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What is an Honors Program in College?

by | Feb 17, 2022

Honors programs allow you to take a more rigorous, exclusive, and focused academic program within the college or university you attend. Much like honors or gifted programs in high school, college honors programs give you the opportunity to challenge yourself and push your learning further than you may be able to in standard college programs.

How Is a College Honors Program Different from the Traditional College Experience?

There are many collegiate honors programs across the country, and each has its unique characteristics. Generally, honors programs are designed for exceptionally motivated and high-achieving students who want a more in-depth and robust learning experience than you would find in regular classes. In an honors program, you learn alongside a small subset of your peers and engage in unique courses, schedules, and discussions. Some honors programs even have separate dorms dedicated to them so that you are with your honors cohort in and out of the classroom. Also, as a part of many honors programs, you will have the chance to participate in international honor societies (e.g., Alpha Chi), go to their local and national conferences, and travel to meet other honors students across the country.

What Will I Learn in a College Honors Program?

Many of the courses you take in an honors program will resemble what your non-honors peers take. The difference is the depth of learning. Honors programs give you the opportunity to take more challenging and thought-provoking courses with like-minded students. Honors courses also often have a seminar component, so you can go above and beyond memorizing facts, and have rich discussions with your peers in and around the subjects you study. This more active and creative learning can help you gain deeper knowledge and learn how to apply what you learn out in the real world. Additionally, many honors programs have a culminating project that involves a formal presentation, comprehensive paper, and research. Your honors program may also have dedicated community service components, internships, and other extracurricular learning opportunities that can strengthen your grasp of the subject matter.

Some courses you may take as a part of your honors program experience include:

  • Honors Biology
  • Honors English
  • Honors History
  • Honors Psychology
  • Honors Speech
  • Honors Christian Studies

But be sure to review individual college academic catalogs to see the specific courses each program offers.

Benefits of an Honors Program

While increased knowledge may be the ultimate benefit of a college honors program, there are several other reasons to consider the honors path. Smaller classes with serious students help you get the most out of your education and the professors who teach you. You will have the opportunity to think deeply about the purpose of your life and the career you hope to pursue. Honors students also often receive scholarships that assist with tuition and may be eligible for further financial assistance. For example, at Bluefield University, Honors Program students are eligible for the Presidential Scholarship that provides significant savings on tuition. Upon graduation, you will be acknowledged as an honors graduate and your diploma will indicate as such. This differentiation can be a valuable distinction as you seek employment or pursue an advanced degree. And the interactions you have with your classmates and fellow honor students across the country can help create a network of colleagues and friends that may last a lifetime.

How Do I Get into a College Honors Program?

College honors programs are highly selective and use a variety of criteria to select students for entry. Each program will have its own requirements, but generally you must be an exceptional student with a proven track-record of success. Some honors program requirements include:

  • High ACT and SAT scores
  • Eligibility for academic-achievement focused scholarships
  • Top ranking in your high school class
  • High GPA
  • Written essay submission
  • Letters of recommendation

Is a College Honors Program Right for Me?

If you are a highly motivated, high-achieving student, you should consider applying to a college honors program. They not only allow you a more thorough and in-depth academic experience, but also challenge you, help you grow, connect you to likeminded students, give you access to top faculty, provide additional opportunities to apply what you’ve learned, and can stand out on your resume.

Bluefield University is a Christian college located in rural Virginia. We pride ourselves on creating an environment that is intellectually stimulating, socially supportive, and one that gives you the chance to learn and grow spiritually. Our honors program is an opportunity for top students to enrich their college experience even further through more focused courses, a smaller cohort, and opportunities to apply what you learn out in the community. Contact us to learn more about Bluefield and our honors program, today.

Do I only apply once?

  • No. Students must apply each academic year for the fall semester and submit the necessary documents.

Do I have to take the classes specified in the Associate's Degree tracks as they are listed on the information sheet?

  • No. Students may take any of the courses that are offered in a given term.

Where do I find the textbook listing, and where do I purchase the books?

  • Log in to myBU, and under the "Student" tab, you will find a list of the textbooks required (if any) for each course. Students are responsible for purchasing their own textbooks.

How long is a semester?

  • Our semesters are divided into two 8-week terms.

Is there an orientation?

  • Yes. Students can attend an orientation session that explains how to access courses, how to register for classes, and answers other questions.

Where can I find a course description?

Does the student need to take the SAT or ACT in order to take Dual Enrollment classes?

  • No. If a student decides to study at BU full time, BU is currently test-optional for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.

Are the classes live? Do students need to log in and participate at certain times?

  • Classes are offered online, so a student can log-on and study at their convenience and their own pace. Students have assignments due each week; you can complete your assignments at any point in time before the deadline.

Does an Early College student need to come to campus for anything?

  • No. However, we would love to have you visit our campus if you are interested in continuing with traditional on-campus study. Students who complete their associate's degree have the option to walk at our commencement ceremony.

Are Early College students able to receive Financial Aid?

  • No. However, Early College courses are very affordable compared to other options. The cost for an online Dual Enrollment course is $100 per credit hour.

How do transferring credits work?

  • Each College or University completes a transcript review in order to decide which courses transfer. Sticking to general education classes generally makes transferring credits simple. All Early College courses at Bluefield University are general education classes that should transfer to another accredited institution.

Is an Early College student considered, and treated, as a transfer student when they become a full-time college student if they have earned enough credits to be a Junior?

  • No. Since they have not graduated from high school, they are considered a first-time college student regardless of how many credits transfer. However, by transferring credits when they enroll as a full-time student, they will have to take fewer classes to receive their bachelor's degree, which shortens the length of time to earn the degree.

Can I speak to someone if I have more questions?

  • Yes. Please contact the Office of Admissions by email or you can call them at 276.326.4231


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