Honors Program

FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions we receive from prospective students, current students, and faculty members. If your question isn’t answered below, or you would like more clarification to an answer, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Who are you?

I'm not a student (yet!), but I'm interested in Honors

1. What is the Honors Program?
The Honors Program at Columbia College Chicago is fifteen credit hour program that offers advanced learning opportunities to undergraduate students. The program began in the spring of 2010 and has quickly become an important component of undergraduate academics at Columbia. The Honors Program is administered by the Office of the Dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

2. What is an Honors course?
An Honors course is any class that is part of the Honors Program. Honors courses are recognizable by the “HN” appended to the course number in the college’s catalog and schedule. Many Honors courses are developed by full-time faculty members in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and are drawn from their research and scholarly interests. Honors courses are offered in the LAS Core Curriculum. 

3. What is the LAS Core Curriculum?
The LAS Core Curriculum is a set of courses all undergraduate students must complete in order to graduate from Columbia College Chicago. You’ll hear these courses called “general education” at many other colleges and universities. The LAS Core is central to the undergraduate experience at Columbia and speaks to the diverse and unique research interests of our faculty members. For more information, visit the Core Curriculum page.

4. What are the differences between Honors courses and non-Honors courses?  
Here are a few: Honors classes are smaller (capped at sixteen students); instructors have enhanced expectations for student work and engagement; and Honors classes are often more intense intellectual experiences with deeper levels of inquiry. However, the most important difference in Honors classes is often the students themselves. Honors students have chosen the Honors experience, so they come to class ready to challenge themselves and each other.

5. I was invited to join the Honors Program when I was accepted into Columbia. What’s next?
First things first—congratulations! We’re thrilled that you’ll be joining us.

There are a few things that every student has to do to enroll at Columbia, and it all starts with paying your tuition deposit and signing up for an orientation session, which you can do here

Once you've RSVP'd for your orientation session and completed a brief registration tutorial, you’ll be cleared to register for your first semester of classes. For students in the Honors Program, we recommend taking Honors sections of two courses in your first semester: “First-Year Seminar” (48-1100HN) and “Writing and Rhetoric I” (52-1151HN). If your AP, ACT, or SAT scores place you in “Writing and Rhetoric II” (52-1152HN), we offer Honors sections of that course, too.

As always, if you have any questions about Honors courses, please feel free to contact the Director of the Honors Program, Neil Pagano (npagano@colum.edu), or the Associate Director Andrew Whatley (awhatley@colum.edu).

6. Does the Honors Program offer any scholarships?
There are no Honors Program scholarships at present, but Columbia has many scholarships that reward incoming and current students based on need and/or academic excellence. Visit colum.edu/scholarships to learn more. We also offer the Undergraduate Honors Research Award, which carries with it a stipend.

7. Is there a residence hall for Honors students? 
Yes, two of the floors in the 2 E. 8th Street dorms are set aside exclusively for Honors students. For more information, contact Andrew Whatley at awhatley@colum.edu or 312.369.7261.

8. Can I sit in on an Honors class sometime?
Of course! If you know which class you’d like to sit in on, feel free to email the professor who teaches it. If you’re unsure about which class you’d like to visit, please contact Andrew Whatley at awhatley@colum.edu or 312.369.7261, and he will help you find the right class. 

I'm a Columbia student who's interested in Honors

1. Why should I take an Honors course?
Because they are unlike any other learning experience you’ve ever had. But don’t just take our word for it: “The payoff in learning is extraordinary.” (Alex Summitt, BA ’14)

2. Why should I declare honors?
You don't have to, but there are several practical reasons. Among them: the declaration lets OASIS know to look for Honors credits in your Advising Guide and as part of your Graduation Audit—after all, if you’re taking the classes, you should get credit for them. Also, declaring honors lets us know who you are so we can contact you with information about social and extra-curricular opportunities specifically for Honors students.

3. How can I declare honors?
You can declare honors here. Any Columbia student with a GPA of 3.50 or greater is eligible to enroll in Honors classes during open registration (provided, of course, that there are available seats and you meet any other prerequisites). We ask that all students who intend to complete the full, fifteen-credit Honors Program take the time to declare honors.

4. What if I’m not sure about completing all 15 credits? Do I have to declare honors? 
No, you do not. If you want to take one or two Honors classes just to see what they’re like, that’s fine. If you change your mind about completing the program, though, please remember to declare honors so that, after you complete the program, you leave Columbia as an Honors Program graduate.

