The University of Maine offers one of the nation’s oldest continuously-running honors programs. Open to students in all majors, the Honors College provides opportunities for motivated students to investigate diverse academic disciplines, to be challenged in a supportive intellectual environment, and to engage enthusiastic fellow students and faculty in thoughtful, provocative discussions. Students in the Honors College complete an academic major in one of the university’s five degree-granting colleges while completing most of their general education requirements and a thesis in the Honors College. The benefits and rewards of the program are substantial.
Students and faculty involved in the Honors College come from all areas of the university. As a community of approximately eight hundred students within the University of Maine, the Honors College offers small, interdisciplinary classes, where students and faculty members interact closely, sharing ideas and insights developed through critical exploration of primary sources.
The Honors College fosters the idea that genuine excellence in college-level studies means substantial competence in areas outside a major field of specialization as well as excellence within it. The Honors curriculum expands students’ perspectives by exploring areas of thought beyond their major fields while also providing them opportunities to work in their majors with greater intensity than might be possible within a conventional course pattern. Honors study begins with interdisciplinary breadth and concludes with depth in the major field.
First- and second-year Honors preceptorials are capped at fifteen students. Together with faculty preceptors, the students study the origins and development of civilization and culture. Every semester the Honors College offers diverse upper-level Honors tutorials where a faculty member and students engage in a focused academic inquiry on different topics. The curriculum culminates with a senior thesis in which the Honors student, working closely with a faculty advisor, embarks on a year-long course of independent scholarship, developing and completing a research or creative project.
The Honors College is university-wide and is administered by a dean who reports to the provost. Several representative bodies provide policy advice to the College, including the dean’s Honors Faculty Advisory Committee representing the Honors faculty; the Honors Council with representation across university units; the Board of Advocates made up of alumni of the college, and the Student Advisory Board with membership open to all Honors undergraduates. Students are also represented on the Curriculum Committee and the Honors Council.
Entering first-year students are invited to join the Honors College on the basis of their admission records. To be eligible, students should have a strong academic record and show curiosity, initiative, and intellectual flexibility in academic work. Students may also ask to be considered for admission by contacting the Honors College office. Second-semester first-year students and first-semester second-year students may also ask to be considered for admission or may be invited into the College through faculty recommendations. Transfer students wishing to join the Honors College should consult with the associate dean who will determine appropriate credit for prior courses.
Honors Thesis and Degree Designation
The Honors thesis is a culminating experience of independent scholarship in the Honors College. An Honors student’s thesis work is evaluated after the completion of their thesis defense. The level of honors [Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors] awarded depends on the quality of the thesis and the performance at the oral defense which assesses both the student’s work on the thesis and the discussion of their reading list. The honors designation appears on both the student’s diploma and on the transcript; the thesis title also appears on the transcript. More information on the Honors thesis can be found at honors.umaine.edu/current-students/academics/thesis/.
College and University Requirements
Successful completion of the Honors 18-credit core curriculum which comprises HON 111, HON 112, HON 211, HON 212, and two of the three cultural and civic engagement experiences (HON 170, HON 175, and HON 180) satisfies all of the undergraduate General Education Human Values and Social Context and Ethics requirements. Successful completion of HON 111 and HON 112 with a grade of C or better in each satisfies the university’s basic composition requirement (ENG 101). HON 211 and HON 212 are also designated as Writing Intensive. All tutorials satisfy at least one of the Human Values and Social Contexts requirements. In practice, this means that students who complete the Civilizations sequence and two of the three cultural and civic engagement 1-credit courses (HON 170, HON 175, and HON 180) have satisfied all of the university’s general education requirements with the exception of mathematics (Quantitative Literacy) and science (General Education Science).
A C or better is required in all Honors courses to satisfy the requirements of the Honors College. Additionally, a minimum average GPA of 3.0 (“B”) is required in the Honors Civilizations courses (HON 111, HON 112, HON 211, HON 212). These courses may be repeated once for credit.
The Honors College monitors the GPAs of its students. Those who fall below a 3.30 GPA are cautioned based upon a set of GPA thresholds for each cohort (first-year through senior). The caution ranges are based on the credits remaining to graduation that can reasonably be used to restore a student’s GPA back to the 3.30 GPA required for graduation in Honors: 2.7 to 3.0 at end of first year; 3.0 to 3.15 at end of second year; 3.15 to 3.30 at end of third year. Students in each cohort who fall below the lower threshold will be separated from the Honors College, but have the option to appeal for reinstatement.
In addition to successfully completing all the required Honors College courses, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.30 is required to graduate with Honors.
Many of the university’s majors accept the Honors thesis as a capstone experience. Some departments also allow HON 499 to satisfy the requirement for a writing intensive course in the major or to serve as a technical elective. For specific information, view the list of majors that accept the Honors thesis as their capstone on our website (https://honors.umaine.edu/current-students/academics/thesis/capstone/), or contact your major department.
For Further Information
Questions about the Honors College should be addressed to the Honors College Dean, University of Maine, 5727 Estabrooke Hall, Orono ME 04469-5727. The phone number is (207) 581-3263. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at honors.umaine.edu.