ILS attracts the most talented, creative, and accomplished students in the life sciences, many of whom intend to pursue rewarding careers as research scientists, physicians, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacists or physician scientists following their undergraduate studies at Maryland. Their academic interests range from molecular biology and biochemistry, animal physiology and bioengineering, to evolutionary biology and ecosystem studies. ILS provides an innovative education for talented students interested in all disciplines in the life sciences inclusive to a wide range of majors and career objectives.
Health Professions + Medical School
In order to meet the challenges of contemporary training for pre-medical, pre-dental, and other pre-health students, the Association of American Medical Colleges has published a recent report entitled Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians (2009) that identifies the overall competencies and learning objectives for training pre-med and pre-health students. These learning objectives are the basis for the new version of the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) that was first administered in January 2015. These learning objectives almost entirely coincide with those expected of rigorous undergraduate majors in the life sciences at the University of Maryland, including Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), and Bioengineering (BIOE). Furthermore, ILS offers students interested in medical careers several special opportunities:
- ILS has partnered with the Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO) to provide early advising for pre-med students during their first-semester on campus. The HPAO provides directed workshops and individualized counseling to all students, with any major. These workshops include initial planning, internship experiences, service opportunities, medical school application process, and medical school interview preparation.
- ILS has developed mentoring programs in campus research laboratories and at federal research and biomedical institutes. Some of these research experiences provide unique opportunities for preparing for medical school.
- ILS advising helps ILS students identify appropriate co-curricular clinical, service and research experiences needed to develop strong applications to medical school and other health professions schools.
- The data available from the HPAO indicates that previous cohorts of UMD Honors students in life sciences majors have medical school acceptance rates above 80%. We anticipate that due to the above programs, the cohorts of ILS students should have comparable or even higher acceptance rates.
Graduate Programs in Life Sciences
Many ILS students are interested in pursuing advanced graduate studies in the life sciences. Several reports, such as BIO 2010 from the National Academy of Sciences and Vision and Change (2010) from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have emphasized the critical role of mathematics, physics, and chemistry in preparing undergraduate students for advanced research degrees in the life sciences.
In addition to a strong academic record, the most critical characteristic for being admitted into a top graduate program in the life sciences is to have done a significant piece of undergraduate research. The ILS staff makes a major commitment to help ILS students to identify, apply for, and successfully complete meaningful research internship experiences that will further their ability to acquire a deeper appreciation for the research process and to achieve their professional goals.
ILS students are supported in identifying internship opportunities in various ways, including:
- ILS students are encouraged to enroll in BSCI279H Catalyst Seminar in the Spring semester of their first year. This 1-credit seminar course takes each student through the process of successfully obtaining a research internship.
- ILS facilitates personal contacts with UMD faculty or off-campus researchers, who serve as mentors in ILS.
- ILS has partners with the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences to connect ILS students to a network of on-campus research opportunities.
- ILS maintains an extensive searchable catalog of relevant internship opportunities in federal research laboratories, private companies, and non-profit research organizations in the DC metro area.
- ILS advising is designed to assist ILS students in identifying appropriate co-curricular experiences that will support their interests and professional goals and allow them to develop a strong application for graduate school.
The ILS internship experience prepares ILS students to apply for the departmental honors program in the department that aligns with their research interests. Typically intended for juniors and seniors, departmental honors programs provide research-intensive experiences, including proposal writing, experimental work, data analysis, and seminar presentations in professional settings. Students participating in departmental honors also write an honors thesis describing their research.
For other helpful tips visit the College of Computer, Math and Natural Sciences Academic Planning website.