The Butler University Honors Program traces its lineage all the way back to 1924, when the University first designated “honors” as part of its degree granting process. Our roots, however, go even further back, to the very founding years of the University, in the 1850s, when students and faculty joined together in literary societies to read, discuss, and debate the issues of the day. The University Honors Program was created in the 1990s, and has been a part of the Center for High Achievement and Scholarly Engagement since the latter’s inception in the early 2000s.
I’m a prospective student, and I don’t quite meet the criteria for invitation into the Honors Program. Is there a way I can become part of the Honors program?
For high school students who have been accepted to Butler University with an application date prior to November 1 who fit any of the following criteria will be invited to apply to the Honors Program. You must have applied with Early Action by November 1 to be considered as an entering Honors student.
A high school GPA of 3.95 (on a 4.0 scale)
Combined SAT score of 1360 or higher or an ACT composite score of 30 or higher
Top 5% of their high school graduating class (minimum class size of 100 for class rank to be considered)
Eligible students will be emailed directly by the Admissions Office and invited to submit a personal statement essay due by late January to be considered for program admission.
Students who are not invited into the program as incoming students have several other opportunities to join Honors once they have matriculated. Students with at least a 3.6 GPA are welcome to petition for entry any time from the end of their first semester through the end of the sophomore year. For more information see How to Apply.
Are honors courses harder than regular university courses?
Honors courses are designed to provide you with a qualitatively different experience from regular university courses. In other words, students in honors courses are not expected to do more work but to do work of a different nature. Honors courses challenge students to think at a more complex level about issues and ideas, to be more independent and creative in their approach to learning, and to be more actively involved in the learning process.
How do the Honors courses fit into my regular academic program?
The Honors Program was designed to be accessible to students of all colleges and majors, regardless of how tightly structured their major is. All students should be able to complete the requirements for the Honors Program without taking longer to graduate. Furthermore, it may be possible for students to substitute honors courses for other program-specific requirements to ease participation in the program. HN courses are considered electives, and count toward the hours you need to graduate from Butler.
Can I take an HN300 before I take an HN200?
Yes. The two kinds of courses are different in focus. One is not a prerequisite for the other.
Do I have to complete all four HN courses before I take the Departmental Honors course (if my department requires one) or start working on my thesis proposal?
No. Many Honors students have one or even two more HN classes to take in their last two years at Butler, while they are completing the thesis-related program requirements. By your fourth semester, you need to take enough HN classes to pass the Sophomore Review . You can complete any remaining requirements any time before you graduate.
I was invited into the Honors Program after my first semester at Butler. I won’t have a chance to take my first Honors course until Fall of my sophomore year. Do I still have to take four HN courses?
Yes, that requirement is the same for everyone in the program, regardless of when they were invited. You’ll need to take two HN200s, one HN300, and a fourth that can be either. In some cases, you can petition to substitute two hours of Honors Tutorial credit for one of the HN courses. That can be especially helpful if you’re having trouble fitting the existing HN courses into your schedule. In almost every case, students who plan ahead do not have a problem taking four of our classes, however. In fact, many of our students take more than four, just because they enjoy them!
I’m not in the University Honors Program, but I would love to take an Honors course. Can I do this?
Absolutely! We accept any undergraduate student into Honors courses on a space-permitting basis. Simply write our Assistant Director, Dr. Jason Lantzer, to obtain permission to enroll.
Can I take an Honors class pass/fail?
No. In order for an HN course to count toward completion of the Honors Program, you need to get a grade of B or higher. (See also GPA below.)
Will my GPA suffer from participating in the Honors Program since I will be competing with other bright students?
While we cannot guarantee you a high grade in any course, professors teaching the honors courses do not grade on a curve which requires that some students receive low grades. These professors understand that the distribution of scores in honors classes will not be the same as they might have in regular classes. Thus, there is no reason to expect that you will receive lower grades in honors courses than in other courses
If I don’t maintain a GPA of 3.5 every semester, will I be dropped from the program?
Not necessarily. First of all, we look at GPAs at two points in the program: in the second semester of your sophomore year when we do sophomore review, and again when you graduate. If your GPA is below 3.5 in any other semester, you have a chance to bring it up again before we take a look at it. Secondly, even if your GPA is a little below 3.5 at sophomore review, you can petition to remain in the program and explain if there were reasons why your GPA dropped, as well as how you plan to raise it.
Will completing the Honors Program help me get into graduate or professional school or help me get a job?
We can’t promise anything. However, completing the Honors Program will certainly give you an edge, whether you are applying to graduate school or for a job. With the large number of college graduates competing for an ever decreasing number of jobs and positions in graduate school, someone who has gone beyond traditional college requirements to pursue more advanced study will stand out from the crowd.
Honors students come from all six of the university’s colleges, and have gone on to graduate, medical, and law schools, as well as to jobs in business, government, the arts, education, pharmacy, and as physician assistants.
Can I complete the Honors Program if I have a double major?
Honors students tend to be ambitious and multi-talented, so they are just the students who are likely to have more than one major. Yes, double (and even triple) majors do complete the Honors Program. They may take summer school classes or go an extra semester, but they can and do accomplish what they set out to accomplish.
If I have a double major, do I have to take two departmental honors courses?
No. We recommend that you take the DHC in the area in which you’ll be doing your thesis.
If I have a double major, do I have to write a thesis in both majors? Or does my thesis have to encompass both majors?
