BIOG 2990/4990

Independent Research for Credit during the Academic Year

(We do not allow students to pre-enroll in research for credit)

Over 500 students each semester earn academic credit for undergraduate research by enrolling in independent research courses. Most students enroll in 2-4 credits of research (3-5 hours per credit). A student’s research mentor can be in any department as long as the research is biological in nature. A faculty member or research associate must supervise the research. Students often work directly with a graduate student, technician, or postdoctoral scientist in the lab.

BIOG 2990/4990 Research for credit enrollment information

The online enrollment form for independent research for credit (BIOG 2990 & BIOG 4990) will be available through Experience Cornell keyword search 'Independent Research' on Monday, August 14th.

Once the enrollment form is submitted and approved by your PI, you will receive a Permission Number by email. You must self-enroll in the course through Student Center (search by the Class Number) – you are not enrolled in the class until it is on your Student Center schedule.  

  • If you have already submitted an independent research for credit enrollment form and are waiting for approval, do not submit a new duplicate application.
  • If you have submitted a form and have not yet been able to enroll due to needing to request to go over max credits do not submit a new duplicate application. (Contact your home college for information about exceeding max term credits)You will receive emails regarding the enrollment from noreply-cep [at] cep.cornell.educlass="spamspan".  Make sure to check your clutter and junk email folders.

The deadline to enroll in BIOG 2990 & BIOG 4990 is September 22.

Please be sure to look at our examples of a well written independent research form. Send any questions or concerns to bioresearch [at] (.)

(Example of a well written 2990)
(Example of a well written 4990)


If you are in Arts & Sciences or CALS, you can go up or down one credit until the last day of classes. We ask that your research supervisor email their approval of the credit change to bioresearch [at] Students in other colleges must petition with their college to change credits after the add deadline.

BIOG 2990, Introduction to Research

Intended for students new to undergraduate research. Students enrolled in BIOG 2990 may be reading the scientific literature, learning research techniques and assisting with ongoing research. Credit hours are variable (maximum of 3 credits) and grading is S/U only. This course is a prerequisite for BIOG 4990.

BIOG 4990, Independent Research in Biology

Students work more independently on a research project. You do not have to generate your own research topic. More typically, students get involved in the ongoing research of the lab. The prerequisite for BIOG 4990 is the completion of one semester of BIOG 2990 or previous research experience. You will need to prepare a brief research description as part of the BIOG 4990 application. We encourage you to work with your research mentor to draft this in advance of applying.

We do not pre-enroll for BioG 2990 or BioG 4990. You must complete the online enrollment form at the start of the semester.

BIOG 4997-Biological Sciences Practical Training

BIOG 4997 is a .25 credit, S/U independent study course that offers students in the Biological Sciences major an opportunity to reflect on professional and personal growth, challenges, and opportunities resulting from a recent internship or training experience. International students should contact the Office of Global Learning to determine if they need work authorization. Typically, these internships/experiences take place in the summer and students, in the semester they return to campus, write a paper describing their work experience and how it connects to their personal educational and career goals as well as the learning objectives of the Biological Sciences major. The value of the course is in the deep reflection on expectations, successes, challenges and skills and knowledge gained during the internship.


Fill out the BIOG 4997 enrollment form. Once the form is reviewed by the Office of Undergraduate Studies, you will receive an enrollment number so you can enroll through student center.

Email bioresearch [at] with any questions.


Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Search the literature to become familiar with scientific studies related to their field of interest
  • Read and discuss scientific literature relevant to their field
  • Discuss the general research area with other lab members in a casual setting
  • Understand and apply methodology used in by the lab group with the assistance of a mentor

Students will be able to:

  • Search the literature to become familiar with the existing body of work relevant to their research area
  • Explain how their research fits into existing knowledge within that field of study, demonstrating understanding of “the big picture”
  • As relevant, formulate or describe hypotheses and predictions for the research question they are working on
  • Work collaboratively with other researchers – including their mentor – demonstrating effective, professional communication and problem-solving skills
  • Apply appropriate procedures and technical skills to accomplish their research goals with the guidance of a mentor
  • Organize data effectively and maintain appropriate records (e.g., meta-data) such that their mentor can easily access these data and understand all components of data files
  • Explain their research project either verbally or in writing to multiple audiences including others in their field and a broader audience (educated, non-specialist)
  • Reflect on their research experience to identify personal strengths and opportunities for growth, and how the experience informs their future educational and career goals