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Honors College

Type: Definitions
Effective Date: 12/15/2019

Honors College

Purpose statement

The purpose of Northern Arizona University’s Honors College is to cultivate excellence in high achieving undergraduate students. The Honors College provides a challenging and deeply rewarding education, marked by an innovative curriculum, dedicated and accomplished faculty, a diverse living and learning community, transformative experiential pathways, and community engagement from the local to the global. The Honors College engages students as active partners in their education in an intimate, diverse, and interdisciplinary co-learning community. Honors students are nurtured to be confident and creative leaders and global citizens. The Honors College ensures that each Honors student travels a personalized path culminating in a year-long capstone experience that represents the students’ crowning achievement and connects their Honors Pathway with their major and Liberal Studies.

Student Learning Outcomes

Conceptual and Analytical: Students will actively acquire the skills and tools to think critically and creatively about important and complex topics and ideas.

  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of a variety of analytical and theoretical approaches.
  • Analyze, interpret, and synthesize concepts and data to better understand intellectual problems or issues.
  • Work collaboratively and creatively to seek solutions to complex problems.
  • Apply knowledge for greater social benefit.
  • Respect the connections, similarities, and differences among themselves and others in a globalized world.
  • Think open-mindedly about alternative systems of thought, ideas, problems, solutions, plans, and actions.

Inquiry and Research: Students will think and work across one or more disciplines to define, design, and carry out effective research projects or creative works.

  • Find, understand, and evaluate existing knowledge to identify gaps and understand important issues.
  • Develop a sophisticated thesis to answer important questions or address pressing problems through engagement with interdisciplinary thinking.
  • Devise a research design and prospectus for work to better understand an issue.
  • Disseminate results of research or creative works.

Communication: Students will deliver clear and effective demonstrations of their work in written and oral formats to diverse audiences. 

  • Communicate clearly, persuasively, and effectively through creative performances and formal academic presentations.
  • Communicate clearly, persuasively, and effectively through writing.
  • Analyze and critique material read/discussed in written and oral formats.
  • Understand alternative perspectives, ideas, possibilities, and outcomes.
  • Interest the reader/viewer through written and creative work.

Leadership: Students will demonstrate leadership skills with an ability to organize, nurture and empower others through their examples, ideals, and actions.

  • Demonstrate integrity, industriousness, and compassion through mentoring and leadership.
  • Demonstrate evidence of effective problem-solving through mentorship and collaboration.
  • Demonstrate ability to take initiative and gain autonomy.
  • Pursue self-directed learning and research.
  • Work as a catalyst for positive change, demonstrating an ability to apply innovative solutions to complex problems.

Professional and Citizenship: Students will know, understand, and demonstrate their capacity for ethical professionalism and citizenship by serving, embracing, and invigorating the communities in which they participate.

  • Understand and respect the diverse values and beliefs of others while being aware of one’s own strengths and limitations.
  • Be active and informed members of your communities.
  • Behave with trust, fairness, and the highest ethical standards.
  • Encourage others to work with fairness and high ethical standards.
  • Demonstrate professional and ethical attitude in classroom settings, experiential learning opportunities, and civic participation.

 Program Requirements

To complete the requirements of the Honors College you must:

  • be admitted to the Honors College and remain in active status with the program during your undergraduate career;
  • complete at least 27 units (12 at NAU) of classes with an HON prefix or an "H" ending (example ENG 270H);
  • maintain a 3.30 cumulative GPA;
  • fulfill the program requirements listed below.


Units Minimum Honors Units
0-29 6
30-59 12
60-89 15
90+ 21

 The Honors College curriculum enhances Honors students’ academic experiences. Many Honors classes can be used as Honors requirements as well as Liberal Studies and/or the major/minor/certificate/emphasis requirements. Honors students complete the following requirements:

  • HON 190: Honors Colloquium (3 units)
  • One Honors Topic Seminar: HON 291 (AHI), 292 (CU), 293 (SAS), or 294 (SPW) (Combined with HON 190, these two courses also fulfill University English composition foundation requirements) (3 units)
  • One Honors Advanced Seminar: HON 391 (AHI), 392 (CU), 393 (SAS), or 394 (SPW) (3 units)
  • HON 303: Honors Advanced Scholarship (1 unit)
  • Additional Honors courses (e.g., ENV 101H, HON 240 etc.) for a total of 27 Honors units
    • HON 209 and/or HON 309 can apply towards up to 6 units. Units earned from HON 209 and/or HON 309 beyond the 6 can apply towards NAU elective credit, but not towards fulfillment of the 27 units of Honors coursework.
    • Honors students can earn up to 9  units of Honors credit by completing ‘Honors Contracts’ of regularly-offered NAU classes numbered 300 or higher. (See Student Resources section of the Honors webpage for proposal forms and details.)
  • Honors Capstone Pathway Year-long research/creative activity project. Depending on the student’s major capstone requirements, Honors students select from the following course options to fulfill the Honors Capstone Pathway:
    • HON or other department prefix 408 Field Work Experience, 485 Undergraduate Research, 486 Advanced Undergraduate Research, 490 Thesis, 497 Independent Study, HON 491C, OR Honors section(s) associated with a major capstone (6 units) 

Students also complete the following:

  • MAT 121, MAT 125 or MAT 136
  • Honors Explorations Requirement: Students are required to participate in five Explorations experiences (a series of non-credit programs or activities from an approved list) by the time they graduate. A minimum of three pathways must be completed prior to the student's third year and are required before taking the advanced Honors seminar
  • Proficiency in a language other than English equivalent to 2 terms of university coursework in the same language OR
  • Math competency through Calculus II (MAT 137) 

Transfer credit and credit by exam can be applied as permitted in the undergraduate catalog.

Honors Course Search. Enter the prefix HON in the course subject field to see a list of honors courses.


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