- Is ILS designed only for biology majors?
- Is ILS the only option in the Honors College for those students interested in the Life Sciences?
- Is ILS the best path to prepare for medical school at Maryland?
- Does ILS prefer students interested in biological research more than pre-medical students, or vice versa?
- I've heard that ILS admissions is highly competitive. How do I increase the likelihood of being admitted into ILS?
- What score must I earn on the AP Biology exam in order to be considered for freshman admissions into ILS?
- If I am taking AP Biology (or another course equivalent to freshmen biology) in my senior year, will I still be considered for ILS?
- I am enrolled in an IB program, and I am currently taking IB Higher Level Biology. Is it still possible for me to join ILS?
- What if I am interested in ILS but I haven't had the opportunity to take an advanced college-level biology course, such as AP Biology, in high school?
- If I am considering ILS, which majors should I specify as my intended major on my freshman application?
- I can see that the BIOE major and certain specializations in the BSCI major share overlapping requirements. How do I distinguish between these two majors?
- Are there potential scheduling conflicts between certain departmental majors and the ILS program?
- Can I switch from one major to the other later in my studies at Maryland and still graduate in 4 years?
- Why is ILS a two-year program, and not a four-year program?
1. Is ILS designed only for biology majors?
ILS is designed not only for biology majors, but also for other majors who are interested in various aspects of the life sciences. The most common majors of ILS students are: Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), and Bioengineering (BIOE). In fact, ILS is committed to forming a diverse community of student scholars from a wide range of different majors. The features unifying the ILS community are our shared excitement about the life sciences and the common belief that an education in the life sciences can help each of us to reach personal and professional goals.
2. Is ILS the best path for honors students to study the life sciences?
ILS offers a unique and integrated approach to academic, research, and internship opportunities that are integrated into a living-learning community Consequently, all honors students, regardless of their living-learning program, will receive an excellent education in the life sciences on the UM campus. In addition, if you are interested in medical school, the health professions advising office (www.prehealth.umd.edu) guides all premed students, regardless of major or living-learning program, in every step of the application process from initial planning as a first-semester freshmen to final preparation to medical school interviews
3. Is ILS the best path to prepare for medical school at Maryland?
Obviously, ILS offers a great program for preparing for medical school because the courses are specifically aligned with the guidelines in the 2009 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges entitled the Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians. You will also find the focus on life sciences research as being an appealing opportunity for broadening your pre-medical education. Lastly, ILS offers special seminars and advising workshops for preparing for medical school.
However, ILS may or may not be the best path to medical school for YOU. Your Honors living-learning program is only one component of your undergraduate experience. For example, if you really love the humanities but plan to go to medical school, you might decide to major in Biological Science but request the living-learning program in Honors Humanities because there you could round out your education and live with classmates who share your artistic passions. Moreover, the University of Maryland has a commendable history of our students significantly exceeding the national acceptance rates to medical school. This success has been achieved on the basis of the excellence of our life science departments, numerous extracurricular opportunities, and strong advising support, the later of which is accessible to all students throughout the campus, regardless of their major or living-learning program. The advising for pre-med students is coordinated by the Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO).
4. Does ILS prefer students interested in biological research more than pre-medical students, or vice versa?
ILS is interested in recruiting the most talented, creative, and accomplished students in the life sciences, regardless of their career goals at the time of their admission to UM. It has been our experience that students often change their career goals over the course of their undergraduate education. Therefore, our admissions decisions are based on the likelihood of each applicant's success in the challenging and exciting ILS program, not his/her current career goal.
5. I've heard that ILS admissions is highly competitive. How do I increase the likelihood of being admitted into ILS?
Prospective first-year ILS students must first apply to the University of Maryland. The top group of freshman applicants is automatically offered direct admission into the Honors College. Those applicants who have already exhibited outstanding performance in Advanced Placement (AP) courses in biology, in other equivalent university-equivalent courses, or in freshmen-level biology courses taken at UM or other universities are encouraged to preference ILS. Typically, entering ILS students will have also earned AP or college credit in at least one other science and/or calculus course, plus a few other courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Entering first-year students having this background are well prepared to succeed in the rigorous ILS program. Other criteria for evaluating ILS applicants include: significant prior biological or biomedical research experience, and other life experience suggesting that ILS matches well with their career goals.
6. What score must I earn on the AP Biology exam in order to be considered for freshman admissions into ILS?
The first accelerated course in the ILS sequence (HLSC 207) requires the prerequisites of freshman-level biology, which include BSCI 105 Molecular and Cell Biology and BSCI 106 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. UM accepts an AP Biology score of 5 as being sufficient to receive advanced placement waivers for both BSCI 105 and 106. Thus, the most direct way to become eligible for freshman admission into ILS is to earn a 5 on the AP Biology exam following your junior year. Other applicants achieve advanced placement waivers by performing well in other college-equivalent courses or in freshman-level biology courses taken at UM or other colleges.
7. If I am taking AP Biology (or another course equivalent to freshmen biology) in my senior year, will I still be considered for ILS?
Yes, especially if you have already taken and done well on the exams for other AP and IB science and math courses. Please list all of your AP and IB test scores and/or your grades from other college-level science and math courses on the webpage used to indicate your preferences for the living-learning programs in the Honors College. It is also crucial that you do well on the AP Biology exam in the Spring of your senior year so that you can start the accelerated ILS courses in your first semester in ILS.
