Serving students from all four colleges of the university, the Honors Program is designed for qualified and highly-motivated students seeking an extra level of challenge and stimulation in their college experience.

The curriculum is organized around the values of intellectual aspiration, curiosity, moral engagement, and inclusion. Honors students take a dedicated set of classes that satisfy basic requirements and at the same time contribute to a stimulating and creative undergraduate education. The program helps 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 and are committed to the ideal of intellectual engagement between students and professors. The Honors faculty are readily available to Honors students for academic advising and for informal conversation.

Honors students develop a special set of relationships with each other and with the faculty. 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

The core of the Honors Program is a group of four courses addressing texts and problems the world has faced in the past two thousand years. These courses have been designed to help prepare students for thinking creatively and critically about some of the problems and challenges that confront us today as human beings, making use of authors and texts whose ideas have made a difference in our world. Issues of moral values, social justice, and human diversity are woven throughout the program.

What are the Educational Goals of the Honors Program? The Honors Program aims to provide a unifying educational experience for students.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 nations and cultures.

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 several trials of great world-historical significance. The course introduces students to key developments in philosophy, history, 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 cultural history and thought:

  • HONS 301: Classical and Religious Traditions
  • HONS 302: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Reformation
  • HONS 303: Age of Enlightenment
  • HONS 304: 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 is open to all entering freshmen with a high school GPA of at least 3.5 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 who are eligible to apply for the Honors Program will be invited via email to complete an application to apply for the program. 

Admission is competitive, and participating in the program provides a chance for additional scholarship opportunities, including a chance to compete for our top Chancellor’s Scholarship, which meets 100% full tuition and fees.  The following must be completed to be considered:

  • Complete the Honors Application (sent to eligible students email in January), including submitting an academic writing sample, by the February 15, 2022 deadline.

  • Attend one of three virtual, “Exploring our Honors Program” evening information sessions in February to learn more about this program to be considered for the program. (Invitation to register are sent to applicants in early February)

Upon successfully completing the above steps, applicants then will be notified in March if they have been selected for the Honors Program, including if they are being invited to compete for our elite Chancellor’s Scholarship.

Exploring Our Honors Program Information Sessions

Students who complete an application to the Honors Program by February 15 will be invited to attend one of the following ‘Exploring our Honors Program’ virtual information sessions:

  • Tuesday, February 22, 2022 6:00PM-7:00PM

  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022 6:00PM-7:00PM

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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