Earn Honors Credit

As you move through your degree, you can engage in different types of Honors coursework. Click through the options below to learn about the ways to earn Honors credit. Note that you must earn a B or better in a course for the credit to count toward Honors degree requirements.

Types of Honors Courses

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Honors Only

All students in an Honors Only seminar or discussion section complete the same work and earn Automatic Honors credit. These classes are:

  • Reserved for Honors students
  • Low-enrollment seminars (usually 20 students or fewer) or small, professor-taught discussion sections of larger classes
  • Taught by faculty members who are motivated to work closely with students
  • Designed to encourage your active participation and be shaped by your and your classmates’ questions and interests
  • Focused on interactive learning and intellectual engagement rather than passive learning activities

If you choose to do a senior thesis in your major department, your thesis will typically be listed as an Honors Only course and require instructor approval to enroll. Senior theses are not required for the Honors in the Liberal Arts degree, but are part of Honors in the Major requirements for most majors.

Examples of Honors Only courses

Botany 211: Science in a Changed Landscape – Wisconsin

This course is intended for Honors undergraduate students with or without a background in science. The aim is to expose you to the changing uses of Wisconsin landscapes: as the home of native peoples; as a source of fur, lead and timber; as
part of the new nation of the United States; and as a modern, vibrant collection of communities focused on enterprises as diverse as agriculture and education. We will ask: what roles did science play in shaping the landscape? What roles should it have played? What roles does science play in current land use? We will not be afraid to tackle controversy (genetically modified crops, the endangered species act, water use, global change), but we will remain committed to listening to, absorbing and respecting the diversity of experiences we bring to the classroom.

Journalism 201: Introduction to Mass Communication

This course covers such topics as: how the mass media are organized and how they function in modern society, their technological basis, their economic and political foundations, and their social implications. Journalism 201 enrolls over 350 students and includes small weekly discussion sections led by a graduate student teaching assistant. Honors students can enroll in a separate Honors discussion section facilitated by the course professor.

Accelerated Honors

All students in an Accelerated Honors course or discussion section complete the same work and earn Automatic Honors credit. These classes are:

  • Open to both Honors and non-Honors students, but may have other enrollment criteria.
  • Often rigorous and fast-paced; carefully consider prerequisites and speak with an advisor as you build a schedule that includes an Accelerated Honors course.

Examples of Accelerated Honors courses

Math 375: Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra

This course is an Honors version of third semester Calculus. The object of the course is to present the subjects of linear algebra and multivariable calculus and the interrelation between their mathematical ideas in a proof-focused, theoretical approach. The class usually enrolls about 35 students.

Chemistry 109(H): Advanced General Chemistry

This course covers material from both Chemistry 103 and Chemistry 104 (a two-semester sequence of introductory general chemistry). It is designed for students contemplating a major in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering or a related field, is fast-paced, and expects students to have a strong high school math and chemistry background. In Chemistry 109 Honors, students learn the material from Chem 109 using more application-based learning, often delving into modern research pertaining to the energy sector, the ozone, and development of new plastics for medical uses.

Honors Optional

UW–Madison courses may be offered with Honors Optional enrollment. Honors credit is awarded when a student selects to “Take this course with Honors” through the Course Search & Enroll app and completes an assigned Honors project. Honors Optional projects are:

  • Opportunities to enrich and enhance what is learned in the course.
  • Designed by professors, sometimes in collaboration with students. Requirements for a given course may change from term to term.
  • Your responsibility! If the Honors Optional project is not mentioned in the syllabus, be sure to ask your instructor about the Honors requirement(s) early in the semester. You are also responsible for removing the Honors Option from your enrollment if you decide to not complete the Honors Optional work.
  • Not factored into your final letter grade. If you are enrolled for Honors and do not complete the Honors project in a satisfactory manner, however, your instructor will report a “Q” (Question) grade until the Honors designation is removed.
  • A way to earn general Honors credits and/or Honors breadth credits for Honors in the Liberal Arts. Honors Optional courses do not count toward Automatic Honors requirements.

The deadline to add or drop Honors is the end of the twelfth week of the semester. Removing Honors after that deadline requires approval from the instructor and an L&S Academic Dean.

Read the instructions for adding or dropping Honors from an Honors Optional course.

Additional Paths to Honors Credit

In addition to traditional Honors courses, students may choose to utilize Green Sheet proposals and Study Abroad petitions to meet Honors requirements. We strongly encourage consultation with an Honors advisor as you make your plans.

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Green Sheet Proposals

Occasionally, Honors students are eager to do Honors work in a class for which no Honors enrollment is available. The Green Sheet process is a way to work with your instructor and the Honors Program to create your own Honors project and earn Honors credit.

View more information about Green Sheet eligibility, deadlines, and the proposal process on the Green Sheet Information page.

Study Abroad Petitions

The Honors Program recognizes study abroad as a meaningful and rewarding experience, and we encourage all students to consider studying abroad. The Study Abroad petition process is a way to request that a course from an accredited study abroad program count toward remaining Honors in the Liberal Arts requirements.

For more information about study abroad petitions and opportunities through Honors, visit our Study Abroad page.