Academics Overview

The academic program of ILS is based on the national initiatives for reforming undergraduate biology education: BIO 2010Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, and Vision and Change. These initiatives provide explicit guidelines for designing multidisciplinary life sciences curricula necessary to prepare life science and pre-medical students for successful careers in the 21st century. In particular, these reports recommend the: 

  1. Increased incorporation of mathematics, physics, and chemistry into life science courses;
  2. Increased biological relevance of the corresponding science courses required for life science students; 
  3. Increased use of active engagement teaching as opposed to conventional lectures; and 
  4. Increased use of student competencies for measuring effective learning.
Picture of Dr. Cooke teaching to room of students.


The ILS academic program is composed of a core of four accelerated courses in integrated organismal biology, genetics and genomics, biomathematics and biological modeling, and scholarship-in-practice, plus a service-learning course and special colloquium presentations. These courses represent either honors versions of BSCI courses or unique new courses designed to satisfy the objectives of the national initiatives discussed above. Furthermore, all ILS courses emphasize innovative pedagogy strategies intended to encourage active student engagement and small-group problem solving.  For more information, see the Course Descriptions page.


ILS is a diverse community of student scholars from a wide range of 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.

Most students choose a primary major in one of the following life sciences: Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), Bioengineering (BIOE) and Animal Sciences (ANSC). One advantage of choosing these majors is that ILS courses are often directly applicable toward satisfying the requirements of 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 ILS courses to acquire a deep understanding of contemporary perspectives in the life sciences.  If a student has a significant number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits, then it is reasonable to expect that an ILS student can successfully pursue another major outside of the life sciences.  For more information, see the Majors page.

ILS student working together on a class activity.


The majority of ILS students intend to pursue advanced degrees at graduate or medical schools upon graduation from Maryland. Regardless of particular majors or career objectives, ILS aids students in developing the critical thinking skills that are necessary for success in advanced degree programs. For more information, see the Pre-professional Education page.


The University provides academic advisors to advise all students on the course requirements for completing their majors.  It is the goal of the ILS Staff to provide individualized advising to all ILS students to ensure that they are able to meet their academic and professional goals. Through the advising process, ILS students are encouraged to reflect on how their academic, internship, and service activities will help them achieve their ultimate professional goals.  For more information, see the Advising page.