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What is Honors?

Honors education is a general term that covers a wide variety of courses, teaching styles, and even educational objectives. While an introductory chemistry course may be basically the same everywhere, one Honors course may be very different from another equally distinguished Honors course, even if they have similar titles or subject matter. This is because Honors programs and Honors courses may attempt to fulfill diverse goals, utilize different teaching approaches, and employ a variety of ways of mastering subject matter.

Always however the central goal of Honors education is academic enrichment; the ways to this goal are defined by the specific institutional context, the faculty teaching in the program, and the needs of the particular students. In general, Honors programs are based on the belief that superior students profit from close contact with faculty, small courses, seminars or one-on-one instruction, course work shared with other gifted students, individual research projects, internships, foreign study, and campus or community service.

For students filled with ideas, longing for creative expression, and ready to take on career-shaping challenges, an Honors education is the way to go. Honors programs and Honors colleges offer some of the finest undergraduate degrees available and do so always with students in mind. The essence of Honors education is personal attention, top faculty, enlightening seminars, illuminating study-travel experiences, numerous research opportunities, and career-building internships - all designed to enhance a classic education and prepare students for a lifetime of achievement. And there’s a bonus: many Honors programs and colleges have their own scholarships that help pay for a student’s undergraduate education.

You can find Honors education at community, state, and private schools; at two-year and four-year schools; at large schools and small schools; at schools that focus on research and those that focus on teaching. What they share in common is a commitment to excellence. Honors education teaches students to think and write clearly, to be excited by ideas, and to become independent, creative, and self-confident learners.

Are you thinking about Honors? Maybe you’re a high school student preparing your college applications. Maybe you’re a community college student thinking about transferring to a four-year school. Or maybe a student already at a four-year school - and doing better than you expected. Honors may well be right for you. Honors programs and colleges admit students from every background and with every educational goal. Do you have a major and career in mind, or do you need direction and advice? One of the great strengths of an Honors education is that is offers a nurturing, supportive environment in which students can develop and grow.

Although every Honors program is different, a typical Honors program consists of a sequence of seminar courses that either supplements or substitutes for a student’s general education or distribution requirements. (There are also a growing number of Honors colleges in the United States.) Many Honors programs and colleges include a capstone project or thesis. Honors programs are available for students in most majors, and rarely require students to take more courses or credits than non-Honors students. Students who complete an Honors program or college typically receive Honors designation on their transcripts and/or diplomas.

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Contact Us

National Collegiate Honors Council
1100 Neihardt Residence Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
540 North 16th St.
Lincoln, Nebraska

Tel: 402-472-9150
Fax: 402-472-9152


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To support and enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals, and students who participate in collegiate honors education around the world.

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