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Honors Programs

There are two main offices that house holistic honors programs/majors in the College of Liberal Arts: the Liberal Arts Honors Programs Office and the Plan II Honors Office. Each of these offices seeks to create an honors community with the atmosphere of a small liberal arts college while simultaneously participating in the unparalleled resources of a large university. These offices offer a select group of students special opportunities for enriched learning and recognition at every level of their academic career.

Besides these offices, the college offers many other opportunities for students to challenge themselves and earn honors such as departmental honors, Liberal Arts honors (aka college honors), and university honors upon graduation. Below is a list of various honors offerings in the college followed by descriptions.

Departmental Honors

Most departments in the College of Liberal Arts offer honors programs to their majors. The admission application process is determined by the individual departments. Admission to the Liberal Arts Freshman Honors Program is not a prerequisite for Departmental Honors.

Minimum requirements for departmental honors are (1) a University grade point average of at least 3.00; (2) a three-semester-hour thesis or research project, or a reasonable equivalent, with a grade of at least B; (3) completion, with a grade point average of at least 3.50, of the coursework required for a major in the field; and (4) completion at the University of at least sixty semester hours of coursework counted toward the degree. Each department may establish additional or more rigorous requirements.

The statement "Special Honors in (name of field)" appears on the transcript of each graduate certified as having completed the honors program.

For more information, contact a Departmental Honors Advisor.

Each departmental honors program in the College of Liberal Arts uses the guidelines set out in the Senior Thesis Manual.

Freshman Honors

Benefits of the Liberal Arts Freshman Honors Program:

  • A community of talented, highly-motivated students selected from a competitive applicant pool.
  • Special honors sections of introductory courses, taught by some of the most dynamic and accomplished professors on campus.
  • Opportunities to engage with other honors students in student government, volunteer work, field trips, cultural events, and the productions of a theater group and a literary magazine.
  • Academic advising from award-winning advisers who understand the challenges honors students face.
  • A student mentoring program in which first year students are matched up with sophomore or upper-division Liberal Arts Honors students.
  • Eligibility to apply for honors housing and special scholarship opportunities.

Liberal Arts Freshman Honors Program Obligations:

  • To pursue academic excellence through demanding courses and active exchanges with professors and fellow honors students.
  • To take an active part in LAH 102H, The Idea of The Liberal Arts, a first-year course that explores the disciplines that make up the liberal arts.
  • To hone writing and speaking skills, beginning in LAH 102H.
  • To contribute to the Liberal Arts Honors community, participating in its special events, Ransom Reading Groups, Essay Contest, volunteer opportunities, and student groups.

Even after their freshman year, our students remain part of the Freshman Honors community, acting as mentors to new Freshman Honors students, receiving notification of special honors-related activities and events, and participating in program-related extracurricular opportunities. Most students continue with an honors curriculum in various departments and colleges.

After graduation, Liberal Arts Honors students pursue careers as diverse as the students themselves. They enter Law School, Medical School, and graduate school. They join the Peace Corp, Teach for America, and other humanitarian and ecologically-focused organizations. They enter a variety of professional fields thanks to the assistance of Liberal Arts Career Services and contacts they make while at the University. Some travel and some follow their dreams and interests in highly personal, unique and varied ways. Liberal Arts Honors students can be found in nearly every field of study and career endeavor.

After the freshman/sophomore years, qualified students may also participate in these other Liberal Arts Honors opportunities: Departmental Honors, Liberal Arts Honors upper division, and Humanities.

All necessary forms and instructions for applications for fall admissions will be available online early in the fall of the preceding year at Be A Longhorn.

Graduation with University Honors

To be eligible to graduate with University honors, an undergraduate must have completed at least sixty semester hours at the University of Texas at Austin. Graduation with University honors is based on the average of all grades earned in courses taken in residence at the University, whether the courses were passed, failed, or repeated. Courses taken pass/fail are counted in the sixty-hour minimum, but only letter grades (including Fs in pass/fail courses) are used to determine the grade point average.

For more information, see the Graduation Honors page.

Humanities Program

The Humanities Program offers the highly motivated and able student the opportunity to fashion his or her own course of study as a major for the B.A. degree. Each applicant to the program consults with the Humanities adviser to design a major consisting of forty-two credit hours beyond The University's basic education requirements.

Each course in the individual program of study must clearly contribute to a coherent major with a focus on a particular theme, idea, or question. As the model plans in this brochure show, that interdisciplinary subject may be as specific as Health Care Policy, or as comprehensive as Philosophy, Politics, and Economics.

Each humanities major writes a senior thesis that addresses a particular aspect, case, application, or interpretation of the chosen topic. On occasion the thesis may be an original creative work such as a novel, a drama, a collection of poems, or a piece of music. Humanities seniors present their thesis findings at a conference for the academic community each semester.

