Honors Program

Pair with any bachelor’s degree

The Honors Program is not about doing “more” work or taking “harder” courses. It’s about pursuing an enriched, enhanced and deeper undergraduate liberal arts education. Honors students come together to form a diverse community of intellectually adventurous scholars.

Program Overview

Exceed all of your own expectations.

At Western Colorado University, the Honors Program welcomes high-achieving students from all majors and disciplines. The Honors Core features seven credits across four courses: Gateway, Forum, Introduction to the Great Conversation and Oxford Tutorial. You can take two Honors sections of General Education courses, which vary every semester. Honors Electives offer you the most autonomy by providing the option to pursue any combination of field experiences, service-learning projects, independent research and study abroad courses. This year, the Western Honors Program celebrates its 30th year.

A step ahead

Honors students gain access to distinctive, innovative and discussion-based courses, a database of thousands of internship, research and conference opportunities, honors-specific scholarships, community social events and more.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

The Western Honors Program provides enhanced and challenging academic programming to a carefully selected group of highly motivated and accomplished students from all disciplines. The Honors Program at Western provides the best of a liberal arts education by providing students with the opportunity to become autonomous learners within a highly supportive and collaborative academic community. Honors students are encouraged and challenged to free themselves from not only external constraints on the acquisition of knowledge and understanding but also from internal limitations that can prevent critical thinking, reflective analysis, and responsible choice. The Honors program welcomes a diversity of perspectives and fosters the intentional practice of civil discourse, enabling students to develop the capacity for informed analysis and responsible evaluation and a willingness to submit discoveries and conclusions to an academic community of their peers and mentors to be mutually investigated and critiqued. Small class size, extensive interaction among peers and professors, experiences outside the traditional classroom, and interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches to education are all features of the program. Such opportunities allow students to explore avenues of intellectual inquiry within and beyond their selected majors and minors.

The Western-CU Partnership Honors Program Certificate

The Western-CU Partnership Honors Program Certificate is for eligible Partnership students who are motivated to enhance their education with Honors courses connecting STEM with rigorous liberal arts-based inquiry.  Partnership students in the Honors Program take the same 21-credit sequence alongside Western students, but with a specialized degree plan and advising designed to fit seamlessly into their schedules.  Through innovative, interdisciplinary, and experiential coursework, Honors students engage program values of citizenship and community, interdisciplinarity, risk taking and autonomy, social intelligence and the Good.  Upon program completion, Partnership students will emerge as global thinkers, strong communicators, and creative problem solvers.  Students can learn more about the Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science & Engineering on individual program pages.  

Program Benefits

Honors students have the opportunity to become a part of a scholarly community composed of faculty and students committed to the pursuit of intellectual inquiry, creativity, and academic excellence. Benefits of membership in the Western Honors Program also include automatic eligibility for Honors housing and Honors classes, use of the Honors Center, computer lab and classroom in Taylor Hall, participation in Honors Orientation and the opportunity to get involved with the Honors Student Advisory Board to plan social and intellectual activities beyond the classroom, Honors study abroad, priority registration, exclusive opportunity to apply yearly for Honors-exclusive scholarships, and special recognition at graduation upon completion of the program. Students may also register for Honors Special Topics classes or develop independent and special Honors projects which offer challenging and accelerated learning experiences inside and outside the regular course offerings.

Admission Requirements

Invitations to the program are extended to high school students who have achieved a 3.50 cumulative grade point average or who have successfully completed International Baccalaureate programs. The test score requirements are an ACT composite score of 25 or higher or an SAT composite score of 1190. First or second-year Western students who have a minimum overall 3.3 grade point average may also apply. Upper-division students are considered on an individual basis. Transfer students with 29 or fewer credits are invited to join Honors if they have achieved a minimum overall 3.3 college grade point average as well as fulfilled the high school GPA and test score requirements. Transfer students with 29 or more credits and a minimum overall 3.3 college grade point average are considered on an individual basis.

Program Requirements

Continuation in the program is based on maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.0. Graduation from the program requires a grade point average of 3.3 and completion of program requirements.  

