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Life Sciences

Exploring the entirety of the natural world, from tiny microbes to complex ecosystems


We live on a vast planet, alongside billions of other living organisms—both visible to the naked eye and not. Life Sciences introduces students to the interdisciplinary nature of the life sciences and explores how we might best apply the knowledge we gain to better our community, our nation and the world we share with our fellow inhabitants.

Discussing a range of topics, including molecular biology, human genetics, ecology, evolution, conservation and ethics, students in this Scholars program seek to answer big questions:

  • How do we use our knowledge and skills to improve various aspects of human health? 
  • How do we create a sustainable future for all life forms?
  • How do the life sciences interact with our daily lives (religion, politics, relationships, business, the arts)?

Ultimately, students discover how they might build toward careers to help their fellow human beings and other life on this planet.

This program offers a close community of students who share a common passion for life sciences, broadly defined, and an enduring concern for the well-being of others. 

Colloquium and Lecture Topics

  • The story of the human body: Evolution, health and disease
  • Future city: Urban nature as healing gardens
  • Professional development: Finding an internship
  • Movie: The Serengeti Rules
  • Cathedrals of Science: The human scientists behind science
  • Individual journeys defining success for Life Sciences Scholars

The program actively encourages involvement in opportunities to explore the extensive breadth of professions related to the sciences. The relationships and experiences [of Life Sciences] go beyond the typical expectations associated with large, competitive education institutions.

Leela Johnson
Leela Johnson '22

Other Learning Opportunities

Life Sciences Scholars students connect what they have learned in class with practical experiences outside the classroom. Students:

  • Learn from working scientists through lectures, such as at the Carnegie Institute for Science;
  • Take local and regional field trips to places—such as the U.S. Botanic Gardens and western Maryland—that underscore the connection of the life sciences to the real world; and
  • Work individually or in small groups to research and prepare presentations on selected topics each semester.

They build upon that experience in their second year in the program to participate in research or an internship. Life Sciences students have:

  • Participated in cancer research at the National Institutes of Health;
  • Shadowed a dentist in the Dominican Republic as well as in his local practice; and
  • Interned in the Green Office Program in the university's Office of Sustainability.

Finally, we offer students the opportunity to participate in global learning experiences specially tailored for their interests. Past trips have visited biodiversity-rich locations such as Alaska, Australia and Belize.

Curriculum Overview

Over the two-year program experience (four semesters), students will complete 2–3 Life Sciences–related science courses (including 2 specific lab courses) that will count toward their Life Sciences Scholars citation. In most cases, these will also fulfill General Education requirements. Note that your Scholars courses—colloquium, practicum and supporting course(s)—will generally be in addition to any courses you take to satisfy major requirements.

The following table represents a typical two-year curriculum, but individual schedules may vary. Details about courses and requirements can be found on the Life Sciences Citation Checklist.

Freshman Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Ecology and Evolution + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors) 4 credits
General Chemistry + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors) 4 credits
Introduction to the University 1 credit
1–2 courses toward degree and major requirements 3–7 credits
Freshman Spring Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Molecular and Cellular Biology + Lab (exceptions may apply for those in non–Life Sciences majors) 4 credits
Academic Writing 3 credits
2–3 courses toward degree and major requirements 6–9 credits
Sophomore Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements 12–16 credits
Sophomore Spring Scholars Practicum 2–3 credits
3–4 courses toward degree and major requirements 9–12 credits

Residence Hall

Centreville Hall

Office Address

1212 Centreville Hall

Office Phone



Portrait of Beth Parent

Beth Parent

Program Director, Life Sciences
Portrait of Jimmy McClellan

Jimmy McClellan

Assistant Director, Life Sciences

Social Media Etc.

Life Sciences News

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  • Life Sciences Alumna Awarded Fulbright Grant

    With graduation only weeks away, senior biological sciences major Sarahann Yeh’s future looks even brighter since being awarded the 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant. The Life Sciences alumna will use her award to teach English in Indonesia, assisting local English teachers. Yeh said that Scholars gave her the springboard she needed to get involved on campus. “Scholars enabled me to hit the ground running when I came to Maryland,” Yeh said.

  • Me Too Monologues Make Debut With College Park Scholars

    On March 31, the Cambridge Community will host the first-ever Me Too Monologues on the College Park campus. Me Too Monologues is a documentary theater performance about identity and all the issues that surround it. Students and faculty have been asked to anonymously submit stories about their experiences, and peers will perform their stories as monologues in a theatrical production. This is a national production that has been performed at colleges all over the country.

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