VCU Honors College

Academics

Female students at graduation

Graduating with honors

Students in The Honors College who have completed the rigorous course requirements and maintained an active role in The Honors College are eligible to graduate with University Honors. In order to earn this distinction, you must adhere to the following four guidelines established by the Honors Council:

Current honors students who wish to keep track of their honors requirements should print out and use the graduation worksheet appropriate for their semester of entry. These worksheets can be found below under Honors course work.

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Cumulative and honors GPA

To graduate with University Honors, you must have at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA and 3.2 GPA in honors courses. This is a nonnegotiable requirement.

When computing your GPA, there is no rounding. The number of quality points is divided by the number of credits attempted and the quotient must be greater than or equal to 3.5. Your GPA is calculated by factoring all courses attempted at VCU; the “repeated course option” does not apply. If a course is retaken, both the original and the subsequent grades are used in the calculation of the GPA.

Standard of excellence

As an honors student, you are expected to achieve a standard of excellence in general education as well as in your major field. Your grades and course selection in your major field should reflect an ongoing quest for advanced study and intellectual ability.

Diversity of study

Honors students must demonstrate an approach to intellectual development that integrates a diverse program of study by fulfilling one of the following requirements:

  • A minor in any field of study.
  • A second major in any field of study.
  • A dual degree in any field of study.
  • A certificate recognized by VCU. These certificates (not “certificates of completion”) include international management studies, Spanish/English translation and interpretation, product innovation, venture creation, and sustainable innovation. You may seek approval for another certificate program by contacting the academic programs supervisor.
  • Successfully completing two upper-level courses — level 300 or above — totaling at least six credits from two different fields of specialization that are beyond your own primary field of study. Your field of specialization is broader than your major and includes allied subjects. For example, biology is a subject within the natural sciences, marketing is a subject within the field of business, English is a subject in the humanities and the craft and material studies major is in the visual arts.
  • Completing a focused study in a single field that lies outside your field of specialization by completing three upper-level courses (level 300 or above). Combined, these three courses should total at least nine credits. For example, a student majoring in psychology could complete three upper-level Spanish courses because psychology is considered a social science and foreign language courses are in the humanities.

To determine how majors are classified, students should refer to the “Academic Fields and Majors for Advising” document found in the Honors advising section of our website.

You may use the same course to satisfy more than one requirement of either The Honors College or your degree program. For example, an upper-level honors psychology course may satisfy both the upper-level diversity of study requirement and count towards the minimum honors credits required. Business students may also use certain upper-level courses to satisfy business foundation requirements. For additional information on accepted substitutions, see the approved list of honors courses and modules that satisfy your program’s general education requirements.

Upper-level honors electives, such as HONR 398 courses, may count toward the diversity of study requirement if the topics are (1.) outside of your field of specialization and (2.) are in two separate fields of specialization. Alternatively, you may complete three of these honors electives that are all related to a single field, if that field differs from your primary field of study.

Modules may not be used to satisfy this requirement unless you have already fulfilled the number of honors credits needed for graduation. In this case, you must integrate the modules within a field of specialization so that the number of credits earned from completing the modules is equal to three credits. For example, two 1.5-credit modules whose topics are in the humanities could be combined to count as one completed humanities 3-credit course.

Honors course work

The required honors course work depends on whether you entered The Honors College directly from high school as a freshman or if you applied as a continuing or transfer student.

REQUIREMENTS FOR FRESHMEN

Beginning in the fall 2011 semester, entering freshmen (admitted either in fall 2010 or after) are required to complete at least 24 credits in courses designated as specialized honors courses. Honors students who wish to keep track of these honors requirements should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Freshmen Admitted Fall 2010 or Later [PDF].

Those students who were admitted prior to fall 2010 must complete at least 18 credits in honors courses. These students should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Freshmen Admitted Prior Fall 2010 [PDF].

Honors students who matriculated into The Honors College prior to fall 2008 have multiple options to complete these 18 credits for which they are responsible. You may combine honors courses and modules in the way that works best with your schedule. There is no maximum amount of honors credits you may complete, and you may continue to take honors courses and modules until you graduate. Honors credit may be earned by:

  • Taking special sections of regular courses labeled as honors
  • Creating an honors independent study (HONR 492)
  • Using courses designed for honors-in-a-subject
  • Completing a contract to convert a non-honors course into an honors course
  • Counting a graduate-level class as an honors class, provided that it is not a requirement of your major

The honors core curriculum consists of the following courses

To graduate with the distinction of University Honors, freshmen admitted in fall 2010 and after must:

  • Complete the honors core curriculum (18 credit hours)
  • Complete an additional six credits in honors courses to meet the 24-credit minimum
  • Maintain a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • Complete a capstone course in the major
  • Present a dossier documenting how he or she has become a well-educated individual

The dossier will be presented to the dean and the Honors Council in the penultimate semester of the student’s academic work. In completing the dossier, students should refer to the guidelines and explain how they have been fulfilled.

REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTINUING STUDENTS

Beginning in fall 2011, requirements will change for continuing students admitted to The Honors College: this applies to students whose first full semester as honors students will be spring 2012 or later. Those students who enter with 12 to 53 credits must complete the following courses from the honors core curriculum: PHYS 215, PHIL 230, MATH 230 and POLI 365 (honors section), and take 12 additional hours in honors to meet the 24-credit requirement for graduation with University Honors. These students should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Continuing Students Admitted Fall 2011 or Later [PDF].

Those continuing students admitted between January 2009 and the fall 2011 semester with 12 to 53 credits (freshmen and sophomores) must complete the following courses from the honors core curriculum: PHYS 215, PHIL 230, MATH 230 and POLI 365 (honors section), and take 6 additional hours in honors to meet the 18-credit requirement for graduation with University Honors. These students should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Continuing Students Admitted Prior Fall 2011 [PDF].

Honors credit may be earned by:

  • Taking special sections of regular courses labeled as honors
  • Creating an honors independent study (HONR 492)
  • Using courses designed for honors-in-a-subject
  • Completing a contract to convert a non-honors course into an honors course
  • Counting a graduate-level class as an honors class, provided that it is not a requirement of your major

To graduate with the distinction of University Honors, continuing students must:

  • Complete the required honors core classes according to their time of admission
  • Complete an additional six to 12 honors credits to meet the credit minimum depending on their time of admission
  • Maintain a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • Complete a capstone course in the major
  • Present a dossier documenting how he or she has become a well-educated individual

The dossier will be presented to the dean and the Honors Council in the penultimate semester of the student’s academic work. In completing the dossier, students should refer to the guidelines and explain how they have been fulfilled.

REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS

Beginning in fall 2011, requirements will change for transfer students admitted to The Honors College: this applies to students whose first full semester as honors students will be spring 2012 or later. Those transfer students who enter with 12 to 53 credits must complete the following courses from the honors core curriculum: PHYS 215, PHIL 230, MATH 230 and POLI 365 (honors section), and take 12 additional hours in honors to meet the 24-credit requirement for graduation with University Honors. These students should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Transfer Students Admitted Fall 2011 or Later – 53 or Fewer TR Credits [PDF].

Effective fall 2012, those transfer students who entered the Honors College with 54-74 credits from their transfer institution are required to take 12 credits in honors coursework.  Students in this category are not required to take honors core classes but may do so to reach the credit minimum to graduate with University Honors.  These students should refer to the Graduation Worksheet for Transfer Students Admitted  with 54 or More TR Credits [PDF].

Those transfer students admitted between January 2009 and the fall 2011 semester with 12 to 53 credits (freshmen and sophomores) must complete the following courses from the honors core curriculum: PHYS 215, PHIL 230, MATH 230 and POLI 365 (honors section), and take 6 additional hours in honors to meet the 18-credit requirement for graduation with University Honors. These students should print out and use the Graduation Worksheet for Transfer Students Admitted Prior Fall 2011 – 53 or Fewer Transfer Credits [PDF].

Honors credit may be earned by:

  • Taking special sections of regular courses labeled as honors
  • Creating an honors independent study (HONR 492)
  • Using courses designed for honors-in-a-subject
  • Completing a contract to convert a non-honors course into an honors course
  • Counting a graduate-level class as an honors class, provided that it is not a requirement of your major

To graduate with the distinction of University Honors, transfer students must:

  • Complete the required honors core classes according to their time of admission and the number of transfer credits earned when admitted
  • Complete an additional six to 12 honors credits to meet the credit minimum depending on their time of admission and the number of transfer credits earned when admitted
  • Maintain a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA
  • Complete a capstone course in the major
  • Present a dossier documenting how he or she has become a well-educated individual

The dossier will be presented to the dean and the Honors Council in the penultimate semester of the student’s academic work. In completing the dossier, students should refer to the guidelines and explain how they have been fulfilled.

INDIVIDUAL HONORS COURSES

Enrolling in an honors independent study (HONR 492) offers honors students the opportunity to earn honors credit on an individual basis while fulfilling other requirements or pursuing your academic goals. Students planning to enroll in an honors independent study should schedule a meeting with the dean well in advance of the start of the semester. Independent study proposals must be approved by the dean prior to the first day of classes.

To receive credit for independent study, you must submit a project proposal that includes the following:

  • What you will produce
  • A timeline for completion
  • How many credits the project is worth
  • Methods of evaluation
  • A statement signed by a faculty member, including his or her department and identification number, verifying that it is an honors-level project and agreeing to supervise your study and evaluate your work.

Those seeking credit through independent study in The Honors College should plan to present their material in a public forum, such as the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council’s Student Conference or an Honors College seminar.

ENGINEERING COURSES

Beginning in fall 2010, engineering courses will not automatically be designated as honors. Each course will require a course proposal, and must be approved by The Honors College to receive an honors designation in the class schedule maintained by the Office of Records and Registration. An exception will be made for students entering VCU prior to fall 2010 and who plan to graduate in 2011 or 2012. Other students entering VCU prior to fall 2010 and graduating after 2012 will be handled on a case-by-case basis.