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Honors Program

Curriculum and Requirements

Students representing all majors—arts and humanities, business, natural sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer science, social sciences, and creative and performing arts—participate in the four-year Honors Program.

To remain active in the Honors Program, a student must respond to the annual opt-in email by indicating their desire to continue in the program and must continue to make satisfactory progress towards satisfying Honors requirements. Membership in the Honors Program also requires that students remain in “good standing” at the University. Students are not in “good standing” if they are on either academic or conduct probation, deferred suspension, or suspension. To be re-admitted to the Honors Program, a student must reapply after the probation, deferred suspension, or suspension is lifted.

As with all DU students, the requirements set out in the Bulletin for the year they entered must be satisfied for graduation, and Honors Program requirements reflect these. Students graduate with University Honors upon satisfaction of the following requirements:

  • completion of the Honors sequence of courses
  • achievement by graduation of a minimum 3.5 GPA
  • satisfaction of all requirements for distinction in the major, including a thesis or culminating project
The Honors Sequence

The Honors sequence provides students with the opportunity to meet university requirements in small, discussion-based, Honors-only courses.

The Honors sequence offers a small but diverse menu of courses that vary by discipline and topic from quarter to quarter. Each course allows students to gain foundations in important academic traditions and apply them to contemporary concerns.

Honors Geography, for instance, has been developed to reflect the science and issues concerning sustainability. In Honors WRIT, students explore particular topics through the styles and methods of the different forms of academic knowledge—interpretive, quantitative and qualitative. Our two-hour seminars bring students from all majors together to explore topics as diverse as Nobel Laureates in the Sciences, the man and myth of Che Guevara, the literature of Truth and Reconciliation.

Students are expected to take

  • one Honors Humanities: an Honors course in the Analytical Inquiry: Society and Culture category, usually during the first or second year
  • one Honors Social Science: an Honors course in the Scientific Inquiry: Society and Culture category, usually during the first or second year.
  • the Honors Natural Science sequence:  Honors Geography (Global Environmental Change and Sustainability); or a three-quarter introduction to a natural science designed for majors in that department (sequences beginning with BIOL 1010, CHEM 1010, PHYS 1111, or PHYS 1211), usually during the first or second year
  • Honors Writing (Honors Writ), WRIT 1733, during spring quarter of the first year
  • one Honors Advanced Seminar (ASEM), usually during the third or fourth year
  • two Honors Seminars (HSEM), usually during the third or fourth year
Requirement Variations

Depending on the major and the work students have already completed, some requirements can be modified. DU’s writing requirement can vary for students with AP and IB credit, but all students begin with a First-Year Seminar and then take the equivalent of WRIT 1122 and 1133. For Honors Program students, these are the Advanced Writing Seminar (1622) and Honors WRIT (1733) . Transfer and AP and IB credit can be applied to other university requirements or to overall elective hours, and can allow students who have in this way met common curriculum requirements to move into an approved upper level course in the respective area. AP/IB credit can also be combined with 1 or 2 quarters of Honors Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World (SINP) to count for both the Honors and University Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World  requirements. For Honors students, the Natural Science division will count any combination of AP credit and Honors Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World towards the University Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World requirement.

Honors students come to us with a variety of academic experience, goals and scheduling needs. Recognizing this, the Honors Program is flexible and, where appropriate, can substitute particular requirements. Please contact us for advising.

Standard Alternatives for Analytical Inquiry: Society & Culture (AISC), Scientific Inquiry: Society & Culture (SICS), and Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World (SINP)

Instead of taking an Honors Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World (SINP) sequence or one Honors Analytical Inquiry: Society & Culture (AISC) or Scientific Inquiry: Society & Culture(SISC), students have several alternatives. First, with permission of the Honors Program and the department in question, students can take an upper level arts/humanities, social science, or natural science class not in their major or minor (providing prerequisites for the course have been met) to count for the associated Honors Analytical Inquiry: Society & Culture, Scientific Inquiry: Society & Culture, or Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World. Please note: While these courses can satisfy the Honors arts and humanities or social sciences requirement, they do not necessarily satisfy the university Common Curriculum requirements.

