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Honors Requirements

The LSA Honors Program at the University of Michigan is a four-year academic program designed to provide motivated, academically talented undergraduates with opportunities to enrich their education beyond what might be typical for an undergraduate career at the University of Michigan. It allows you to combine the vast resources of a large research university with the kind of personal attention and small community you might find at a small liberal arts college.

Honors at Michigan is administered in two parts: the first and second year Honors (which comprises the Honors Core), whose hallmarks are the enrollment in Honors courses and seminars and completion of the Literature and Ideas requirement, and third and fourth year Honors, which are marked by completing either an Honors major or Honors in the Liberal Arts.

How do students enter the Honors Program?

Our first-year cohort is comprised of high school students who appy to and are accepted into Honors following their acceptance to LSA. Other lower-division students enter Honors as transfer students or as current LSA students who are attracted to the benefits of Honors as they learn about their academic and community opportunties on campus. If you are a current or transfer student interested in Honors, please contact

Upper-division students who wish to conduct independent research and complete an Honors major meet with a departmental Honors advisor, who works with the student throughout the process. This generally occurs sometime around the junior year, but is determined by the department of major. If you would like to become an Honors major, please contact your department and request an appointment with someone who can help you through the process of "declaring" Honors.

Once declared, if you are already a student in the LSA Honors Program, Honors will remain your academic home, the place to go for general advising. You will continue to come to the Honors office for academic advising, any Academic Board requests for exceptions or other actions, and your senior audit and graduation processing. You will, of course, continue to have access to registration for Honors classes and you are welcome at all of the Honors events. You will remain on our email lists, and we hope we’ll see you often for advising and events.

If you have not previously been in Honors, welcome! When you declare an Honors major, you become a member of the LSA Honors Program. This means that you should find an Honors Academic Advisor with whom you can discuss your general college requirements and other concerns (look at advisors, make an appointment, or call 764-6274). If you have an established relationship with an advisor in LSA Advising, you certainly may continue to talk with him/her if that is agreeable to both of you, but you should also get to know an advisor in Honors who can become familiar with your record and your plans. You should discuss the requirements for your major with the Honors Major Advisor in your department. If you need to request any exceptions to college graduation requirements or any kind of special consideration, you will now petition the Honors Academic Board rather than the LSA Academic Standards Board. The Honors Academic Board meets almost every Monday morning, so petitions submitted by noon on Thursday will usually be addressed by mid-day the following Monday. 

Your senior audit will be done by the Honors Senior Auditor, Jacquelyn Turkovich ( You can send any questions you have about graduation to her email. All students graduating with Honors are invited to the Honors graduation ceremony and are eligible for prizes and awards for their work; watch your email for details or make an appointment to discuss these opportunities.

All Honors students have registration access to Honors classes, so you won’t need overrides to register for most of them. Honors hosts many activities and events—we encourage you to join in. You will also receive our weekly e-newsletter, “This Week in Honors.” Let us know if you don’t start getting it soon.

If you have any questions, you can email We look forward to getting to know you better! 

What are the lower-division Honors requirements?

Being a member of Honors means being engaged with the Honors community, whose members share a passion for learning. Being in Honors means exploring widely and investigating deeply. The Honors Core curriculum forms the foundation for an Honors education; beyond the Core there are many ways to challenge yourself and engage here. We believe that these activities are intrinsically worth doing, and hope you will, too. We provide a convenient way to keep track of your activities and the ways you are meeting Honors Program requirements and expectations. Everyone’s journey will be unique.

Effective winter 2021: Students who entered the lower-division program in fall 2020 and who will enter in the lower-division program in fall 2021 are required to have:

  1. Completed an Honors Core class designated to fulfill FYWR (Great Books 191, Honors 240, 241, or 242) and 
  2. Achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.400 by the end of the summer term of their sophomore year.

Students who entered the lower-division program after their first term, e.g., winter 2021, are subject to the requirements identified in their admissions letter.

Effective fall 2017 - fall 2020: Students who entered the lower-division program in fall terms between fall 2017 and fall 2019 are required to have

  1. Completed an Honors Core class designated to fulfill FYWR (Great Books 191, Honors 240, 241, or 242),
  2. Completed an additional Honors Core class for a total of two Honors Core courses (any one of Great Books 191, Honors 210, 212, 220, 222, 230, 231, 232, 233, 240, 241, or 242), and
  3. Achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.400 by the end of the summer term of their sophomore year.

Students who entered the lower-division program after their first term, e.g., winter 2018, are subject to the requirements identified in their admissions letter. 


What is Honors Core Curriculum?

The Honors Core coursework forms the foundation for an Honors education at U-M. Designed specifically for Honors students by innovative faculty, the Honors Core curriculum provides rigorous, wide-reaching introductory courses across the three academic divisions in LSA: the Natural Sciences (NS), the Social Sciences (SS), and the Humanities (HU). The Honors Core builds on the fine tradition of our historic Great Books course, which remains a Core Humanities course. The Core extends, to other areas, the many strengths of Great Books: foundational content, critical analysis, excellent instruction in writing, and social bonding.

Other Honors courses are offered by nearly every department in the college. We encourage you to use Honors courses for major prerequisites, distribution requirements, or simply to explore a topic in which you have developed an interest.

