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  Honors in the Major Overview

Honors in the Major (HM) is the second type of Honors degree offered by the College of Letters & Science. Its requirements can be fulfilled independently from those for the Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA) track: neither is a prerequisite for the other. While HLA focuses on wide-ranging exposure to many fields of knowledge, HM allows students to explore a single discipline in depth and exposes them to cutting-edge research in that field. Each department establishes its own HM curriculum in order to offer the best possible preparation for graduate and professional training, as well as work and service outside of academia. Individual departments also determine how coursework completed during a study abroad experience relates to the major.


Each department sets its own admissions criteria and administers admission to Honors in the Major (HM). Students must apply to their major department for permission to enter this phase of the Honors Program. After they have met with the department's undergraduate advisor or honors coordinator and received permission to enroll in Honors in the Major, they may complete an Honors in the Major Declaration Form, available in the Honors Program office in Washburn Observatory. The completed form must be signed by the department's undergraduate advisor or honors coordinator, stamped by the department, and returned to the Honors Program office.


Each department establishes its own HM requirements, which must be approved by the Faculty Honors Committee. The Committee has set the following broad guidelines for HM requirements in all departments:

 Students in the College (i.e., L&S degree candidates) must complete all L&S general degree requirements. Students earning degrees in other UW-Madison schools and colleges may pursue Honors in the Major in L&S according to the Honors requirements established by each department, and the phrase "Honors in the Major" will appear on their transcripts.  However, "Honors in the Major" will not appear on their diploma, and they won't, of course, earn an L&S degree.

(b) Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 or higher as set by the major department (typically the minimum is not over 3.5).

 Students must complete a two-semester capstone project in which they are exposed to the cutting edge of intellectual inquiry in the discipline. The project is usually a senior thesis or a series of graduate seminars, but in some departments students produce an original work of art, put on a performance, or complete a practicum that enables them to begin to act as professionals in their chosen field.  If students write a thesis, they must enroll in the 681-682 sequence in their major department or a related, supporting department; these courses must be carried for a minimum of 3 credits per semester. The Faculty Honors Committee recommends that students also complete a departmental seminar to prepare for writing the senior thesis and participate in departmental colloquia while conducting thesis research.

(d) Students must complete 3 to 6 credits in upper-level courses beyond the number required for the regular, non-Honors major.

Upon completion of HM requirements, the phrase "With Honors in the Major" will appear on a student's L&S transcript and diploma.

For more information regarding the establishment of a new HM degree track or changes in an existing HM track, please see the section, Changing Dept HM Requirements.

Study Abroad Work

Each department determines how study abroad work may be applied towards Honors in the Major. For more information regarding the procedure for counting courses taken abroad towards HM requirements, please see the page regarding Honors and study abroad. Please note, however, that only honors students participating in international academic programs sponsored by UW-Madison may receive honors credit for part of their work completed abroad, provided that they have earned at least a 3.3 minimum GPA. Honors students who participate in study abroad programs not sponsored by UW-Madison are not eligible to receive honors credit for their work.


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