Honors in the Liberal Arts Requirements

Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA) is likely to be a primary focus for most first- and second-year students before they begin to concentrate on their majors. Honors in the Liberal Arts requires students to earn at least 24 Honors credits (with a grade-point average of 3.3 or higher) in broadly distributed subjects ranging from the humanities to the social and natural sciences. Students who complete this demanding but exciting curriculum are assured of an especially fine and wide-ranging exposure to many fields of knowledge across the university.

Requirements for the HLA Degree

To pursue an HLA degree, you must first be accepted into the Letters & Science Honors Program. The following requirements then apply:

  • Completion of L&S general degree requirements
  • Maintenance of a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3
  • Completion of 24 credits of Honors courses, with a grade of B or better in each course

Of the 24 honors credits:

  • 15 credits must come from Automatic Honors courses (those marked H or ! in the timetable)
  • 18 credits must be split across the three L&S breadth divisions
    • 6 credits from courses in the Humanities breadth area (marked H, L or Z in the timetable)
    • 6 credits from courses in the Social Sciences breadth area (marked S or Z in the timetable)
    • 6 credits from courses in the Sciences breadth area (marked B, P, N, W, X or Y in the timetable)

Students are generally able to graduate with HLA if they take an average of one Honors course per semester; however, it is not uncommon for students to take more than one Honors course at a time. The HLA requirements outlined above can be completed at any time during one’s academic career. Students who successfully complete the HLA curriculum will wear the Honors stole at their commencement ceremony and their transcript and diploma will bear the distinction, “with Honors in the Liberal Arts.”

Benefits of the Honors in the Liberal Arts Degree

Why pursue HLA? The Honors in the Liberal Arts experience can help you …

  • Learn to develop critical thinking and analytic reasoning skills
  • Learn problem-solving skills
  • Gain access to and challenge yourself in classes from a wide variety of disciplines
  • Develop close relationships with professors
  • Participate in research
  • Compete for educational and research funding opportunities
  • Reflect on your personal and life goals by connecting you to Honors Program advisors, which may help you better understand how to get the most from your UW-Madison education
  • Study abroad with fellow honors students in special honors study abroad programs.
  • Participate in honors co-curricular events like the Forensics Team or the Honors Student Organization (HSO)
  • Participate in a community of people with diverse interests

How Honors fits into the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees at the UW

The Honors in the Liberal Arts degree track complements the general education and breadth of exploration requirements, and occasionally major requirements, for students pursuing a BA or a BS from the College of Letters & Science. Follow the link below for a chart that illustrates how Honors coursework fits with the BA or BS tracks. For the most part, Honors students can achieve an HLA degree by taking Honors courses to fulfill their breadth requirements.

BA/BS with Honors Degree Chart