Honors Honors and Recognitions
The Honors Program
Graduation with Honors
Courses of Instruction

Honors and Recognitions

The university honors high academic achievement. The most significant recognitions are conferred at graduation time, but there are many interim awards as well. Some formal recognitions become a part of the student's permanent academic record; others may be in the form of a letter of commendation or list posted on the bulletin board. Each spring, Honors Week focuses attention on high academic achievement through special programs and publications. (Grade point average requirements discussed in the following sections refer exclusively to the TCU GPA.)

TCU Scholars. Full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students who achieve a 4.0 grade point average (all A grades) in any spring or fall semester are recognized as "TCU Scholars" by the academic deans. In that semester they must have earned credit for at least 12 hours, and "I" and "P" grades are not counted. "TCU Scholars" may audit one course without fee any time within a year of their designation.

Dean's Honor List. At the end of each fall and spring semester, deans of undergraduate schools and colleges announce the names of those who have done exceptionally well. To be eligible for the Dean's Honor List, freshmen must achieve at least a 3.4 GPA, sophomores at least 3.5, juniors at least 3.6, and seniors at least 3.7. In that semester they must have earned credit for at least 12 hours, and "I" and "P" grades are not counted.

Graduation Honors. Students with a grade-point average of 3.9 or above are graduated Summa Cum Laude, perhaps the highest academic distinction. Those with 3.7 or above are graduated Magna Cum Laude, an only marginally less prestigious honor. And for those with 3.5 or above, graduation is Cum Laude.

Graduation honors are reserved for students who earn at least 58 semester hours at TCU exclusive of any credit by examination.

Honor Societies. In almost all academic fields, national honorees societies recognize students who show exceptional ability. Most departments at TCU have chapters of such societies to which high-achieving students are invited. In addition, some prestigious honor societies are open to students from throughout the University. Perhaps best-known at TCU and over the nation are these:

Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest such society in America and one of the most selective, invites to membership students with high grades whose studies show a breadth of knowledge in the liberal arts. Most initiates are seniors, though juniors and graduate students are sometimes invited as well.

Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society of North America, invites to membership persons whose research has made an original contribution to the sciences. Undergraduate students with exceptional research papers meet the society's requirements.

Mortar Board invites students on the basis of their service and leadership as well as scholarship.

The Honors Program

The Honors Program holds as its central purpose and philosophy the stimulation and encouragement of academic activity at the highest level. It strives to bring together dedicated faculty and highly motivated students who share a commitment to the finest qualities of scholarship. Through collaboration with each school and college of the University, the Honors Program provides opportunities for the intellectual growth and fulfillment of students in all disciplines as well as of the many faculty who share a commitment to these ideals.

The Honors Program strives to meet its goals through its varied curriculum and the collegial nature of its co-curricular activities. The curriculum provides opportunities for in-depth study and research in the students' chosen disciplines and also offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs intended to provide breadth of scope and perspective in the tradition of a liberal arts education.

Co-curricular functions such as the Fall Escape are designed to foster that intellectual stimulation which is achieved only through out-of-class interaction among scholars from all components of the University. The celebration of Honors Week each spring provides an opportunity to promote and recognize academic achievement across the campus.


Freshmen. Admission of incoming freshmen to the Honors Program is by invitation. The TCU Honors Council sets the invitational standards for each incoming class, based on SAT and/or ACT scores and high school transcripts. Invitations are sent out in March to high school seniors who have been accepted to TCU and meet these standards. Highly motivated students with excellent records that fall slightly below the invitational criteria are also encouraged to seek invitation to the Program by contacting the Director.

Transfers. Transfer students are eligible to join the Honors Program if they have achieved a 3.40+ GPA in all previous college work. (For students with fewer than 24 hours, high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores will also be evaluated.) Transfer students must meet all Honors Program curriculum requirements, including the Lower Division Requirements listed below. However, they are invited to request that selected courses taken at other institutions be applied toward Honors Program requirements at TCU. Approval of such requests will be at the discretion of the Director of the Honors Program and no more than 9 hours may be applied.

Current TCU Students. Any current TCU student who has both a TCU cumulative and an overall cumulative GPA of 3.40 or higher is eligible to join the Honors Program. Students who enter the Program after they have matriculated at TCU must meet all Lower Division Requirements listed below. Interested students are encouraged to contact the Director of the Honors Program.


Lower Division Requirements.

All Honors students must complete either the Honors Civilizations Track or the Honors Intellectual Traditions Track to fulfill the Lower Division Requirements.

Honors Civilizations Track. (15 hours)

Students who elect this track will take two related courses (6 hours) selected from the several pairs offered in which various elements of a particular culture or civilization will be traced.  The purpose is to allow students to develop an understanding of the art, literature, music, science and/or other facets of that culture or civilization.

The remaining nine hours of this track of Lower Division Honors work must be taken from the Honors sections of first- and second-year level courses offered in departments throughout the University.  These Honors sections provide an additional measure of sophistication and challenge and are taught by faculty members selected for their commitment to high academic standards and dedication to motivating good students.  Because Honors sections generally are smaller than other similar courses, they are frequently the arenas for more interactive teaching methods.

