The below questions are separated into two sections: those focused on features of the ILS program and questions related to the ILS admissions process.

Program Features

1. HOW DOES ILS COMPARE TO THE OTHER HONORS PROGRAMS?

Each Honors Living Learning Program at UMD offers its students unique academic and co-curricular experiences. This chart compares the key features of each program and provides a great starting place for deciding the best program for you. To learn more about each program, you should visit the program website and contact their staff directly.

2. IS ILS DESIGNED ONLY FOR BIOLOGY MAJORS?

No.  ILS is also for students interested in all aspects of the life sciences.  Historically the most common majors of ILS students are: Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), and Bioengineering (BIOE).  Our community includes students from a wide range of majors including Animal Science, Public Health, Environmental Science, and Psychology. We are unified by our excitement for the life sciences, and conviction this course of study can help us reach personal and professional goals.

3. IS ILS THE BEST PATH FOR HONORS STUDENTS TO STUDY THE LIFE SCIENCES?

While ILS offers a unique and integrated approach to academic, research, and service opportunities in a living-learning community, all honors students, regardless of their living-learning program, will receive an excellent education in the life sciences at UMD.  If you are interested in medical school, the health professions advising office is an available resource for all pre-med students and offers free guidance from the application process to medical school interviews.

4. IS ILS THE BEST PATH TO PREPARE FOR MEDICAL SCHOOL AT MARYLAND?

The ILS courses and research requirement are specifically aligned with the guidelines in the 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges report entitled "The Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians."  Nevertheless, 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.  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 for pre-med students with the Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO).

5. CAN I SWITCH FROM ONE MAJOR TO AnOTHER LATER IN MY STUDIES AND STILL GRADUATE IN 4 YEARS?

In general, yes. The primary impediment to switching majors is that many majors are limited enrollment programs, which requires introductory courses before a student can transfer into that major.  All science and engineering majors have a proscribed sequences of introductory courses.  For more information about transferring to a new major, you should contact the advising office for that major.

6. WHY IS ILS A TWO-YEAR PROGRAM, AND NOT A FOUR-YEAR PROGRAM?

The goal of ILS is to facilitate academic, research, and service opportunities for high-achieving life science students. Although the ILS course requirements are typically satisfied during the first two years, ILS continues to offer leadership, service, and mentoring activities to upperclass ILS students.  ILS does not offer more advanced courses, because most ILS juniors and seniors are pursuing a wide range of individualized activities from study-abroad experiences, specialized off-campus research, community service projects, to MCAT or GRE preparation classes.  Thus, it seems likely that an organized ILS program for the final two years might actually restrict the professional development of many ILS students. 

7. Why DOES ILS Require First Year STudents to Live on campus?

ILS is a living-learning program with the goal of fostering meaningful academic, professional, and personal experiences for our students. The development of an interactive and supportive residential community is critical to the success of all first-year students in the ILS program.  By living together, students are more easily able to build lasting friendships, complete group assignments for their classes, adjust to life at UMD, and create their first professional network.  All students live on the ILS floors in the air-conditioned LaPlata Hall, which also holds the classrooms for some ILS courses, the offices of ILS faculty and staff, and group study rooms.  Each year first-year students agree that living together is the most beneficial factor for building the ILS community. 

8. Why does ILS require a research internship?

Research shows that college students having experience in their intended career prior to graduation assists them in realizing their career goals.  This is especially important for students interested in a career in the life sciences, as a research internship allows students to acquire a deep appreciation for the research process responsible for generating new scientific knowledge.  Thus, ILS requires students to complete at least one research experience in the basic life sciences.  This research experience can take place on the UMD campus, at federal research centers in the Washington, DC area, or at other research institutions and universities outside the DC area.

9. What does the ILS research internship involve?

First each student works with the Associate Director to identify a research mentor to supervise their internship experience.  Then the student submits the ILS research internship approval form, gets approved, and begins work.  Students complete a minimum of 240 hours of research activities, which is equivalent to 6 full-time weeks during the summer or 12 part-time weeks during the academic school year.  During the internship, the student maintains an electronic portfolio recording lab activities, pictures, data and a final reflection on how the research experience has complemented their academic studies and/or has informed their career plans.

10. When do most ILS students do their research internship?

A few ILS students begin their research internship during the second semester of their freshman year.  Approximately 60% of ILS students begin their ILS research internship during the summer after their freshman year. The remaining students complete their internship requirement sometime before the beginning of their junior year.

 

ILS ADMISSIONS

1. 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 UMD. 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.

2. 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. Honor College applicants who have already exhibited outstanding performance in college-level courses (Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Programs) in biology, chemistry, and mathematics or in freshmen-level biology courses taken at UMD or other universities are encouraged to preference ILS.  Typically, entering ILS students will have also earned AP or college credit in a few other courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Other criteria for evaluating ILS applicants include: significant prior biological or biomedical research experience, and other life experiences suggesting that ILS matches well with their career goals. 

3. WHAT SCORES are required in ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED for Admission into the ils program?

The most direct way to become eligible for freshman admission into ILS is to earn a high score (4 or 5) on the AP Biology exam following your sophomore or junior year of high school.  If you are an IB student, you must receive a 6 or 7 on the IB Higher Biology exam to become eligible to join ILS as a freshman.  If you are taking AP Biology or the IB Biology exam during your senior year, you will still be considered for ILS based on your performance in other AP and IB science and math courses. It is important to list your AP and IB exam scores along with career goals and extracurricular activities on the webpage used to indicate your preference for ILS among the living-learning programs in the Honors College. It is also crucial that you do well on the AP or IB Biology exam in the spring of your senior year so that you can start the accelerated ILS courses in your first semester in ILS.  The University of Maryland does not accept SAT subject tests in Biology to waive Freshmen biology courses and thus those scores cannot be used for consideration for acceptance to ILS. 

4. WHAT IF I Didn't get aP/IB credit for biology, are there any other options for admission to ils?

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, honors students who are doing A-level work in the freshman Biological Sciences sequence (BSCI160/161 and BSCI170/171) have the opportunity to join ILS in their 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.  The opportunity to apply for sophomore admissions is made available to University Honors students after the Fall semester of their first year.

 

                   If you have a question that is not answered above please don't hesitate to contact our office via email at:                     ils-honoros@umd.edu or via phone to our Assistant Director at 301-405-5086.