Your thesis can be on the topic of your choice, so it can involve both majors, one major, or neither. The area of study will not affect your University Honors, but it might affect the level of departmental honors you earn.
Can I study abroad and still complete the Honors Program?
Definitely! See the Assistant Director of the Honors Program before you leave and select at least one course that will count as an Honors seminar or colloquium. When you return from studying abroad, that course will count toward your HN requirements. You may also be able to complete your departmental honors course or your thesis proposal independent study while you are abroad.
How many honors community events do I need to report?
Members of the University Honors Program are required to participate in at least 8 Honors Community Events by the time they graduate. These community events will be announced to all Honors students and may include: Honors course speakers; Honors course presentations; presentations/performances of undergraduate thesis work; cultural events sponsored by the Student Honors Council; and/or special events sponsored by the Honors Program. We strongly encourage Honors students to suggest guest speakers and group outings to special events, lectures, and exhibits—on campus and beyond—related to their honors coursework or thesis research. Also, students should request that the Honors Program office invite fellow honors students and faculty to events related to their honors courses and theses.
Can I turn in more than 2 honors community events in a given semester?
Certainly. You may turn in as many as you like.
Do I need to turn in a ticket stub or program when I report a cultural event?
No. There should be a sign-in sheet at each event you must sign.
What exactly is an honors thesis proposal? Do I have to do one before starting work on my thesis project?
The thesis proposal essentially is a short paper (5-7 pages, not including bibliography) that outlines your intended thesis project. Thesis proposals are reviewed by the college honors board that oversees your thesis area (JCA, LAS, etc.). Proposals are usually due a year before you graduate, giving you nearly a year to research and write your thesis. The college honors boards review proposals to determine whether you have a good grasp of your intended thesis project: Do you have ample background research? Do you have the skills and tools necessary to fulfill your project? Do you have the support of a faculty advisor? In addition, the honors boards often recommend other sources or faculty that may be able to help with your specific research topic.
I’ve heard that students can write a thesis to get departmental honors when they graduate. Does that mean that I have to write two theses: one for the University Honors Program and one for departmental honors?
No. Students complete one thesis. As long as the topic is in your major, your department will consider it for departmental honors in addition to university honors. (Students with double majors usually write a thesis that relates to only one of those majors, in which case the thesis will only count toward departmental honors in that one major. Occasionally, students are able to write a thesis that combines both majors.)
Is there any money to fund my research?
There may be; Butler has student grants available. Many honors students participate in Butler Summer Institute. You might also approach your department head to see if any funds are available to students through your department or college.
What do I need to do so that I get class credit hours for my honors thesis?
Go to your advisor or department head and register by blue card for the Honors Thesis course in your major. The course number is always 499, with the two-letter prefix of your major, and it carries three credit hours. You can register for this class in the Fall and receive an incomplete until your thesis is completed, or you can register for the credit in the Spring.
Do I have to do the thesis for course credit?
No, it’s completely up to you whether you do it for 3 credit hours or not. Some students need the hours to count toward graduation; other students don’t. Some students want the thesis to show on their transcript; others don’t care.
Can I read good thesis proposals and theses?
Yes. The Honors office (JH 105) has a lot of thesis proposals on file, and the library has the entire collection of completed theses.
Can I write a thesis that’s not in my major?
If you’re in the Honors Program, yes. A thesis outside your major will count toward university honors, but ordinarily will not count toward honors in your major.
Does a thesis have to be a long research paper?
No. For instance, many JCA students’ theses involve a performance or production. Theses have also included creative writing, video productions, and a design for a campus recycling project. If you do an internship or student teaching as part of your major, you may want to consider linking that experience with your thesis project. Please be aware that, no matter what your project consists of, there does need to be a written component that can become part of the library’s permanent collection.
“I credit the depth of my Liberal Arts education at Butler to the Honors program . . . After I joined my sophomore year, I felt my education really blossom. I was taking classes that were completely outside of the realm of my major and I loved it. The [honors] classes I actually remember best and have the fondest memories from.”
–Erica Grabinski, Class of 2014, currently attending Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine
“I really enjoyed the fact that, even though intellectually stimulating, most of the honors courses I took required a very manageable workload.”
–Renato Puga, Class of 2015, currently attending University of California-Berkeley School of Law
“I think the thesis process worked great. Getting a jump start on conducting research at all stages was a huge blessing for the undergrad level and allowed me personally to apply to present my research at various conferences within my field.”
–Alexandra Bode, Class of 2016, currently attending graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Kansas
“[The] biggest benefit to being in the Honors program was the research experience in creating my final thesis. In applying to medical school, I learned that research is not just ‘encouraged’ anymore. It is almost a necessity to be thouroughly considered. The Honors Program helped open a lot of doors for me to be able to get that experience.”
–Michael Keller, Class of 2014, currently attending the Indiana University School of Medicine
“The Program gave me research opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise and helped me get into grad school so I’m grateful for the experience. It’s also taught me how to connect with not only my peers but also faculty. I think that’s an important life skill to have, the ability to connect with others.”
—Shelby Miller, Class of 2017, currently attending the University of Kentucky Dental School
The Butler University Honors Program is a proud member of the National Collegiate Honors Council. NCHC is a professional association, whose mission is to expand and improve Honors curriculum at institutions of higher education. You can read more about NCHC here.