Several types of Honors courses are offered for lower-division students:

  • Courses offered by various departments intended only for Honors students (for example, Honors Intro to Philosophy, Phil 297, or Honors mathematics courses).

  • Sections of regular courses for Honors students (e.g. Honors sections of Intro to Anthropology and Intro to Comparative Politics).

  • Courses sponsored by the Honors Program (e.g. Honors Core, Honors Seminars and Honors Independent Research).

  • Additional enrichment experiences related to courses (e.g. Introductory Microeconomics Workshop taken with Intro Microeconomics, or the structured study group taken along with Chemistry, Physics for the Life Sciences and other courses).

Some upper level courses also count as Honors courses for first- and second-year students and many courses may be converted to Honors courses with the agreement of the professor and the Honors Program. Your advisor can give you more details on these options.

We hope that you will go above and beyond the minimum requirements during your first two years and work towards earning the Sophomore Honors Award. This award recognizes outstanding achievement and engagement in the first two years of the Honors Program. Award winners will be invited to our graduation ceremony and recognized individually. This award is suitable to highlight on a resume or CV. Follow your progress towards the awards on

What are the upper-division Honors requirements?

Honors is a 4-year academic program in LSA—it’s not over at the end of sophomore year! There are three ways to continue Honors beyond the first two years: an Honors major, Honors in the Engaged Liberal Arts, or an Honors Individualized Major. The next three drop-down pages will describe these options.

How do I navigate an Honors major?

The most common and traditional way to complete an Honors degree is an Honors major. All departments and interdisciplinary programs in the College of LS&A offer an Honors major. You will follow the requirements of your department to satisfy the thesis work. There are no Honors minors.

Students generally declare an Honors major during their third year, although some departments allow students to join the Honors major earlier or later. You will remain in good standing in the Honors Program as long as you declare an Honors major before the end of your third year.

Honors Major Process

Talk to an Honors major advisor—in any department you’re interested in—to find out what that Honors major entails. Don't know whom to contact? Your Honors Program general advisor can tell you who the Honors major advisor is in every department. Some departments would like you to get involved in research projects before you declare an Honors major; others have courses you should take. In any case, you should find out what comprises the Honors major before you decide whether or not to go for it. 

For information regarding specific Honors majors, see either the department's website or the relevant pages in the LSA Bulletin. Also, you may wish to view the topics of some recent Honors theses, to gain a sense of what kind of work Honors upperclassmen produce.

Take courses—this may seem obvious, but taking courses in departments whose subjects intrigue you is the best way to explore a field and test whether or not you want to pursue it. Taking courses is also the best way to meet faculty, whom you can get to know and who might become an advisor or help you to find an advisor for your thesis. Courses will also generate ideas for questions and issues as possible thesis topics.

Apply—some departments have formal application processes with deadlines for Honors majors. Check department websites and talk to Honors major advisors for details and deadlines.  Other departments have less formal arrangements: check with the Honors major advisor to make sure you’ve done everything required.

Research and write your thesis—this is the traditional capstone experience to an Honors major and almost all departments require a thesis to graduate with Honors. Written in the senior year, the thesis is your first experience creating new knowledge in your subject, making a definite contribution to scholarship in your field.

You’re not alone writing the thesis, of course (though you’ll have many hours alone working on it!). You’ll have a faculty thesis advisor, and in some departments there is a thesis seminar that serves as a sounding board for ideas (as with History majors), resources for problem-solving, and a support group. You may enroll in credit hours to build thesis-writing into your academic schedule in your senior year. In most cases, the thesis builds upon earlier research experiences you’ve had, either in class or in a lab research group.  Thesis topics often emerge from work you do in earlier, apprenticeship research activities, so if you’re in a lab group or a UROP project, talk with your research supervisor about the possibilities of developing your work into a thesis topic.

Honors students have the opportunity to apply for Honors Summer Fellowships, which allow students to live on campus (generally between their junior and senior years) with a stipend for the summer.

Remember, your thesis is not the last hurdle to jump over before you reach the finish line of your degree: rather, it is an opportunity to explore a subject in depth, to become expert in one particular area, and to do genuinely original work. That may sound scary now, but don’t let the idea overwhelm you. If you lay the groundwork well, when you get there, you’ll be ready for it.

What is an Honors Individualized Major Program (HIMP)?

The Honors Individual Major Program (HIMP) is an option for innovative and thoughtful Honors students who wish to undertake a rigorous program of study that is not available either in an existing departmental major or interdepartmental program. HIMPs are interdisciplinary and reflect the liberal arts perspective of LSA. While this option encourages diversity and flexibility, all HIMPs must have an identifiable academic focus and unifying theme. Like any major, an HIMP proposal must stress development of skills to think critically, to understand and evaluate knowledge, and to develop ideas.

Examples of previously successful HIMPs range from "Bioethics Through a Feminist Perspective" to “Religion, Society, and Politics.” Interested students should begin to explore the Honors Individual Major Program by scheduling an advising appointment with Denise Guillot, the HIMP advisor.  This process should be initiated early, by the end of your second year or the beginning of your third year at the latest.  We strongly encourage you to carefully review the HIMP Application and Proposal Guidelines and the FAQs for additional information. 

LSA Honors Chat