Departmental Honors Adviser Info

Resources and online forms

Welcome to our Departmental Advisers information page. This site is intended to be a homebase for all Honors-related processes, information, and guidelines as they relate to your department.

On this page, you will find general information about Departmental Honors and how it relates to the University Honors Program, frequently asked questions, and access to our Departmental Honors Adviser Toolkit.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about these processes.

Departmental Honors Information for Advisers

About Departmental Honors at UW

While each major’s Honors requirements vary, our goals for all Departmental Honors programs are:

  • to allow students the opportunity to explore their chosen major in greater depth and with greater personal ownership;
  • to extend the departmental vision into individual student work in new and creative ways; and
  • to facilitate mentorship and scholarly guidance from a faculty adviser.

Most Departmental Honors programs require the following, in addition to the standard requirements for graduation with their major:

  • a minimum cumulative AND departmental GPA (All students must graduate with a UW cumulative GPA of 3.3 to earn an Honors degree of any kind; departments may set that UW cumulative and/or a departmental cumulative higher if they wish);
  • approximately 9-12 Departmental Honors credits, which could be a combination of specific Honors courses offered by the department, ad hoc Honors coursework on campus or abroad, Honors research- or service-based credits, graduate seminars, or another type of creative Honors course reflective of the department’s curricular vision; and
  • an extended final project, capstone, or presentation (or deliverable such as a portfolio, blog, publishable piece of work, etc.).

Departments should consider not only what the Honors requirements should be, but also how students will complete them: if certain courses are required, when are they offered? How will students present a final thesis or project? When are students eligible to begin Departmental Honors work? How many Honors students can the department facilitate? We are here to help you think through this process.

Who does what regarding Departmental Honors?

What does the University Honors Program do?

As the governing body for curricular Honors at the UW, the University Honors Program both administers the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and oversees Departmental Honors across campus.

The University Honors Program, through the Faculty Council, must approve any changes or exceptions to official Departmental Honors requirements. This applies to long-term curriculum changes and one-time exceptions for individual students. The University Honors Program communicates any approved exceptions or changes to the DARS Office, who will then reflect those changes in the formal record. DARS does not accept requests for changes or exceptions from a department, only from the Honors Program.

The University Honors Program manages the online ad hoc Honors application portal, through which all Honors students must apply for ad hoc Honors course credit. University Honors Program staff do not review or approve Departmental Honors ad hoc course proposals.

What do departments do?

Departments determine what constitutes an Honors experience within their discipline/field, and how to reflect that in coursework and related requirements which will confer an Honors designation upon graduates.

Departments are responsible for submitting the appropriate forms, through our Departmental Honors Advisers Toolkit, to the University Honors Program to request any exceptions or changes to the formal Departmental Honors requirements on file with the University of Washington.

Departmental advisers review and approve ad hoc course proposals being used to fulfill Departmental Honors requirements.

Departmental advisers are responsible for putting in place DARS exceptions noting students as Departmental Honors students in their department, and ensuring students’ DARS reflect progress towards both departmental and Departmental Honors requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

The below are some questions we’ve received from Departmental Honors advisers over the years.

Do I need to submit a Departmental Invite form to have a student recognized as a Departmental Honors student in my department?

No! As of November 2011, Honors no longer requires the paper Departmental Invite forms to add a student to Departmental Honors. Simply add or remove your Departmental Honors exception on a student’s DARS record and their status will be updated in the Honors database within 1-2 days. If a student is not in our database, they will automatically be added. If you have questions about your Departmental Honors exception, contact DARS or review your DARS Reference Table.

When should I be inviting students to join Departmental Honors?

This differs by department and Departmental Honors curriculum, but in general, most students complete Departmental Honors during their junior and/or senior years. This allows students to complete foundational coursework in the major before undertaking the additional rigor and depth of Departmental Honors.

Some Departmental Honors programs are competitive and therefore might have a quarterly or annual application process; others are open to all interested students. Either way, departments should be sure they are publicizing Departmental Honors in time for students to apply to the program, if applicable, and complete the necessary requirements before graduation.

Departmental Honors is a great thing to mention to students who are applying to/entering the major, and to feature in quarterly communications to students about opportunities.

Can I override Departmental Honors requirements as the Departmental Honors adviser? What about if I have permission from the Chair?

No, departmental advisers, administrators, and faculty cannot themselves override the Departmental Honors requirements for a particular student, although they may of course request approval of such an exception. Such requests must be reviewed by the University Honors Program and our Faculty Council to ensure all exceptions to Honors requirements (both Interdisciplinary or Departmental) are appropriate to the circumstances at hand. Requests for exceptions and curricular changes are available via our Departmental Honors Adviser Toolkit.

A lot of students complete ad hoc for a particular class in our department. Do they all need to do ad hoc forms? Do I have to review and approve all of them?

Departmental advisers are responsible for reviewing and approving all ad hoc forms submitted for Departmental Honors credit by those students in their department. However, ad hoc is one of two ways students can earn Honors credit. The other option is to create a Honors-designated section of a course via the Time Schedule and have all Departmental Honors students/students seeking Honors credit for that course to enroll in the Honors-designated section rather than the standard section.

It is important to note adding this designation implies differential coursework for all those enrolling in the section in order to merit the Honors designation. Faculty and departments are responsible for ensuring this differential coursework meets the goals and requirements of Departmental Honors in that discipline, and that students enrolled in the section complete the necessary work to earn the Honors designation.

If an Honors-designated section is available for a course, students should enroll in and complete that section rather than applying for ad hoc Honors credit.

The Honors designation may be added to a course via Time Schedule Construction. Please let us know if you have questions about this process or to discuss if might be beneficial to your department.

If a student does not intend to graduate with Departmental Honors after all, do I have to do anything?

Yes. If a student previously designated as Departmental Honors via DARS decides not to or is unable to complete Departmental Honors by their graduation date, you must remove the Departmental Honors DARS exception from their record. GARS will not be able to process their graduation application with incomplete requirements on record: the student’s degree will not be granted until all requirements on record have been completed and incomplete requirements removed.

The Departmental Honors Adviser Toolkit

Our Departmental Honors Adviser Toolkit provides tools to facilitate communication between your department and the University Honors Program. Using these tools, you may:

  • request changes to your Departmental Honors requirements as whole, or request an exception to your standard requirements for an individual student;
  • create a new Departmental Honors program for departments currently without one, or create an ad hoc Departmental Honors curriculum for an individual student;
  • review and manage ad hoc Honors credit for individual courses used to satisfy Departmental Honors requirements;
  • review the list of students in your department currently pursuing an Honors designation; and
  • review advisers and administrators in your department who also have access to the Toolkit.

If you don’t already have access to the Toolkit, you may request access here.