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The University Honors Program provides a rigorous environment for highly motivated students looking for an interdisciplinary educational experience. Bringing selected faculty into close contact with dedicated students in an atmosphere of small, challenging classes allows the Honors Program to combine the intimacy of a small, interdisciplinary liberal arts college with the strengths of an excellent public research university. Interdisciplinary, College, and Departmental Honors annually enroll approximately 1500 undergraduates, with about two-thirds of the students in Interdisciplinary/College Honors and the remaining one-third in Departmental Honors.
Most Honors students enter as incoming UW freshmen in the Interdisciplinary Honors curriculum. These students pursue an enhanced course of study that overlaps with UW's general studies requirements, and are eligible to earn a degree "with Interdisciplinary Honors" upon graduation. Students also enter the Honors Program through Departmental Honors, an option that students may apply for when they enter a major. Completion of Departmental Honors alone results in a degree earned "with Honors in [major]." Students who complete both Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors are eligible to earn a degree "with College Honors" upon graduation.
Honors does not attempt to replace the University experience; rather it aims to enhance it. Through seminar-style classes and close interaction with faculty, Honors students acquire excellent analytical reading and writing skills. These will be invaluable assets as they continue in their academic and professional pursuits. Immediate and continuing contact with Honors faculty, support staff and students, and the growth of an Honors learning community are among the more obvious benefits of such a structure.
The Honors core curriculum is interdisciplinary in design and incorporates an international perspective. Students pursuing Interdisciplinary Honors normally enroll in one Honors course each quarter (roughly one-third of their academic experience) and complete their degrees at the same pace as other undergraduates. Indeed, many find that the flexibility of Honors allows them to gain experience in interests outside their majors, including study abroad, community activities, and internships.
As part of this learning experience, Honors students begin to establish connections with Honors faculty from their first term on campus, enjoy the community of dedicated peers, and accept the challenge to read critically, to confront and discuss new ideas, and to write effectively. Honors offers a distinctive general education core curriculum where students learn together in classes of about 30 students and where the emphasis is on demanding reading, energetic discussion, and serious writing.