iCons—The Integrated Concentration in Science—is a selective, 20-credit undergraduate science program offered by the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Designed for students majoring in the physical and life sciences, engineering, and public health, iCons provides integrative science education in two theme areas: Renewable Energy and Biomedicine/Biosystems.

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iCons does not replace a major, it enhances a major by providing opportunities to engage with real world issues as part of interdisciplinary teams - skills that translate directly to careers at the leading edge of science. Students apply knowledge from their disciplines to existing problems of global significance, such as the cholera epidemic in Haiti, endocrine disruptors, or the development of algae biofuels.

Society faces daunting technological problems in areas such as renewable energy, climate change, drug design, and clean drinking water. Complex problems demand multi-faceted solutions. iCons provides meaningful interdisciplinary training for students who aspire to be tomorrow's scientific leaders.

Overview of iCons Program Curriculum: iCons at a Glance

The iCons Experience

The iCons Program Student Learning Outcomes

  • Collaborate in diverse teams to critically evaluate societal challenges.
  • Gain confidence in your ability to ask questions and seek answers.
  • Use fundamental science principles to create experiments that yield valid insights and address gaps in scientific knowledge.
  • Learn to write, speak, and think as a scientist as you create your own logical arguments and narratives.
  • Articulate an interdisciplinary scientific argument to both scientists and non-scientists.
  • Provide and receive constructive criticism when communicating with experts in different scientific fields.
  • Critically evaluate experimental data from, and approaches to, scientific problems in your own and other fields.
  • Develop an appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of the scientific process.

The iCons Application Process

Students interested in joining the iCons Program who are pursuing majors in the College of Natural Sciences, the College of Engineering, the School of Nursing, and the School of Public Health, submit an application in the fall semester of their first or second year. The program is designed to be undertaken one course per year over the course of four years, and is therefore best suited for entering freshmen. However, sophomores are allowed to apply, knowing that they will have to take the 2nd and 3rd course concurrently at some point during the program.

The iCons application is available for completion on the iCons website from September through mid-October. Students must submit their applications online. Admissions Committee decisions will be communicated to applicants prior to the pre-registration period for spring semester. 

The iCons Curriculum

The iCons curriculum integrates scientific expertise across disciplines, giving students opportunities to work with real-world case studies from day one. The program fosters collaborative learning, discovery-based projects, leadership development, and multidisciplinary analytical skills.

Students choose a theme area before registering for the second-year courses, and are expected to apply the skills of their discipline to solving a real-world problem through their undergraduate career, either through an honors thesis, research project, or engineering project. iCons students are not required to be members of the Commonwealth Honors College, but all iCons courses carry honors credit.

Courses
iCons 1: ICONS 189H Global Challenges, Scientific Solutions (4 credits) | Counts as Gen Ed Interdisciplinary; Carries Honors credit
iCons 2: ICONS 289H Integrated Scientific Communication (4 credits) | Two sections: Biomed theme and Renewable Energy theme; Satisfies Junior Year Writing Requirement*; Carries Honors credit
iCons 3: ICONS 389H Team Discovery Lab in Renewable Energy (4 credits) OR BIO 383H Gene and Genome Analysis (4 credits) | Counts for Upper Level Elective*; Satisfies criteria 2 and 3 of Integrative Experience Requirement; Carries Honors credit
iCons 4:

  • ICONS 489FH Integrative Team Science Seminar (1 credit)
  • iCons Advanced Study I: Departmental 499Y Research or Senior Design Project I (3 credits)
  • ICONS 489SH Integrative Science Senior Exposition Seminar (1 credit) | Satisfies criteria 1 of Integrative Experience Requirement
  • iCons Advanced Study II: Departmental 499T Thesis or Senior Design Project II (3 credits)

*For most majors

For more details see:
- iCons Courses: Syllabi, Sequence, & Requirements