The Honors Program at UM-Dearborn is designed for qualified, highly-motivated students who want an extra level of challenge and stimulus in their college experience.

Honors students take a special sequence of classes that satisfy basic requirements and at the same time provide a well-balanced undergraduate education. The program teaches students to think critically and independently, to perceive connections between diverse areas of knowledge, and to express their thoughts clearly and effectively. Honors Program classes are small, enabling students to interact closely with the faculty and each other.


Because of the small size of the Honors classes and the emphasis on active participation, students in the program gain close personal contact with their professors from the beginning of the freshman year. The instructors in the Honors Program are highly dedicated teachers. Many have won UM-Dearborn's Distinguished Teaching Award. All are committed to the ideal of relaxed and collegial relations between students and professors. The Honors faculty are readily available to Honors students for academic advising and for informal conversation.

The core of the Honors Program is a carefully planned sequence of courses. Instead of taking a smattering of classes in unrelated areas, students in the program complete their basic college requirements with courses that form an integrated and coherent curriculum.

Honors students have a special niche within the college community. They get to know each other and build close friendships because they take many of the same courses together. The program regularly sponsors social hours and organizes group outings to concerts, plays and museums. Students and faculty in the program get to share valuable experiences outside the classroom.

Educational Goals

What are the Educational Goals of the Honors Program? The Honors Program at UM-Dearborn aims to counter a major problem in modern college education: the fragmented and overly-specialized nature of many undergraduate programs. Our Honors courses offer a broad overview of the history of Western culture. Students learn about the basic traditions, the essential thoughts, the pivotal events that have shaped our society. At the same time, since the courses are taught by professors from different fields, students also come to understand how the various strands in our history are linked with one another.  The Honors Program recognizes that young people today will enter a multiethnic society and a world of closely-linked competing nations. 

The atmosphere of the Honors discussion classes is open and convivial. Students are encouraged to express their own thoughts freely and to treat diverse points of view in a considerate and collegial manner.  The Honors curriculum follows a logical progression, leading from discussion classes in the freshman year to independent research in the junior year. Students in the program develop academic abilities that gradually build on one another and create increasing competence and self-reliance.The skills and values fostered by the Honors Program should benefit students not only during their college or graduate education, but also in their later personal lives and professional careers. 

All courses in the program fulfill Dearborn Discovery Core Requirements.


Honors Program Goals

Written and Verbal Communications:

  • Communicate clearly in writing and public speaking.
  • Compose analyses of challenging texts in thesis-driven academic essays.
  • Compose advanced, inquiry-oriented papers, demonstrating comprehension of relevant primary and secondary sources and academic genres.

Critical Thinking:

  • Raise good questions.
  • Evaluate relevant texts in terms of authors’ theses, assumptions, evidence, and inferences.
  • Consider counter evidence in response to ongoing reading.
  • Draw well-reasoned conclusions that address implications of findings.

Integrative, Comparative and Creative Thinking:  

  • Compare different historical contexts and ideas.
  • Assess one’s own assumptions.
  • Create ways of integrating contrasting information on contexts and theories.

Problem Solving:  

  • Recognize problems that inhibit use of intellectual standards in thinking.
  • Identify and discuss reasonable solutions.
  • Work and communicate with others in solving problems.

In their first semester of the freshmen year, students take a unique gateway course, HONS 300 “Four Trials”, in which they study four trials of great world-historical significance, namely those of the Greek philosophers Socrates, the Jewish religious teacher Jesus of Nazareth, the Italian scientist and polymath Galileo Galilee, and the Nazi war-criminal Adolph Eichmann. The course introduces students to key developments in philosophy, theology, science and modern secular politics, while also providing an introduction to methods of textual analysis, critical thinking, theoretical reflection, and cogent writing that are the very fundamentals that the program seeks to develop.

In their first and second semesters, students also take two composition courses specially designed for the program. These are small classes, capped at 15 students per section.

  • COMP 110: Honors Composition I
  • COMP 220: Honors Composition II

Between their the second and fifth semesters, students complete a sequence of four courses that together cover nearly three millennia of western cultural history and thought:

  • HONS 301: Western Culture I — Classical and Biblical Traditions
  • HONS 302: Western Culture II — Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation
  • HONS 303: Western Culture III — Age of Enlightenment
  • HONS 304: Western Culture IV — Modern Era

In the junior or senior year, Honors students enroll in HONS 400: Honors Seminar. This is a small class, usually with ten to fifteen students. They pursue intensive study of a given topic with a faculty member who is an expert in the field. The course introduces students to timely and important areas of research and it usually requires a major writing assignment. 

How Does the Honors Program Fit into the College Curriculum?

The Honors Program provides an alternate route for completing basic required courses. Honors classes satisfy Dearborn Discovery Core requirements for the various units on campus. If a student leaves the program, the classes easily translate into a normal college program with no loss of time or credit. Honors courses are demanding, yet the atmosphere is supportive and honors students generally maintain the same GPA in the program as they would taking ordinary courses.

Apart from their Honors requirements, Honors students follow a normal course of study in their own area of concentration, together with the other students in their unit. They are required to maintain a cumulative grade point average of no less than 3.2 to remain in the Honors program. Any student falling below an overall average of 3.2 at the end of any given semester will be assigned probationary status in the Honors program for the succeeding semester. Failure to improve the overall average to 3.2 or above during that probationary semester will result in dismissal from the Program.

The program accepts students from all units on campus: College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters; College of Engineering and Computer Science; College of Education, Health, and Human Services; and College of Business.

There are no special charges or fees for participation in the program.


The Honors Program at UM-Dearborn is open to all entering freshmen with a high school GPA of at least 3.5, Composite ACT 25 or SAT 1200 or other evidence of superior academic ability. The program accepts students from all units on campus, including CASL, Engineering, Education, Health, and Business students. Admission to the program is competitive and is based on the student's interests and experience as well as the high school record.

Students applying to the program must submit a writing sample, a letter of recommendation, and a 500-word essay that they will write after attending one of the Information Sessions held in February and March. These Information Sessions are held in the evening and provide a forum for prospective students and their parents to learn about the goals and benefits of the Honors Program and to meet the faulty and some of the students currently enrolled in Honors. Details on the scheduling of these Information Sessions are made available in late-November.

Associated Faculty

Additional Honors Program Faculty

DeGenaro, Anthony
LEO Lecturer I, Composition

Foy, Thomas
LEO Lecturer II, Composition

Joseph Lunn 
Professor of History

Potvin, PF
LEO Lecturer III, Composition

Wayman, Frank
Professor of Political Science

Wright, Drew
LEO Lecturer II, Composition


Honors Program

3018 -
CASL Building
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