University Honors:
Experience the Difference

The University Honors Program helps transform your learning by offering a wide range of special Honors general education classes that are engaging, intellectually challenging, and fun. With up to 17 other Honors students (Honors classes are, indeed, capped at 18) you will become part of a community of scholars led by a faculty member who knows how to capture student interest and help you learn. 

The classes are intended to help you be an active participant, and to connect with your professor and your peers as you grow. 

The University Honors curriculum consists of 25 credits of these classes, culminating in a 4-credit Honors senior seminar. Most students take one or two Honors classes per semester for their first two years, and many complete their University Honors requirements, except for the senior seminar, by the end of their sophomore year. 

Admission Criteria

Entering Freshmen

For admission to University Honors, students must meet two of the three following criteria. 

(1) ACT composite score of at least 26 (SAT score of 1760/2400 or greater)

(2) Cumulative High School GPA of 3.5 on a 4 point scale OR be in the upper 10% of their graduating high school class. 

(3) Receive permission from the Dean of the Pine Honors College. 

If you meet the first two criteria you will be admitted automatically. If you meet only one of the first two criteria, and would like to join, please fill out the Dean's Choice Admission form


Continuing or Transfer Students

Continuing students at EIU, and transfer students*, may be admitted after meeting the following criteria:

  - Attainment of a 3.50 GPA for at least 12 hours of coursework taken at EIU (continuing students), or

  - A 3.50 GPA, on a 4.00 scale, for all transfer coursework (transfer students*)

- Permission from the Dean of the Pine Honors College

* Transfer students must also have their transcripts evaluated by the Honors College prior to their admission to the Pine Honors College.


University Honors:
Is it really for me?

Okay. So far University Honors sounds good to you — but you wonder what the “catch” is.

Will the Honors College expect you to work so hard your eyes cross and your fingers seem ready to fall off? Will you have to take all your general education classes in Honors? Will you have to earn straight “A” grades all the time? Will you be unable to have a life outside the classroom, the library, and the computer lab?

In a word: no. Or, more precisely: no, no, no, and no.

You may occasionally write a slightly longer paper than a student taking the non-Honors version of a class ... but you will have greater control over the direction of your writing. You will not be responding to a prompt that can only lead to one answer arrived at by following one path.  All your assessments will be carefully constructed to take your learning to the next level.

As to how many Honors classes you will need to take, the answer is: “enough to earn 25 hours of Honors course credit.” For most students, this works out to a total of seven to nine classes. You are welcome to choose your Honors classes as you see fit, just so long as one of them is a four-hour Honors senior seminar and one is a Freshman Honors Seminar. Students are encouraged to complete University Honors requirements concurrently with their General Education Courses. A worksheet to aid students tracking their General Education courses is provided.

On the point of grades, we do not require a 4.00 average at any time. We do require that your cumulative GPA be at least a 3.50 at the time of graduation, however, and there are lesser GPA benchmarks you will need to meet across your four years at EIU (see below).

Students with questions about University Honors requirements should contact the Honors Office at 217-581-2017 or

Criteria for Good Standing

In order to remain in good standing in University Honors, students must meet two criteria:

Continuous Enrollment

Students in University Honors must meet an hours-earned minimum of at least one honors course per semester in order to remain in good standing, until they have reached 21 credits worth of Honors coursework. In order to successfully complete the program, students should complete University Honors requirements concurrently with General Education courses.


Students will be placed on probation if they fall to these lower hour/GPA limits:

  • Freshmen (0 - 29 hours of university credit): < 3.00 GPA.
  • Sophomores (30 - 59 hours of credit): < 3.20 GPA
  • Juniors (60 - 89 hours of credit): < 3.40 GPA
  • Students will not be certified as graduates of the University Honors Program without a 3.50 or higher GPA.

Scholarship Recipients

If you are a recipient of an Honors scholarship, your GPA requirement is constant from the time you apply for your scholarship across the full term of your scholarship. At the time you apply for your scholarship, and across the full term of your scholarship, you must maintain a 3.4 cumulative GPA.

Scholarship recipients whose awards expire prior to graduation must, following expiration of their awards, meet the GPA requirements held for non-recipients (see above).

Finally we note that the Pine Honors College encourages you to have a life! Honors students aren’t just students. They are also musicians, dancers, visual artists, athletes, members of student government, resident assistants, campus journalists, leaders of honorary societies and clubs, paid employees on and off campus, volunteer workers on and off campus … well, you get the point. Honors students are involved in all sorts of things, besides classes, that they love. Find your niche on campus, and make the most of it!

Think you might want to give the University Honors Program a try? Still need more information? Contact us at 217-581-2017 or