Honors Program

Established in 1959, the Honors Program offers talented, highly motivated students at the university the opportunity to broaden their intellectual horizons in numerous ways. Through exploring their major fields of study intensely, through integrating many areas of knowledge, and through application of independent research techniques, Honors Program students form a community of shared learning with one another and with faculty members from all disciplines. All University Scholars are also automatically part of the Honors Program. The Honors Program is a four-year departmental and interdisciplinary program consisting of the features described below. Students admitted into the Honors Program become eligible to apply for residence in the Honors Residential College.

Lower-Division Honors

Honors Classes

During the first and second years, participants in the program enroll in special Honors sections of certain courses required for the bachelor’s degree. The subject matter of these sections is the same as that of regular sections, but the instruction, discussions, and supplementary readings are adapted to the interests and capabilities of superior students. Participants are expected to complete at least seven Honor units (roughly twenty-one credit hours in Honors coursework or the approved equivalent) no later than the completion of the second full year of academic study (sixty hours). They should maintain an overall grade point average and an Honors grade point average of at least 3.5.

First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars are Honors courses that allow freshmen to explore special topics with Honors faculty from across many disciplines. The seminars are designed to encourage the early acquisition of critical thinking, writing, and research skills and to introduce freshmen to opportunities for cultural and intellectual enrichment on campus.

Great Texts Courses

The Great Texts courses (GTX) designed for the Honors Program focus on the reading and discussion of classic texts in the intellectual tradition of liberal arts and sciences. Two Honors GTX courses are required as part of the lower-division Honors curricula and contribute six hours to the twenty-one hours of Honors courses. The Great Texts courses will sometimes substitute for designated courses in the core curricula. All Honors Program students completing majors within the College of Arts & Sciences must select from one of the following four courses to satisfy their Literature in Context Distribution List requirement:

CLA 2301Literature of Ancient Greece3
CLA 2302Literature of Ancient Rome3
CLA 2306Greek and Roman Mythology3
GTX 2301Intellectual Traditions of the Ancient World : Literature and Thought3

Upper-Division Honors

Students completing the requirements of lower-division Honors with an overall grade point average of at least 3.5 may continue with their Honors Program track during their remaining semesters at Baylor. Students with a grade point average slightly below 3.5 at this time may petition the program director to continue with Honors on a probationary status. Students who have not participated in Honors during their first sixty hours at Baylor may apply for admission if they have a 3.5 overall grade point average and have the recommendation of the department in which they are majoring. These upper-division Honors students complete the following elements of advanced scholarship.

Honors Colloquium

Beginning the fall semester of the third year (or as early as spring of the second year with permissions) participants enroll in a two-hour Colloquium course where small, informal groups meet regularly during each semester to discuss significant books and issues in various academic disciplines. The Colloquium course may concentrate on Great Texts, but most sections serve to familiarize Honors students with a variety of contemporary issues and with the unique perspectives of scholarly disciplines outside their major fields.

Junior/Senior Advanced Study in the Major Field

Participants may select up to three junior- or senior-level courses in which, by contract with the faculty of each course, they pursue advanced academic study beyond that required of non-Honors students enrolled in the same course. Often the advanced study of these junior-level courses becomes a part of the senior thesis project.

Advanced Readings and Research

During the junior year, Honors students undertake two sections of “Advanced Readings” (one hour each), in order to explore specific topics with the guidance of a faculty mentor. These readings courses enable students to begin to define an area of research interest that will become the basis for the Honors thesis.  The Honors Program may also host seminars for these students on research methods and thesis-writing strategies.

Honors Thesis

Beginning with the Advanced Readings courses (see above) and continuing into the four hours of senior-year Honors Thesis courses, upper-division Honors students apply the methods of their chosen discipline(s) to the investigation of a specific topic of interest. The result of this investigation is a thesis project directed by a Baylor faculty member, who is selected by the Honors student in consultation with program faculty/staff. The thesis project introduces each Honors student to the techniques of research, analysis, writing, and performance that are encountered at the graduate level; it aims, in other words, to cultivate the intellectual skills and habits that are essential to critical inquiry and advanced scholarship.

Oral Examinations

To complete the requirements for graduation in Honors, participants must defend the Honors thesis in a one-hour oral examination before a committee consisting of the faculty director, at least one other departmental representative, and another Baylor faculty member or a member of the University’s Honors faculty advisory committee. Whenever possible, a visiting examiner, competent in the student’s major field, will also serve on the examining committee.

Admission to the Program

Students interested in entering the program as freshmen should call 254-710-1119 or write for an application at:

Director, The Honors Program
Baylor University
One Bear Place # 97122
Waco, TX  76798-7122