Honors Program Overview

The University Honors Program is open to students from all undergraduate colleges and majors, and is designed to offer students an enriched course of general education. The great majority of students are able to participate in the program without adding to the total number of credits needed for graduation.

Entering first-year students (from high school) who follow University of Idaho General Requirements for Baccalaureate Degrees must begin to complete at least 33 credits of core curriculum courses, regardless of major (see these General Education core requirements). From among a number of these courses, the University Honors Program designates special sections for members of the program. These sections are smaller than average (usually 25-30 students as compared to 60 or more in a non-honors section), and taught by honors program faculty members. An honors course generally requires substantial reading, writing, and discussion, and explores topics and subject matter in depth. For example, in the Honors History of Western Civilization class, students typically read and respond to original literature rather than relying on textbook summaries. Honors faculty work to enhance each student’s intellectual curiosity to create a more personal, dynamic, and broad-based education.

The heart of honors study in the first two years lies in courses chosen from the humanities, social sciences, science, perhaps honors English 102. Students are advised to enroll in honors sections of courses in the humanities and social sciences, and to include in the first semester or in the second semester, an honors section of an integrated seminar for first-year students (ISEM 101: Human Communities, two sections on different topics offered in the fall semester, and the possibility of one section offered in the following spring semester). The integrated science course (CORS 229) is offered this fall semester. If you can manage it, avoid taking non-honors sections of these courses. Most entering honors students enroll in two honors courses.

    Other general education course options in the fall semester typically include honors sections of:

    • English 102
    • English 257
    • History 101 or 102
    • Philosophy 103
    • Psychology 101
    • Chemistry 111

    As noted above, by taking at least one honors science course, one of the two courses required in the university’s Natural and Applied Science core is satisfied. Science, engineering (mechanical engineering majors, for example, may take Honors Chem 111 in the fall, rather than a non-honors Chem 111 in the spring), and other technical majors are advised to take Honors Chemistry 111 (fall semester). Non-science majors are advised to enroll in honors CORS 229 integrated science, typically offered in fall. It is helpful to consider an overall review of the General Honors Curriculum, available under the Curriculum & Distinctions pull-down tab in the left column of this page.

    Students will be recognized who successfully complete an honors core curriculum, totaling 19 credits comprised of at least 17 HON-designated credits of the required 100, 200, or 300 level honors courses, and an additional two honors credits. These students receive the University Honors Core Award for their achievement, and are recognized at the annual Honors Certificate and Core Award Ceremony. Students are encouraged to complete a total of 27 credits in honors classes, which, with a GPA of at least 3.3 in these courses, determines that an Honors Certificate will be awarded at graduation. Up to 26-27 of these credits also satisfy university core curriculum requirements. The remaining credits needed to earn an honors certificate, usually taken in the junior and senior years, include an honors/equivalent course in quantitative reasoning (such as Honors Math 315), a selection of special honors seminars and other 300-400 level honors courses, an honors ISEM 301 Great Issues course, and the options of an approved Honors elective. Some students also find several one-credit honors course offerings on different topics of particular interest and value.