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Frequently Asked Questions:  Prospective Students 


1. How do i get in to ILS?

Prospective ILS students must first apply to the University of Maryland. The top applicants are offered direct admission into the Honors College, and students can then preference their choice of program. Honors College applicants who have exhibited outstanding performance in college-level courses (AP and IB programs as well as classes at local colleges) in biology, chemistry, and mathematics are encouraged to preference ILS as soon as they are certain of their choice.  Typically, entering ILS students will have also earned college credit in a few other courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

2. does my career goal give me priority to ILS?

No.  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 a student's current career goal.

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

In order to be prepared for our accelerated curriculum, students must earn college credit that the University of Maryland registrar recognizes as equivalent to the freshman biology sequence BSCI 160/161 and BSCI170/171.  Course waivers for this sequence are granted for, e.g., a score of a 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam and comparable community college and university courses. 

Note:  Students applying to Maryland from the international community are encouraged to contact the ILS office with questions about equivalent scores.

Note:  *If you are taking these exams/courses as a senior, you will still be considered for ILS based on your application and performance in other AP and IB science and math courses such as chemistry, calculus, and physics.  ILS admissions offers for students taking AP/IB courses their senior year are contingent  upon earning the required scores, which must be reported to ILS staff immediately to confirm admission to the program.  Students who do not earn the required score are then welcomed into the University Honors program in the Honors College.  Please Make sure to include your scores on your preference form when asked.

*Note:  The University of Maryland does not accept SAT subject tests in Biology to waive first-year biology courses. Those scores cannot be used for consideration for acceptance to ILS. 

4. IF I Didn't get the required biology scores, are there any other options for admission to ils?

Yes.  Because the ILS course sequence begins with accelerated sophomore-level courses, if you do not get the requisite scores you will not be adequately prepared as an entering first-year student for ILS. However, University Honors students who earn an A in first-year Biological Sciences sequence (BSCI160/161 and BSCI170/171) have the opportunity to join ILS in their sophomore year. This option is for University Honors students ONLY; students from other programs are not allowed to transfer from any 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 in the spring semester of their first year.

5. if i have a high gpa and get the necessary scores am i guaranteed admission to ils?

No.  There is no guarantee any student will be admitted to ILS.  We have an incredibly talented and highly competitive applicant pool every year, and we have to turn many high-achieving students away each admission cycle.  We are a small program and cannot take everyone, and there are many other Honors programs to choose from where students are wildly successful.  

Picture of ILS graduating seniors on McKeldin Mall.

Program Features

1. what is the essence of ils?

ILS is a biological sciences-focused and accelerated curriculum for talented STEM students.  The program includes a significant research requirement, a two-year commitment of coursework, and a student-driven service-learning experience.  Our living-learning community fosters collaboration, nourishes relationships between students, and offers accessible staff and faculty to mentor and guide each cohort.  We strive to assist our students identify and achieve their unique goals to launch their careers in the life sciences. 


ILS is one of the seven Honors College programs at the University of Maryland that offers its students unique academic and co-curricular experiences. This link compares key features of each program and can help you determine which program is the best path for your goals and aspirations. To learn more about each program, please visit the program websites and contact their staff directly.

3. Why is it called a community?

The ILS community is a multifaceted collaboration of faculty, staff, students, and university partners centered on a living-learning experience in designated housing in LaPlata Hall. It is intentionally designed to build relationships among our students, who are neighbors, frequent collaborators, and classmates.  

LaPlata Hall is the center of our community; home to all of our first-year students, where the staff offices are located for students' convenience, where faculty hold office hours, where Teaching Assistants host study sessions, where some classes are located, and the location of many programs throughout the year.  Community programs on and off campus are planned by the Assistant Director and promote relationship building, scholarship, leadership development, and an encouraging environment for students to be successful, healthy, and happy.  

The academic component of ILS is intentionally designed to work in concert with the residential community of ILS.  Our two required fall classes in the first year of the program are designed to encourage our students to get to know each other, value their diverse backgrounds and experiences, and work collaboratively on assignments and projects.  HLSC100 is a customized introduction to the ILS community and the University of Maryland and facilitated by trained ILS upperclass student Section Leaders in partnership with the Assistant Director.  HLSC207 is taught by our Director and lays the groundwork for critical thinking, mentorship, and student partnership that is pervasive throughout the ILS experience.

Additional components of our community include the Peer Mentor Program, which matches first-year students with an upperclass ILSer to serve as a resource, friendly face, and point of contact throughout the ILS experience.  Resident Advisors live on the floors to serve as embedded sources of support, guidance, and relationship building.  Various social media platforms and a closed listserv keep our students informed of community events, research opportunities, upcoming programs, and encourage communication between staff and students. 

All students complete a 12-hour service-learning requirement with a community partner of their choosing to learn more about each other, their community partner's mission, and the skills to serve their communities in their future careers.  Previous partners' missions include tutoring underserved local students in STEM, serving guests at a D.C. soup kitchen, and experiencing first-hand organic and sustainable farming practices at TerpFarm.  Please see our Community page for additional information.


No.  ILS for students interested in all aspects of the life sciences.  Our community includes students from a wide range of majors including Animal Science, Public Health, Environmental Science, and Psychology.  Our students aspire to careers in research, veterinary science, medicine, dentistry, and global service.  We are unified by our excitement for the life sciences, and designed this course of study to help our students reach personal and professional goals.  However, if you are not passionate about science, ILS will not be a good fit for you.

5. IS ILS THE BEST way at umd to get me into med school?

The ILS courses and research requirement are intentionally 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 as a whole has a commendable history of 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, determined hard work and commitment by talented students, and strong advising support for pre-med students with the Health Professions Advising Office (HPAO).  All UMD students have equal access to HPAO's services and preparation, and students from many living-learning programs successfully earn admission to medical school each year.

6. How long is the ils program?

Although the ILS course requirements are typically satisfied during the first two years of college, ILS continues to offer leadership, service, and mentoring activities to upperclass ILS students.  Most ILS juniors and seniors pursue a wide range of individualized activities including study abroad experiences, specialized off-campus research, community service projects, to MCAT or GRE preparation.  In order to give our students the flexibility necessary to achieve a wide range of goals, ILS coursework is condensed to two years, while the ILS relationships, mentoring, and professional staff guidance continue to be available for all of our students. 

7. are all First-Year ils STudents required to Live on campus?

Yes.  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 essential to the success of all first-year students in the ILS program, and builds a strong foundation for the entirety of their college experience.  By living together, students 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 conveniently holds the classrooms for some ILS courses, the offices of ILS faculty and staff, and group study rooms.  

*Since our inception, the community aspect is one of the most highly rated component of the ILS program by our students. 

8. does ILS require a research experience?

Yes.  Research shows that college students with experience in their intended career prior to graduation helps them realize 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 a 240-hour experience with a mentor contributing to original research.  The research experience can take place on campus, at world-class federal research centers in the Washington, D.C. area, or at other research institutions and universities.  Please see Question 8 below.

9. What does the ILS research internship involve?

1)  Working with the ILS Associate Director to identify a research mentor and project, 2) a commitment of 240 hours to that project, and 3) an e-Portfolio.  However, no need to worry about this until you get here!



                   Still have questions?  Please contact our office via email at: or
via phone to our Assistant Director Zabrina Anzyl at 301-405-5086.