Junior Fellows

The Junior Fellows Program was begun in 1959 by Harry Ransom as a means of encouraging academic excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences. At that time it was essentially an honor society to which students were elected at the end of their freshman year. Over the years, the Junior Fellows has evolved into a society of juniors and seniors from the University at large who are engaged in independent research projects under the direction of members of the faculty.

Fellows are required to attend meetings of the group, held every other week in both the fall and spring semesters. Besides project presentations, meetings feature discussions led by eminent scholars from on and off campus. Fellows have the opportunity to participate in field trips, seminars, and other academic activities.

It is possible to earn academic credit for work done as a Junior Fellow, by enrolling in the appropriate conference course with the supervising professor. For example, Humanities and Plan II majors usually use their senior theses as their Junior Fellows projects. Students pursuing Special Honors in their major use the honors thesis number. Other non-honors courses are also available, for example ARH 376, E 367C, CH 475K, RTF 336. Fellows should register for the course that is approved by their advisers, fits into their degree plans, and has the right format for the chosen topic. Funds are available to assist Fellows with expenses involved in their research. There is also some money available for Fellows who can demonstrate financial need.

Application Procedure

Application is open to any qualified student from any program on campus who will have completed 60 hours prior to the Fall semester. Junior Fellows normally have a GPA of at least 3.75, but outstanding students whose abilities are manifested in other ways should not hesitate to apply. Although administered by the College of Liberal Arts, the program is open to all qualified students on campus. Many students from outside Liberal Arts are presently members.

Application materials may be downloaded using the link below or may be obtained from the Liberal Arts Honors Office, RLP 2.104, Austin, TX 78712. For more information contact Dean Marc Musick in the Liberal Arts Honors Office by email or phone at 471-3458.

Download Application Form (PDF)

Membership in Junior Fellows begins the fall semester following the spring recruitment period.

Liberal Arts Honors

The College of Liberal Arts offers upper-division honors courses for students pursuing a Plan I Bachelor of Arts degree. Students qualify to take upper division Liberal Arts Honors (LAH) courses when they meet the minimum completed hours/GPA requirements. Admission is restricted to College of Liberal Arts Plan I students with 60 hours of completed course work and a UT GPA of at least 3.5. No additional application forms are required.

To graduate with "Liberal Arts Honors" students must must:

  • Take three upper-division LAH 350 or higher numbered courses
  • Receive at least two ‘A’s and one ‘B’ in the three courses.
  • Have an overall UT GPA of at least 3.5
  • Have 60 hours in residence at the University of Texas at Austin

Lower-division LAH courses are restricted to students in the Freshman Honors Program and do not count toward the upper division College of Liberal Arts Honors requirement.

Honors courses offered as part of a Departmental Honors Program do not count toward the upper-division College of Liberal Arts Honors requirement, unless a specific course is cross-listed with an LAH course.

Students who graduate with Honors in the College of Liberal Arts receive a special certificate signed by the Program Director and 'Liberal Arts Honors' will be noted on the student's transcript. A thesis *is not required* to graduate with Liberal Arts Honors. A thesis option is offered for certain students in special circumstances.

Students may graduate with both Liberal Arts Honors and Departmental Honors. Admission to the Liberal Arts Freshman Honors Program is not a prerequisite for College of Liberal Arts Honors.

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa, established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary, is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. The chapter at the University of Texas was organized in 1904, as the first (Alpha) chapter in the state of Texas. The Alpha chapter consists of over one hundred and fifty faculty and administrative staff of the University of Texas, all of whom were elected to the Society at their own alma maters. The chapter twice a year elects undergraduates majoring in the liberal arts and sciences, who are inducted into the Society at ceremonies each December and May.

In addition, there is a student chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas, consisting of both undergraduates (elected by Alpha of Texas) and graduate and professional students (elected at their undergraduate institutions). The student chapter coordinators are Susan Somers and Ella Miesner.

The Alpha of Texas chapter and the UT student chapter collaborate with the PBK Alumni Association of Greater Austin to provide scholarships and to promote the cause of liberal education. In 2006 and 2007, Phi Beta Kappa is hosting a lecture series on The Essence of Liberal Education: Defining the Core, bringing eight distinguished visitors to Austin.

For more information, visit the Phi Beta Kappa honors page

Plan II Honors

Established in 1935, Plan II is a challenging interdisciplinary honors major with a required core curriculum. The core curriculum requirements include the study of literature, philosophy, society, the arts, math and natural sciences. With freedom to cross intellectual and disciplinary boundaries, Plan II students explore everything that makes us human in the best sense, from ancient poetry to the latest discoveries in physics and cosmology.