General guidelines for underclass Honors student to remain in good standing in the Honors Program are based on standards developed during the Program's nearly fifty-year history. They are designed to provide a sound base for the undergraduate experience and to allow students to acquire knowledge, develop analytic skills, and exercise creative abilities and critical faculties of mind. If you have a legitimate reason not to follow guidelines, you should discuss it with an Honors advisor and have the advisor note it in your file.
The basic four requirements for an underclass Honors student are:
- an average of two Honors courses per term for the four full terms of underclass Honors
- a course load of 14-18 credit hours
- an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.4 or better
- the Text and Ideas requirement.
Honors courses are offered by nearly every department in the college. The Text and Ideas requirement will shape two of your eight required honors courses; the subject matter of the other six are entirely up to you. We encourage you to use Honors courses for concentration prerequisites, distribution requirements, or simply to explore a topic in which you have developed an interest.
Several types of Honors courses are offered for first- and second-year students:
- Courses offered by various departments intended only for Honors students (for example, Honors Intro to Psychology and Honors Intro to Philosophy)
- Sections of regular courses for Honors students (e.g. Honors sections of Intro to Anthropology and Intro to Comparative Politics)
- Courses sponsored by the Honors Program (e.g. Sophomore Seminars and Honors Independent Research).
- Additional enrichment experiences related to courses (e.g. Introductory Microeconomics Workshop taken with Intro Microeconomics, or the structured study group taken along with Organic Chemistry I.)
Some upper level courses also count as Honors courses for first and second year students and many courses may be converted to Honors courses with the agreement of the professor and the Honors Program. You advisor can give you more details on these options.
Text and Ideas
The Text and Ideas requirement forms the foundation for an Honors education at U of M. Text and Ideas courses introduce students to a core set of texts from cultural traditions around the globe. These are texts which have proven central to that great conversation known as human civilization. Except in very rare circumstances, every first year Honors student must elect one of the following courses in each semester of the first year:
Fall Term, First Year
Great Books 191 or Classical Civilization 101 (Honors section ONLY)
Winter Term, First Year
Great Books 192 or Classical Civilization 102 (Honors section ONLY) or an approved alternative
The readings for Great Books 191 and Classical Civilization 101 (Honors section) overlap considerably, but the courses have somewhat different emphases. In addition to giving students a solid grounding in the texts that are considered part of the basis of Western Civilization, both Classic Civ 101 and Great Books 191 serve as meeting points that allow first-year Honors students to mingle and exchange ideas with each other and make new friends in the process.
Both courses stress academic writing, and the instructors pay attention to writing techniques and problems. Satisfactory completion of either one of these courses fulfills the introductory composition requirement. Honors students do not take English 124 or 125 for Intro Comp. Neither English Advanced Placement credit nor exemption from introductory composition based on transfer credit will satisfy the Text and Ideas requirement. If you plan to be in both Honors and the Residential College, please visit our Joint Programs page for more information on how T&I fits with the first-year writing expectations for joint students.
Prior to the registration period for each term, a list of courses which fulfill the second half of the Text and Ideas requirement is published on the Honors website. This list varies from term to term so you should check the current listing before taking a course for Text and Ideas credit.
Successful completion of the first and second-year Honors Program requirements with an above-average GPA (3.7) will entitle you to receive the Sophomore Honors Award.