A minimum of 21 credits is required:

HNRS 100Gateway3
HNRS 200Honors Forum2
HNRS 304Introduction to the Great Conversation1
HNRS 400Oxford Tutorial1
Honors General Education courses 16
Select eight credits of the following (at least six credits must be upper division):8
HNRS 101
Honors Colloquium
HNRS 197
Special Topics
HNRS 201
Honors Colloquium
HNRS 202
Service Learning in Honors
HNRS 297
Special Topics
HNRS 301
Honors Colloquium
HNRS 302
Service Learning in Honors
HNRS 303
Honors Field Experience
HNRS 305
Place as Text
HNRS 397
Special Topics
HNRS 402
Service Learning in Honors
HNRS 401
Honors Colloquium
HNRS 403
Honors Field Experience
HNRS 492
Independent Study
HNRS 494
Thesis Preparation
HNRS 495
Thesis
HNRS 497
Special Topics
Total Credits21

Suggested 4-Year Degree Plan with the Honors Program

As each student’s overall degree plan will vary, depending upon transfer credit and/or major, this is a suggested plan.  Students transferring significant numbers of GE credits should meet with the Honors Program Director to make an individualized degree plan.  

Students interested in the Western-CU Partnership Honors Program Certificate should consult individually with the Honors Program Director for degree plans.

Plan of Study Grid
Year OneCredits
HNRS 100 Gateway 3
Gen Ed HNRS section of GE course 3
 Credits6
Year Two
HNRS 200 Honors Forum 2
Gen Ed HNRS section of GE course 3
HNRS Special Topics elective course Students are encouraged to consider taking an Honors Maymester Abroad course, as available, to earn 3 elective credits. 3
 Credits8
Year Three
HNRS 304 Introduction to the Great Conversation 1
HNRS Special Topics elective course 3
 Credits4
Year Four
HNRS 400 Oxford Tutorial 1
HNRS Special Topics elective course 2
 Credits3
 Total Credits21

This plan is intended primarily for students either in K-12/Secondary Licensure or 3+2 programs. As each student’s overall degree plan will vary, depending upon transfer credit and/or major, this is a suggested plan.  Students transferring significant numbers of GE credits should meet with the Honors Program Director to make an individualized degree plan.  

Suggested 3-Year Degree Plan with the Honors Program

Plan of Study Grid
Year OneCredits
HNRS 100 Gateway 3
Gen Ed HNRS section of GE course 3
Gen Ed HNRS section of GE course 3
 Credits9
Year Two
HNRS Special Topics elective course and/or Honors colloquium added to a non-Honors course Students are encouraged to consider taking an Honors Maymester Abroad course, as available, to earn 3 electives credits. 3-4
 Credits3-4
Fall
HNRS 200 Honors Forum 2
 Credits2
Spring
HNRS 304 Introduction to the Great Conversation 1
 Credits1
Year Three
HNRS 400 Oxford Tutorial 1
HNRS Special Topics elective course and/or Honors colloquium added to a non-Honors course 3-4
 Credits4-5
 Total Credits19-21

Spotlight

Honors Program

Kelsey Bennett, Ph.D.

Faculty

Scholarships

This scholarship has been established by Nancy Chisholm ’90 to provide scholarship assistance to Western Colorado University students. This scholarship was created to inspire academic and athletic achievement at the highest levels at Western Colorado University, which are personified by our intercollegiate athletics student-athletes studying in the Honors Program.

Eligibility

  • Athletics: A member of one of the intercollegiate athletic programs.
  • Class Standing (after completion of current spring semester): Applicants must be full-time continuing students at Western.
  • GPA: 3.0 or higher; applicants must be currently enrolled in the Honors Program.

Selection Committee

Recipients will be selected by a committee consisting of the Director of Athletics and Director of the Honors Program in consultation with the Office of Student Financial Services.

Award 

$10,000 for 2021-2022 to fund two $5,000 scholarships

Application

Applications are due March 24 of the year of application. Apply here.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation, are elite scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

In addition, all continuing Honors students may apply for Presidential Honors Scholarships. The following information provides due dates, criteria, and how to prepare your application.

Incoming Applicants:

Eligible candidates should have a high school, transfer, or Western Colorado University grade point average of, at minimum, 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Candidates must also demonstrate leadership qualities or experience and a commitment to intellectual inquiry and academic challenge.