Honors Intellectual Traditions Track. (15 hours)

Students who take the 3-semester, interdisciplinary Honors Intellectual Traditions sequence begin in the fall semester of the freshman year and continue until the spring of the sophomore year. Six additional hours of Honors courses of their own choosing are also required.

Upper Division Requirements.

Honors students who have completed the sophomore year with a GPA of 3.40 or higher and have fulfilled the Lower Division Requirements are recognized as Associate Honors Scholars and are invited to participate in Upper Division Honors, pursuing programs leading to degrees awarded with Departmental Honors and/or University Honors.

Departmental Honors. Departmental Honors involves intense study in the student's chosen major, typically consisting of a junior or senior level seminar and a Senior Honors Project. This project may be presented in several forms, for instance, a paper reflecting original research or creative study, a portfolio or original composition in literature or one of the fine arts, or a documented performance in the arts. In the fall semester of the senior year, a student pursuing Departmental Honors chooses a professor to supervise the project who together with two additional faculty members form the student's project committee. These three faculty members work closely with the student and during the spring semester approve the work as being worthy of the Departmental Honors distinction. Most departments in the University have programs leading to Departmental Honors. For a listing of all such departments and for detailed information concerning the form of the Senior Honors Project, please contact the Honors Program Office.

University Honors. University Honors encourages interdisciplinary thought during the junior and senior years. In small seminar settings, students explore questions that have challenged thinkers through the centuries: What is the nature of values, of society, of the universe? What does it mean to be human? Requirements for graduation with University Honors are (1) proficiency in a foreign language at the sophomore level and (2) satisfactory completion of the four interdisciplinary Honors Colloquia, HCOL 40023, 40033, 40043, and either HCOL 40013 or HNRS 40103. Students may, if space is available, take one or more of the Colloquia even if they elect not to pursue the full course of study leading to University Honors.

Additional Requirements. Enrollment in Honors Courses. All freshman and sophomore Honors students must enroll in at least one Honors course each semester until they have completed their Lower Division Requirements.

GPA Requirements. To remain in the Honors Program, students must achieve a 3.00+ TCU cumulative GPA at the end of the freshman year and a 3.40+ TCU cumulative GPA at the end of the sophomore year. Students must have both a TCU cumulative GPA and an overall cumulative GPA of 3.50+ to graduate with Honors Program distinctions.

Pass/No Credit Policy. Courses to fulfill Honors Program requirements may not be taken on a Pass/No Credit basis.

Graduation with Honors

A student is recognized as having attained Departmental and/or University Honors during the graduation ceremonies, and his or her diploma and transcript indicate that the degree was awarded with Honors distinctions. Such Honors are conferred by the Honors Program on the basis of the student's having a GPA equal to or greater than 3.50 with at least 58 semester hours of academic work having been completed at TCU (exclusive of credit by examination), and the student's having completed the stated criteria for Departmental and/or University Honors.

Go to Class Search on the Registrar's home page at https://webadmin.is.tcu.edu/classsearch/ to see which courses are being taught this semester.

Courses of Instruction

HCOL 40013 Nature of the Universe. An examination of interdisciplinary aspects of physical and natural science; the submicroscopic world and the cosmos; cosmology; developments in modern biological and genetic research; mathematics and logic; the nature of scientific inquiry and our understanding of the physical world.

HCOL 40023 On Human Nature. An examination of the development of our self-understanding, the origins of human culture and the study of contemporary culture as it affects the individual.

HCOL 40033 Nature of Values. An examination of contemporary value systems through the study of certain intrinsic values as revealed in a variety of readings, thought patterns and human creations.

HCOL 40043 Nature of Society. An examination of the structure, functions, and processes of our social, political, and economic institutions.

HHIT 20123 Honors Intellectual Traditions: Order. Prerequisite: HITP 10113. Continuing the exploration of provocative thinkers and artists, this semester's readings examine the notion of order.

HHIT 20133 Honors Intellectual Traditions: Change. Prerequisites: HITP 10113, HHIT 20123. Extends the interdisciplinary investigation of Western culture as it struggles with the concept of change.

HITP 10113 Honors Intellectual Traditions: Purpose. Explores the question of purpose or teleology among the most provocative thinkers in Western history, especially in philosophy, religion, science, literature and art.

HNRS 30970 The Scottish Enlightenment. TCU in Scotland.

HNRS 40103 Origins. An interdisciplinary course addressing the origins of time, order, change, the universe, earth, man, and human cultures, involving cooperative interaction of faculty from anthropology, biology, and geology.

HSPR 40970 Honors Special Project. An Honors student interested in undertaking special independent study may, with appropriate permission, register for HSPR 40970 for 1 to 6 hours of credit. This may be utilized as a summer reading course or free elective. Under special circumstances, it may be used in lieu of a Departmental Honors seminar or an Honors Colloquium to fulfill requirements for Departmental or University Honors.

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