Honors Program

The best of both worlds: the benefits of a liberal arts college at a major public research university

Honors Seminar photo critique - Elcin Joyner

The College of Letters and Science Honors Program has enhanced the undergraduate academic experience for thousands of students for over two decades. The Program has two interrelated objectives: first, to enrich undergraduate education by providing structured opportunities for students to work closely with leading faculty in the College; and to prepare students for life after college by providing them with guidance specifically designed to orient them into the professions and toward advanced degrees.

About 10 percent of the most outstanding first-year and transfer students are invited to join the Honors Program when they are admitted to the College, although continuing students may apply to the Honors Program after demonstrating academic excellence at UCSB. All students in the Honors Program must maintain a consistently high level of academic achievement. The Program supports its students through peer mentoring, special advising services and programs, and dedicated scholarships and grants. Honors students have priority if they choose to live on a Scholars Floor in the residence halls, and other benefits include early registration for classes, special library privileges, and preferential registration for a series of Honors Seminars for students with upper division standing.

At the heart of the Program are opportunities to work closely with our amazing faculty. In large lower division classes and in some larger upper division classes, professors teach honors sections just for students in the Honors Program. These smaller discussion sections are an excellent way for professors and students to examine topics and themes in a much more intimate setting. In upper division classes, honors students can design honors contracts with their professors, again to explore themes beyond what normally appears on a course syllabus. The Honors Seminars are where students learn how leading faculty members put together their own research projects, how they collect their evidence, and how they share their findings with other scholars. Altogether, the honors sections, contracts, and seminars prepare students to design their own undergraduate research projects, to apply for competitive grants to conduct their work, and to consider the exciting possibilities for advanced studies after college. Over the past two decades, our students have gone on to the best graduate and professional programs in the world.

In addition to the Honors Program, there are other opportunities for graduating students to earn academic distinction in the College of Letters and Science. These include University Honors (awarded to the top 20 per cent of the graduating class); College Honors; distinction in the major; and Dean's Honors. Please contact the Division of Undergraduate Education for further information about these awards.

To find out more about the Honors Program, visit the Division of Undergraduate Education. We invite all new students to take advantage of the exciting possibilities for undergraduate education within this world-renowned research university.