About the Program

Founded in 2006

The Biology Scholars Program (BSP) was founded in 2006. Our mission is to support academic excellence and provide career preparation for students majoring in Biological Sciences, with a focus on first-generation college students and those who are underserved and/or underrepresented in science and medicine. Students in this program are interested in pursuing advanced degrees in science and medicine. Biology Scholars demonstrate a commitment to learning and thriving in an equitable and inclusive community with a wide range of perspectives and interests.

Students sitting outside


As a Biology Scholar you are part of a select group of students working toward an advanced degree in science or medicine. You are excited about the biological sciences and are committed to achieving excellence. You agree to adhere to the following expectations that are designed to enhance your experiences as a Biology Scholar.

  • Study 35+ hours each week by attending class, participating in study groups and studying on your own. You are professional student!
  • Foster cooperation and be a team player by looking out for yourself and other program participants.
  • Plan a weekly schedule that includes time for classes, studying, eating, sleeping, and fun.
  • Arrive to class/events 10 minutes early.
  • Sit in the front 3 rows to increase opportunities to interact with professors/presenters and to stay alert.
  • Attend professor and TA office hours.
  • Attend required BSP events (i.e. study groups, freshman & sophomore seminars, advising meetings, community meetings).
  • Attend special events (faculty dinners, social outings, alumni networking events, site visits to medical/graduate schools, guest speakers, etc.).
  • Actively participate by preparing for classes/meetings and by asking questions.
  • Aim for a GPA that reflects academic excellence.
  • Maintain a GPA that allows you to remain in good standing with your college.
  • Maintain and share an enthusiasm for academic endeavors.
  • Communicate your excitement and concerns to BSP peers and staff.
  • Silence your cell phone for every BSP sponsored activity…No texting please!
  • Volunteer your time to Cornell and/or the greater Ithaca community.
  • Prepare for research: be ready to work in a lab or other research setting by second semester sophomore year.
  • Promptly respond to any communications and surveys from BSP staff during your undergraduate years and after graduation.

Student Commitment

Students accepted as Biology Scholars sign a contract pledging their commitment to the program and its philosophy. Students are expected to attend four Community Meetings during the fall of freshman year and one, two-hour study group per week through sophomore year. Students also commit to being prepared for and actively participating in meetings and events. Teamwork is a key component to BSP—members should be willing to work cooperatively toward the goal of advancing learning for all group members. Also, as this is a scholars program, students must stay focused on their coursework and strive for academic excellence.

Benefits of Becoming a Biology Scholar

  • Weekly study groups in chemistry, biology, and physics courses led by trained Study Group Leaders, who are often Bio Scholars themselves.
  • Teambuilding and leadership development.
  • 1-credit seminar courses taken during second semester freshman year and first semester sophomore year. Seminars provide exposure to career options in research, medicine, and other areas in biology; networking with Cornell faculty; tours of research laboratories; personal and professional development; and workshops on how to read and present scientific literature.
  • Site visits to medical and graduate schools.
  • International study experiences.
  • Financial support to attend off-campus, science-related conferences.
  • A supportive, inclusive, and cooperative learning environment; and a quiet, comfortable study space designated for BSP members.
  • A strong support network of students and staff.
  • Social events to help you get to know your fellow scholars.

Watch a video of Biology Scholars in the Galapagos Islands.


a man in a burgundy shirt stands in front of a blurred background
Jeff McCaffrey

Senior Associate Director and Coordinator of the Biology Scholars Program and Diversity Initiatives

Office of Undergraduate Biology

Jeff McCaffrey
  • jm298 [at] cornell.edu

Contact Us

For more information regarding BSP, contact Jeff at:

Office of Undergraduate Biology
216 Stimson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Phone: 607-255-5233
Email: jm298 [at] cornell.edu (jm298[at]cornell[dot]edu)