Honors

About the Honors Program

The Honors Program is an alternative pathway through the university's required core curriculum that uniquely engages the intellectual traditions of the liberal arts as a powerful means of understanding our contemporary world. The program is not itself a major, but is taken in conjunction with any major. Honors students benefit from the rich conversations that build over their four years of shared academic, residential, and co-curricular experiences. Prospective students apply separately to the program (see the prompt for Honors on the Common Application), and admission is based upon prior academic achievement and demonstrated understanding of the program's curricular and residential features. First-year Honors students live in Regester Hall (along with many students who are not in the program) and have the option to continue living in Honors-themed residences thereafter. The program also provides an array of cultural events, including a film series, student-organized dinners, guest lectures, and trips to Seattle/Tacoma museums, theater, symphony, and opera.

Honors courses examine influential authors and works in the Western intellectual tradition that for better and for worse have framed its values, attitudes, and beliefs. These courses address fundamental and enduring questions, such as "What makes something true? "What makes something good or evil?" "What is the purpose of art?" "What is the proper function of government?" "What is the Self?" The course sequence culminates with an interdisciplinary study of "America" as an idea and an ideal. Honors seniors also research, write, and publicly present a thesis (normally in the student's major). After successfully completing the prescribed coursework and senior thesis requirements, Honors seniors graduate as Coolidge Otis Chapman Honors Scholars.

The program uniquely honors the intellectual tradition of the liberal arts as a powerful means of understanding and engaging today’s real-world problems. It features:

  • Special emphasis on foundational texts in each of the college’s main disciplinary areas (Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, the Arts).
  • A cohort experience for an entering class of up to thirty-four Honors students who embark on a close-knit intellectual journey that builds from one semester to the next.
  • Community living to foster lasting personal and intellectual relationships (first-year Honors students live in a residence hall, along with many other students who are not in the program, and have additional communal living options beginning the second year).
  • Rich offerings outside the classroom, including trips to cultural events in Seattle and Tacoma, a student-run film series, guest lectures, and numerous other student-sponsored activities.
  • Distinguished graduation as a Coolidge Otis Chapman Honors Scholar upon successful completion of the Honors curriculum, the senior thesis, and the senior thesis presentation.