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In addition to completing University level honors programs at UNC Honors Carolina and NC State University Honors Program, students also have the opportunity to complete department honors on each campus.

Biomedical Engineering students who want to expand their knowledge of the field through advanced study and independent research may earn departmental honors. Students in the program write a thesis based on the cumulative experience gained from two complete semesters of independent research in addition to completing one BME course for honors credit or at a graduate level.  A successful thesis defense to a group of three faculty members results in the designation of Honors in Biomedical Engineering noted on the student’s transcript. At UNC, the designation of Highest Honors in Biomedical Engineering may be earned if the quality of the work is deemed to be at the level of a scientific journal publication.

Admission to the program

Students who wish to undertake a senior honors thesis project must have met the pre-requisites for senior design and have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher and have a BME 491/492 or BMME  691H/692H application approved, which can be found here. More information is also provided for students who are below but within reach of a 3.3 GPA.


  • Seminar Attendance:  Students will attend two seminars each semester from the BME seminar series or other approved seminars for two semesters. This form should be submitted to the Student Services Coordinator for each seminar attended.
  • Advanced Study Course: Complete a 300 or higher level BME course for student-initiated or faculty-initiated honors at NC State or with an honors contract at UNC. Alternatively, students can complete a graduate-level course (500 level or higher) that counts toward the undergraduate degree.  The advanced study course should be completed with a grade of B or better.
  • Independent Research: Complete BME 491/BMME 691H and BME 492/BMME 692H, both with a grade of B or better.
  • Written Thesis:
    • The thesis will be submitted towards the end of the Spring semester. It should be sent to the committee members at least one week before the oral defense, and corrections may be requested.
    • One of the following formats should be followed (the decision doesn’t have to be made ahead of time)

Format 1: Fully written paper in which the honors student is the first or co-first author. This should be at least “close” to submission to a journal. This format should be chosen for UNC-based students pursuing the goal of “highest honors.”

Format 2: This may resemble the final report of a two-semester independent study and would still be written in the format of a scientific paper (Introduction, Methods, Results with data in the form of figures/tables, Discussion, References). It is ok if the maturity/amount/quality of the data does not quite meet the level required for submission to a journal. This format should be chosen for UNC-based students pursuing the goal of “honors.” General guidelines of 12-20 pages at 1.5 line spacing, 1-inch margins, Arial 11. Can exceed page limit to account for large figures and references.

  • Oral Thesis defense:
    • The recommended format is a 25-40 minute presentation followed by 15-45 minutes of questions and discussion.
    • At least two of the three committee members must be faculty members, but one may be a graduate student or post-doc. It is recommended, but not required, that one of the thesis committee members be from outside the BME department.
    • A successful defense is when all three committee members unanimously agree the thesis merits honors credit.
    • The committee chair should submit this form to the student services coordinator. Please visit this link for additional formatting and submission requirements from UNC.

Students Within Reach of a 3.3 GPA

Students whose GPA is close to the eligibility standard and who have a reasonable chance of meeting the requirement within a semester of additional coursework may begin a senior honors thesis project on a probationary basis. Such exceptions must be approved in advance by the BME Director of Undergraduate Research. Students who fail to raise their GPAs to meet the standard at the end of the probationary semester may not continue as candidates for graduation with honors or highest honors. They should receive graded course credit for the work completed and may, at the discretion of the BME Undergraduate Research Committee, continue their projects in the 2nd semester as an independent study. Students who continue on that basis are not eligible to graduate with BME honors.