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Characteristics of an Honors Course

"Honors education is characterized by in-class and extracurricular activities that are measurably broader, deeper, or more complex than comparable learning experiences typically found at institutions of higher education. Honors experiences include a distinctive learner-directed environment and philosophy, provide opportunities that are appropriately tailored to fit the institution's culture and mission, and frequently occur within a close community of students and faculty."  – National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), "Definition of Honors Education," 2019.


A unique component of an Honors student’s education is engaging in a research experience that builds from a semester-long course and accumulates across a student’s time in the Honors College. In Honors courses, students will be exposed to various methods and approaches to conducting research, whether in a laboratory, classroom, library, school, or field setting. Within the disciplinary and subject constraints of a particular course, the faculty member will provide students with some degree of freedom in research topic, design, activities, and/or write-up. This degree of freedom is necessary to facilitate student curiosity, the ability to delve into ideas at greater depth, and encourage ownership of their intellectual adventures across courses.

Connections to concepts outside the classroom

Honors students connect course material to larger issues beyond the classroom, appreciating the reach and relevance of their learning to local and/or global issues and concerns. Faculty challenge students to reflect on what they have learned, identify gaps in their current knowledge, and understand how their learning to date can be applied in the world.

Student-directed learning

Honors students are encouraged to take initiative in their learning. They are given a variety of opportunities to become active participants in the exploration and application of course material. With activities such as data collection and analyses, critiquing various sources of information, leading class discussions, and peer editing work, faculty allow for honors students, individually and collectively, to intensively explore ideas, topics, and material throughout the semester. Student-directed learning contributes to academic competence and intellectual curiosity, engaging in projects that are both challenging and rewarding as they are on the path to becoming critical thinkers and active learners.

Honors College

Peabody Hall
701 Western College Drive
Oxford, OH 45056