This document provides detailed information about the courses available to Honors College students, how to enrich non-honors courses and create an Honors Independent Study, and how to petition to have a range of additional courses apply toward your Honors requirements.
Designated Honors Courses
Commonwealth Honors College partners with departments and programs campus-wide to offer you various types of courses with an Honors designation.
These courses, when completed with a grade of "B" or higher, are automatically counted toward your Honors course requirements.
Enriched Honors Courses
Enriched Honors Courses are 3+ credit courses and seminars taught at the Honors level with a 25-person enrollment capacity.
They can be identified in the CHC Honors Course Guide and on SPIRE by their course number suffix "H" (e.g., ANTH 104H). These courses are intensive and due to their small class size, allow for direct mentoring relationships between faculty and students.
Honors Colloquia are 1-credit "add-ons" which enrich non-honors courses that exceed 25 students in capacity.
These colloquia offer 25 or fewer students in the large class the opportunity for more focused study of the course content. Honors Colloquia can be identified in the Honors Course Guide and on SPIRE by their course number prefix "H" (e.g., ANTH H104). To fulfill Honors course requirements, both the Honors component and the regular course must be passed with grades of B or higher.
Some departments also offer a 1-credit enrichment option under the Honors seminar number 291H, 391H, and 491H. In this model, enrollment in the Honors seminar must be preceded by satisfactory completion (grade of "B" or higher) of the designated, affiliated 3-4 credit non-honors course. Both components together will comprise one Honors course for the Honors curriculum requirements.
Honors Colloquia may also be established after the semester begins. If two or more students in a non-honors course are interested in establishing an Honors colloquium version, and the instructor is willing to work additionally with them, the instructor may submit a Late-Added Honors Colloquium Course Proposal. Enrollment must be between 2-25 students.
Note: If you are the only student interested in enriching a course, read about the Honors Independent Study option below.
Honors Independent Study
Honors Independent Study are contracted with faculty, either as additional in-depth, independent work for a non-honors university course (1-2 credits) or as a "stand-alone" Honors Independent Study of your own design (3-6 credits).
Honors Independent Study comes in two formats designated by HI and ISH. If a non-honors university course you wish to take does not offer a regularly scheduled Honors colloquium option, you may contract with the course instructor for 1-2 credits of additional in-depth, independent work (HI). You may also contract with a faculty member for a 3-6 credit "stand-alone" Independent Study Honors of your own design (ISH).
Honors Independent Study Contract Registration
If you are interested in arranging an Honors Independent Study, you should approach a faculty member and ask if he or she would consider guiding you in an Honors experience. After you and the faculty member discuss the planned course of study, you will initiate a proposal through CHC PATHS.*
Please see the Thesis Independent Study Requirements page for more details, including the course expectations and proposal content.
- 1-2 credit HI enrichment of a non-honors course of 3+ credits must involve at least eight hours of student/faculty contact time over the course of the semester. Once your proposal has been approved in CHC PATHS, you will be registered in an additional 1 or 2 credit section with a prefix of HI (e.g., ANTH HI104). Both the Honors component and the regular course must be passed with grades of "B" or higher to fulfill Honors course requirements.
- 3-6 credit "stand-alone" ISH: Students requesting this option must provide a syllabus-like proposal and documentation of the work load and have at least 30 minutes of contact with the sponsor per credit per week and approximately three to four hours of work per credit per week.
Note: A maximum of three Honors Independent Studies (HI or ISH) may be applied to the Honors requirements.
Six-Credit Intensive Language Courses
Six-Credit Intensive Language Courses may be applied to Commonwealth Honors College Honors requirements (maximum: two courses for 12 credits).
UMass Amherst Graduate Courses at the 600-, 700-, and 800-Level
UMass Amherst Graduate Courses at the 600-, 700-, and 800-level apply automatically to Commonwealth Honors College Honors requirements.
As part of a large research university with 64 master's and 50 doctoral programs, Commonwealth Honors College is uniquely positioned to support students ready and eager for the rigorous challenges graduate courses afford. Therefore, it accepts any upper-level graduate course, completed with a grade of B or better, as applying toward its own Honors requirements.
Honors Thesis Course Options
The Honors Thesis provides the culminating experience of a Commonwealth Honors College student's academic life and is designed to provide Honors College seniors with an opportunity to integrate their undergraduate experiences while preparing for their intended career paths. Whether you choose to work with a faculty member to design an Individually Contracted Honors Thesis or participate with other Honors College students in a faculty-taught Thesis Seminar, you will have an opportunity to conduct in-depth scholarly research and complete a Research Manuscript or Portfolio under the guidance of an experienced faculty mentor. The Honors Thesis is traditionally completed over two semesters in the senior year, divided into Honors Thesis Part 1 (3+ credits) and Honors Thesis Part 2 (3+ credits).
It is possible to petition to have other courses not listed above apply toward your Commonwealth Honors College requirements.
While no traditional undergraduate UMass non-honors courses can be petitioned for Honors course recognition, other types of courses can. No more than two non-honors courses may be approved as substitutes for Honors course requirements. An Honors Advisor will inform you about and help you through the petition process.
Note: The Petition for Exemption form is located on and must be submitted through CHC PATHS.
Five College Courses
Five College courses taken at neighboring Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke or Hampshire colleges through the Five College Consortium may be petitioned for Honors credit.
These courses must meet the following criteria: enroll a maximum of 25 students, include a high degree of interaction between instructor and students, and feature a challenging course syllabus.
Exceptions: Five College language courses that carry than 8 credits per semester may not be used to satisfy Honors requirements.
Study Abroad Courses
Study abroad courses may be petitioned for Honors credit.
Each year hundreds of students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst experience the challenges and rewards of studying abroad. Commonwealth Honors College and the International Programs Office co-sponsor the International Scholars Program, which allows highly qualified students to integrate international studies coursework at the university with study abroad during their junior year.
Note: The maximum number of study abroad courses that may be petitioned for Honors credit is one per semester.
National Student Exchange and Transfer Honors Courses
National Student Exchange and Transfer Honors Courses may be petitioned for Honors credit provided they carry an Honors designation at the home institution.
UMass Amherst Graduate Courses at the 500-Level
UMass Amherst Graduate Courses at the 500-level may be petitioned for Honors credit.
These courses must meet the following criteria: enroll a maximum of 25 students, carry 3+ graded credits, be taught at the graduate level, include a high degree of interaction between instructor and students, and feature a challenging course syllabus.
Commonwealth Honors Program Courses
Transfer students from a Commonwealth Honors Program in the Massachusetts public higher education system may count Honors courses toward the Breadth of Study requirements. Check with your Honors Advisor for more information. However, Honors 201H and Honors 391AH requirements and the Honors Thesis requirement will not be waived under any circumstances.