Incoming candidates should submit the following:

  • A cover letter explaining why you want to be a part of Western’s Honors Program and demonstrating with concrete examples how you have engaged two of our five program values (see below) in your academic or personal life;
  • Two sealed letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors, professors or academic advisors which address the student’s accomplishments and suitability for a college Honors Program;
  • A copy of your most recent educational transcript;
  • A resume of your qualifications, accomplishments, service, extra-curricular activities;
  • Any other documentation that would be helpful in evaluating you as a candidate for this Scholarship.

Program values:

  • The Good: While scholars may debate the “Form of the Good,” the Honors Program at Western sees it as deeply connected to the purpose and values of a Liberal Arts and Science education. We seek to create opportunities for our students to develop into virtuous, knowledgeable and articulate citizens for whom the pursuit of knowledge is integral to human development.
  • Citizenship and Community: We seek to create elite learners without elitism and a cohort of students who learn to develop the deep connection between higher education and citizenship within a supportive academic community. Our community members are highly motivated students, faculty and staff who share an intellectual curiosity about the world around them.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Honors courses are designed to promote cross discipline exploration and discovery. You will find students and faculty of a multitude of majors and interests in Honors classes, providing an extremely fertile and complex environment for discussion and analysis.
  • Risk taking and autonomy: While our program demands high academic achievement, it does not mean our students play it safe academically. Honors at Western encourages students to take the initiative in the ownership of their education experience. Honors courses present students with opportunities to think for themselves free from internal or external constraints on intellectual inquiry. We encourage students to take the initiative in their own education and support them in developing the resiliency needed when stepping out of one’s academic comfort zone.
  • Social intelligence: It is not enough to be the “smartest one in the room” if you lack the intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence to communicate your ideas and listen to the ideas of others. Our program and its educational opportunities encourages students to develop the capacity to negotiate and navigate complex social and intellectual environments so that Honors students are not just “the smartest ones in the room,” but the most effective communicators and collaborators in the room.

Applications are MUST BE RECEIVED BY JAN. 27th of the year of application and should be submitted to:

Western Colorado University Honors Program
Dr. Kelsey L. Bennett, Honors Director
The Presidential Honors Scholarship Program
Taylor Hall 110A
Western Colorado University
Gunnison CO 81231
970.943.7021

Continuing Applicants (current Western Honors students):

Note that continuing Honors students do not need to have been awarded a previous Presidential Honors Scholarship to apply.

Five Presidential Honors Scholarships of $3,000 each will be awarded to five continuing Honors Students in good standing in the program. Each Presidential Honors Scholar will serve in a leadership position on the Honors Student Advisory Board (SAB) for the coming academic year. Officer positions include President, Vice President, Communications Coordinator, Service & Academic Leadership Committee Chair, and Social & Community Development Committee Chair. Officers will be determined by a majority vote among recipients. Attempts will be made to maintain a balance of majors and class standing within the group, although preference will be given to applicants actively involved with SAB, through planning and participating in Honors extracurricular activities, either as standing officers or as committee members.

All officers are expected to work together to uphold and advance the mission of the SAB: “to bring social connectivity and community involvement to the Honors Program and to be the student face of the program to the campus at large as its selected representatives. We serve as an inclusive and multi-disciplinary positive peer resource for the Honors community that represents diverse areas across campus.”

Continuing candidates should compile and submit the following in one packet, hard copy:

  • A copy of the student’s most current Western transcript (minimum 3.0 GPA required);
  • A letter addressed to the Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee addressing the following:
    • What value should SAB add to student life in the Honors Program;
    • Evidence of Honors leadership abilities through planning and participating in Honors extracurricular activities during the current academic year;
    • Your plan for continuing to demonstrate leadership and Honors community-building activities into the coming academic year;
    • Your detailed plan for completing the Honors Program;
  • One sealed letter of recommendation from a faculty member which addresses the student’s accomplishments and suitability for a Presidential Honors Scholarship. The faculty member need not currently be teaching in the Honors Program.

Applications for continuing Honors students are DUE BY MARCH 11 of the year of application and should be submitted in hard copy to the Honors Program Director, Taylor Hall 110A. It is the applicant’s responsibility to verify that the hard-copy application has been received.

