Research Courses

NOTE: In order to enroll in any of the following courses, students must already have a confirmed research position. Refer to Finding Research Guide for details on where to start looking for research opportunities.

Bio 93/94 (Research in Biology)

This course is designed to provide the student with an introduction to biological research in the context of a research laboratory or field project. Students are expected to work at least ten hours per week on a project, in close collaboration with the project supervisor. He or she should begin to become familiar with the scientific literature by reading scientific papers and should develop an understanding of the basic conceptual context of the research.

At the end of the semester, the student is required to write a 5 to 10 page paper reporting his/her research results. The prerequisites for this course are permission of the research mentor and subsequent course coordinator. This class does not satisfy the requirement for the laboratory or course requirements for the biology major, but is counted toward the degree. Pass/fail credit.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Biology Research for Credit.

Bio 193/194 (Independent Research in Biology)

Biology 193/194, Independent Research, is designed to provide students with an intensive experience in laboratory or field research. It is normally taken after a student has had some prior research experience (e.g. Bio 93/94). The student is expected to devote at least 15 hours per week to laboratory work, although often more time is necessary. Participants should take an active role in the design and execution of experiments and in the analysis and interpretation of data. They should be capable of "independent research" in the sense that they can conduct the experiments with little direct supervision. Students are expected to become familiar with related research in the current literature by regularly reading scientific journals.

At the end of the semester, the student is required to write a detailed report (8 to 15 pages) following the style of a scientific manuscript, and to give an oral presentation on the results to a committee composed of four faculty members of the Biology Department and the research mentor. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing , Bio 93 or 94 or equivalent and prior consent of research mentor and course coordinator.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email Biology Research for Credit.

Frequently Asked Questions for Bio 93/94/193/194

  • Bio 93 and 193 are offered in the fall. Bio 94 and 194 are offered in the spring.

  • Time Commitment 
    (including research group meetings, primary literature reading, data collection and analysis, and other in-lab time; does not include travel)

    Bio 93/94: 10 hours/week (or ~150 hours)
    Bio 193/194: 15 hours/week (or ~225 hours)

    SHUs and grading

    Bio 93/94: 2, pass/fail
    Bio 193/194: 3, graded

    Biology Major

    Bio 93/94: Does not count towards Biology major due to SHU limit and P/F grading
    Bio 193/194: Counts as an advanced lab or an elective

    Level of Experience

    Bio 93/94: Student may be new to research or techniques. May work closer with a research mentor to learn experimental design, data collection, data analysis, and primary literature analysis.

    Bio 193/194: Student has experience with selected field of research and techniques. May work alongside a research mentor but ultimately takes more ownership over experimental design, data collection, data analysis, and primary literature reading. Must have completed Bio 93/94 or equivalent amount of research experience in a related field.

    Final Product

    Bio 93/94: 5-10 page scientific paper on research findings and significance, due last day of finals

    Bio 193/194: 8-15 page scientific paper on research findings and significance due one week before end of semester; 15 minute oral presentation to a small committee of Biology faculty and postdoctoral scholars (usually scheduled over reading period)

  • Students are responsible for finding their own research positions. Check out our Finding Research Guide.

  • Yes! Students have participated in engaging research on the Boston Campus, other academic and medical institutions (such as the Broad Institute and Mass General Hospital), and biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies in the area. If you are working with a research group outside of the Tufts Biology Department, you should ensure that you have permission to share your research findings in writing (and orally, if you are in Bio 193/194) with academics in the Biology department.

    • Students may get credit for doing research related to Biology – this may range from molecular biology to ecology field work to computational biology.
    • Students may NOT get credit for research that associated with a clinical trial – in these cases, the experimental design has already been approved and students are acting more as research technicians rather than having more independence in the process. Translational research that uses clinical specimens may be approved.
    • Students may NOT get credit for any research for which they are being paid.
    • Once you find a research mentor, you should discuss with them some of the lab’s current or planned research projects. Your research mentor may assign you scientific papers to read for more background. Based on your schedule and your interests, you will likely work together to determine possible research questions.
    • You may enroll in Bio 93 (fall)/94 (spring) on SIS without any additional permissions once you have confirmed a research mentor. Note that to enroll in Bio 193 or 194, you must have a) completed Bio 93 or 94, b) be a Master’s student, or c) received permissions from the course coordinator (see “Can I skip Bio 93/94 and register for Bio 193/194?” below).
    • At the beginning of the semester, you will be added to a Canvas site for the course and be asked to fill out a virtual information form to describe your project and proposed schedule. The form will be automatically sent to your mentor for confirmation and will be cross checked to ensure your project meets Research for Credit guidelines (see “What restrictions are there on what type of research can count for credit?” above). Failure to complete the form or get mentor approval will result in you being dropped from the course.
  • You may do research for credit over the summer; however, you should enroll in Bio 93 or 193 in the fall semester immediately following, and you will write your paper/present your findings at the end of the fall semester. You should ensure that your research mentor is willing to continue mentoring you through your writing process and that you contributed sufficient time to your research to count towards that course level (see table above).

