Honors Program

Honors at Columbia

Message from the Director


paganoThank you for your interest in the Honors Program at Columbia College Chicago.

Columbia’s Honors Program offers motivated, high-achieving students the opportunity to pursue deeper academic and creative challenges in their Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum. Taught by some of Columbia’s most engaged faculty members, the Honors Program provides a rich array of specially designed courses that emphasize more active and applied learning, independent research, interdisciplinarity, and enhanced academic rigor.  

But the Honors Program at Columbia is more than those things. At its core, the program is a dynamic community of creative thinkers, intellectuals, writers, and communicators who seek to expand the limits of their curiosity and creativity. It’s a place where students share ideas, rethink old ones, and study and learn at the highest level. 

If you are a current Columbia student interested in exploring Honors, all you need is a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher to enroll in an Honors course (provided, of course, you have met any other prerequisite requirements for the Honors course). If you are not yet a Columbia and have an interest in our Honors Program, contact us and we will be happy to discuss the program with you in greater detail.

We look forward to you joining us.

Neil Pagano, PhD
Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Director of the Honors Program

Why Honors?

Here’s why: Because you’re the kind of student who seeks greater challenge in the classroom. You’re the first one with your hand raised. You’re not satisfied with just knowing the what; you need to know the how and the why, too. Yes, you’re a dancer, a journalist, an artist, a marketing genius, but you’re also a citizen and an intellectual. You understand that you create (whether it’s a sculpture or an ad campaign) for an audience. You create for a societal context.

The Honors Program provides that context in a way that goes deeper and asks more of you as a student—because you’re ready to give more.

Honors Courses

Your Honors courses bring together students from across Columbia for a shared experience that transcends your major. In fact, interaction with students from outside your major is part of the value of the Honors Program—it’s where “Creative Posses” are formed as students “Explore” and “Live Intellectually.”

Honors courses aren’t necessarily more work—they’re more in-depth work. The content and approaches to Honors learning are as varied as the faculty who teach the courses, but one constant is the students themselves. Honors courses attract students who have demonstrated an aptitude for learning at a very high level. The result is a classroom that seeks challenges and instructors who help you meet them.

See a list of all Honors courses here.  

History of the Honors Program

    The Honors Program began in the spring of 2010 with seventy-two students enrolled in five Honors courses. Two years later, in the spring of 2012, the first cohort of students (eight total) graduated from the Honors Program. Since it began, the program has grown to offer about thirty courses per semester and to serve roughly 600 students every year … and it’s still growing.

Honors Program Student Advisory Board

The Honors Program Student Advisory Board (HPSAB) is a group of Honors students charged with conceiving and planning social and extracurricular events for Honors students. Belonging to the HPSAB is a chance for you to play an important role in not only helping shape the Honors community at Columbia College Chicago, but also the ways in which your fellow students experience Honors at Columbia. If you’re interested in joining the HPSAB, please contact Andrew Whatley at awhatley@colum.edu or 312.369.7261.

“What’s the Big Idea?” Honors Presentation Series

Hundreds of Columbia’s brightest students enroll in Honors courses each semester, enriching the intellectual discourse that occurs in and outside of the classroom. “What’s the Big Idea?” aims to bring those students together to discuss new ides, rethink old ones, and share the interdisciplinary spirit of the Honors community at Columbia College Chicago.

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. 

Honors Research Award

The Honors Research Award is presented to students who conduct outstanding research and writing in an Honors course. It is sponsored by the Office of the Dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the college’s Library. The first place prize is $250, and the second place winner receives $100. The submission deadline is typically in early to mid-May. You can find more information here.