Commonwealth Honors College students in class


We offer three Honors Signature courses, designed especially for Honors College students, and a variety of thought-provoking, discussion-based courses taught by inspiring faculty. In addition to a large selection of Honors seminars, colloquia, and independent study options, you may include Study Abroad, Five College, and other courses for Honors course credit through a petition process.

Signature Courses

Our Honors Signature courses, designed especially for Honors College students, offer the chance to explore intriguing topics with fellow Honors College students from all disciplines in small, inquiry-based classes.

This Honors Signature course will challenge you to think critically, explore profound ideas, and expand your own creative potential.

These Honors Signature courses are based around an in-depth exploration of a question currently captivating the faculty members teaching them.

In this Honors Signature course, currently "What’s the Big Idea?: How Innovative Thinking Can Change the World," each lecture is given by a faculty member from a different discipline.

Honors Curriculum Required Courses 

In addition to Ideas That Change the World (HONORS 201H) and one of the Honors Discovery Seminars (HONORS 391AH), the Honors Curriculum requirements include the following set of required Honors courses. For Departmental Honors, a department may have additional requirements. 

Honors College Writing

Ideally taken in the first year.

Two General Education Honors Courses

Ideally taken in the first two years.

One Honors Course at Any Level

Usually taken in the junior year.

One 300-Level or Above Honors Course

Usually taken in the junior year.

Honors Thesis, Part 1

Usually taken in the fall semester of the senior year.

Honors Thesis, Part 2

Usually taken in the spring semester of the senior year.

Designated Honors Courses 

Commonwealth Honors College partners with departments and programs campus-wide to offer you various types of Designated Honors Courses.

Enriched Honors Courses 

Enriched Honors Courses are 3+ credit courses and seminars taught at the Honors level with a 25-person enrollment capacity.

Honors Colloquia 

Honors Colloquia are 1-credit "add-ons" which enrich non-Honors courses that exceed 25 students in capacity.

Honors Independent Study Courses 

Honors Independent Study Courses 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).

Six-Credit Intensive Language Courses 

Six-Credit Intensive Language Courses may be applied to Commonwealth Honors College requirements (maximum: two courses for 12 credits).

NOTE: These courses are not applicable to 300+ level Honors requirements unless they are 300+ level courses.

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 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). Read more.

Petitioned Courses 

It is possible to petition to have other courses not listed above apply toward your Commonwealth Honors College requirements. Petitioned courses must provide a high degree of interaction between instructor and students, a rigorous course syllabus, and an enrollment of 25 or fewer students. See the Petition for Exemption form for specific criteria and Honors credit limits. 

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. 

Study Abroad Courses 

Study Abroad Courses may be petitioned for Honors credit.  


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. 



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.