First Year

First Year guide

First Year

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.

Our small, discussion-based Honors courses are a wonderful introduction to intellectual life as a first-year Honors College student.


Breadth of Study 

Take a good look at that course catalog — it is full of enticing classes that you should consider taking. You might discover a hidden academic interest or uncover a new path to pursue.  

Honors courses that are required: Honors College Writing and Ideas That Change the World, as well as a General Education Honors course.


Course Benchmarks 

There are two required Honors courses to finish by the end of your first year. We also encourage you to take at least one of the two Breadth of Study General Education Honors courses (3+ credits) in your first year.

1. Honors College Writing (Englwrit 112H) (3 credits) 

If College Writing is completed prior to CHC admission, any General Education Honors course (3+ credits) can substitute. 

2.  Ideas That Change the World (Honors 201H) (4 credits) 

Also fulfills two university requirements, one in U.S. Diversity * and one in Interdisciplinary General Education.  

3.  General Education Honors Course (3+ credits) 

By petition, you may be able to substitute any Honors course if you have already completed UMass General Education requirements.


Study Abroad 

If you’re interested in Study Abroad, you must discuss this with your Honors Advisor as well as the advisor in your major by the end of your second semester. That way, you can create a plan that will enable you to fit in the coursework requirements for your major and your study abroad interests. 



You might be eligible to apply for a scholarship as early as your second semester. You should look into what is available as part of Commonwealth Honors College Scholarships as well as those available in your major, department, and college. 


Cultivate Relationships with Faculty 

Building productive academic relationships with faculty members is key to a successful undergraduate experience and will be necessary for helping you to develop your ideas and progress through the completion of your Honors Thesis. You should start to develop these relationships in the first few weeks of class. Take advantage of faculty office hours. Ask questions. Check out your faculty's research interests. Relationships with faculty members can be one of the most enriching aspects of your academic career. Refer to the Research Guide for more information. 


Advising Meetings 

One of the great advantages of being an Honors College student is our highly individualized advising. You are required to meet with an Honors Advisor at least once a semester. These meetings help you to strategize your academic schedule, learn about co-curricular opportunities, plan for study abroad and other activities, and start to think about your Honors Thesis.  


Good Standing 

Keep in mind that a 3.400 minimum cumulative GPA and a minimum grade of B or higher in all Honors Courses is required each semester. You will also need 45 graded residence credits to graduate from Commonwealth Honors College. All of the required Commonwealth Honors College curriculum courses are counted as part of the 120 credits required to graduate from UMass Amherst. 


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.