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.

The deadline has past to enroll in BIOG 2990/4990, which was February 23rd. If you are still interested in enrolling in research for credit late, see below:

  1. All students need to submit the BIOG 2990/4990 online enrollment form.
    If you wish to add research late, you will need to email Kristy Long (kll25 [at] (kll25[at]cornell[dot]edu)) to request a link to the online enrollment form.
  2. All students need to submit a petition to their college requesting the late add.
    Please see: How to add BIOG 2990/4990 late by college

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 the major, their career goals, as well as the overall 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