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Apply to the University Honors Program

The University Honors Program looks for students who aspire to expertise and interdisciplinarity, respond creatively to pressing questions, and feel called to build healthy, inclusive communities.

Applying to the program

The most efficient way to apply to the program is to upload additional materials during completion of KU’s general application, open July 1, or the Common Application, open August 1. Alternatively, you can apply directly to the program after your admission to KU (using the latest version of Firefox or Internet Explorer, both of which support a required Java plugin).

First-year application deadlines

Dec. 15
Priority Deadline
(Extended from Dec. 1)
Feb. 1
Late Consideration Deadline
March 1
International Student Deadline
June 1
Transfer Student Deadline

Application materials

Through your application, we want to get to know you and understand your hopes for your college education. You will primarily do this with the inclusion of two components beyond those generally required by KU: an essay and short response to three questions.

    Essays should be intellectually curious, thoughtful, well-organized, proofread, and limited to 500 words. We will evaluate the quality of your writing and your ability to provide an expansive yet focused response to one of these three prompts:

    • Option 1: KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction fosters a community “exploring the limitless potential of the human imagination, whether that be to question, to play, or to dream the future.”  Envision a future — imaginative or realistic — and describe your role in it.  
    • Option 2: Author, professor, and autism advocate Temple Grandin has often spoken about how the world needs “different kinds of minds.” Discuss how considering perspectives or problem-solving approaches different from your own will strengthen the work you do at KU and beyond.
    • Option 3: Part of KU’s mission is to “lift students and society” by making “discoveries that change the world.”  What kind of personal or academic discoveries do you hope to make at KU — and why?

    Please upload your responses to all three questions as a single Word or PDF document and limit your total word count to 1,200 words combined. Convey the factors that shaped you and demonstrate skills of clarity and brevity when you answer each of these three questions:

    • Question 1: List no more than five items — clubs and organizations, employment, community service, awards and recognition, extra-curricular interests, personal or family obligations — in descending order of significance, with the most significant item first. For each, explain your role, time commitment, length of involvement, and responsibilities. Transfer and current students only need to provide three items.
    • Question 2: How have your experiences affected your sense of who you are and what you hope to accomplish in college? There are no wrong answers. Transfer and current students do not need to answer this question.
    • Question 3: Honors students make the most of available opportunities. Based on course availability at your school, how did you select the classes you took? Is there anything you want the admissions committee to know about your transcript?

    Application review

    We evaluate applications across four main criteria:

    • Challenge
    • Depth
    • Breadth
    • Leadership potential

    We seek applicants who took full advantage of the courses and opportunities available to them at their high school, in addition to demonstrating academic excellence, an interest in interdisciplinary connections, and a commitment to community. 

    Our individual and holistic review process considers responses to essay and short answer prompts, along with GPA, high school transcripts, and any ACT or SAT scores provided. No minimum GPA or test score is required for admission. Submitted test scores will be considered, but applicants will not be penalized for a lack of scores.

    Incoming first-year students should allow up to eight weeks for a decision to arrive by mail.


    Transfer and current KU students

    Students with at least one semester of college grades on record complete our Current/Transfer Student Application. To be considered for the spring semester, applications must be received by Dec. 15.

    Transfer students and current students respond to a set of essay prompts and short-answer questions that differ from those for first-year applicants:

    Essays should be intellectually curious, thoughtful, well-organized, proofread, and limited to 500 words. We will evaluate the quality of your writing and your ability to provide an expansive yet focused response. Current-student applicants and transfer applicants choose one of the following three prompts:

    • Option 1: KU’s Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction fosters a community “exploring the limitless potential of the human imagination, whether that be to question, to play, or to dream the future.”  Envision a future — imaginative or realistic — and describe your role in it.  
    • Option 2: Author, professor, and autism advocate Temple Grandin has often spoken about how the world needs “different kinds of minds.” Discuss how considering perspectives or problem-solving approaches different from your own will strengthen the work you do at KU and beyond.
    • Option 3: Part of KU’s mission is to “lift students and society” by making “discoveries that change the world.”  What kind of personal or academic discoveries do you hope to make at KU — and why?

    In a single Word or PDF document, please upload your responses to all four of the following short-answer questions:

    • Which major(s) and minor(s) are you pursuing, and when is your anticipated date of graduation (i.e. Spring 2025)?
    • Help us learn about you, your life, and your experiences.  List no more than three items — clubs and organizations, employment, community service, awards and recognition, extra-curricular interests, personal or family obligations — in descending order of significance, with the most significant item first. For each, explain your role, time commitment, length of involvement, and responsibilities. You may include one activity from high school, but the primary focus should be on your life and experiences since starting college.
    • The honors program intends to attract students who make the most of the opportunities available to them. What goals and objectives shaped your selection of courses and experiences? Is there anything else you want the admissions committee to know about your academic record or activities?
    • Have you already taken any honors-designated courses or completed an Enhanced Learning Experience (ELE) at KU or another university?  If so, list them below. Up to three courses and two ELEs may be retroactively counted toward your completion requirements. Note: Previous honors coursework and experiences are not required for admission.

    International Students

    International applicants applying to KU as incoming first-year students should complete the general KU application along with their honors application by March 1 for fall admission.  Students must also demonstrate English proficiency as defined by KU International Admissions. Students who are not yet proficient in English are invited to apply to the University Honors Program after successfully completing their Level 5 coursework in the Applied English Center. (Current international KU students: Please refer to the section above for current KU students.)