The Honors Curriculum

Options and Requirements

There are three options for pursuing an Honors designation at the University of Washington:

  • Interdisciplinary Honors students are asked to think intentionally about education, knowledge and interdisciplinarity. They take a majority of their UW general education requirements in Honors-specific courses, complete experiential learning requirements, and maintain a portfolio throughout their participation in this curriculum. Students can enter Interdisciplinary Honors through:
  • Departmental Honors allows students to explore their majors in greater depth by completing upper-level electives, research, or an extended thesis. Departmental Honors also exposes students to a close working relationship with faculty mentors. Admission to Interdisciplinary Honors does not guarantee admission to Departmental Honors. Admission procedures are specific to each department; students should consult with an academic adviser within their department for more information.
  • College Honors, the completion of both Interdisciplinary Honors and Departmental Honors, allows students to experience both Honors general education and the deeper understanding of their chosen focus.


Interdisciplinary Honors Requirements

Interdisciplinary Honors is available only to entering Freshmen who applied to Honors at the same time they applied to the University of Washington or to UW Freshmen who maintain a 3.3 GPA in their autumn and winter quarters and apply in spring break of their first year via our Second Year Admission process.  Students who complete the 11 required Honors courses, participate in two experiential learning projects, keep an on-going portfolio, and maintain an overall 3.3 GPA will receive the designation “with Interdisciplinary Honors” on their diplomas. All Honors core courses must be decimal-graded.

Autumn 2015 or later 2010-2014
2015 reqs worksheet preview

2015 PDF worksheet

2010-14 reqs worksheet preview

2010 PDF worksheet

Students who entered Interdisciplinary Honors autumn 2015 or later; students who entered Interdisciplinary Honors earlier can switch to the 2015 curriculum via this form. Students who entered Interdisciplinary Honors between autumn 2010 and 2014

Please use the above worksheets to understand the specific requirements for two different versions of our curriculum, which differ slightly; the year references your year of entry into the Honors Program. Students who entered under the 2010 curriculum may opt-in to the 2015 curriculum by completing the 2015 Interdisciplinary Honors Opt-In form. Students who entered in 2015 or after must complete the 2015 curriculum.


HONORS 100 is taken in the autumn quarter of a student’s first year in the Honors Program. In HONORS 100, students will be introduced to the Honors Program curriculum and community, and learn about resources and opportunities available through Honors and at the UW. The course is taught by Honors advisers and Peer Educators, upperclassmen in the Honors Program.

Students register for HONORS 496 in their final year at UW, after taking a minimum of six Honors courses, and completing one experiential learning activity. This one-credit seminar helps students reflect on their experience at UW and in Honors via their portfolios, and culminates in presentations of the completed portfolios to the Honors community.

Experiential Learning

In addition to Honors Courses, students in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program are required to identify two learning activities that are experiential in nature and extend the educational process beyond the classroom.  Activities should be in the areas of leadership, research, service or international engagement.  This requirement will be introduced and various options discussed in HONORS 100. To earn credit for this requirement, students must apply to have their experiential learning activities approved by the Honors Program. Students should also include these experiences in their portfolio, and must have completed one of the two required experiential learning activities before registering for HONORS 496.

Reflection via the Honors Portfolio

Honors students practice reflection via an online portfolio. Students are introduced to the portfolio in HONORS 100, when they are given the practical and theoretical tools to make this archive of their academic and experiential work. With the help of their Honors peers, advisers, and faculty, students continue to contribute to their portfolios throughout their time at UW and in Honors before polishing and presenting their portfolios in HONORS 496.


Departmental Honors Requirements

What is Departmental Honors?

Departmental Honors allows students the opportunity to explore their chosen major in greater depth, usually with guidance from a faculty mentor. While each major’s Honors requirements vary, the foundational 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 or disciplinary 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 (note 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 stand alone Honors courses offered by the department, courses or study abroad credits approved for ad hoc, Honors research- or service-based credits, graduate seminars, or another type of creative Honors course that is reflective of the department’s curricular vision; and
  • an extended final project or presentation (or deliverable such as a portfolio, blog, publishable piece of work, etc.).

Departmental Honors can be completed in conjunction with Interdisciplinary Honors (to graduate “with College Honors in [major]”), or alone (to graduate “with Honors in [major]”).

Typically, students apply for departmental admission in their junior year of college, although some majors have earlier entrance options. For admission into a Departmental Honors program or details about the process, please speak with a departmental adviser. Admission procedures are specific to each department; students should consult with an academic adviser within their department for more information.

Visit these links to see Departmental Honors options. If you do not see the department in which you are interested, take heart–not all majors have an Honors webpage. Information about missing majors can be obtained from the departments themselves: simply email a departmental adviser to set up an appointment.

Browse requirements by department



College Honors Requirements

To earn a College Honors degree, 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]”.


Students must maintain a 3.3 cumulative GPA to remain active in the Honors Program and to graduate with an Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors degree. Some Departmental Honors programs have higher GPA minimums; please check with your departmental adviser regarding departmental GPA requirements.