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  • Writer's pictureJessica Chermak, CEP, LPC

Honors Programs and Colleges

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

One of the questions we hear most often from students and parents is whether or not they should apply to honors programs or honors colleges. This blog will cover some of the benefits to joining these programs, but the programs and colleges vary widely across the country. We encourage students to explore the specific programming at their colleges of interest, but here is a breakdown of some of the benefits of these academic programs:

 

Compilation of Potential Benefits Offered by Honors Programs and Honors Colleges

  • Additional scholarship opportunities

  • Priority registration

  • Better housing options

  • Smaller class sizes

  • More interdisciplinary studies and courses

  • Exclusive opportunities for internships, study abroad, independent research and projects, additional funding, and additional advisors for professional/career/academics

  • Smaller and more engaged community

  • Honors courses typically replace required coursework, so it isn’t extra time or work in school

  • In-state tuition for out-of-state students

Potential Downsides to Honors Programs and Colleges

  • There is often an additional application, typically with a due date prior to admission decision.

  • Sometimes there may be an extra fee for participation in retreats and special events exclusive to honors participants.

  • Most honors programs/colleges require students to maintain a certain GPA to remain in good standing.

 

Some Examples

  • Counts toward the themed inquiry cluster requirement

  • Students in every major can participate

  • Focus on three main areas of study: human science, social science, and natural science

  • Courses also count toward other GE requirements

  • Students can apply or be invited

  • Honors forum, an opportunity for student voices to be heard

  • Honors capstone requirement (often in addition to the thesis/capstone requirements of each specific major)

  • Seminar-style courses focused on discussion and the exchange of ideas instead of lecture

  • Limited to 20-25 students each academic year

  • Special honors lounge access for participating students

  • Participation in Honors Conferences across the USA

  • Students have an opportunity to teach their own course to other honors students during interterm

  • All 400+ majors across all four ASU campuses are eligible

  • Provides additional opportunities within each major to enhance the undergraduate experience

  • Exclusive opportunities and resources for Honors students

  • Honors residential community (multidisciplinary residence halls as first-year students)

  • Additional $1000 fee per semester

  • Additional scholarship opportunities (most with a Feb. 1 deadline)

  • Honors courses replace other requirements, so no additional course work required

  • Students can participate in special projects, research, internships, and study abroad experiences

  • Students must first apply to ASU, then complete the separate Barrett honors application (no fee)

  • The application looks at academics, letters of recommendation, essays, and activities/awards

  • Students can submit a creative supplement with their application.

  • In-state tuition for out-of-state students

  • ~600 honors courses offered each year

  • Ability to design your own major through the Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae (BARSC) degree

  • Special campus housing

  • Small classes (average is 16 students)

  • Special honors advisor, in addition to the general major advisor assigned to students

  • Internship opportunities to fulfill honors credit requirements

  • National fellowships available for external recognition

  • Service-learning opportunities to enhance the academic experience

  • Funding for undergraduate research across disciplines

  • Honors applications are submitted through the admission office, and requires an early application, additional letters of recommendation, a resume, and several essay responses

  • Additional fee of $575 per semester

  • Access to honors college departmental scholarships

 

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between honors programs and colleges. While we only provided a few examples, we encourage all students to explore these unique opportunities at their schools of interest.


On a personal level, my participation in the honors program at Chapman University truly made my undergraduate experience unforgettable. I had the opportunity to obtain funding to attend and present at international, national, and regional conferences. Additionally, I found the honors courses to be particularly unique and engaging, and the other program participants encouraged me to strive to always improve and grow. I was challenged academically, and the higher expectations created space for me to think outside of the box and engage on a deeper level in each of my courses.


Good luck (but I know you won't need it),

Jessica Chermak, LPC, CEP

Independent College Counselor

Co-Founder of Virtual College Counselors






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