Officer positions:

  • The President calls and conducts meetings, facilitates communication between SAB, the Director of the Honors Program, the Honors Council, the CALL/HNRS administrative assistant, and the greater Honors student body;
  • The Vice President maintains the budget with financial discipline and keeps records;
  • The Communications Coordinator accommodates the growing and fast-paced social media and communication needs of the program to connect SAB initiatives with the existing and prospective Honors communities as well as to the greater campus community;
  • Both the Service & Academic Leadership Committee Chair and the Social & Community Development Committee Chair take the lead with event coordination by communicating and facilitating event ideas and proposals within their respective areas to the rest of SAB.

For a detailed list of officer position descriptions, contact the Director of the Honors Program.

The Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee will make selections within a few weeks of the closing deadline. Notification of award recipients will follow shortly thereafter.

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 15 for 2021. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Board, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.

Apply

Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming freshman or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found here (click). Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.

Apply

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Benefits & Requirements

How to become an Honors student.

Benefits

  • Access to distinctive, innovative and discussion-based courses
  • Access to Honors Lounge
  • Community social events
  • Database access to thousands of internship, research and conference opportunities
  • Diverse peer group
  • Graduate with Honors distinction
  • Honors advising
  • Honors-specific scholarships
  • Leadership opportunities with the Honors Student Advisory Board
  • Priority Honors housing
  • Priority registration
  • Vote for future course offerings

Requirements

  • 3.5 GPA for admission
  • Test scores optional for Fall 2021
  • 3.0 GPA to stay in program
  • 3.3 GPA to graduate with Honors

Pick your path

Honors students undertake detailed studies and/or research into a unique topic or issue stemming from an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach.

Get Involved

Maximize your educational experience at Western.

Pursue your passions, manifest your ideas and get hands-on experience in your field by participating in the wide variety of extracurricular activities Western offers.

  • Field Experiences: Complement courses without specified field experiences or develop a more in-depth project for disciplinary-based field experiences.
  • Independent Study: Undertake detailed study and/or research into a unique topic or issue stemming from an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach.
  • Service Learning: Apply concepts, theories and methods to issues affecting local communities.

Looking for more ways to get involved in your field of study? The Student Opportunity Center allows students to browse more than 11,000 student conferences, journals, internships, research opportunities, co-ops and funding sources.

A foundation for success

The Honors program allows students to explore ideas and take advantage of expanded learning opportunities.

News & Research

honors scholarship

Presidential Honors Scholarship Expands Western’s Legacy of Excellence

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Dr. Cornel West

Dr. ‘Brother West’ Engages Western Students

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Nancy Chisholm Scholarship

Nancy Chisholm Honors Athletes Scholarship

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Bringing the art of dance to the Gunnison Valley highlights the spirit of community for Western’s Honors Program

Bringing the art of dance to the Gunnison Valley highlights the spirit of community for Western’s Honors Program

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Colorado Ballet comes to Western

Colorado Ballet comes to Western

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Western Honors students travel to London to conduct research and broaden horizons

Western Honors students travel to London to conduct research and broaden horizons

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Western student publishes article in High Country News

Western student publishes article in High Country News

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Western Honors Program Kicks Off 30th Year with Annual Banquet

Western Honors Program Kicks Off 30th Year with Annual Banquet

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Honors Program Director leads two students to National Collegiate Honors Council

Honors Program Director leads two students to National Collegiate Honors Council

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Honors students explore Denver art scene

Honors students explore Denver art scene

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Additional Resources

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements Invitations to the Honors Program are extended to high school students who have achieved a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or who have successfully completed International …

Learn More

Curriculum

Curriculum HNRS 100 The Gateway 3 credits Through the Gateway students are introduced to different ways of understanding their world, thereby laying the foundation for the further development of a …

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Honors Program Values

The Honors Program at Western is founded on five core values that shape the goals and structure of the program. Honors students implement these values in their lives inside and outside of the …

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Program Requirements

Program Requirements A minimum of 21 credits is required: HNRS 100 The Gateway 3 credits HNRS 200 Honors Forum (repeated twice for 2 credits) 1 credits HNRS 304 Introduction to the Great Conversation …

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Department Information

Honors Department

Director

Kelsey L. Bennett, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Honors Program Director

Administrative Assistant

Cindy Petito

Administrative Assistant II

Contact Information

970.943.7021

kbennett@western.edu

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Taylor Hall 110
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231