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University Honors Program

Description and Goals of the Honors Program

The University Honors Program is designed to offer dedicated students both the resources of a comprehensive university and the individual attention traditionally associated with a small college. It asks that they be alive to the life of the mind and pushes them to raise the expectations they have for themselves and their education. It seeks to heighten their critical awareness, involve them in independent thinking and research, and encourage their leadership in the university and community.

Applying to the Honors Program

Students are urged to join the Honors Program as freshmen, but they may enter up to the second semester of their junior year. All applications must be accompanied by two letters of recommendation from teachers and a statement of intent. Entering freshmen should have a 3.5 high school GPA and either be in the top 10 percent of their graduating class academically or have scored a minimum ACT of 27 (composite) or SAT of 1170 (critical reading and math). Prospective Honors students already enrolled at UNC or transferring from another college need a minimum 3.25 GPA.

Requests for applications and program inquiries should be directed to the Honors Program office. Applications may also be downloaded in PDF format at

Overview of Honors Program Requirements

Academic Foundations - 12 course credits

The Academic Foundations area provides Honors students with a variety of course options in their UNC Liberal Arts Core, Honors seminars, and experiential learning. All students must complete at least one Life of the Mind (MIND) designated course and also complete either a second MIND or an Honors Connections Seminar as part of their Academic Foundations for a total of 6 credits. The remaining 6 course credits in Academic Foundations may come from additional MIND and seminar study or through various experiential learning options.

Students may take up to three courses with the MIND designation. These courses engage students in topics that often cross disciplinary boundaries, explore subjects more deeply, and examine the many diverse ways of knowing. Each MIND course can also be used to meet a portion of a student's UNC Liberal Arts Core requirements if the courses are chosen carefully to fit into the designated core categories. Students may only take each MIND course once as the courses are not repeatable.

Select from the following MIND courses:

MIND 100 The First Year Preceptorial (3)

MIND 180 Great Ideas of the Western Tradition (3)

MIND 181 Great Traditions of Asia: India, China and Japan (3)

MIND 182 Confluence of Cultures (3)

MIND 286 Value Issues in Political Economy (3)

MIND 288 Contemporary Arts Connections (3)

MIND 289 Coming of Age in the Twentieth Century (3)

MIND 290 Search for Meaning (3)

MIND 292 Ideas in Conflict (3)

MIND 294 Revolutions in Science (3)

MIND 295 Global Systems (3)

MIND 297 Creativity in the Arts (3)

In addition to Life of the Mind courses, students may take up to two Honors Connections Seminars with the designation of HON 100 or HON 200. The connections seminars allow students to learn about a topic in depth from several perspectives. HON 100 courses emphasize the connections between disciplines. HON 200 courses engage students in an analysis of values and ethics in the context of the times. Honors Connections Seminars are offered by different faculty each year who represent colleges across the university campus. As with the MIND courses, students may only take each HON 100 or 200 course once.

Students wishing to engage in other Academic Foundations experiences may pursue a number of additional options including:

  1. International or national student exchange,
  2. Internships, field experience, and student teaching
  3. Upper division course by contract, and
  4. Graduate level coursework.

Students may pursue a maximum of two alternate options, but they must be in different categories as numbered above. Additionally, the students must seek and receive approval from the Honors Director prior to pursuing any given option. Students pursuing these alternate course options may earn up to 6 course credits for their work, or in some instances, they may be granted waiver of a portion of their Honors course credits. In no instance, can coursework taken in Academic Foundations be used to substitute for coursework in Application of Academic Inquiry.

Application of Academic Inquiry - 6 course credits

In their junior and senior year, Honors students engage in an in-depth study or creative works project of their choice which gives them the opportunity to work individually with a faculty mentor and strengthen their research, writing, and presentation skills. Students must take HON 351 and HON 451 each for 3 credits to satisfy this requirement and must present their completed research in a public forum to educate others on their topic.

Students may complete their in-depth study in any discipline, and projects may include field research, experimentation, or creative composition such as in the humanities or fine arts. All projects require a written component with critical, research-based, reflective analysis. All completed projects are bound and placed in the permanent collection of the university's James A. Michener Library, and students receive recognition of their accomplishments on their official transcript, on their university diploma, and at commencement.

Community or Professional Engagement

As a means of developing a personal ethic and/or professional demeanor in one's field or discipline, each student must also provide evidence of participation in at least one of the following while they are a student at the university:

Summary of Honors Program Requirements

The Honors Program requires completion of a total of 18 course credits with 12 course credits undertaken in Academic Foundations; 6 course credits undertaken in Application of Academic Inquiry; and evidence of Community or Professional Engagement during the student's undergraduate studies. Honors students who complete all requirements and maintain a cumulative 3.25 UNC GPA will receive recognition during university commencement ceremonies, on their diploma, and on their transcripts that they have graduated from the University Honors Program.

Course checklists which summarize requirements are available from the Honors Program office, as are copies of the Honors Student Handbook and Honors Thesis Handbook. The checklists and handbooks may also be downloaded on the Honors Program website at

Additional Honors Program Information

The Honors Program maintains an up-to-date website with detailed information on the program, events and social activities, service projects, and other aspects of Honors campus life. Please visit the site at for more information.

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