University of Washington Honors Program

Honors at a Glance

Paths to Honors

in Scholarships & Awards

Majors represented

Our Mission

The University Honors Program engages a diverse population of students through a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum that promotes expansive, innovative thinking and conscious global citizenship. We ask students to take intellectual risks; to seek an understanding of the interdependence of all branches of knowledge; to engage with the complexities of difference and diversity; to take leadership roles in navigating global change; and to value a life of continuous learning and personal growth.

Our Mission & Values


Operating as a service unit within the office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the Honors Program brings students and faculty from every corner of campus together for original learning opportunities focused on cross-disciplinary curriculum, experiential learning, research, and critical reflection. Our Program runs a comprehensive Interdisciplinary/College track and oversees Departmental Honors tracks to annually enroll approximately 1300 undergraduates, with about two-thirds of the students in Interdisciplinary/College Honors and the remaining one-third in Departmental Honors.

Our Benefits
Who are we?

Honors Tracks

Students apply for different Honors tracks at different times in their undergraduate career, depending on their goals. Upon fulfilling the combined requirements of both Honors and their major programs, these students add the distinction of Interdisciplinary, Departmental, or College Honors to their UW degree at graduation.

The 3 Honors Tracks

Interdisciplinary Honors

About Interdisciplinary Honors

Honors freshmen by the numbers, autumn 2017

The distinction of Interdisciplinary Honors indicates an undergraduate career engaged in critical thinking beyond silos — noticing how and why ideas connect across all areas of knowledge. Students join this track beginning early in their academic careers (mostly as incoming freshmen) and practice learning and leading as adaptive global citizens until the time of graduation.

The Interdisciplinary Honors curriculum merges sciences and humanities to fulfill UW general education requirements; primarily through small, seminar-style classes. Experiential learning requirements guarantee development outside of the classroom while Honors’ portfolio practice strengthens writing, reflection, and synthesis across disciplines.


As rapidly as the world is changing, careers in nearly every industry require adaptability, collaborative thinking, and resilience. Interdisciplinary Honors students discover the strengths and limitations of their own minds by combining analytical and humanistic principles across subjects in a cozy environment with lots of support.

Customized Learning

Real-world experience

    • Domestic programs like Honors Field Studies, Partners in the Parks, and community-based service learning


    • Community-building events and subsidized cultural outings
    • Connections beyond UW with alumni, community partners, and visiting professors
  • Computer lounge and multipurpose rooms open to students during business hours

Who should apply

Interdisciplinary Honors is not about learning faster nor mastering harder material. It’s about putting ideas together and taking them apart, together. Teachers and learners from a wide array of backgrounds build a community of support at UW where students take intellectual risks and develop their personal leadership styles.

If you want to practice multiple ways of approaching ideas and problems alongside world-renowned faculty, community practitioners, and students from other majors during your time at UW, Interdisciplinary Honors may be right for you!

When/How to apply

Because students fulfill UW general education requirements through Interdisciplinary Honors, it does not make sense to join our program after earning a degree or completing many courses outside of your major. Admission is competitive, but not as a strict reflection of prior academic performance. We consider each candidate’s learning history, expressed values, authentic writing voice, etc. while reading their UW and Honors-specific applications.

Our Requirements

Departmental Honors

About Departmental Honors

Students who delve more deeply into their majors through upper-level electives, research, or an extended thesis conducted in close working relationships with faculty mentors can earn the distinction of Departmental Honors.


Following your curiosity and passion is not only important for you as an individual, it is the greatest way to contribute to UW and make an impact on the world!

  • Understand your major in greater depth and gain greater personal ownership
  • Contribute to departmental or disciplinary vision in new and creative ways
  • Enjoy mentorship and close scholarly guidance from a faculty adviser
  • Be recognized as a student who does more than meet standard degree requirements

Who should apply

blurbs/Departmental Honors is an excellent track for those who have been admitted to an undergraduate degree program and wish to forge close ties with faculty, distinguish yourself in your chosen field, and/or to advance knowledge in an area of interest. Also, if you are a student in good standing in Interdisciplinary Honors, completing Departmental Honors will allow you to earn the highest distinction at graduation: College Honors.

Requirements and application procedures differ across all majors and interested students should consult an academic adviser within their department for full details.

When/How to apply

Students can apply for Departmental Honors only after being admitted to a bachelor’s degree program. Admission to Interdisciplinary Honors does not guarantee admission to Departmental Honors, nor do you need to enroll in Interdisciplinary Honors to qualify: they are separate tracks.

Requirements and application procedures differ across all majors and interested students should consult an academic adviser within their department for full details.

Our Requirements

College Honors

About College Honors

Honors students assembling a puzzle together

Students earn the distinction of College Honors when they integrate many areas of knowledge and ways of learning with deeper, generative experience in their chosen field(s) by completing requirements for both Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors.


This is the highest Honors distinction possible, combining all of the benefits of our Interdisciplinary Track with the benefits of Departmental Honors.

Who should apply

Only Interdisciplinary Honors students in good standing can pursue College Honors by adding Departmental Honors in their degree program. See Departmental Honors “Who should apply” for more details.

When/How to apply

To graduate with College Honors, students complete both Interdisciplinary Honors and Departmental Honors in at least one of their majors. Completion of both these requirements earns a student the distinction of graduating “With College Honors in [major]”. You must first be accepted into Interdisciplinary Honors to be considered for the College Honors track. Students then apply for Departmental Honors after being admitted to a bachelor’s degree program.

There is no separate application for this distinction, you will alert your Honors advisers of your intention to pursue College Honors when you are ready to make this commitment.

Our Requirements

Read our Application FAQs