"Honors education is characterized by in-class and extracurricular activities that are measurably broader, deeper, or more complex than comparable learning experiences typically found at institutions of higher education. Honors experiences include a distinctive learner-directed environment and philosophy, provide opportunities that are appropriately tailored to fit the institution's culture and mission, and frequently occur within a close community of students and faculty."
- National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC)
Why Participate in Honors?
The University Honors Program focuses on personal, professional, and intellectual development through layering high-impact experiences - the transformative education that is outlined in the university's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Aggies Commit to Learning for a Lifetime.
The central goal of an Honors education at Texas A&M is to provide students who thrive on challenge and enrichment the opportunity to realize their full potential of personal, professional, and intellectual growth. We believe that promising students benefit from:
- Close contact with accomplished faculty
- Collaborative learning with other motivated students
- Small, discussion-based seminars and/or one-on-one instruction
- Knowledge production through individual research experiences
- Engagement with internships, foreign study, and campus or community service
The University Honors Program at Texas A&M University is an ideal opportunity for motivated, curious students who are filled with big ideas, who long for outlets for creative expression, and who seek out intellectual challenges. Our goal is to make available the resources of a major research institution whose track record of academic success demonstrates a readiness to take greater personal responsibility for their own education.
The defining characteristic of Honors study at Texas A&M University is engagement. While each academic discipline across the campus has its own pedagogical style, students in Honors classrooms are encouraged to speak, inquire, write, challenge, and do. In many cases, Honors students are introduced to research resources or interactive learning that are more typical of graduate than of undergraduate education.
What is an Honors Education?
Honors is a distinct approach to undergraduate education that:
- Incubates new curriculum and pedagogy through layering high-impact educational experience
- Provides an opportunity for close contact between faculty and students, and
- Offers curricular challenges that would not otherwise exist.
Students are considered "Honors Students" if they have been accepted to an Honors program (see link for application information). Incoming freshmen Honors Students, regardless of class rank or test score, are eligible to register for Honors sections at their New Student Conferences.
Students are Honors-Eligible as entering freshmen if they meet objective class rank and test score minimums (see Student Rule 16). To be considered eligible, first-semester students must have graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and have an SAT composite score of at least 1360 (reading/writing + math, with minimums of 660 and 620, respectively) for tests taken in April 2016 and forward or a composite 28 on the ACT (minimum score of 27 each on verbal and math).
Freshman Honors-Eligible students may register for available seats in Honors sections after the last New Student Conference (the week before freshman classes begin).
Continuing students are Honors-eligible if they earn a cumulative GPR of 3.5 or better. Continuing Honors-Eligible students may register for Honors courses during their regularly scheduled registration time.
Contact us if you receive an Honors attribute restriction when trying to register at the appropriate time, or if you have any questions.
History of Honors at Texas A&M
Opportunities for Honors study at Texas A&M University were initiated in the mid-1960s in what was then the College of Arts and Sciences. Subsequently, the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science, and Geosciences co-sponsored an Honors Program, and by 1968 all of the academic colleges had joined in the endeavor.
In 1978, the University Honors Program offered a modest thirty honors sections of twenty different courses, with only three upper-division (300-400) courses available. Ten years later, the number of honors sections jumped to 148 in 117 different courses, but the number of upper-division sections available was still relatively small at thirty eight. Annual enrollments had climbed from 650 to over 2,000. On average, we now see over 800 sections of Honors courses are offered each academic year. Student enrollment in these courses now tops 4,000 each semester.
In Fall 2012, the University Honors Program shifted to application-based entry and began requiring freshman admitted to the program to live in the Honors Housing Community and participate in a freshman learning community seminar. Upperclassmen in the program are now required to maintain a learning portfolio and participate in Honors Student Council events each semester. The revised program also features a new graduation distinction, Honors Fellows, that requires all students to complete a capstone experience. Students participating in the University Honors Program may also take advantage of optional structured honors courses and study sequences offered in several academic colleges and a growing number of departments. in 2018, we celebrated 50 years of university-wide Honors opportunities at Texas A&M.
Honors options for students not interested, or not accepted to the University Honors Program include participating in Honors courses without being part of University Honors or a College or Departmental Honors Program.
Building Your Own Major
The University Studies-Honors (USHN) degree is an innovative degree that provides motivated students the flexibility to combine multiple areas of interest into an single degree plan, thereby allowing those with unique intellectual interests to create a curriculum that best suits their needs.
The University Studies - Honors degree provides the opportunity for a unique educational experience. Rather than focusing their course of study on an academic field, USHN students choose an interdisciplinary set of courses that defines an "area of concentration" in combination to two established minor fields of study.
The University Studies - Honors curriculum is distinguished by the following components:
- A flexible area of concentration tailored to each student
- A network of faculty, staff, and high-achieving students committed to interdisciplinary education
- An emphasis on "problem-based," experiential education
- Access to enrichment opportunities offered through the Honors Programs
- An inquiry capstone experience
To declare a University Studies - Honors major, students must complete the University Studies application, develop an Area of Concentration curriculum, and assemble an Interdisciplinary Advisory Committee. For further guidance, contact the Honors Programs office.
Procedure to Declare USHN
Because the University Studies - Honors degree plan allow for a remarkable amount of flexibility, the procedure for declaring the major is quite involved.
A student applying for admission to University Studies - Honors must meet the following criteria:
- Be Honors-Eligible
- Be seeking an interdisciplinary undergraduate education that transcends the boundaries of the undergraduate majors at Texas A&M University
- Have conceived a curriculum that does not replicate any other area of concentration in the University Studies degree
To apply for admission to the Honors Area of Concentration in the University Studies degree, students must submit the following:
- Completed application form
- Completed University Studies Degree Plan
- Typed Essay
- Alternate Minor Form (if necessary)
- Endorsement by the University Honors Program
- Endorsement by the academic college that has agreed to provide the academic “home” for the student while he or she completes the University Studies degree with the Honors Area of Concentration
Notification of Acceptance
Students will receive notification of acceptance or denial via their TAMU e-mail account.
The University Honors Program will provide academic advising to students pursuing a University Studies degree with the Honors Area of Concentration and will coordinate with the academic college that has agreed to administer the student’s degree plan.
USHN Degree Plan
The University Studies - Honors degree plan must include a minimum of 120 semester hours of accredited college level work, which must include:
An Area of Concentration (24 hours)
The combination of courses that comprises the Area of Concentration will be selected by the student and must come from at least two disciplines and be conceptually linked. The college in which the majority of the Area of Concentration courses are offered will be the academic home for the student.
The Area of Concentration will include up to 10 hours in the designated categories:
- 0-4 credits Freshman Interdisciplinary Honors experience
- 0-3 credits Sophomore Research/Creative Work experience
- 0-3 credits Junior Experiential Learning experience
- 0-6 credits Capstone experience (UGST 497)
Two minors (15-18 hours each)
As part of the overall degree plan, the student must also select two established minor fields of study. At least one of the two minors must be offered from outside the college offering the honors area of concentration. A list of approved minors offered in each of the academic colleges at Texas A&M University is made available by the Registrar.
- The degree plan must also satisfy the general degree requirements at Texas A&M:
- Two courses in the area of concentration and/or in the minors must be approved as writing-intensive (W) classes. Information about these courses is available on the University Writing Center's website.
- University Core Curriculum (42 hours).
- International and Cultural Diversity (6 hours).
- Electives (up to 24 hours).
- Within the 120 credits in this degree, the student must have at least 21 hours of Honors course credit from Texas A&M.
- The student must graduate with:
- A Texas A&M University cumulative GPR of at least 3.5
- An Honors GPR of at least 3.25,
- No honors class grade on his/her transcript that is lower than a C,
- No F* on the transcript.
Honors credits are normally limited to Texas A&M University classes designated as Honors. However, with approval, students may complete Honors Course Contracts, complete an Honors Independent Study, or enroll in graduate courses for undergraduate credit.