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Academic Honors

A: Definition

B: Required Documents

C: What is Research

D: What is Not Human Research

E: Research Project Implementation

F: Guidelines for Project Written Reports

G: Project Approval Form


Graduation with Cum Laude

Graduation with Magna Cum Laude

  • Completion of all pharmacy coursework in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum
  • A grade point average of 3.60 – 3.79 in required pharmacy courses
  • Completion of a project, submission of a report, and presentation via adherence to College of Pharmacy guidelines
  • Approval by the student’s supervisor, the supervisor’s department chair, and the Graduate Studies Committee

Graduation with Summa Cum Laude

  • Completion of all pharmacy coursework in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum
  • A grade point average of 3.80 or higher in required pharmacy courses
  • Completion of a project, submission of a report, and presentation via adherence to College of Pharmacy guidelines
  • Approval by the student’s supervisor, supervisor’s department chair, and Graduate Studies Committee

Therefore to qualify for high academic honors (manga or summa cum laude) students will be required to complete a academic honors project. If they opt not to complete the academic honors project they will still graduate cum laude.

Please see video concerning Academic Honors program at the University of Florida. (You will need Silverlight to view the video.  To download Silverlight, click here.)

(Approved by vote of faculty: January 28, 2004)

Required Documents for Academic Honors

To qualify for Academic honors a student will need to complete the four requirements/components.

To begin:

All three of the above requirements/components should be submitted, preferably in electronic format, by April 1 of the year in which the student graduates to:

Dr. Maureen Keller-Wood
Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education
Box 100484
HPNP Building
1225 Center Drive
Gainesville, FL 32610-0484
(352) 273-7687


What is Research

There are many definitions of what research is but simply stated:

“Research is the gainful pursuit of new knowledge… for the betterment of mankind.”

This definition allows for research to be in any specialty or area a student wants to explore… for students in the profession of pharmacy that area would be the pharmaceutical sciences… but you may also want to explore other areas… for example biomedical, psycho-social, environmental, engineering… etc.

Furthermore, the latter part of this definition of research requires that the work be published and/or shared with the academic and scientific community. We strongly encourage that this be done.

By and large the academic honors projects for pharmacy students can be either: basic, clinical or translational or translational in nature:

Basic Research:  involves basic bench-type research, which may utilize computer or animal models for completion of the studies. If animals are involved, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval is required prior to initiating project.

Clinical Research:  involves living human subjects or anything that is associated with living human subjects and will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before project can be initiated. An excellent review of what human research is can be found on the UF-IRB website at: The IRB approval process can be time consuming and complicated, therefore, it is best that you begin the process of IRB approval well before you begin your academic honors project.

It is important to note that all submissions to UF IRB (IRB-01 only) will be electronic (myIRB). Researchers who need assistance with navigating myIRB can utilize our Researcher Manual located at:  

Furthermore, in order to insure the protection of human research subjects UF students cannot serve as principal investigator (PI) on any IRB proposal. They must partner with a UF faculty member. Students are referred to the following website: for a complete review of who can and cannot serve as PIs on IRB proposals through UF.

All students interested in academic honors projects that involve human subjects and access to personal health information (PHI) must access the following link for a review of the IRB and student projects:

Translational Research:  involves the interface between basic and clinical research so both IRB and IACUC approvals may be required. Translational research can also involve various phases to include:

  • T1: Translation of bench research to bedside research or “first in man” studies (phase 1 and 2 clinical trials)
  • T2: Expands the level of T1 discovery to encompass a larger population base and establishes clinical efficacy of new discoveries (phase 3 clinical trials)
  • T3: Involves the expansion of the T2 studies to look at how the new discoveries are affecting clinical practice (in effect, post marketing surveillance or phase 4 clinical trials)
  • T4: Builds on T3 studies to become part of the scope of practice or best practice implementation locally and worldwide.

What is Not Human Research

It is quite possible that an individual academic honors project will involve access to PHI but may not considered human research. Some examples of academic honors projects that may not be considered human research may include, but are not limited to:

  • Implementation and evaluation of a clinical service (e.g. DUR, MUE)
  • Compilation and interpretation of clinical or scientific data from the literature that resolves a significant problem or dilemma
  • Implementation and evaluation of a survey that addresses a specific problem or dilemma

Examples may also be found on the UF-IRB website at: and, thus, may be considered projects involving Quality Assurance /Continuous Quality Improvement (QA/CQI). As stated earlier all projects, even projects classified as QA/CQI will require review by the UF-IRB. As many of the academic honors projects will likely involve projects not classified as human research, the UF-IRB has prepared a website for students to migrate through that has truly simplified this process.

Please see the following link for a thorough review of what QA/CQI is: Each student should carefully review this site with their mentor to determine whether their academic honors project involves human research or QA/CQI.

Again, even if QA/CQI is determined, all students must complete the CQI vs Research Determination Form prior to beginning any academic honors project. Once opened this form can be downloaded to the student’s computer prior to completion. Full instructions for completing this form are on the website. The completed form is then sent electronically to Dr. Peter Iafrate at for final determination. A project cannot begin until Dr. Iafrate has determined the project to be QA/CQI via a return letter to the student.


