Honors Program Guidelines


The following guidelines were passed by the University Senate on January 30, 2019, effective Fall 2019. Because units need to time to discuss and revise their criteria, and publish those criteria in the catalog, updates can be made during the 2019-20 academic year for the 2020-21 catalog. Any new or revised honors requirements should follow existing processes for updating curricular requirements.

Departmental or program honors exist to provide top-performing students opportunities for advanced study and engagement opportunities. Departmental or program honors shall connect students to the research and creative mission of the university.

Academic Guidelines

The following guidelines shall be followed for departmental or program honors:

  • Honors cannot be based solely on GPA, either cumulative or from a subset of courses. Where GPA is used in combination with other requirements, departments and programs shall set and clearly communicate the minimum GPA requirement to receive honors.
  • Departmental or program honors shall engage students in creative and intellectual expression that surpasses the normal expectations for major completion. This can be met through one or more requirements, including but not limited to:
    • completion of an advanced curriculum which is mostly upper-division, and that is not otherwise required by the major or in which the courses are honors-designated (e.g. 3XXH) courses as approved by the UOCC;
    • a thesis based on mentored research;
    • a project that demonstrates exemplary scholarship or creative activity in the discipline. If the project is done as part of a non-honors course, the project shall have additional standards and requirements, and be evaluated independent of its grade for the course
  • Departmental or program honors shall be earned only in conjunction with a major or majors within the department or program.

Department or Program Honors and Clark Honors College Theses

Work to meet the thesis requirement of the Clark Honors College can be used towards a departmental or program honors requirement provided the work also meets the department or program’s standards for honors projects. Departments and programs shall publish clear guidelines and criteria for students who want to apply a CHC thesis toward a departmental or program honors requirement. These guidelines shall include any additional work or courses that would be required, and how department or program thesis advisors may or may not overlap with CHC thesis advisors.

Process for Initiating and Completing Departmental or Program Honors

Participating in departmental or program honors should be an intentional decision by students and the department or program. As such, departments and programs shall establish:

  • clear criteria for initiating and completing departmental or program honors,
  • clear timelines for initiating and completing departmental or program honors,
  • and a process for students to signal their intention to pursue departmental or program honors.

For instance, departments and programs might have an application process and deadline or require students to submit a prospectus by a certain date.

Departmental or program honors shall be available to all qualified students. Departments and programs must maintain accessible, transparent and accurate information about their honors program in the University Catalog. This information may also be published on department or program websites.

Awarding of departmental or program honors shall not be the decision of a single faculty member. Where a thesis or other project is part of the requirements, at least 2 faculty shall determine that the student has met the standards to graduate with honors in the department or program.

The department or program shall have a formal process to indicate to students and to the registrar who has met the requirements to graduate with honors. Where honors is determined solely by completion of advanced coursework, passing the required courses at the minimum course and/or cumulative grade set by the department is sufficient to award honors.

Approval of Departmental or Program Honors Requirements

The Undergraduate Council is charged with approving departmental and program honors requirements and changes to those requirements. Undergraduate Council approval shall be recorded in the curriculum report and voted on by the University Senate. New honors requirements and revisions to existing honors requirements are effective no earlier than the Fall following approval of the curriculum report.