8. I am enrolled in an IB program, and I am currently taking IB Higher Level Biology. Is it still possible for me to join ILS?
The first course in the ILS sequence is BSCI 207 Integrated Organismal Biology, which requires course material mastered in the AP but not in the IB curriculum. IB students interested in ILS can study on their own and sit for the AP Biology exam (and earn a score of a 5) to be considered for ILS or can enroll in the appropriate introductory level biology course(s) at a college or university and earn a high grade.
9. What if I am interested in ILS but I haven't had the opportunity to take an advanced college-level biology course, such as AP Biology, in high school?
You have several options. Because the ILS course sequence starts off with accelerated sophomore-level courses, you will not be adequately prepared as an entering freshman for being successful in those courses. Thus, you will not be considered for freshman admissions into ILS. However, there will be some opportunity for UM honors students who do A-level work in the freshman Biological Sciences sequence (BSCI105/BSCI106) to join ILS in the sophomore year. If you think that you might want to consider that path, then you must select University Honors as your living-learning program because it has the most flexible program requirements. Honors students are not allowed to transfer from other thematic living-learning programs to ILS in their second year.
Otherwise, we would recommend that you participate in another living-learning program in the Honors College but take the regular sequence of life sciences courses in your chosen major. Your choice of a different living-learning program will not affect your eligibility for the junior-level honors programs offered by the biological sciences, biochemistry, and bioengineering programs on this campus.
10. If I am considering ILS, which majors should I specify as my intended major on my freshman application?
In the Honors College at UM, ILS is the living-learning program centered on the life sciences, and thus, the students will typically choose a primary major in one of the life sciences. The most common majors of ILS students are: Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), and Bioengineering (BIOE). See the majors page for more information about those majors. Other potential majors in the life sciences for ILS students include environmental science, public health, and psychology. A few ILS students major in non-science disciplines like business, history, or the arts, but use the ILS courses in conjunction with general science courses to satisfy the current course requirements for medical school. If a student enters ILS with a significant number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits, then it is reasonable to expect that this student can successfully pursue another major outside of the life sciences.
11. I can see that the BIOE major and certain specializations in the BSCI major share overlapping requirements. How do I distinguish between these two majors?
Both the BIOE major and the Physiology and Neurobiology (PHNB) specialization in the BSCI major offer several upper level courses in physiology. In fact, BIOE requires or accepts BSCI courses for satisfying several of its physiology requirements.
However, this two majors view physiology from different perspectives. PHNB emphasizes the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms of physiological processes, whereas BIOE focuses more on biomedical engineering aspects of physiology. Another difference is that all BSCI specializations require more chemistry and biochemistry courses, while BIOE requires more mathematics courses.
One approach toward resolving your interests is to think about whether you are more interested in:
A) the understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for biological processes and/or medical problems, or
B) the application of engineering techniques toward solving biological and/or medical problems.
The first interest means that you are better suited for the BSCI major, whereas the second means that you are better suited for the BIOE major.
12. Are there potential scheduling conflicts between certain departmental majors and the ILS program?
In general, ILS is compatible with a wide range of majors. However, ILS recommends that prospective ILS applicants consider avoiding the following majors:
A. Undecided - Letters and Sciences (4901Z) majors. Frequently, freshman applicants who are potentially interested in ILS have broad interests in the life sciences. It is strongly recommended that such applicants do not select Undecided - Letters and Sciences (4901Z). A more appropriate intended major is Biological Sciences - General Biology (0404A). The undecided major poses a major problem because BSCI, BCHM, and BIOE are limited enrollment programs. Consequently, due to the high demand for available seats, these majors reserve the right to limit the enrollment in some courses to declared majors.
B. All engineering majors except for BIOE. ILS wants to encourage the participation of engineering students interested in the life sciences. It is strongly recommended that engineering applicants who are potentially interested in ILS choose BIOE as their intended major. Due to the large number of required courses in engineering majors, BIOE is the only engineering major with sufficient openings for biological sciences electives that it becomes realistic for ILS students to earn an engineering degree.
13. Can I switch from one major to the other later in my studies at Maryland and still graduate in 4 years?
In general, the answer to this question is yes. Almost all ILS students receive a significant number of advanced placement credits, which means that they can readily satisfy the general education and introductory course requirements in new majors.
The primary impediment to internal transfers appears in the limited enrollment programs such as BSCI, BCHM, and BIOE that require students to satisfy introductory courses called gateway requirements before they can transfer into that major. All science and engineering majors have fixed sequences of introductory courses. However, BSCI and BCHM are more likely to accept the engineering version of such courses as physics and math whereas BIOE will typically not accept the biology version of those courses. For more information about transferring to a new major, you should contact the advising office for that major.
14. Why is ILS a two-year program, and not a four-year program?
The goal of ILS is to facilitate the academic, research, and service opportunities in the undergraduate education of talented life science students. It is anticipated that ILS students will have developed a network of their own professional contacts on and off campus by the end of their second year. Moreover, most third- and fourth-year students are pursuing a wide range of individualized activities from international study-abroad experiences, specialized off-campus research, to MCAT or GRE preparation classes. Thus, it seems likely that an organized ILS program for the later years might actually restrict the professional development of many ILS students. Furthermore, ILS students in their junior and senior years are eligible for the departmental honors programs designed to encourage undergraduate research.