CHC students in an Honors course


The Honors Curriculum challenges you to find connections between academic disciplines, between theory and practice, between individual and community, and to learn to make a difference in the world through personal achievement and active engagement in society.  All of the required Honors courses are integrated with university requirements, counting as part of the 120 credits required to graduate from UMass Amherst.

Breadth of Study

In your first and second years, you will focus on Breadth of Study, enriching your studies with small, intensive classes. This part of the Honors Curriculum is designed to overlap with university General Education requirements as well as to provide common course experiences for all Honors College students.

During this period, we encourage you to explore a variety of disciplines. You might be surprised by how much you like a topic you knew little about. Taking a range of courses is an important opportunity to expand your intellectual horizons and be exposed to different approaches, perspectives, and ways of thinking. This exchange of ideas will help guide you toward an Honors Thesis topic. You will also meet a variety of faculty members, and you should start cultivating academic relationships with faculty as early as your first semester.

Courses You Will Take

Ideas That Change the World
This interdisciplinary seminar will challenge you to think critically about the world and expand your own creative potential. Learn more about the Honors Signature course.

Honors College Writing
This course focuses on further developing writing, revising, critical thinking and editing skills. 

Honors Discovery Seminar
An in-depth, discussion-based exploration of a question intriguing the faculty member teaching it. Browse course descriptions and find out more about the seminar.

Two General Education Honors Courses
View all Honors courses.



Depth of Study

In your third and fourth years, you will focus on Depth of Study, advanced work that emphasizes deep engagement in your major (Departmental Honors) or in two or more areas of academic interest (Multidisciplinary Honors). You will enhance relationships with faculty members to develop your research or creative skills. The Honors Thesis is the central component of Honors work in your senior year and is required to complete the Depth of Study component of the Honors Curriculum. 

What You Will Do

Choose a Track
Departmental Honors or Multidisciplinary Honors.

Take Two Honors Courses
Take any level Honors course and a 300 level or higher Honors course, ideally by the end of your junior year.

Complete an Honors Thesis
The Honors Thesis centers around an original investigation of a topic of your choice. Learn more about the Honors Thesis



Understand the key milestones for each year of your experience at Commonwealth Honors College.

CHC student

In your first year, you will focus on Breadth of Study. Be bold here, and enjoy the process as you explore a variety of classes that interest you.

Sophomore year at CHC

In your sophomore year, you will complete the Breadth of Study requirements and continue to explore a variety of classes that interest you.  

Junior Year

In your junior year, you will delve deeper into your academic journey and start to consider what you’d like to pursue for your Honors Thesis. 

Students walk through the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Community at the University of Massachusetts

In your senior year, you will concentrate on your Honors Thesis, the culmination of your academic journey.  

A University of Massachusetts student paints a scene on a canvas

The Honors Thesis

The Honors Thesis is a comprehensive effort of original scholarship and is the culminating experience of your Commonwealth Honors College academic journey. You will find that it is one of the most challenging and rewarding goals you will accomplish in your college career.

Honors Advising 

Honors Advisors, along with advisors in your major, are important guides for your academic journey. They help you with course selection and planning, choosing a major, incorporating study abroad into your academic career, finding research resources, expanding your academic and co-curricular experiences, and navigating the Honors Curriculum.