Program Requirements

Honors Program Curriculum

Honors students must complete the Honors curriculum in order to become an Honors graduate. You may refer to the Program requirements checklist for a breakdown of Honors curriculum requirements. 


In their first year, along with their other courses, Honors Program students take:

HONR 1015 (Honors Seminar: UW 1020: Origins and Evolution of Modern Thought)

HONR 1016 (Honors Seminar: Origins and Evolution of Modern Thought)

HONR 1033* (Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery)

HONR 1034* (Honors Seminar: Scientific Reasoning and Discovery)

*In place of HONR 1033 and HONR 1034, students may take approved alternative science


Students who are accepted into the Honors Program for their sophomore year take the following in place of the first year seminars:

HONR 2016 (Enlightenment East and West)


Anytime during their second, third, and fourth years, Honors program students take:

Two Self and Society courses taken as follows: two offerings of HONR 2047 or two offerings of HONR 2048 or one offering each of HONR 2047 and HONR 2048. Topics may not be repeated. 


Two Arts and Humanities courses taken as follows: two offerings of HONR 2053 or two offerings of HONR 2054 or one offering each of HONR 2053 and HONR 2053. Topics may not be repeated. 


During their fourth year, Honors program students take:

HONR 4199 (Honors Capstone Experience)

Senior Thesis taken as follows: HONR 4198 (Honors Senior Thesis) or pursue Special Honors in your major or an approved Thesis course. 


Other Honors Program Requirements

GPA: While in the University Honors Program, all students must maintain a GPA that ensures it is mathematically possible to graduate with a 3.0 or higher. Freshmen in the Honors Program are required to complete their first year of study with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Honors Program conducts a grade review at the end of every semester and communicates with students accordingly.

Credit Load: Honors Program students must maintain enrollment in 12 academic credits or more. Honors students can take up to 18 academic credits at no additional cost in their first four semesters.


More Information about Honors Program courses:

Origins and Evolution of Modern Thought

  • This two semester course immerses students in an exploration of significant exemplars, milestones and developments of human thought from ancient to modern times. Through first-hand encounters with foundational texts and representative thinkers from a broad range of traditions, students come to appreciate the diversity and complexity of humanity's attempts to articulate responses to universal questions, problems and aspirations.
  • The Fall semester course, HONR 1015, engages students in an exploration of thought and texts of the ancient world. Readings and discussion are organized along two axes, the first composed of basic questions and problems that have long fascinated and inspired human inquiry, the second identifying in broad terms the civilizations from which these thinkers and texts are drawn. Readings come from philosophy, religion, literature, history and politics, and represent the civilizations of Greece and Rome, the Near East, India and China. This course also fulfills the University Writing 1020 course requirement.
  • The Spring semester course, HONR 1016, builds on the encounter with foundational ancient thinkers and texts from the autumn course, to explore key developments and trajectories in thought and inquiry to modern times.

Scientific Reasoning and Discovery

  • In HONR 1033 and 1034, students explore a chosen topic through multiple fields of modern scientific investigation, including chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and biological anthropology. 
  • These courses hone analytic and expressive powers, deepen understandings of our world, and broaden perspectives. Moving beyond the limits of a particular discipline or specialized program, students will explore connections among academic perspectives, life experiences, and personal observations and values. These courses stimulate the intellectual breadth, depth, and scientific literacy expected of citizens and leaders of the 21st century.
  • Working in interdisciplinary teams, students learn to identify hidden regularities and patterns in nature that illustrate unifying principles, apply critical judgment to determine the validity of scientific claims, and understand the importance of gathering accurate and precise data. By the end of their spring course, students will be able to analyze and understand the complex, layered, and multidisciplinary basis of contemporary scientific issues that affect society; recognize the social, ethical, economic, political, regulatory, and communications context in which scientific problems and solutions are embedded; and analyze scientific and technological developments in the medium and distant future while anticipating potential societal and ethical implications.
  • The Honors Program allows students to take alternative science courses to fulfill their major requirements. Approved alternatives are listed on our course offerings page. Contact your advisor for more information.

Enlightenment: East & West

  • ​The great works of the Western and Eastern intellectual traditions take the problem of Enlightenment as their guiding theme. HONR 2016 examines enlightenment projects East and West, highlighting the sharp differences between a variety of seminal responses to the problems of human delusion, suffering, and injustice. In addition to the theme of enlightenment, discussions will be guided by fundamental questions: What are good and evil? What constitutes genuine knowledge? What is the character of human nature? What is natural? What is just or virtuous? This seminar serves as the basic introductory course for those entering the Honors Program in their sophomore year.

Self and Society

  • Students must complete any two Self and Society courses between their second and fourth years.
  • In a HONR 2047 course, students choose from a selection of social science introductory courses, such as Comparative Politics, Cultural Anthropology, Sociology, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, General Psychology, and Human Geography. These courses provide a foundation in the language, perspectives, methods, and research approaches of a specific social science discipline. In addition, each course is typically limited to fifteen students, enabling authentic dialogue and discussion.
  • In a HONR 2048 course, students explore a contemporary social issue, problem, or question. The specific themes of each section will differ, engaging issues such as terrorism, gender and violence, women in American politics, authoritarianism, international development, urban poverty, and nationalism, to cite a few examples. As with HONR 2047, these courses are typically limited to fifteen students.

Arts and Humanities

  • Students must complete any two Arts and Humanities courses between their second and fourth years.
  • HONR 2053 courses offer a thematic, multidisciplinary, and cross-cultural analysis of the arts and artistic expression. Recently offered themes include built space and cultural heroes, the place of nature in the arts, historical memory, the cultural role of food in societies, and the emergence of popular literature as an aspect of modernity.
  • HONR 2054 courses provide an in-depth exploration of important topics in the humanities and are grounded in specific disciplines. These courses are designed to develop academic skills required to engage in research in the students' particular areas of interests within the humanities. Recent offerings include courses on Nietzsche and the crisis of modernity (political philosophy), Buddhist Philosophy (religion), Victorian-era literature (English), and the concept of belief (philosophy).

Honors Capstone

  • Students in their senior year will participate in the Honors Capstone experience. The Honors Capstone experience provides a month-long mini-seminar that tackles a big theme - an "enduring question." Themes have included time, love, and freedom. Students have the opportunity to take a final course with their favorite Honors faculty in a relaxed academic atmosphere.

Senior Thesis

  • Students in their senior year will an honors senior thesis, pursue special honors in their major, or complete an otherwise approved thesis. Please ask a Program Manager for more infrormation on approved thesis options. See the Senior Thesis/Seminar Information (PDF) packet for more information.