Second, students may take a non-Honors Analytical Inquiry: Society & Culture or Scientific Inquiry: Society & Culture or Scientific Inquiry: Natural & Physical World sequence, and, with agreement of the faculty member and the Honors Program, develop an H-Contract to convert it into an Honors experience. The H-Contract must be submitted to the Honors Program and approved by the Honors Council in advance of registration. Also, students can take the departmental introduction to natural sciences to meet the Honors SINP requirement (the sequence starting with BIOL 1010, CHEM 1010, PHYS 1111, or PHYS 1211).

Alternatives for Honors Advanced Seminar and Honors Seminar

Beginning in Winter 2012, students have had three options for completing their Honors ASEM (Advanced Seminar) and HSEM (Honors Seminar) requirement (a total of 8 honors hours). In addition to the usual combination of 1 Honors ASEM and 2 Honors Seminars (4 honors credit hours + 2x2 honors credit hours or 8 honors credit hours), students may choose the following options: 1) ASEMx2 - substitute one additional Honors ASEM for the two Honors Seminar requirement (a total of 8 honors credit hours); or 2) HSEMx4 - take 1 regular ASEM (4 hours for the common curriculum requirement) plus 4 HSEMs (a total of 12 credit hours, 8 of them in Honors). Please note that the HSEMs cannot substitute for the regular ASEM. The ASEM is a common curriculum requirement established by the University. The HSEMS are an honors requirement that provides elective hour credit. In this option, therefore, you meet the common curriculum requirement with the regular ASEM and the honors ASEM requirement through the additional 4 hours of HSEM elective hour credit.

Other Credit for Honors Common Curriculum Classes

All common curriculum classes in the Humanities (AISC) and Social Sciences (SISC) are offered through the departments, and as such can often meet major or minor as well as common curriculum requirements. For instance, Honors SOCI 1810, (Understanding Social Life) or Honors ECON 1020 would count toward the Sociology or Economics major or minor, respectively, just as the non-Honors version would. The same 4 hours would thus meet a common curriculum, major/minor, and Honors requirement. In general, the hours from any common curriculum class you take in your major or minor department count toward hours in that major or minor. How the class is used depends on the department, so you should check with your major or minor advisor for additional details.


Honors students register for their courses in the same way and according to the same schedule as other DU undergraduates.

Students should access the subject box and highlight all of them (CTRL + right click). They should select "Honors" in the attribute box. From this selection they should select courses with the attribute they need, e.g. "Honors" plus "Scientific Inquiry: Society," "Analytical Inquiry: Society," or "Scientific Inquiry: Natural." For instance, the Foundations in Communications course, below, has the attributes "Honors" and "Scientific Inquiry: Society":

Foundations in Communication Studies - 4118 COMN - 1210-2

Honors Program Students Only

Associated Term: Autumn Quarter 2010

Registration Dates: No dates available

Levels: Undergraduate

Attributes: Honors, Scientific Inquiry: Society Instructors: Roy V. Wood (P)

Distinction in the Major

The Honors sequence covers the breadth requirement of the first two years and an Advanced Seminar (ASEM) and two Honors Seminars in the junior or senior year.

In addition to the broad liberal arts curriculum of the Honors sequence, students experience depth in their discipline and continue their honors experience by completing the requirements for Distinction in their major (double majors need only complete Distinction in one of their majors). Acceptance into a major's distinction plan is not automatic. Every department has developed a distinction plan with its own timing, admission criteria, procedures, and completion requirements. Honors students should therefore contact and work with their major advisor as soon as possible in order to learn about the Distinction program in the major they declare.

Distinction is required for students entering in 2008 and after. Students who entered DU before 2008 are covered by the Honors Program rules for graduation in place when they enrolled. Requirements might include a thesis in their major, so they should contact their major advisor for details on thesis requirements.

Thesis or Culminating Project

Each department determines the appropriate requirements for theses or culminating projects in the majors it offers. Students should choose an advisor as they embark on their research and plans for the culminating project. If you would like to complete a thesis or project based on work outside your major department, you and your advisor should read the guidelines for such projects. Students should submit the thesis verification form on time, participate in the Spring Symposium and when possible present the Honors Program with a bound copy of the thesis. The Honors Program provides funding for thesis research and materials.