See University of Rochester - Credit Hours Policy and Compliance for more information.

  • 4 credit hours:  180 hours, 15 weeks, 12 hours/week start@09/09/2022 
  • 3 credit hours:  135 hours, 13 weeks, 10 hours/week start@09/23/2022
  • 2 credit hours:    90 hours, 09 weeks, 10 hours/week start@11/04/2022
  • 1 credit hour:      45 hours, 04 weeks, 10 hours/week start@11/25/2022

 *May use different start dates as long as student invests an equivalent amount of work over a different period of time



The BIOL 395 / 395W Registration Form needs to be submitted and approved by the students instructor by the last day of the drop/add period of the current semester even if the course has not started yet (FALL22 = 9/28).



BIOL 395 COURSES Without a Writing Component: A final report or poster is required for all independent research courses. Students must submit a new and different report for each semester; a 395 course is taken and may be uploaded to Blackboard by the last day of exams.

 Students who elect to make a poster may use presentation software to create the poster and upload a copy of the file into Blackboard instead of the report at the end of the semester. Please note that slides must fully explain the research findings. Slides with one-word bullet points are not acceptable.

Ideally, the poster options will allow students the flexibility to create materials they can use to present in scientific events such as the UPBM Poster Session in October as well as the Undergraduate Research Expo or other annual conferences organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research during the spring semester.

Please note that the report or poster is needed for record purposes. The UG Bio Department Administrative Offices do not grade the papers.

 BIOL 395W Courses With a Writing Component: Writing is an essential component of undergraduate education. A student who chooses to register for 395W must work with their instructors to produce a high-quality final report that is well written and effectively communicates the scientific justification and results of their research. The writing process involves communication between the student and mentor and extensive document revision.

 Upper-level writing reports must be at least six pages in length. Ideally, students would submit the paper to mentors at various stages of development for their suggestions for improvement so that students may fully benefit from the writing experience. Students should plan to submit a final draft to faculty at least three weeks before the semester ends so there is sufficient time for evaluation.

 When experimentation does not yield enough data to write extensively about or runs out of time, the student or faculty may email the UG Bio Dept Office to request the removal of the writing component "W" by changing the course registration to "BIOL 395".

 Although the Instructors for 395w courses will assign a final grade, the decision to permit the course to fulfill a writing requirement for the student's major is determined by the advisor of their intended or declared program of study.

 At the end of the semester, students must email a copy of their final reports to their intended or declared biology major so they may review them for application to the major. Please, note this is not an automatic process.

Students taking two semesters of independent research with writing (BIOL 395w) should know that it is acceptable to reference the experimentation done in previous semesters but should include at least six new pages of content for the second semester. When requesting advisor approval, students must email a copy of the paper from the first and second semesters.

 Additionally, the department requires students to upload a final draft of their final report to Blackboard by the last of finals at the end of the semester.

 Students may not select the poster option if the course is taken for upper-level writing credit (BIOL 395W).



Students and their faculty are expected to agree on how they will evaluate the course before it is taken and appropriately noted in the BIOL 395/395W Registration Request form under the section labeled "Criteria for Evaluation."

Students cannot take independent research courses on a pass/fail basis.

The course instructor is responsible for entering a letter grade into UR Student (Workday) by the last day of the marking period.

Faculty who do not see their student in their UR Student (Workday) should email the Bio Department Undergraduate Office. 

Information regarding when a grading period opens and closes is available on the University Registrar's Website



Students will not be allowed to register for another BIOL 395 course until any courses with incomplete grades from a previous semester are resolved. 

Those considering taking an incomplete for the semester should consult The College guidelines for incomplete contracts before making this determination to ensure the reasons comply with university policies.



Instructors who have not previously supervised independent research courses need to be authorized to supervise independent research courses. Students who have previously taken courses with instructors will likely be on this list. Students new to the process should check to be sure their faculty is on the list. If not, their instructions on how to add new faculty are included on the list. Visit the Authorized Biology Independent Research Instructors for more information



Fall 2022 BIOL 395 / 395W Request for Registration Forms will automatically forward to the course instructors for their review and signature.  Be sure to enter accurate email addresses as incorrect addresses could delay submission. The system will automatically send daily reminders to the instructors until it is signed.  Notification will be sent to students once their PI approves the form.

 All students, including those who have registered 395 in the past, need to consult their instructor each semester on the course details. Hence, there is a mutual understanding of expectations. Scroll to the bottom of the Form and print out a copy to review with your faculty.



Students cannot get paid for research, for which they also earn academic credit. However, a student may hold a paying job within the same lab but must keep their work separate from their research project.



Students requesting registration may do so by submitting a BIOL 395 / 395W Registration Request For