Honours FAQs


Should I do an honours degree?

It depends.

If you plan on pursuing a career in research then you should give serious consideration to completing an honours degree. Many graduate programs require that you have one.


If you have good marks and are strong academically, then you should also give serious consideration to completing an honours programme.


If you plan on attending professional schools (such as medicine, dentistry) then check the admission requirements. Some schools may give preference to candidates with honours degrees.


If you are hoping that an honours degree will enhance an otherwise not-very-good academic record and help you get into professional school, then you should probably think twice.


An honours degree programme is demanding and rigorous. There is nothing worse than starting an honours project and then, six months later, discovering that you are bored by the project and can't stand being in the lab any more. The final month of writing, and re-writing, and re-writing, a dissertation will stress you more than you realise. You must be committed to the programme and to your project to the bitter end!


Do I need research experience to do honours?

It does help if you do have some previous experience working in a lab.  If you have become familiar with laboratory protocols and procedures, you will be able to get your honours research underway quicker and with less of a learning curve.


If you do not have previous experience, you can still do honours.  Your supervisor will probably design a project for you taking that into account.


Some ways that you can obtain prior experience working in a lab are through MUCEP positions, summer jobs, or summer placements through NSERC USRAs or SURAs.  Check the links below for information on these programs:



When should I apply for honours?

We will accept applications from exceptional students after they have completed their second year - which, in most cases, will be the end of the first year in one of our programs.


In most cases, however, students apply at the end of their third year at University. By then, you will have completed half a dozen or so Biochemistry courses and we will have a good basis on which to assess your ability.


In some cases, students apply for honours after graduating with a general degree.


At present there is no deadline for application. We process applications throughout the year. However, we would encourage students to declare honours standing no later than July 01 each year.


What grades do I need to apply for honours?

Simply put: you must have good marks!


For early admission to Honours standing in Biochemistry, you need at least 70% in Biochemistry 2200, Biochemistry 2201, Chemistry 2400, and Chemistry 2401. For early admission to Honours standing in Biochemistry(Nutrition), you need at least 70% in Biochemistry 2005, Biochemistry 2200, Biochemistry 2201, and Chemistry 2400.


For admission to Honours standing in Biochemistry at the end of third year, you must have either a 75% average or else at least a "B" in every required Biochemistry and Chemistry course that you have taken.


For admission to Honours standing in Biochemistry(Nutrition) at the end of third year, you must have either a 75% average or else at least a "B" in every required Biochemistry course that you have taken.


How do I apply for honours?

You must complete this form and bring it to the department's General Office (SN4006) for processing. If you meet our requirements for honours standing, we will admit you and send the form to the Registrar's Office. They will change your standing on Student Self-Service.  We will also notify you whether your application has been succesful or not.


What marks do I need to stay in Honours standing?

Best advice we can give: Never get a "C" or worse - particularly in Biochemistry or Chemistry courses.


In general, it is much easier to get a "B" in all of your required courses than it is to maintain a 75% average in those courses.


What happens if you do get a "C"?

You may have to repeat the course. But, you should know that you can repeat or substitute at most THREE courses for an honours degree.


How do I get a supervisor?

By asking them.


By the end of third year you will have developed a taste for biochemistry, which parts you like and which parts you dislike.


You should also start to get to know the types of research carried out by faculty in this and other related departments. Look at our faculty web pages; see what we do; see what you would like to do. Then go and ask a faculty member if they have space for a new honours student. Some will say no; some will say yes.


If you are unsure, you might be able to get a MUCEP position in a lab so that you can test the waters to see if you like a particular type of research.


When you visit faculty on this type of mission, bring a photocopy of your transcript and a brief resume or CV.


If you would like further help with this, please visit the Biochemistry Advising Office.


What should I know about Joint Honours programs?

They are very good programs, they are very demanding programs, and they are incredibly difficult to schedule.


We offer five joint honours programs with other departments. All are excellent. However, it also true that course clashes are almost inevitable. If you decide to take a joint honours program, you should consult with us early and often so that we can help you navigate through the course possibilities.


We strongly recommend that you also have a fall-back honours option in mind from the very beginning. Know which of the two partners is the program that you will follow if the joint program proves impossible.


You apply for honours in exactly the same way as above; the only difference is that you must be approved by both departments of the joint program. It is possible that you would get approved by one department before you would get approved by the other.


You must also decide in which of the two departments you will do your honours research.