FAQ about the Purdue University Honors College Curriculum

Editor’s Note: This FAQ explaining Purdue’s revised honors curriculum is from the Purdue Honors College site.  We are constantly touting the importance of honors curriculum, and this is a good example of a clear and concise explanation of a solid curriculum.


Q: Why are 24 credits required to graduate with honors?

A: 24 credits represent a significant investment of time and intellectual energy in honors coursework. The number of credits—which amounts to an average of a single 3-cr. honors course per semester for 8 semesters—is sufficient to distinguish the honors degree and to allow for the completion of that degree within 4 years.

 Q: Why are HONR courses required?

A: The 5 credits of required HONR courses specify a minimally enhanced breadth of study, which can be further enhanced through elective Honors courses. HONR courses also build community and identity among honors students across the disciplines.

Q: Why must 9 credits of honors electives be taken after the first year of college enrollment?

A: To ensure that some of the additional breadth and depth is not just at the introductory level. This requirement is also intended to keep the Honors College students involved in honors activities during the time between their first year and the beginning of their thesis research. 

Q: Why are up to 12 credits specifiable by individual colleges?

A: To allow the Honors College curriculum to comply with the accreditation requirements of some colleges while not extending the major curriculum significantly beyond 120 credits.

 Q: Why is a thesis or scholarly activity required?

 A: The thesis requirement specifies a minimally enhanced depth of study, which can be further enhanced through elective Honors courses. The thesis demonstrates that a student has distinguished himself or herself in the chosen field of study and can help prepare a student for professional or scholarly life after graduation.

 Q: Is the thesis requirement different from college to college?

 A: Yes. The implementation of the thesis requirement is left to the colleges—with the option to delegate this to departments—which both simplifies its administration and leaves the experts within each college or department to judge the quality and appropriateness of student work.

 Q: Will students in every college be able to participate in the new curriculum?

 A: Yes. It is designed to allow students from every college across the university to be able to follow—and to graduate within normative time.

 Q: What are the differences among HONR courses, H courses, and H contract courses?

 A: HONR courses are interdisciplinary courses offered through the Honors College; H courses are honors sections of existing courses offered by the academic colleges; H contract courses are non-honors courses in which the instructor and student do an independent honors project together in addition to regular coursework.

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