Independent thinking through
The honors general studies program at Walla Walla University provides an exceptional interdisciplinary experience that inspires curious, highly motivated students to serve as leaders of thought and agents of change.
The honors program is a separate track of general studies and not a major or a minor in itself—you can combine it with any major. Honors courses are more personalized and have a flavor distinctly different from the regular general studies courses because they use primary source material more extensively than textbooks to enhance the development of independent thinking.
The WWU honors program is designed to
- Offer a challenging, team-taught, interdisciplinary general studies experience
- Uphold the highest academic standards
- Enliven and stimulate creative campus-wide conversations
- Encourage and provide opportunities for leadership and service
- Foster thoughtful reflection on the relationships between faith, learning, and experience
- Embody the very best of what Walla Walla University offers students, the church, and the world
The honors program is open to students from any major who enjoy the challenge of engaging with complex ideas from a variety of perspectives. You should consider joining the honors program if you would like to:
- Take smaller, team-taught courses.
- Engage in lively discussions with students from a variety of majors.
- Focus on primary readings (rather than text books).
- Be challenged to improve your critical thinking and writing skills.
- Explore how the Bible, spirituality, and religious philosophy blend with the rest of your life.
- Choose your elective classes from a wide range of stimulating interdisciplinary courses.
- Have the opportunity to incorporate study tours and/or course work at Oxford University into your general studies program.
- Tour art museums with your professors.
- Interact with fellow honors students and professors in service and social activities.
- Bonus: Earn a renewable scholarship totaling $5,000 over four years.
Unlike traditional general studies courses, which tend to feature material presented in lectures and textbooks, honors courses focus on discussing and writing about ideas from primary sources. The honors general studies curriculum consists of three components:
Component One: Core classes taken by all honors students
|Writing Seminar: Identity, Responsibility, and Citizenship||3|
|Writing Seminar: Rhetoric, Style, and Ethics||3|
|Honors Research Writing||3|
|The Bible and Its Environments||4|
|Religion in a Social Context||4|
|Topics in World Religious Thought||4|
|Junior Seminar: Mathematical & Scientific Reasoning||3|
|Senior Seminar: Faith and Learning||3|
The core group begins with the year-long Western Thought sequence, which features a chronological survey of the history, literature, and philosophy of western civilization, from ancient Greece to the modern age. Team taught by professors from English and history, these courses offer an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the events, ideas, and texts that shaped western culture. Building on that context, the core also contains courses such as Science & the Arts, and Religion in a Social Context, which reflect the program’s commitment to helping students see the exciting intersections between academic disciplines.
Component Two: A group of required cognates (drawn from the traditional general studies curriculum) that ensure a well-rounded education in the liberal arts tradition
Everyone takes these core cognates:
|2 Physical Activity Courses||2|
|Statistics, Pre-Calculus, or Calculus||4|
|2 quarters of General Biology, General Chemistry, General Physics, or Principles of Physics||8|
Component Three: Students choose elective courses from three categories designed to help students transform academic achievement into responsible citizenship.
Elective course categories:
- Global Understanding
- Responsible Citizenship
- Aesthetic Appreciation
The Honors House
The honors house serves as a hub for many honors program activities. Located on the corner across the street from the University Church, this inviting space serves as a “home away from home” for honors students who gather there for weekly study halls and teas, as well as other honors events. The honors house also serves as a residence for a few upper-division honors students who, in exchange for the privilege of living there, also serve as honors ambassadors for visiting students and hosts for honors events.
Weekly Honors Tea
Friday afternoons starting at 2, the honors house becomes a welcome break from the stresses of the week by providing tea, hot chocolate, an assortment of treats, friends, puzzles, and games for honors students to enjoy. Different professors from the honors faculty join with the students each week for this opportunity to relax at the end of a busy week with good food, good friends, and a new appreciation of Sabbath rest.
Quarterly Honors Supper
Once a quarter, the honors program hosts a Friday night supper, where honors students and faculty can enjoy a home-cooked meal together. In addition to this being an opportunity to catch up with friends or make new ones, the evening also features worship presentations, often offered by honors program alumni, who return to tell their stories of service and community engagement.
Honors Game Nights
Periodical Saturday evening game nights are held in the honors house, featuring board games and snacks to suit a wide range of tastes.
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang Party
Honors students get to exhibit their talent for frivolity at the annual Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang April Fool’s Day Party. Everyone who attends is encouraged (but not required) to participate in the fun. Quirky hats are worn by all as they nibble on snacks and cheer for the winner of the coveted Captain Billy trophy.
Free Tickets to Cultural Events
Several times per quarter, honors students are offered access to free tickets to cultural events happening in Walla Walla, including symphony concerts, live theater performances, film screenings, and art exhibits.
Honors students participate in a variety of service opportunities, including packing weekend meals for the homeless students that attend a local high school. Honors students also help re-stuff the children’s bags at the University Church with sharpened colored pencils, coloring books, toys, and other goodies to keep children entertained during the service.
JumpStart Reads Program
New honors students are all sent copies of the JumpStart Reads book during the summer and encouraged to participate in lively conversations about the text, hosted by a variety of faculty. Often this program offers an opportunity to meet the author at some point during the school year.
JumpStart Honors Retreat
The Sabbath before school begins in the fall, honors students are invited to lunch at the honors house following the church service. After lunch, activities provide the incoming honors students an opportunity to get to know their professors and fellow students.
"I found deep friendship with motivated, talented and curious honors classmates. We shared diverse perspectives, interests and professional goals. Honors put me in touch with ideas and people I would never have had were it not for honors. Plus, I've impressed new acquaintances at parties with obscure quotations."
"My honors classes were interesting, challenging, and provided a fantastic groundwork for the rest of my life. Also, I married another honors student—and we've had fantastic discussion (and a good life) ever since."
"As a physics major I joined the Honors Program to challenge myself and strengthen my writing. The class discussions kept the material interesting and I've grown close to my classmates over the years. It took some work, but I'm glad I did it."
"The most essential component of my honors experience was the interdisciplinary group of students that I had all my core classes with. I loved becoming close with this small group of students. The teaching and discussion-guiding was as wonderful as the ideas presented. Western Thought I and II were some of the best times of my life."
"I believe the strength of this program lies in its teachers and students. Starting my college experience engaging with and discussing important texts with incredible teachers and classmates was the perfect foundation for my undergraduate career. The honors program is a community—a community interested in cross-disciplinary, thoughtful conversation together."
"The Honors Program is particularly useful for the STEM student, as it has a great track record of creating well-rounded scientists who understand how to write and reason and read. The program encourages deep thinking and reasoned arguments. It’s most crucial benefit, however, is the community. The Honors Program brings together a group of people from many different majors who share a desire for thoughtful conversation and gives them the environment and subject matter to think on and talk about. This community was one of the most valuable resources for me in my time here."
How do I enter the program?
Admission to the honors program is based on several factors, including academic performance, SAT or ACT scores, an application essay, leadership potential, and recommendations. While no single factor determines eligibility, in general a high school GPA of at least 3.5 and test scores at or above the 75th percentile are strong indicators of preparation for success in the honors program.
If you are interested in entering the program, begin by submitting this online application form. Once your eligibility for the program has been established, you will be invited to submit the essay portion of the application process. Space is limited, so apply early. Applications can be submitted at any time, but preference is given to applications received by July 31.
NOTE: We recognize that some applicants may not have SAT/ACT scores due to Covid restrictions. Students without scores may be asked to participate in an interview via video conference to help determine eligibility for the program.