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 general education requirements in Honors-specific courses, complete experiential learning requirements, and maintain a portfolio throughout their participation in this curriculum. Students can enter Interdiscplinary 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.


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. It is very important for students to keep this policy in mind as they pursue their Honors degrees at UW.

Read more about the Honors GPA policy »

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 the Spring quarter 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.

College/School Requirements
  • Business School
  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of the Environment
  • College of Built Environments
  • College of Engineering
  • Information School
  • School of Nursing
PDF worksheet

Overview of Interdisciplinary requirements

Course distributions

The Honors Core Curriculum consists of nine five-credit Honors courses that are preceded by the one-credit HONORS 100, taken in the autumn quarter of the first year, and completed by the one-credit HONORS 496, taken at the same time as, or soon after, students finish six of their nine courses and have completed one of their two experiential learning projects. To complete Interdisciplinary Honors, students must take:

  • one Honors arts/humanities course (VLPA)
  • one Honors social science course (I&S)
  • three Honors science or math courses (NW)
  • one Honors interdisciplinary course (various combinations of I&S, VLPA, and NW)*
  • three additional Honors courses from any category

Please note, a minimum of 15 credits with the HONORS prefix are required, exclusive of HONORS 100, 496, and 499. No more than three courses used in the major may be applied toward the Honors Core curriculum and no more than three courses by the same professor may be used for the Honors Core.  No more than 15 credits of ad hoc or independent study, both on campus and abroad, may be used for the Honors Core. Students should check with their College or School to determine if there are any further restrictions.

*Interdisciplinary courses may only count for your Interdisciplinary Honors course requirement or your Additional Any courses requirement. These courses cannot count towards your Honors Science, Honors Humanities/Arts or Honors Social Science requirements, even if they bear the corresponding Areas of Knowledge designation. You will earn Areas of Knowledge credit as indicated in the parentheses after each course title.

Learn more about current and past Honors Courses »


HONORS 100 is taken in the autumn quarter of a student's freshman year; Second Year Admission students, admitted in the spring quarter of their freshman year, will take HONORS 100 the following autumn, at the start of their sophomore year.  In HONORS 100, students will be introduced to the Honors Program requirements 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. 

Once students have completed HONORS 100, six of the nine required Honors courses, and one of two experiential learning projects, they will register for HONORS 496. This one-credit seminar helps students reflect on their experience in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program via their portfolios. The course 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 involve activities 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 staff. 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.

Read more about the Experiential Learning requirement »
Need help getting started? Here are some questions to think about »

The Honors Portfolio

Over the course of their undergraduate career, Honors students will also keep an ongoing portfolio. Students will be introduced to the Honors Portfolio in HONORS 100, when they will be given practical and theoretical tools to create and compile this electronic portfolio of their academic and experiential work. With the help of their Honors peers, advisers and faculty, students will continue to contribute to their portfolios throughout their time at UW and in Honors. Students will polish and present their portfolios in HONORS 496.

Read more about the Honors Portfolio requirements »


Departmental Honors allows students the opportunity to explore their chosen major in greater depth, usually with guidance from a faculty mentor. Departmental Honors requirements vary, but usually constitute an additional 10-15 credits of upper-level coursework, additional research or an extended thesis.

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. 

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.


To earn a College Honors degree, students must complete both Interdisciplinary Honors (coursework, experiential learning and portfolio) 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 are still responsible for completing the Areas of Knowledge requirements specific to their College, as well as University Proficiency Requirements (English Composition, QSR, and Foreign Language).

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