What is an Honors College?

If you’re looking at universities, you may be wondering what an honors college is. You probably want to know if you’ll get a better education by attending one or if you’d have to choose certain degrees to be admitted. You also need to know how to get accepted into one of these programs. Overall, an honors education can provide an amazing experience for the right student, but these uniquely challenging tracks are not for everyone.

What Exactly Is an Honors College?

Universities refer to their component schools as colleges. You often see colleges of business, arts and sciences, or art and music. Colleges have special faculty, buildings, and staff to deliver programming and support to their student body. Honors schools are no different. They have advisors and professors dedicated to helping the most determined students enjoy their college experience. If you’re looking for a classic small-school feel within a large research university, honors programs are a great way to get individualized attention without losing access to the resources of a traditional research university.

Why Should I Apply to an Honors Program?

Earning an honors degree takes more work than a regular undergraduate program. Your classes will require more reading and writing, and you may have to complete a research project or write a thesis. There are several reasons why you may welcome the extra academic effort involved. One, it allows you to dive into topics of interest at a level you can’t find in regular classes. Two, you get special treatment ranging from unique scholarships, small classes, seminars, and access to campus visitors. If you’re passionate about your college experience, an honors program can help you make the most of your academic interests.

Do I Need a Specific Major for an Honors Degree?

No matter what field you’re interested in, you can apply to an honors program. Some degree tracks like biology and political science may have greater representation in your advanced classes. This is because many pre-law and pre-medicine students pursue those tracks and want an honors notation on their transcript to boost their applications. If you have a rare major, you may not be able to take specific upper-level courses from the honors department, but you can still general education courses, advanced electives, and take advantage of special opportunities like study abroad or research-intensive courses.

How Do I Get Into an Honors Degree Track?

If you’re applying to a university as a freshman or non-traditional student, you may be able to apply directly to the honors department. You may be required to write an essay explaining your interest in the program, and you may need a certain grade point average (GPA) or standardized test score to be accepted. However, if you already have some college credits, you may be able to transfer into the honors school. Many programs let you take a few classes at their parent university and then apply to the honors department once you’ve proven yourself academically.

You can apply to a university before deciding if you’re interested in the honors program. Once you find the right academic home, the honors college can greatly enhance your educational journey if you’re open to the challenge.

See also: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit