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

HLSC 377 Research and Application in Life Sciences (3 credits, not currently offered) - This scholarship in practice course integrates the academic and experiential aspects of ILS to help students approach complex real-world problems having a biological basis, such as genetic diseases, viral epidemics, ageing, global warming, green energy, and environmental sustainability.  This course counts as a capstone course for CORE requirements and a scholarship in practice course for General Education requirements. Sample Syllabus

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

HLSC219 The British Masters of Science:  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 HLSC 100 Developing Life Scientists for the Global Good (1)
HLSC 207 Integrated Organismal Biology (3)

HLSC 322 Genetics and Genomics (4)

BSCI279H Catalyst Seminar (1) Suggested


HLSC 374 Mathematical Modeling in Biology (4)
BSCI330H Cell Biology for Life Scientists (4)

HLSC 377 Research and Application In Life Sciences (3)

Honors Seminars

One of the many advantages of ILS being part of the larger Honors College is that ILS students are able to enroll in Honors Seminars offered through the University Honors Program.  These seminars are 3-credit courses shaped around seminar-style learning. Approximately 80 seminars are offered each semester (plus Honors study abroad courses during winter and summer terms); each is limited to 20 students.  Many students use these seminars to enrich their academic schedule and to meet their CORE/General Education requirements.   

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.