Undergraduate Honors ProgramsDec 04, 2021
Most students are confused about the difference between an Honors College and an Honors Program. A simple way of understanding the two academic options is this: an Honors College is typically a separate undergraduate college within a more prominent university. An Honors Program is a set or range of coursework that a student completes during part of an existing undergraduate School or College within their institution. Either way, the student will receive an Honors designation on their diploma. An Honors Program typically doesn’t offer separate housing but is still selective in its admission. Students may have the option of submitting a supplemental application during the initial application period, or they may be invited to apply when they are offered admission, or they may apply after their first semester on campus. Students may need an additional letter of recommendation and display strong academic potential when applying and are often required to maintain a higher than average GPA. Check college websites for up-to-date information.
It is essential to understand that there are not only requirements for admission into an honors program, but typically there are requirements for remaining in an honors program. Students offered admission into an honors program may find that a sizeable scholarship is also awarded along with that offer. This will require that you not only achieve a specific GPA but that you maintain that GPA throughout your years at the university. You are also likely to be offered your choice of housing, class registration before the rest of the student body, expanded access to academic advising, career services, and undergraduate research, and even extended library hours. It is also exciting to note that honors courses are frequently offered in smaller classes, often taught by top faculty, or offer academic opportunities with visiting scholars. Here are a few outstanding honors programs at well-known universities that you may wish to consider:
- American University: AU Honors
- California Polytechnic State University: University Honors Program
- Colorado School of Mines: The Thorson First-Year Honors Experience
- Fordham University: The Honors Program at Fordham College Lincoln Center
- George Washington University: University Honors Program
- Muhlenberg College: The Dana Scholars Program
- Rice University: Century Scholars Program
- Santa Clara University: The UniversityHonors Program
- Syracuse University: The Renee Crown University Honors Program
- Tulane University: The Newcomb-Tulane Honors Program
- University of California Santa Barbara: Letters and Science Honors Program
- University of Connecticut: The Honors Program
- University of Denver: The Honors Program at DU
- University of Georgia: The Honors Program
- University of Kansas: KU University Honors Program
- University of Mary Washington: The UMW Honors Program
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Honors Carolina
- University of Texas at Austin: The Plan II Honors Program
- University of Virginia: Echols Scholars Program
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: L&S Honors Program
If you are interested in honors at other colleges, search their websites for information.
You may already be enrolled in honors-level coursework in high school. Those classes are usually more rigorous, advanced and require more of your focused time and attention. And it’s worth it! Colleges love to see that applicants have done well in the most challenging coursework available at their individual schools. This demonstrates that the applicant is more prepared for the more advanced rigor of the university classroom. Honors programs are designed to attract those same academically-motivated students and offer the opportunity of a deeper dive into their chosen field of study among a smaller cohort of students. Some honors programs will require a senior thesis, completion of a research project with senior faculty, and some form of an internship. In addition, there may be special events or activities for honors students, and that special designation on their diploma and richer undergraduate resume will help ensure that they stand out within the job market or graduate school admission offices. So set the bar and aim high – honors can be yours!
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