The Catholic University of America

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A Brief Guide to the University Honors Program for First Year Students

Why Honors?

In the Honors Program, you are part of a community of scholars, including CUA's best students and faculty. You will receive a rigorous liberal arts education, learn to think critically, and enjoy the benefits of personal, one-on-one advising as you plan your course of study and life after graduation.


Orientation

During the fall orientation for first-year students, there will be a session for Honors students. It is important that you attend so that you can meet us and learn about what the program (UHP) has to offer.


Registration

You may be wondering how the Honors Program fits in with the major that you have chosen. Every Honors student will be part of an Honors "learning community." This means that you will take the required first-year English, Philosophy, and Theology courses with the same, small group of Honors students. The Philosophy courses are part of the Honors Philosophy track, and TRS 201 will count as part of the Honors Theology/Religious Studies track (see "Tracks," below).
Beyond the learning committee, your selection of courses will depend a lot on your major/school. Near mid-June you will receive information from your school (Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Business and Economics, Engineering, Music, National Catholic School of Social Service, Nursing, Philosophy) with instructions for registration and recommended courses.

  • If you are in the School of Philosophy or you are planning to receive a BA in the School of Arts and Sciences, you should take the first course in one of the following Honors tracks (for an explanation of the tracks, see "Tracks," below): Environmental Studies, Humanities, or Social Sciences.
  • If you are in one of the professional schools (Architecture, Business and Economics, Engineering, Music, National Catholic School of Social Service, Nursing) or you are planning to receive a BS in the School of Arts and Sciences, you need to consult with the academic advisor in your school/department. It is still possible to complete Honors tracks, but it will take a little more planning, as you have fewer distribution requirements and electives. If you need individual guidance on how to fit Honors courses into your program of study, please contact us.

For descriptions of first-year courses and an explanation of the University distribution requirements that they fulfill, visit http://honors.cua.edu/curriculum/incomingcourses.cfm. See "Getting Involved," below, for other ways of participating in the UHP.


"Tracks"

So what are these tracks and why do they matter?

The Honors Program offers 5 tracks, each consisting of 4 courses: Humanities, Philosophy, Social Sciences, Theology, and Environmental Studies.  Each track provides a cohesive introduction to a major area of intellectual inquiry. When you complete one of these tracks, you will have learned to think like a humanist, a philosopher, a social scientist, a theologian, or an environmental policymaker, and you will have fulfilled certain CUA requirements. (See our course equivalency sheet.)

An additional track option is available to students in the professional schools (Architecture, Business and Economics, Engineering, Music, National Catholic School of Social Service, Nursing) and those planning to receive a BS in the School of Arts and Sciences. With their adviser's guidance, these students may create their own Honors in Liberal Studies track by choosing 4 courses from the 5 tracks mentioned above. Completing these courses gives them insight into a wide breadth of subject areas and enables them to balance Honors coursework with their major requirements.

In order to receive recognition for participation in the Honors Program, students must complete at least one track. Students in the School of Philosophy or pursuing a BA in the School of Arts and Sciences often participate in multiple tracks. Those who complete three tracks plus a capstone seminar in the senior year receive the designation "University Scholar."


Our Expectations

The requirement for good standing in the Honors Program is a 3.5 GPA. In order to receive recognition for participating in the University Honors Program, students must complete at least one track. Beyond this, we encourage students to regularly attend campus lectures, get involved in research, engage in community service, and take advantage of study abroad opportunities.

Getting Involved

One of the keys to success during the first year of college is getting involved. There are many ways to get involved in the UHP. Here are some suggestions:

  • Attend lectures specially organized for Honors students
  • Enjoy tea and biscuits at the biweekly teas in Centennial Village
  • Eat dinner with a member of the faculty at one of the monthly UHP symposia
  • Visit the opera or the theater on a UHP-sponsored excursion
  • Invite a faculty member out to lunch
  • Discover the Library of Congress in a special tour for Honors students.