Frequently Asked Questions

If you are planning to visit Western's campus and would like to sit in on an Honors class or talk with the Director of Honors or a current student, please contact Carla Pederson at (360) 650-3034 or

Who should apply to Honors?

Admission to Honors is selective, but there is no set formula for admission; all completed applications will be thoroughly reviewed. However, most students admitted to Honors have at least a 3.8 GPA, 1900 SAT or 28 ACT, and a selection of Honors, AP, IB, and/or other challenging high school courses. An academic writing sample is required for admission, and plays a significant role in the admissions decision. Honors students appreciate challenge, and thrive in a discussion-based classroom environment.

Can transfer students be admitted to Honors?

Yes. While most students enter Honors as incoming freshman, admission is open to transfer students.

What is the average Honors class size?

Freshman and sophomore classes average around 25 with a maximum of 30, while upper-division seminars generally enroll 12-15 students.

How much of my coursework will be done in Honors?

Typically about 20-25%.

Is Honors more work?

It's not necessarily more work; it's just a different kind of work. There are very few exams within Honors. Instead, courses focus on writing, discussion, and problem-solving.

What classes do Honors students take?

All freshmen in Honors take a year-long sequence of classes in "The Major Cultural Traditions." The sequence begins in the Ancient West and can end in China, Japan, the Caribbean or another non-Western corner of the world. This series amounts to one class per quarter during the student's first year.

Honors students also complete at least two additional Honors General University Requirement (GUR) courses, primarily during their freshman and sophomore year. These courses help students satisfy Western's graduation requirements in small classroom settings.

Students in Honors take at least two junior level seminars on a broad range of topics. Past seminars include:

  • Science and the Poetic Imagination
  • Stuff: You are What You Own
  • Blue Gold: Fighting over Water in the West and in the World

The capstone experience for all Honors students is a Senior Project. Senior Projects are designed by the student with the support of one or more faculty members. Past senior project titles include:

  • Women in the Woods
  • Proteins: They Aren't Just a Health Fad
  • A Natural History of the Colony Creek Wilderness Area

Is there a separate residence hall for Honors students?

Yes, Honors students can request housing in an Honors Cluster or with another Honors student.

Will I get college credit for my AP/IB exams?

Western does grant college credit for AP exams with a score of 3 or higher, and Higher Level IB exams. For specific details about the amount and type of credit awarded, see the Admissions website. In order to receive this credit, you must have your official scores sent to the Office of Admissions.

What scholarships are available to incoming Honors students?

Students who are admitted and choose to enroll in Honors will receive priority consideration for merit-based Presidential Scholarships ranging from $1,000-$4,000 per year for one or two years. A scholarship application is not required to receive this funding.

Western participates in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program, which allows select high-achieving, non-resident freshmen from western states to enroll at Western for substantially reduced tuition.

National Merit Finalists are awarded $10,000 (combination of National Merit scholarship and Presidential scholarship funding) distributed over four years. Students must submit documentation from the National Merit Corporation verifying finalist status to the Admissions Office.

To explore other scholarships available to incoming students, check out the Scholarship Center's website.

Will my community college courses substitute for the first year sequence?

Sometimes community college coursework can replace part of the first year sequence. However, all students are required to take the first quarter of the sequence, as it helps them connect with their Honors cohort and gets them to approach academic material in new ways. Many students continue on in the sequence even if it is not required, because they find it enjoyable and challenging. To discuss your personal situation, get in touch with Dr. George Mariz, Director of the Honors Program at (360) 650-3446 or

What opportunities will I have to study abroad?

While there are no Honors-specific study abroad options at Western, many Honors students choose to participate in opportunities available through Western's International Programs and Exchanges office. The options for studying away from Western's campus are numerous and varied in region, duration, expense, academic offerings, language requirements, and living arrangements.

Page Updated 06.16.2014