The University of Washington Honors Program adds rich dimension to one of the world’s top research universities for undergraduates who are up to the challenge. Students have three options to benefit from our Program: as an interdisciplinary education track, as an in-depth program within their majors, or as a combination of the two. Our core interdisciplinary curriculum promotes expansive critical thinking, engaged global citizenship, and comprehensive learning that builds resilience and collaborative practice. Students may apply to the Honors Program as new freshmen, at the end of their first year, or once they've selected a major.

Alumni Spotlight

Nov 30, 2017

Hi, my name is Ga-Young and I work as a research assistant at the VA in Seattle!

My lab is doing research about liver cancer and disease, specifically on the effects of a high cholesterol and fat diet. Being a research assistant at the VA has been a dream! I have the wonderful opportunity to get hands-on experience in all aspects of both clinical and basic wet lab research. So far I have worked collaboratively on an epidemiology project, learned to handle mice, and expanded my skills in basic wet lab techniques — all while getting paid!

Ga-Young in lab coat holding up a beaker
In this picture I am isolating RNA from mouse liver tissue.

It took longer than I'd hoped to find the right employment opportunity, but I'm glad I held out for a job that matches my abilities with my passion. After a lot of searching and interviewing I was connected with Erica Tartaglione through the Honors Program. She told me about all the great opportunities at the VA and introduced me to the lab she used to work for. Erica has been an advocate for me and I thank her for connecting me to this lab and the VA! If you’re excited about research opportunities at the VA, you should talk to Erica too.

Interdisciplinary Talk on Civic Discord Raises Hard Questions

Nov 29, 2017

Global Challenges speakers on stage - Nov 15 2017


Kate Starbird, Resat Kasaba, Randy Engstrom, and Ed Taylor - Nov 15, 2017


By Soo Young Lee

On the evening of November 15, 2017, the HUB North Ballroom held more than 400 people seeking to explore the issue of civic discord. This was the topic of the Honors Program’s annual Global Challenges event, bringing together three speakers from very different backgrounds to share their perspectives and learn from one another. Though a majority of the crowd consisted of Interdisciplinary Honors Program participants, there were other UW students, faculty, staff and guests from the broader community.

Past discussions have included complex social challenges climate change as well as intersections of health and poverty. This year’s topic, determined by first-year Interdisciplinary Honors students from the year prior, was civic discord: responding to student concerns around growing political polarization, "fake news," and the rise of nationalism across the world.  

As the lights dimmed and the crowd quieted, Honors Program Director Vicky Lawson approached the stage to set the scene for the discussion. In light of recent global movements and national tensions that seem to be deliberately exacerbated by parties with unfriendly agendas, it is especially important "to listen more [and] think together," Director Lawson opened.

What's next? Stay engaged in Global Challenges through UW Honors

Nov 20, 2017
Students talking before GCIA 2017
Honors students show up for Global Challenges each year because it is their event.* 

Students in last year's incoming Honors class asked us to build a program investigating the rise of nationalism around the world, political polarization, and fear of "fake news" spread mainly through social media. Those concerns prompted us to invite speakers Kate Starbird (Human-Centered Design and Engineering), Randy Engstrom (Seattle Office of Arts & Culture), and Resat Kasaba (Jackson School of International Studies) into a series of conversations about civic discord, culminating in our large Global Challenges event.

The big event is hardly your last chance to engage in thinking together about complex problems. Honors students come from every discipline on campus and think critically together about issues extending far beyond the boundaries of their individual majors. The Program's adaptive interdisciplinary curriculum engages multiple perspectives while fulfilling undergraduate General Education requirements. Experiential learning, research, and reflective writing requirements present valuable opportunities to get off campus and beyond your comfort zone. 

If you're a student, here are just a few ways to work global challenges into your undergraduate planning:


Ask your Honors advisor about Ad Hoc options to expand your options even further, as Lauren Mittleman did last year using HON 499 to help her create The Vulerability Collective


Study abroad with Honors! This summer, explore different cultures through interdisciplinary partnerships in Amsterdam, Rome, Tokyo, Ecuador, or Peru! We've also got a series of excellent Field Studies courses (aka domestic programs similar to study abroad) lined up for spring and summer quarters. 

Explore Seattle through Honors Cultural Outings!!!

Nov 8, 2017

Going abroad isn't the only way to explore new cultures. The University of Washington is rooted in the fastest-growing city in America, increasing its population last year by 3.1% with no signs of slowing. Students who spend all of their time on campus are missing out on Seattle's richest offerings.

Sometimes it's hard to know where to start. And so, with the help of students, alumni, and partners across the city, Honors Program Associate Director Julie Villegas began producing a series of opportunities for students to actively engage in more of Seattle's creative conversations. Last year's series brought students to MadArt gallery, two local theaters, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and civic mixers with prominent speakers across multiple industries.

Our most recent Honors cultural outing combined lunch in the I.D. with an exclusive tour of the BorderLands exhibit at King Street Station. The exhibit presented interactive, immersive installations featuring the collaborative work of numerous artists, and also included a series of public events. Kristen Ramirez and Deborah Paine from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture walked Honors students through the space, related stories about the artists, and lent context to their collected works.


Students in front of art installation using American flags, video, and red sequin burka
Ramirez gives students background on "The Red Chador" by Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano.

UW Honors students at La Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial in Quito, Ecuador

Jul 27, 2017
Honors study abroad students and faculty with their hosts in Ecuador
Students and faculty collaborate in pilot program. Credit: La Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial

Honors students and faculty were featured in a front-page story by La Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial (UTE) in Quito, Ecuador. The article announces the start of a collaborative educational pilot between Michelle Habell-Pallán, (UW, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies), Jaime Cardenas Jr. (Seattle Central College, History), and UTE, who will host the half of this immersive four-week program. 

Ecuador is one of two countries on Earth that has constitutionally redefined itself as a "plurinational state." Responding to Indigenous and Afro-descendant social movements for justice and dignity, and propelled by gender equity activists, Ecuador has helped to re-think cultural and national identities by centering the demands of communities most vulnerable to neoliberal policies. This international studies pilot: "Sumak Kawsay: Well-Being, 'Race', and Gender in Ecuador" investigates the 'good living" concept.

UW Honors' Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Feb 4, 2017

We in UW Honors are aware that the recent executive order concerning immigration has raised many concerns in our community and beyond. During this time of rapid change and turbulence in our country, we are guided by our mission and our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we continue to welcome students regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.

We would like to share this compilation of additional support and resources from the UW and elsewhere: