FAQs for Prospective Students

  1. What is the Honors Program?
  2. What is Selected Studies and who should apply?
  3. What is Upper Division Honors and who should apply?
  4. What are the benefits of the Honors Program?
  5. What are the admission requirements?
  6. Do I need to be invited to apply to the Honors Program?
  7. What is required to remain in the Honors Program?
  8. What exactly are Honors courses?
  9. What’s the difference between an ‘A-section’ and a regular introductory class?
  10. Why should I take an Honors ‘alpha’ Class?
  11. Do I have to take Honors classes?
  12. How many students are there in Honors?
  13. How many Honors students are in the residence halls?
  14. What’s the difference between the Honors residence halls and the other halls on campus?
  15. Is being in Honors like being in a club like the National Honors Society in high school?
  16. What’s special about the professors who teach Honors classes?
  17. Can anyone participate in Honors? What about a major in X?


1. What is the Honors Program?

The Honors Program at the University of Hawai΄i at Manoa offers a course of study that prepares talented and motivated students for independent and original research and creative work. It emphasizes intellectual community and encourages mentorship relationships both among students and between students and faculty. The Honors Program is divided into Selected Studies and Upper Division Honors.

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2. What is Selected Studies and who should apply?

Selected Studies is the lower division component of the Honors Program, designed for freshmen and sophomore students. Freshman should apply to Selected Studies. Sophomores who have not completed their general education requirements should also apply to Selected Studies.

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3. What is Upper Division and who should apply?

Upper Division is the component of the Honors Program designed for junior and senior students. Students who have declared a major and are nearly finished with general education requirements, or who will soon be a junior, should apply to Upper Division Honors.

Current Selected Studies students are advised to continue to the Upper Division. Please see Admissions for instructions and requirements.

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4. What are the benefits of the Honors Program?

Honors combines the intimate educational experiences offered by small, liberal arts colleges, with the extensive range of educational opportunities and the excellence of faculty and facilities of a Carnegie “Doctoral/Research-Extensive” university. It offers the best of both worlds!

  • Small class sizes emphasizing in-depth discussion
  • Special inquiry-based curriculum that emphasizes active learning and independent research while also meeting General Education requirements
  • Personalized academic advising and guaranteed registration in Honors courses
  • Honors housing (reserved floors in dorms), organized social events (picnics, bowling, hiking, etc.), reading/meeting room for students, student activities club
  • Prestige of Sophomore Honors on your official transcript and the value of an Honors degree in application for jobs and graduate school

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5. What are the admission requirements?

For incoming freshmen, we require a minimum high school GPA of 3.2 and an academic letter of recommendation, usually from a high school counselor or instructor.

UH or transfer students applying to Selected Studies need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 and one academic letter of recommendation.

UH or transfer students applying to Upper Division need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2, one academic letter of recommendation, and a signed Departmental Approval Form.

Read more about our admissions process.

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6. Do I need to be invited to apply to the Honors Program?

No! Anyone can apply during the application period. Please see Admission for application deadlines.

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7. What is required to remain in the Honors Program?

You must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.2 and take at least one Honors course per semester to remain in good standing.

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8. What exactly are Honors courses?

Honors provides a range of courses that allow you to satisfy General Education requirements, fulfill major requirements,and explore educational opportunities at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. There are two kinds of Honors courses: “A-section” and Honors “HON” courses.

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9. What’s the difference between an “A-section” and a regular introductory class?

“A Section” courses are special sections of regular classes that are reserved for Honors students. Enrollment is limited to 20 students and generally such courses provide students with a more in-depth and challenging exploration of the course subject matter.

Click here for a list of “A-section” courses taught.

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10. Why should I take an Honors “HON” class?

Honors “alpha” courses are special seminar courses which are part of an innovative “inquiry-based” curriculum designed to introduce students to research and creative work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. These intimate seminars build community among Honors students, introduce our students to Honors faculty, and build the foundation to both to conduct research and do creative work.

Incoming freshman can start right away with HON 101: Introduction to Research at Manoa, a course designed especially for first-year students.

For a list of Honors alpha courses taught each semester, check out the Current Courses search page.

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11. Do I have to take Honors classes?

Students must take at least one “A-section” or HON class per semester to remain in good standing.

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12. How many students are there in Honors?

As of Spring 2013, we have approximately 670 students.

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13. How many Honors students are in the residence halls?

Each year varies depending on how many students request this option. However, each year the Honors Program reserves 3 floors (appx. 75 spaces) in first-year housing and 2 floors in the upperclass Wainani Apartments.  To learn more about our housing option, please look at Honors Housing.

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14. What’s the difference between the Honors residence halls and the other halls on campus?

The biggest difference is the stronger sense of community. Because many Honors students in the residence halls are also in classes together, friendships and study groups are started more easily.

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15. Is being in Honors like being in a club like the National Honor Society in high school?

No. UHM Honors Program is not a club or Honors Society but an academic program. It is not affiliated with any other honors societies on campus. It does, however, similarly include co-curricular activities and incorporates service projects.

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16. What’s special about the professors who teach Honors classes?

Faculty who teach Honors courses are selected in a competitive process for which they must provide course proposals. They are selected specifically for their strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.

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17. Can anyone participate in Honors? What about a major in X?

All undergraduate majors are eligible to participate in the Honors Program. The application process to upper-division Honors includes a review by the department’s undergraduate advisor. In some cases, departments have additional entrance or program requirements for their majors.

Some majors have extensive requirements that may cause difficulties for students who wish to participate in Honors. With good planning and some willingness to be flexible most of these difficulties can be overcome. Students in doubt about the feasibility of doing Honors in their chosen major should schedule an appointment to talk with the Honors Program Director.

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