ILS students working together on an in-class activity.

ILS courses are based on the national initiatives for reforming undergraduate biology education:  BIO 2010, Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, and Vision and Change. These initiatives provide explicit guidelines for designing multidisciplinary life sciences curricula necessary for preparing life science and pre-medical students for successful careers in the 21st century. The ILS academic program is composed of a core of four accelerated courses in integrated organismal biology, genetics and genomics, mathematical modeling in Biology, and scholarship-in-practice, plus the first-semester introduction course. These courses represent either honors versions of BSCI courses or unique new courses designed to satisfy the objectives of the national initiatives linked above. Furthermore, all ILS courses emphasize innovative pedagogy strategies intended to encourage student active engagement and small-group problem solving. 

Course Descriptions 

HLSC 100 Developing Life Scientists for the Global Good (1 credit) - This small group, service-learning course covers resources available UMD and three important facets of the life sciences: the social determinants of health, sustainability, and STEM education. Students participate in a 12-hour service experience with various community partners on and off campus. (Students entering ILS as rising second-year students may substitute other UNIV 100 courses to satisfy this requirement). This course satisfies the first-year seminar requirement for most majors. Sample Syllabus

HLSC 207 Principles of Biology III: Organismal Biology (3 credits) - Taught by our Director, Dr. Todd Cooke, this course is recognized as a national model for teaching rigorous introductory organismal biology.  The class utilizes mathematical, physical, chemical, genomic, and evolutionary principles to develop an integrated perspective toward the functioning and evolution of all organisms, including humans. This course is equivalent to BSCI 207.  Sample Syllabus


HLSC 322 Genetics and Genomics (4 credits) -This course starts with an overview of basic Mendelian and molecular genetics, then focuses on the understanding and application of genomics to contemporary research, medicine, biotechnology, and societal issues. This course is equivalent to BSCI 222. Sample Syllabus

BSCI 279H Catalyst Seminar (1 credit) - This course provides students the opportunity to learn skills essential for becoming successful student researchers, such as strategies for negotiating the research process, locating a faculty mentor, ethics in science, and critical analysis of research papers and proposals. Note: this course is not required but is strongly recommended for all first-year students. This course is only offered to first-year students

HLSC 374 Mathematical Modeling in Biology (4 credits) - This course is designed to teach students how to apply advanced mathematics and modeling techniques in order to:  1) address important problems in human physiology, epidemiology, and complex biological systems, and 2) conduct research in emerging disciplines, such as molecular biophysics and bioinformatics. NOTE: The prerequisites for this course are two semesters of Calculus or equivalent AP credits. This course is equivalent to BSCI474. Sample Syllabus

BSCI330H: Cell Biology for Life Scientists (4 credits) - This course covers the properties of cells, which make life possible, and mechanisms by which cells provide energy, reproduce, regulate and integrate with each other and their environment. This course is a blended learning course that involves a combination of face-to-face and online interactions. The online component focuses on content while the in-class portion focuses on application of the content to problems in cell biology. This course is equivalent to BSCI330. Sample Syllabus

BSCI411H Bioinfomatics and Integrated Genomics (4 credits) - Computational methods for the study of biological sequence data in comparative biology and evolution. Analysis of genome content and organization. Database searching, pairwise and multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic, methods, pattern recognition, and functional inference. Functional and comparative genomics approaches.

ENGL390H Science Writing (3 credits) - Specifically designed for students interested in further study in the physical and biological sciences. Exposes students to the conventions of scientific prose in the genres of research articles and proposals. Students learn to accommodate scientific information to general audiences.

PHIL220H Bioethics: Regulating Right and Wrong (3 credits) - Bioethicists formulate ethical guidelines. They answer questions such as: When life-saving health resources are scarce, who should get them? Should we increase supply of one such resource, kidneys, by buying them from living "donors"? If drug trials in developing countries benefit patients who consent to participate, are the trials ethical, even if the same research would be forbidden in the US? If a sick person aims to hasten her death, how, if at all, might her doctor permissibly help her? In this course, students construct and defend ethical rules in four domains: research ethics, allocation of scarce resources, markets in organs, and physician-assisted dying.

Picture of students in front of Stonehenge on the British Masters of Science Study Abroad course.

HLSC219 The British Masters of Science (January 2020):  This 10-day study abroad course examines 500 years of scientific discovery by British masters, from Sir Isaac Newton to Dr. Stephen Hawking.  Britain’s great scientists and inventors have been at the forefront of some of history’s greatest advances and have shaped science as we know it today.  This program explores these scientific masters where they lived, studied, and worked in London, Oxford, and Cambridge.  Students experience the historic foundations of science and connect the scientific discoveries of history to present day experience of science. Sample Syllabus

ILS Course Sequence 

Most students complete this course sequence within their first two years in the program. However, the program does allow flexibility for the second year for students interested in studying abroad, participating in the federal semester program, etc. To ensure that students are able to stay in the program they must discuss their plans with the ILS Associate Director as soon as they realize there may be a conflict.


Fall semester

Spring semester

1 HLSC100 Developing Life Scientists for the Global Good (1)
HLSC207 Integrated Organismal Biology (3)

HLSC322 Genetics and Genomics (4)

BSCI279H Catalyst Seminar (1) Suggested


Any one of the following:
HLSC374 Mathematical Modeling in Biology (4)
BSCI330H Cell Biology for Life Scientists (4)
BSCI411H Bioinformatics and Integrated Genomics (4)
ENGL390H Science Writing (3)

Either of the following:
ENGL390H Science Writing (3)
PHIL220H Bioethics: Regulating Right and Wrong (3)

Honors (Honr) Courses

As of Spring 2019, access to Honors (HONR) courses is available only on a limited basis based on matriculation year and citation status. Please see the table below for details

Matriculation Year

Citation Complete?

Access to HONR

2017-18 and earlier Yes No
2017-18 and earlier No 1 per semester until Spring 2020
2018-19 Yes or No 1 per semester until Spring 2020
2019-20 and later Yes or No No

ILS Honors Citation 

ILS students will be awarded an Honors College Citation in Integrated Life Sciences for successfully completing this course sequence totaling 15 credits, this includes participating in an authentic basic biological, biomedical, or clinical research experience, as described in the Research Experiences page.

Picture of students receiving their ILS citations at the citation dinner.