two students sit studying together on the steps of the Honors College

Now U know: What is the Honors College?

A look inside the Honors College: 136 majors, students from 49 states + DC, 2,321 students, 23 languages spoken in student body, students from 23 countiesThe University of Utah has had an honors program for more than 50 years, but there are still many misconceptions about what an honors degree really is.

“We know many students wonder whether it’s harder, more expensive or only for the high school valedictorians,” said Sylvia Torti, dean of the Honors College. “There are many myths about what it means to be an honors student, so we’re happy to answer questions with hopes that we will encourage all intellectually curious students who are committed to engaging with social issues in the world to apply.”

An honors degree represents a student’s willingness to seriously engage breadth in their general education as well as depth in their major through advanced research or scholarship. We asked Torti some of the most common questions to get a better idea of what the Honors College is all about.

Are honors classes harder?

Our student ambassadors are fond of saying that our classes aren’t “harder,” they’re “different”! Students tell us that Honors classes offer more support from both the professor and fellow students. They find our small classes help to develop classroom community. Honors classes are discussion-based and require our students to think deeply about what they are reading, talk about it and situate the ideas in our contemporary world and within their own major.

Can you complete an honors degree with any major?

The Honors College strongly believes in the interconnections of ideas and practices. Each major on campus has an Honors Faculty Advisor. If you have specific questions about how your academic major benefits from Honors, contact one of our Honors Academic Advisors.

Is it more expensive?

There is no extra tuition charge, but there is a mandatory $75/semester fee. This fee supports Honors program managers, activities, events, mentors and special Honors opportunities. 

What is expected of an honors student?

Our students have the responsibility to pursue their passions with gusto, to ask questions about the world and to continue on a path to contribute to the greater good. Our students take their studies seriously and confront problems with more than heuristics. Through our eight-course curriculum, students explore both a breadth and a depth of study during their pursuit of the Honors degree.

How can an Honors degree benefit students in the future?

We know the honors degree is meaningful to graduate and professional schools. More than 70% of our graduates report getting into their top choice schools. When students apply to medical school with an honors degree, their likelihood of acceptance raises by over 30% from those without the degree.

Moreover, many alumni write to thank the professors for the big impact of the experience here. The thinking and writing skills developed in Honors help to propel the careers of graduates in every major.

How do I get into the Honors College?

Both incoming and current U students can apply to the Honors College. Incoming students apply through the U’s general application by submitting an essay. Current students apply through our honors.utah.edu website and upload an essay. Current students can apply at any time.

Because when you see college as more than just the first step toward a job, but also the beginning of a life-long journey with all those around us, your time here can be deep beyond measure.

Now U know!