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Honors College

Commonwealth Honors College

As a Commonwealth Honors College student, you’ll join more than 3,000 other undergraduates who, like you, are determined to excel academically. You will enrich your studies with small, intensive classes where you’ll develop enduring ties with faculty members. You’ll be challenged in an engaging array of interdisciplinary seminars and courses in your field as well as have opportunities to participate in Community Service Learning honors courses.

Honors Curriculum

In honors classes, you’ll engage directly with faculty and peers in critical analysis and compelling dialog. Limited to 25 students, these classes will challenge you to consider others’ perspectives and then formulate and defend your own views.  In-depth readings, oral presentations, group projects, field research, and other modes of learning will make for stimulating intellectual experiences.

For first-year students, the honors curriculum begins with several General Education honors courses, including one of our signature requirements, the Honors Seminar Series. This series strengthens research methods, builds communication skills, and fosters an intellectual community among students. The first of these seminars helps hone critical-thinking skills; the second allows students to select from a wide range of topics taught by faculty from all corners of the campus. The series builds a foundation for lifelong learning while fulfilling a General Education requirement for the University.

For students completing upper-level coursework, the honors curriculum offers the flexibility to focus their advanced honors courses in a track that best meets their academic goals. Most students apply to the departmental honors tracks in their major.  Upper-level honors coursework concludes with the Capstone Experience, another signature element of the College’s curriculum.

Admission

Freshman Applicants

If you are entering UMass Amherst with an exemplary high school record that includes:

  • combined (critical reading and math) SAT-I scores of 1300 or higher (or an ACT composite score of 30 or higher); and
  • a recalculated weighted high school GPA of “A-“ or higher; and
  • a high school class rank in the top 10 percent (if school provides rank information),

then you may be considered for admission to the Commonwealth Honors College.  There is no separate application process; students are notified of their selection with their general letter of admission. 

Note that the number and quality of applications for freshman admission affect the selectivity of the Commonwealth Honors College review process, which means that meeting the minimum criteria is not a guarantee of admission.   If you are not admitted as an incoming freshman, you may apply online as a current UMass Amherst student after you have completed one full-time semester with 12 or more graded credits at UMass Amherst.  This online application process uses different criteria for acceptance, which are based on your college career at UMass Amherst.

Transfer Applicants

There is no separate application process.  Upon admission to the university, transfer students may be eligible for Commonwealth Honors College membership if they meet the criteria below, although meeting the minimum requirements is not a guarantee of admission to the Commonwealth Honors College.

If you have completed two or more full-time college terms and:

  • have completed at least four courses per term in liberal arts, sciences, or related disciplines, and
  • have completed each college term at your previous school with a minimum GPA of 3.5, OR

If you have completed fewer than two full-time college terms and:

  • have a combined (critical reading and math) SAT-I scores of 1300 or higher, and
  • have a recalculated weighted high school GPA of “A-“ or higher, and
  • are ranked in the top 10% of your high school class (if school provides rank information), and
  • have a 3.5 or higher GPA in all completed college terms.

However, if you are not invited as an incoming transfer, you can apply online as a current UMass Amherst student after you have completed one full-time semester with 12 or more graded credits at UMass Amherst.  This online application process uses different criteria for acceptance, which are based on your college career at UMass Amherst.

Note:  If you have successfully completed a Commonwealth Honors Program at a Massachusetts community college, see a Commonwealth Honors College advisor upon arrival on campus regarding admission to the Commonwealth Honors College.

Learn more about our Commonwealth Honors College.