5. I don’t qualify for the Honors Program. What can I do to become eligible?  
Just increase your GPA. (The minimum GPA requirement for Columbia students to both enroll in the program at declare honors is 3.50.) 

6. Can I take Honors courses without declaring for the Honors Program? 
Yes, but we strongly encourage every continuing student who plans to complete 15 Honors credits to declare. Students accepted to the Honors Program as freshman do not need to declare. 

7. Do I have to take Honors courses every semester?
No, but you’re welcome to take as many Honors classes as you like and can fit into your schedule. You should still be able to take all the Honors classes required to complete the program even if you’re not able to schedule one every semester.

8. What are some examples of Honors courses?
We’ve offered courses in everything from “Victorian Illustrated Poetry” to “Quantum Physics” to “The 1960s” to “Evolution of Sex”—with new course offerings every semester. You can find a full list here

9. Are there extra fees associated with the Honors Program?
There are no course fees specific to Honors courses; however, some courses do carry fees for specialized equipment or activities. These fees are indicated in the OASIS course listings and will appear on your tuition bill.

10. I’m a graduate student at Columbia. Can I take an Honors course? 
The Honors Program is currently only open to undergraduate students.

11. Where can I see a list of Honors courses? 
You can see a list of Honors courses by visiting this page.


I'm an Honors student at Columbia

1. What are the requirements for graduating from the Honors Program?
Students who complete at least 15 credits of Honors courses (those with an ‘HN’ in the course catalog) and graduate with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.50 will receive the “Honors Program Graduate” distinction on their transcripts.

2. How do I declare honors?
If you were accepted into the Honors Program as a freshman and the "Honors" section appears on your Advising Guide in OASIS, you don't need to. Other students should simply visit our declare honors page and fill out the required information. Only current students with a GPA of at least 3.50 are eligible to declare honors.

3. How do I check my progress in fulfilling the requirements of the Honors Program?
If you’ve declared for the Honors Program, your Advising Guide in OASIS will automatically track your Honors credits as you take them.

4. Do I have to take Honors courses every semester?
No, but you’re welcome to take as many Honors classes as you like to and can fit into your schedule. You should still be able to take all the Honors classes required to complete the program even if you’re not able to schedule one every semester.

5. What is the Undergraduate Honors Research Award, and how can I apply?
The Undergraduate Honors Research Award recognizes and rewards Honors students who produce exceptional research and writing in an Honors course. It is administered by the Office of the Dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the college’s Library. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Honors Research Award page.

6. What is the Honors Program Student Advisory Board, and how can I join?
The Honors Program Student Advisory Board is a volunteer group of Honors students who help plan social and extra-curricular events for Honors students. If you’re interested in joining contact Andrew Whatley, Assistant Dean for Faculty Advising and Associate Direct of the Honors Program, at awhatley@colum.edu, or 312.369.7261.

7. Does Columbia have an Honors Program Facebook page?
You bet we do. Like us on Facebook, and we will keep you informed with what's going on in the Honors Program. (We might even let you know when and where you can get free food on campus!)

8. What is the “What’s the Big Idea?” presentation series?
Each semester, a faculty member who teaches Honors classes presents a big idea—one that is generally connected to his or her scholarly interests. These discussions are free and open to the public. All students are welcome, but Honors students, as well as students interested in the Honors Program, are strongly encouraged to attend. This presentation series was launched in the Fall of 2012.

You can watch video of past presentations by visiting the Honors Program at Columbia College Chicago YouTube channel

I'm a faculty member at Columbia

1. Who can teach Honors courses?
All full-time faculty members at Columbia College are eligible to teach in the Honors Program.

2. How do I develop an Honors course? 
If you are interested in developing an Honors course, your first step should be to contact Neil Pagano, Associate Dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Director of the Honors Program, at npagano@colum.edu, or 312.369.8218. He can explain the processes of developing Honors curricula. As with all courses, Honors courses are subject to procedures for curricular review in place within the appropriate department.

3. I’m interested in presenting my work to Honors students in one of the “What’s the Big Idea?” Honors talks. Whom do I contact?
We’d love to hear your big idea. Contact Andrew Whatley, Assistant Dean for Faculty Advising and Associate Director of the Honors Program, at awhatley@colum.edu, or 312.369.7261.