Examples of recent project titles accepted through Academic Honors Program in the College of Pharmacy include:

  • GC-MS Method Development for Quetiapine in Blood
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the Adrenergic Receptor System and Cardiovascular Risk in Women.
  • Quality of Vancomycin Use in Patients with AKI in the ICU
  • Intermittent High Dose Ethanol Exposure Increases Ethanol Preference Without Affecting Operant Responding
  • Assessing the Need for Standardized Medication Reconciliation in Transfers from Acute to Long Term Care
  • Changes in Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Following High-dose Atorvastatin Therapy
  • Tolerance of  sHLA-G in Type 1 Diabetes
  • TheraDoc: Evaluation of Pharmacist Satisfaction and Appropriate Usage
  • Oral Counseling Practices in U.S. Community Pharmacies
  • The Evolving Role of recombinant Factor VII in Neurological Bleeds: An Observational Study in a Certified Stroke Center

Guidelines for Academic Honors Project Implementation and Review

Students should discuss academic honors ideas with faculty members to obtain insight and perspective with regard to a sufficient scope to meet the criteria for graduation with academic honors. Projects should not be too broad or too narrow in scope.

However… it is highly recommended that students who are contemplating graduating with high academic honors, that they be proactive in their approach and do not wait until the last minute to begin a study. This will require that the student be diligent of the overall academic progress and performance to meet the minimum GPA requirements for high academic honors.

The project can be initiated at any time while a pharmacy student in the University of Florida, College of Pharmacy except the semester of graduation. This includes the summers between professional years of study. Course credit is not required. Projects can be completed during clerkships.

Students should consult the College’s web site for a description of honors project interests in the College or access the Research Opportunities at all UF-COP Campuses link to begin the process of looking at research opportunities at each of the Colleges Campuses, research fellowships available and elective research courses offered for credit.

Students may also link to the individual departments within the college to get an initial overview of honors projects or research activities ongoing within each department. Students may also link to the video from Department Chairs in the College briefly discussing the faculty research interests in each of their respective departments.

Once the student has identified a department of interest, it is recommended that each student review each individual faculty member’s honors project or research interests to determine if there is an interest in working with the faculty member. The student then contacts the faculty member to discuss academic honors opportunities.

Students should share their academic honors proposal with a faculty member whom the student would like to work with to complete the project.

Financial support for honors or research projects may be obtained through faculty research funds including students’ participation in competitive funding for honors or research projects through the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE), American Foundation for Aging Research (AFAR), and Summer NIH Research Training Grant for students in the Health Professions or any other appropriate funding source. Please access the Research Fellowships and Scholarships Available link on the College’s web site to identify each of these funding sources.

The faculty member who serves as the supervisor for the student’s academic honors project should meet with the student on a periodic basis to review and approve all stages of the project, submission, and presentation.

Students may work on the project during academic semesters or in the summer time. Academic credit for the academic honors may be obtained, although not necessary, by registration of no more than six credits in Research in Pharmacy elective courses per department (please see Research Courses Offered).

All data collection for projects should be completed by the end of the semester prior to graduation. For entry-level PharmD students this is usually the end of the fall semester of the fourth professional year.

The report should be completed, approved, and presented a month prior to the graduation date. For entry-level PharmD students this will be by April 1. Students should follow the guidelines for preparing a report approved by the faculty (please see Guidelines for Project Written Reports).

Projects must have a faculty supervisor, but the faculty supervisor need not be in the College of Pharmacy. The supervisor may be any faculty or scientist at any University or pharmaceutical firm that agrees to the academic honors project guidelines and meets approval by the College.

The date of the presentation of the report should be set and announced by the department. Faculty and students should attend the presentations.

Students should arrange to make a presentation of the academic honors project to peers and faculty as determined by the faculty member and department in the College. Students are also encouraged to present the results of their academic honors projects at professional meetings, as well as, at the College’s Annual Research Showcase, which is held every year in the spring semester. All presentations should be completed a month prior to the graduation date.

The faculty member who supervises a student project must sign the Project Approval Form that the project is worthy for consideration to meet requirements for graduation with magna cum laude or summa cum laude. The final project must also be approved by the faculty supervisor’s respective department chair, as well as the Graduate Studies Council.

For Graduate Studies Council review, the project report and the Project Approval Form for awarding magna cum laude or summa cum laude should be submitted to Dr. William J. Millard, Associate Dean for Administration and Research Affairs, Room 4-334, HPNP building, no later than April 1 of the semester in which the respective student graduates. Dr. Millard will then send a list of approved candidates for academic distinction to the Office of Student Affairs prior to commencement for final certification.

Guidelines for Project Written Reports

Projects can be laboratory or clinical based. Scholarly work in the literature about a therapeutic dilemma or other type of project is acceptable.

If the selected projects involve research on human subjects, the project must be approved through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before the project can begin. Please see above in Clinical Research.

Information on exempt studies, which may be a frequent type of student academic honors project, may be found at ( Survey type projects with no subject identification may receive exemption from full review. Please see above What is not Human Research.

Please have the paper typed, double-spaced, using 12 font. The paper should be approximately 3,000 words at a minimum.

The report should contain the following elements: statement of the project question (i.e., goal/objectives for the project question); discussion of the literature regarding the project question (i.e., history of the project performed, comparison of different approaches); methods to gain data or information; presentation of findings; evaluation of the most promising resolution of the research question (i.e., discussion of the results of the project with emphasis on the approach that seems to answer the question); conclusion/summary; and, references. The content of the paper is guided by the topic and your discussion with the pharmacy professor about what is required in the paper. Therefore, you have flexibility regarding content. The above statements are intended as guidelines. The intent is to prepare the report in a format adequate for publication consideration in a pharmacy or other health related journal. Therefore, students can follow the directions and guidelines for a specific publication in lieu of the above guidelines regarding content and categories.

References should be consecutively numbered in the term paper; then listed at the end of the paper in numerical order of citation. That is, use (1), (2) to reference an idea or data obtained from a journal or text; then, list the number in the reference as 1. Reference for (1); 2. Reference for (2), etc.

You may include pictures, graphs, tables, and figures. Identify the faculty member with whom you worked on the title page of the report. Give the original report to the faculty member.