University Honors:
Experience the Difference

Let’s be frank. Most undergraduates can’t wait to take classes in their majors. Even those students who aren’t fully decided on a major long to push past general education coursework!

Why the rush? Some students think of “gen-eds” as just more of the same old, same old: high school subjects hardly amped up at all. Other students think of “gen-eds” as yet one more time they have to take classes with people they are thrown together with purely by chance: people who won’t share their interests and goals, people who might not share their ability and drive. A third group of students think of “gen-eds” as classes taught to huge lecture halls that stifle participation and promote anonymity.

In the University Honors Program, general education doesn’t fit that mold: it breaks it. Classes include only those students who are driven to succeed, students who do come prepared to class, students who engage with the subject matter, and students who give their all as part of tight-knit groups of learners. Classes are small, capped at 18, and professors get to know their students well and are able to assist them in finding application for knowledge and delving deeper into issues at the center of debate in the disciplines. Learning is active, not passive; exciting, not dull.

Want to see if you qualify to join the University Honors Program and partake of all the fun? Would you like a bit more information, first?

Admission Criteria

Entering Freshmen

For admission to University Honors, entering freshmen must have an ACT composite score of 26 or greater (SAT score of 1760/2400 or greater) and must either:

  - Be in the upper 10% of their graduating high school class, or

  - Have a final high school GPA of 3.50 or greater on a 4.00 scale.

Permission from the dean of the Honors College may be required for individuals on the borderline.

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*)

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

Permission from the dean of the Honors College may be required for individuals on the borderline.

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.

Oh, 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. Moreover, you will not have to put up with quizzes and short assignments given simply as “busy work.” 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. 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, let us proclaim loudly and clearly: the Honors College wants 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