Honors in Neuroscience

Download the honors application here

The Undergraduate Honors Program in Neuroscience is intended to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the conduct of a research project in neuroscience, the preparation of a written thesis, and the defense of the thesis. Independent research for Undergraduate Honors must be conducted under the auspices of the Department of Biology (CAS) or Department of Neurosciences (SOM) in collaboration with a Biology Department faculty member, Department of Neurosciences faculty member, or other approved investigator.

Academic Requirements

To receive a bachelor’s degree “with Honors in Neuroscience” (formally noted on the transcript), the student must meet the following criteria

  1. Maintain a 3.4 overall grade point average, with a 3.6 in courses required for, or counted towards, the neuroscience major (with the exception of CHEM, PHYS, and MATH courses)
    2. Carry out 6 credit hours of independent research (taken as BIOL or NEUR courses) at Case Western Reserve University.
    3. Write a senior honors thesis with the approval of the faculty supervisor
    4. Submit the thesis for review by an ad hoc honors committee
    5. Successfully defend the thesis at an oral examination
  2. Complete the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience


Research Project

Students shall conduct their research project in accordance with the guidelines established for BIOL 388/388S/390 and NEUR 388/388S/390. Prior to each semester’s research project, a summary statement of the proposed research must be submitted to the office overseeing the research: students registering for BIOL 388/388S/390 should submit the form to Ruth Milne, and students registering for NEUR 388/388S/390 should submit the form to Ashley Nemes or David Friel. This form must be signed by the PI of the lab in which the student will work. All students should discuss the progress of their research at regular intervals with their PI.

Application for Undergraduate Honors

Students planning to graduate with Honors in Neuroscience should indicate their intention by completing the “Application for Undergraduate Honors” form obtained in the Biology Department Office (or by clicking the link above) and submitting it to the Biology Department Chair for final approval. Working in conjunction with the PI of the lab, the student should submit a suggested thesis committee for approval by the Undergraduate Affairs Committee, establish the date for the defense of the honors thesis, and carry out all other matters related to the defense of the thesis. The application form must be submitted to the Biology Department Chair’s Office at least two weeks prior to the examination date. The examination must take place no later than the last day of final examinations of the student’s graduation semester.

Thesis Committee

The thesis committee shall consist of the PI of the research lab and at least two other faculty members whose research interests fall within the scope of the thesis project. Instructors from the Biology department and the Neurosciences department may serve on honors committees. Each committee MUST have at least one member whose primary appointment is in Biology and one whose primary appointment is in Neurosciences.


The thesis shall consist of a comprehensive report on the research project conducted by the student. The format for the thesis should be discussed with the research sponsor. In general, “journal format” is the desired method of presentation, containing sections on background, experimental methods, results, discussion, and conclusions. A brief abstract should precede the body of the thesis.

It is the student’s responsibility to provide each member of the thesis committee with a draft copy of the thesis at least one week prior to the scheduled oral defense.

Oral Defense

The oral defense of the thesis shall consist of an examination by the thesis committee of the student’s knowledge of his or her general research area as well as of the techniques used and results obtained in the research. A member of the committee from the Biology or Neurosciences department shall serve as the Chairperson for the committee at the oral defense. During the first fifteen minutes of the defense, the student shall summarize the background, methods, and results of the research, and discuss the biological implications of the work. Following this, the members of the thesis committee shall examine the student on the research project. The chairperson of the thesis committee shall inform the biology department chair, in writing, of the results of the oral defense. A unanimous vote by the committee is required in order to forward a recommendation for graduation with honors. If the committee’s vote is less than unanimous, the chair of the department shall determine whether the student is eligible for re-examination of whether the student’s application for Honors in Neuroscience should be withdrawn. Students who successfully defend their thesis must deposit a final copy of the thesis in the Biology Department Office prior to graduation.