Taking a range of courses exposes you to different approaches, perspectives, and ways of thinking.
Breadth of Study
Our Honors courses are designed to encourage active participation and discussion as part of an engaged community of peers. Your continued exchange of ideas will also help guide you toward an Honors Thesis topic. As you meet a variety of faculty members, be proactive about cultivating academic relationships with them.
In addition to the required Honors Discovery Seminar, you should also take at least one General Education Honors course in your second year. By the end of your sophomore year, you should have completed all five Breadth of Study requirements.
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.
Honors Discovery Seminar (Honors 391AH) (1 credit)
Multidisciplinary or Departmental Honors
By the end of sophomore year, you will need to choose either to continue on the Multidisciplinary Honors track or apply for the Departmental Honors track, which must be approved by the department.
Multidisciplinary Honors (MH) gives you the opportunity to broaden your academic interests between two or more disciplines, and is the suggested choice for students who wish to pursue Honors Thesis work beyond the boundaries of the primary major. Learn more about Multidisciplinary Honors.
Departmental Honors (DH), which requires approval by the department, is the suggested choice for students who wish to pursue advanced scholarship in the major. As departments have their own requirements, meet with your department's Honors Program Director to learn more about Departmental Honors Requirements. Learn more about Departmental Honors.
If you’re interested in Study Abroad, you must discuss this with your Honors Advisor and your advisor in your major by your third semester. This collaboration will enable you to create a plan that will fit in coursework requirements for your major and your study abroad interests.
This series of workshops will give you an excellent overview of what to expect and how to prepare for the Honors Thesis—from the development of an idea through submission of the final paperwork.
It’s always a good idea to apply for a scholarship. You should look into Commonwealth Honors College Scholarships as well as those available through your major, department, and college. If your GPA is 3.800 or higher, visit the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) to explore nationally competitive scholarships such as the Rhodes, Truman, Fulbright, and Marshall.
You should start thinking about what kind of Honors Thesis you’d like to do and which faculty members you’d like to work with. The Honors Research Assistant Fellowships can help fund the exploration of a research topic with a faculty member. This competitive funding opportunity is by application only.
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 always be developing academic relationships with faculty—refer to the Research Guide for more information. You could begin to pursue doing research in a faculty lab or propose an independent study with a faculty member. You should also start investigating the different Honors Thesis approaches to decide whether you will pursue the individually contracted thesis or a thesis seminar.
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.
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.
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.
In your sophomore year, you will complete the Breadth of Study requirements and continue to explore a variety of classes that interest you.
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.
In your senior year, you will concentrate on your Honors Thesis, the culmination of your academic journey.