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The Honors Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Honors benefit my experience at the University of Kentucky?

Besides the multitude of opportunities available through the Honors Program itself, the program also acts as a pathway to other organizations throughout campus. In this way, Honors provides you with improved writing and communication abilities, a like-minded cohort, and new and challenging ways of thinking while at the same time providing you with a direct line to campus resources that allow you to best benefit from these newfound skills. Honors is one gateway into exploring the prestigious Programs of Excellence here at UK. Students can begin to inspire progressive reform and innovation in teaching, learning, and curriculum development through the Chellgren Center. They can embrace varied paths of knowledge, and integrate creative work with traditional academic learning through participation in the Gaines Fellowship Program. Our students are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Undergraduate Research in order to seek further support to achieve their research goals as well as utilize the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards to seek assistance in applying for external scholarships.

How will the Honors Program improve my writing and communication abilities, and challenge my ways of thinking?

Upon entering into your undergraduate career, you have the capability to greatly improve the ways in which you frame arguments and articulate your opinions. The Honors Program at UK was created in order to nurture and develop those capabilities. We offer seminar style classes of approximately 15-20 students that provoke stimulating discussion under the guidance of a full-time faculty member. Additionally, we offer Honors versions of class offerings such as chemistry, history, and calculus. Honors students also complete Honors experiences, which are intended to extend a student’s opportunities, stretch his/her capabilities and develop new ways of thinking and problem solving. Most students opt to pursue Education Abroad opportunities, explore service learning, and/or delve into undergraduate research. The flexibility of the curriculum is ideal for students who are developing new interests, and eager to explore new challenges.

How does the Honors Program help you choose and enroll in classes you are interested in?

The Honors Program strives to do our best to facilitate student success throughout their university career. For that reason, we offer priority registration in order to allow our students to have first pick of classes campus-wide. We hope that students may then be able to fully explore where their interests lie, and choose classes that will complement each other. The Honors Program offers individual advising in addition to the advising students receive in their major area of study. The Honors advisor’s primary concern is making sure a student fulfills his/her academic potential.

Is an Honors student able to participate in other academic programs on UK’s Campus outside of the Honors Program?

Honors students are encouraged to follow where their academic interests lead them. Many students pursue opportunities such as Biology Scholars and StemCats, both of which can enrich and further their Honors education. Furthermore, Honors students are welcome to participate in other Living Learning Programs such an Engineering and StemCats if they have specific interests in those areas. Honors strives to be as flexible as possible in order to help students reach their academic goals here at the University of Kentucky. 

How does a Capstone help to demonstrate the growth of students throughout their undergraduate studies? 

A capstone is essentially a culmination of your central focus of study during your time at the University of Kentucky. It helps to illustrate how students have developed and improved writing abilities and increased depth of thought.  The capstone will look different for every student, an aspect of the program we pride ourselves on. For an engineering student, a capstone may be his/her final design project. For an art history student, a capstone may be his/her final research paper. The Honors Program is constantly assessing capstone proposals and is eager to work with students in order to determine what will be the most enjoyable and the most challenging way to complete their Honors Program curriculum. Students can also use the capstone as an opportunity to further explore a topic that may have piqued their interest, and one that they have not yet explored in their course of study. Capstones are completed during a student’s final year and are entered into a digital archive so that students’ accomplishments may be shared with fellow scholars and professors.

How can I take advantage of relationships with my peers and faculty outside of my Honors classes?

Interaction with faculty members is one of the Honors Program’s highest priorities as we recognize that these relationships often lead to mentorships, internships and considerable guidance in making decisions such as which graduate school to attend. We offer opportunities such as NanoTED talks, faculty-led film screenings, and our Journal Journey Program, along with a variety of events that change with every new semester. Peer-to-peer interaction is strengthened through the variety of events Honors creates each semester. These events range from a lecture by the Curator of Islamic Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all the way to a Harry Potter-themed week with numerous events including a Yule Ball and a potions class led by one of our very own chemistry professors. Service projects, field trips, and special occasion celebrations are regularly offered, and pursued by our students.

How does the Honors Residential College cultivate an enjoyable environment conducive to learning?

The ability to study, work, and live among outstanding fellow undergraduate scholars is an element of Honors that is extremely exciting, particularly for an incoming student. Central Hall has the capability to be a substantial resource for students, and the more involved a student is, the greater benefit the Residential College can be to him or her. Fellow scholars are able to keep one another aware of exciting opportunities, challenge and support each other, and come together in new and innovative ways. For many students, the Honors Residential College will resemble a liberal arts college atmosphere, while still retaining the resources of a large university. Central Hall offers suite-style dorm rooms, various lounges with computers open to students, and free printing. Furthermore, in order to help support the diverse interests of our students, living in the Honors Dorm is not a requirement for students, though we expect all first-year students to engage in one of the university’s many Living Learning Programs.

How can I be a competitive candidate, and demonstrate my enthusiasm for the Program to the Admissions Committee?

We at the Honors Program review and consider every aspect of a student’s application. This includes test scores, grade-point average, class difficulty, extracurricular involvement, and most importantly the responses to the essay questions. We do not consider students based on geography, ethnicity, or gender. The baseline to apply for the Honors Program is a 28 ACT and a 3.5 GPA (unweighted); however the average in the program is currently a 32 ACT and a 3.99GPA.  The essays carry a large amount of weight in an admissions decision because they are strong indicators of a both a student’s effort and enthusiasm. Students in the Honors Program increase their depth of thought, cultivate opinions and ideas, and are able to successfully articulate those opinions in an organized and coherent manner. While these are all skills that students will build on throughout their undergraduate careers, the admissions committee looks to see that applicants have already begun honing those skills in high school. Furthermore, writing abilities are becoming increasingly more important when students are considered for graduate school, as well as the job market. This is true for all fields, including the STEM field (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Therefore, a demonstrated commitment to practicing and developing those skills early on will allow students to reach their highest potential through completion of the Honors Program, and be confident to pursue opportunities following graduation. The Honors Program at UK is incredibly competitive, with over 2,400 applications last year for roughly 400 spots.


The Honors Program encourages prospective students to visit campus. We are more than happy to let you talk with a faculty member, sit-in on a class discussion, or chat with a current student over coffee. Feel free to contact us at 859-257-3111.