Course Guide - What is Honors?

School and College Honors programs are designed for students looking for more intensive academic work. High grade-point averages are required to maintain honor student standing. Programs vary among the schools and colleges; see specific school or college information.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Honors Program
School of Business Honors Program
School of Education Honors Program (see Note below)
College of Engineering Honors Program
School of Human Ecology Honors Program
College of Letters & Science Honors Program
School of Nursing Honors Program

Note: School of Education Honors Options
Through a unique collaboration between the School of Education and the College of Letters and Science (L&S), students in the School of Education are offered the opportunity to participate in the L&S Honors Program. Education students may participate in the L&S Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA), Honors in the Major (HM), or Comprehensive Honors (both HLA and HM) curricula. See the L&S Honors section for more details and contact information.

What is an Honors class?

There are three different types of Honors classes. Each class type emphasizes a different type of learning or assessment based on the structure of the class and the interests of honors students.

Automatic or Dedicated Honors Credit:

H - Honors Only

Honors only courses are:
  • Reserved for honors student only.
  • Small courses (usually 20 students or fewer) or small professor-taught discussion sections of a larger class.
  • Taught by a faculty member who is an expert in the subject-matter of the course.
  • Designed to challenge students to actively participate, thus allowing the course content to be shaped according to the questions and interests of the students. Often, honors students in these courses end up having higher grade point averages.
  • Focused on discussion and interactive learning, rather than the passive experience of listening, note-taking and multiple choice exams (e.g., Psychology 281).

! - Unrestricted Honors

Unrestricted honors courses are:
  • Open to both honors and non-honors students.
  • Accelerated courses that give students honors credit due to the amount and rigor of material covered in the course. (Some courses combine two semesters of material into one semester, i.e. Biocore).

General Honors Credit:

% - Honors Available

Honors available courses are:
  • Open to honors and non-honors students.
  • Larger courses with an optional honors component.
  • Focused on alternative types of learning such as presentation skills, creative writing skills or other non-traditional learning styles, although some may include a longer or additional paper or problem-set (e.g., authoring a children´s book in Hindi for an Asian Studies class)
  • The student´s responsibility: if the % honors option is not mentioned in the syllabus, the student is expected to ask the course instructor about honors requirements for the course.


In all cases, students must earn a grade of "B" or higher in the course to receive honors credit. Honors credits cannot be transferred from another institution and do NOT count towards an L&S Honors Degree at UW-Madison.

Keywords:honors, school and college,   Doc ID:9895
Owner:Aaron A.Group:Enrollment
Created:2009-05-12 19:00 CDTUpdated:2016-04-06 12:10 CDT
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