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Honors College

Type: Definitions
Effective Date: 1/23/2023

Honors College

Purpose statement

The Northern Arizona University Honors College engages high-achieving undergraduates in all disciplines as active partners in their education in an intimate, inclusive, and supportive community. Topics-based interdisciplinary seminars are at the heart of an NAU Honors education. Taught by dedicated Honors faculty, these seminars focus on a variety of disciplines (spanning the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts) and often feature site-based study and hands-on learning. In completing these courses, students learn to make connections and develop crucial proficiencies, notably in critical thinking and research, that can be applied to any major. The Honors curriculum is also enhanced by programs that focus on regional (e.g., ecology of the Colorado Plateau), national, and international perspectives (e.g., Study Abroad). The curriculum, in addition to fostering critical thinking and research skills, provides students with a holistic education that fosters personal fulfillment, literacy (including media and scientific) on many levels, and liberal studies connections between disciplines and diverse perspectives.  Additionally, the curriculum provides students with the capacity to adapt not only to a changing marketplace but also to a rapidly -- and perhaps even radically - changing world. an NAU Honors education concludes with a highly flexible Capstone sequence in which students are encouraged to use their advanced research skills to develop an educational experience that is uniquely suited to their academic, personal, and professional ambitions. The Honors academic experience is strengthened by the Honors living and learning community, which fosters student thought and engagement as well as a range of co-curricular and leadership opportunities. 

The skills Honors students develop in critical thinking, writing, speaking, and research prepares them for success in graduate school (including in science, engineering, math, law, humanities, and arts), biomedical (medical, nursing, dental, and veterinary, etc.) and other professional programs, and careers in research, business, and education of all levels. The Honors emphasis on interdisciplinary inquiry, writing, and critical thinking is designed to produce global citizens and confident and creative leaders. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Critical Thinking:

Students, through independent and collaborative learning, will demonstrate critical, analytical, and creative thinking through papers, presentations, performances, or projects in which they question, analyze, and/or create arguments and ideas based on data or creative expression. Students will demonstrate the use of interpretation, logic, and analysis to address holistic concerns and multiple perspectives on issues while taking rigorous account of details and data.

Inquiry and Research:

Students, through the use of multiple frameworks, methodologies, or disciplinary techniques across different disciplines, will define, design, and carry out guided research projects and/or creative works. Students will identify provisional solutions that demonstrate their ability to recognize the complexity of real-world problems and social issues. Students will engage with the local community and environment to promote conservation efforts, cultural stewardship, social justice initiatives, artistic programs, scientific inquiry, business development, neighborhood enhancement projects, and/or other service-learning.


Students will create and deliver clear, effective work in written, oral, and non-verbal (audio, visual, and other) methods of communication and formats to diverse audiences while taking into account the values and contingencies of global cultures.

Continuous Learning and Career Preparation:

Students will demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed for life-long learning: curiosity, initiative, independence, ethical decision-making, and reflection. They will assess and evaluate their own values, beliefs, perspectives, goals, and limitations (i.e., self-knowledge) as well as how they are positioned vis-a-vis others. Students will display a sense of self-direction by seeking out needed resources, planning, and engaging with others to organize and execute a project, event, or endeavor.

Program Requirements

To complete the requirements of the Honors College you must:

  • be admitted to the Honors College and remain in active status with the program during your undergraduate career;
  • complete at least 27 units (12 at NAU) of classes with an HON prefix or an "H" ending (example ENG 270H);
  • maintain a 3.30 cumulative GPA;
  • fulfill the program requirements listed below.


Units Minimum Honors Units
0-29 6
30-59 12
60-89 15
90+ 21

 The Honors College curriculum enhances Honors students’ academic experiences. Many Honors classes can be used as Honors requirements as well as Liberal Studies and/or the major/minor/certificate/emphasis requirements. Honors students complete the following requirements:

  • HON 190: Honors Colloquium (3 units)
  • One Honors Topic Seminar: HON 291 (AHI), 292 (CU), 293 (SAS), or 294 (SPW) (Combined with HON 190, these two courses also fulfill University English composition foundation requirements) (3 units)
  • One Honors Advanced Seminar: HON 391 (AHI), 392 (CU), 393 (SAS), or 394 (SPW) (3 units)
  • HON 303: Honors Advanced Scholarship (1 unit)
  • Additional Honors courses (e.g., ENV 101H, HON 240 etc.) for a total of 27 Honors units
    • HON 209 and/or HON 309 can apply towards up to 6 units. Units earned from HON 209 and/or HON 309 beyond the 6 can apply towards NAU elective credit, but not towards fulfillment of the 27 units of Honors coursework.
    • Honors students can earn up to 9  units of Honors credit by completing ‘Honors Contracts’ of regularly-offered NAU classes numbered 300 or higher. (See Student Resources section of the Honors webpage for proposal forms and details.)
  • Honors Capstone Pathway Year-long research/creative activity project. Depending on the student’s major capstone requirements, Honors students select from the following course options to fulfill the Honors Capstone Pathway:
    • HON or other department prefix 408 Field Work Experience, 485 Undergraduate Research, 486 Advanced Undergraduate Research, 490 Thesis, 497 Independent Study, HON 491C, OR Honors section(s) associated with a major capstone (6 units) 

Students also complete the following:

  • MAT 121, MAT 125 or MAT 136
  • Honors Explorations Requirement: Students are required to participate in five Explorations experiences (a series of non-credit programs or activities from an approved list) by the time they graduate. A minimum of three pathways must be completed prior to the student's third year and are required before taking the advanced Honors seminar
  • Proficiency in a language other than English equivalent to 2 terms of university coursework in the same language OR
  • Math competency through Calculus II (MAT 137) 

Transfer credit and credit by exam can be applied as permitted in the undergraduate catalog.

Honors Course Search. Enter the prefix HON in the course subject field to see a list of honors courses.

Honors Program Fee

All NAU Honors students starting Fall 2018 or later – $350 per semester


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