Honors Overview

Welcome message from 2016 SOAR

On this page you will find information about:

  • opportunities for L&S Honors Program students
  • the three Honors degree tracks available in L&S
  • Honors student perspectives
  • additional resources related to Honors at UW

The College of Letters & Science Honors Program provides a community for many of UW-Madison’s most engaged, motivated, and talented undergraduates. Honors students are active learners and want to do meaningful work in and beyond the classroom. Through engagement with the Honors Program, Honors students build supportive relationships and challenge themselves in meaningful ways, intentionally pursuing experiences that add to their academic and personal growth.

Program Opportunities

The L&S Honors Program offers students access to:

  • small, discussion-driven courses and discussion sections led by faculty members and reserved for Honors Program students
  • grants to financially support research experiences, study abroad, and community leadership projects
  • a dedicated academic advising team that supports students throughout their undergraduate education
  • informal dinners, workshops, and presentations for Honors students with faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines
  • social and service events with other Honors Program students

Want to see examples of how students engage in the Honors Program? Check out recent issues of our annual newsletter.

2022 Newsletter

2021 Newsletter

Honors Degree Tracks

The L&S Honors Program includes students pursuing one of three Honors degree tracks: Honors in the Liberal Arts, Honors in the Major, and Comprehensive Honors. These tracks offer different ways for students to integrate Honors coursework and learning into their undergraduate degree.

Honors in the Liberal Arts

This track is a great fit for students who enjoy learning about new subjects and wish to fully embrace the benefits of a liberal arts education. Honors in the Liberal Arts can accompany any major(s) for students in L&S, and students do not need to have decided upon a major to apply. Students join Honors in the Liberal Arts through the Honors Program’s incoming student admissions process each spring or through a separate Honors application process for continuing students and new transfer students.

Students pursuing Honors in the Liberal Arts will:

  • complete at least 24 Honors credits by graduation (an average of one Honors course per semester over four years)
  • explore Honors coursework in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences
  • take courses and/or discussion sections dedicated to Honors Program students
  • have the opportunity to enrich their learning in courses of interest by completing projects for Honors credit

Courses taken for Honors can count toward general education, L&S breadth, and major requirements.

Honors in the Major

This track is designed for students who want deeper training in major-specific content as well as the research, writing, and critical thinking skills useful to a wide range of graduate programs and career choices. Honors in the Major can be declared in consultation with an assigned major advisor; students cannot declare Honors in the Major before beginning undergraduate coursework at UW and officially declaring a major.

Honors in the Major eligibility and requirements vary by major. Requirements often emphasize Honors experiences in the intermediate- and advanced-level coursework for the major that students take after their first or second year. In general, students pursuing Honors in the Major will:

  • take a specified amount of their major coursework for Honors credit and/or take Honors versions of certain major requirements
  • complete a research-based capstone project (senior Honors thesis) during their final two semesters under the mentorship of a faculty member

Comprehensive Honors

Comprehensive Honors is the awarded to L&S students who complete Honors in the Liberal Arts and Honors in the Major. This is the highest undergraduate degree offered by the College of Letters & Science.

More Information About Degree Tracks

  • Incoming students will learn about L&S degree requirements during Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR).
  • For full details of requirements and policies for Honors degree tracks, you can visit our Honors degree tracks page and use the Guide.
  • We encourage current UW students to schedule an appointment with an Honors advisor.

If you are interested in Honors but unsure which path is the best fit for you, consider applying to join the Honors Program through Honors in the Liberal Arts. This helps you get connected with the Honors Program as soon as possible, and you can consider incorporating Honors experiences in different subjects. Honors advisors can support you in the process of defining your educational path and selecting courses that reflect your interests and goals.