  • You may register for Bio 193/194 if you have enough research experience in the proposed field to be able to work relatively independently. We encourage students to continue past Bio 93/94 with the same research group to build upon research skills, but you may be approved for Bio 193/194 if your prior research experience is a close enough match. For example, you could do Bio 93 in a microbiology lab working on one type of fungus and continue to Bio 194 in a different microbiology lab working on fungi using similar techniques. However, if you do Bio 93 in a microbiology lab, you will not be able to continue to Bio 194 in an ecology lab. You will instead be encouraged to take Bio 94 to undergo more mentoring in the new field instead.

  • Yes. Since Master’s students may not enroll in Bio 93/94, a plan should be developed to ensure progressive mentoring to a more independent research experience. Preferably, students should shadow a member of the research group and attend some research group meetings in the semester before their intended enrollment in Bio 193/194 to learn about data collection and analysis methods as well as becoming familiar with primary literature analysis.

  • Yes. To get authorization for CPT, the research must be related to your major. As noted above, you cannot enroll in research for credit if you are getting paid for your research experience. If it is unpaid, you may use research for credit as a CPT experience. Please see the International Center’s information on F-1 Curricular Practical Training for more guidance on proper authorization. Restrictions on research type (see above: “What restrictions are there on what type of research can count for credit?”) and pre-requisites of research experience for enrollment Bio 193/194 still apply. In some cases, you may be able to earn CPT credit for summer work by enrolling in the fall semester research course (see above: “Can I do research over the summer for credit instead?”). 

  • In majority of cases, we strongly encourage undergraduate students to complete Bio 93/94 first. While Bio 93/94 doesn’t count towards the Biology/Biochemistry degree requirements, it provides practice in balancing lab work and academic studies as well as valuable input on their scientific writing skills in a lower-stakes P/F setting. Students also get more practice presenting their work and attending scientific presentations prior to presenting in Bio 193/194. The Bio 93/94 pre-requisite may be waived occasionally, and ONLY if the following requirements are met: 1) The student either a junior or senior has completed at least 150 hours of research in the lab, AND 2) The student either a junior or senior has significant scientific writing experience (i.e. has contributed to a manuscript) OR has a significant time restraint for their degree (i.e., only has one semester before senior year and needs Bio 193/194 for senior thesis, or planning on study abroad for last semester). Permission must be granted from the course coordinator by emailing   

Bio 199 (Senior Honors Thesis in Biology)

Senior honors thesis in biology involves intensive laboratory or field research and includes independent design and analysis of experiments and a detailed understanding of the project background and current literature. It is a full year research endeavor, which culminates in a written thesis and oral defense at the end of the spring semester of the senior year. The student is expected to devote at least 20 hours per week to laboratory/field work, although often more time is necessary.

Prerequisites: Completion of BIO 193 or BIO 194 (occasional exceptions are made if student has prior research, written and oral presentation experience equivalent to BIO 193/194 experience, as determined by their research mentor). Additionally, student should have at least three A's in biology courses, a minimum GPA of 3.3 and at least two semesters on Dean’s list.

Students interested in doing senior thesis must discuss it with their research mentor during junior Spring and obtain verbal approval, after which they can register in SIS for BIO 199-A for the Fall of their senior year (they will later be registering for BIO 199-B for the Spring of their senior year). Information about logistics and deadlines will be provided on canvas once Fall semester begins. Only Biology, Biochemistry and Biopsychology majors should enroll into BIO 199, which is senior thesis for these majors (students with other majors should enroll in their major’s senior thesis course). 

If you have further questions about BIO 199 – email course coordinator, Dr. Kate Mirkin.

ExCollege Class

Research for Success: Using the Library for Thesis and Capstone Projects.
More information.