The Honors Program is a Great Books based program consisting of a one credit course per semester. For each course, students read one or two texts of cultural significance and meet weekly with Honors Program faculty to discuss the readings. They also are expected to attend three formal lectures (open to the public) given by faculty members or in conjunction with the Forester Lecture Series/Centre for Non-Western Studies or other lecture series on campus. These lectures typically deal directly with the texts under discussion, focusing on a key theme or relevance to a particular discipline.
To complete the Honors Program, students must participate in at least five of these courses during the first six semesters of their study at the University. In the seventh or eighth semester, they work with the Director of the Honors Program and a relevant faculty member from their major to produce an Honors Project. This is an independent project worth one credit hour. It could be a research project, an art project, etc., but it must somehow engage one or more of the texts/themes discussed in the previous courses. The total number of credits for the program is six, all of which count toward general electives and the upper division requirement. Students are not charged overload tuition for Honors classes.
Beyond the six credit hours, Honor Students are required to perform 20 hours of service hours per year. The Director of the Honors Program will organize local service opportunities with the help of the Friesen Center, but students may also document service hours completed by other means and during the summer.
Likewise, Honors Students have the opportunity to attend certain cultural events, which are organized by the Director of the Program. These might include visits to significant library collections, such as the Newberry library in Chicago, a professional theatrical performance or a lecture by a significant public figure. These planned opportunities are subsidized so that students do not pay any out-of-pocket expense.
In order to remain in the program, students must maintain a 3.5 GPA and show progress in meeting the requirements and expectations for the program, including registering for the required number of courses, active participation in discussions, attendance of the required lectures, completion of the required service hours each year, and attendance at the organized cultural events. Students who, in the eyes of the Director, fall short of these expectations, may be put under review by the Director and the Academic Dean. Participation in the program is voluntary, and students can withdraw at any time.
Incoming freshmen have the option of applying to the Honors Program, which admits new students each year, with additional spots open for rising sophomores.
Interested students apply to the Director of the Honors Program. To be admitted, students must have a 3.5 GPA and submit an application. Students must be able to provide evidence of academic achievement, a commitment to serving others, and an interest in developing the life of the mind as demonstrated in essay responses on the application. They must also provide a writing sample, typically research writing. Some weight may be given to standardized test scores, but the understanding is that these scores are not indicative of student potential.