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Honors Orientation

Welcome to the KU honors community! We’re excited to work with you to launch your KU education at Orientation, your next step toward joining both the broader Jayhawk family and our close-knit honors community.

Honors Welcome

During this short presentation, program staff will highlight honors requirements, connecting them to events and opportunities available to students on Orientation Day and in their first semester. Members of the honors community will also be on hand to answer questions before the 9:00 welcome for all KU Orientation attendees.

This presentation is only for students admitted to the University Honors Program and their guests. Attendees are urged to check into Orientation on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union as early as possible — 8 a.m., ideally — and then head to the Jay, located on the first floor, to be present by our 8:15 a.m. start time.

Advising and enrollment

In the afternoon, students will meet with a knowledgable member of Jayhawk Academic Advising to design a fall semester schedule that lays the groundwork for success in the honors program.

To graduate with university honors, students need to take one honors first-year seminar, earn a minimum of 18 credit hours in at least six honors classes, and fulfill four Enhanced Learning Experiences. These curricular and co-curricular goals can frame plans for the fall semester.

All honors students enroll in a seminar during their first semester. The seminar serves as an introduction to the intellectual life of the university. While closely examining a specific topic within — or, ideally, outside — their discipline, students develop skills in research, reading, writing, and in-depth discussion. They also make connections to enhance their transition to KU, including to their seminar’s instructor, who serves as their honors faculty mentor. Explore the honors seminars available and come to Orientation with a handful in mind.

Students in the honors program take a combination of honors and non-honors courses throughout their time at KU. Honors courses are offered either by the program or an academic department. During your first semester, you are encouraged to take one to three honors courses in addition to your seminar.

Keep in mind that honors courses can meet requirements for Core 34 and your major, and that certain degree paths may lead you to take even more in your first year. Your advisor will help you determine what’s appropriate. (In addition to honors-specific courses, students can acquire honors credit through an honors contract, graduate courses at the 700-level or above, and a maximum of two semesters in a language other than Spanish, German, or French.)

An Enhanced Learning Experience (ELE) is a co-curricular or qualifying curricular experience in which you apply material you have learned in the classroom to a real-world experience. Each of the eight ELE categories contains approved activities that meet a given ELEs requirements. Many students fulfill an ELE by pursuing an additional major, participating in a study-abroad program, and performing undergraduate research, but a wealth of experiences may align with an ELE, and students are encouraged to explore and discuss their options. Seminar instructors, who also serve as honors mentors, can help facilitate connections to departments and faculty; as well, the program's student experience team can review plans and recommend resources as students identify and complete their ELEs.

48 business hours after your individual appointment, your schedule will be locked for the duration of Orientation, then unlock shortly before the fall semester. Courses can be changed at that time, but redeclaration of majors should first be discussed with an advisor.

Keep in mind that priority enrollment, a benefit of University Honors Program participation, begins after an honors student’s first semester on campus; first-semester enrollment is dependent on a student’s Orientation date.


To maximize the value of in-person advising, the University Honors Program performs pre-enrollment in natural science sections for certain honors students:

  • students pursuing a degree in biological and chemical sciences;
  • and students with research, graduate-school, or medical-school goals.

Each of these students will be pre-enrolled for their introductory semester in the level of biology and chemistry that both most closely satisfies the requirements of their degree and complements previously declared coursework.

Students planning a career in medicine or the biological sciences will be pre-enrolled in BIOL 150, which is designed to address the needs of pre-medical students, and placed in lab sections exclusive to honors students.

In May, a select number of students with evidence of rigorous academic preparation and advanced biology experience (at least two semesters of Honors, IB, or AP Biology completed) will be invited to enroll in BIOL 151 Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Honors, which focuses on advanced principles and research participation.

Students can contact Dr. Brian Ackley or Lindsey Deaver with questions.

Students planning a career in the chemical sciences, such as chemical engineering and biochemistry majors, as well as pre-medicine students will be pre-enrolled in a section of chemistry (co-requisite for biology) that best fits their skills and academic requirements. Most students will be pre-enrolled in CHEM 130 General Chemistry, which is required for any student pursuing either a degree in the chemical sciences or admission to medical school.

In May, an invitation to enroll in CHEM 190 Foundations of Chemistry I, Honors, and CHEM 191 Foundations of Chemistry I Lab, Honors, will be extended to students with advanced chemistry and mathematics skill. This includes at least two semester of IB or AP Chemistry and one semester of calculus completed, as well as a score of 30 or higher on the MATH ACT or an equivalent ALEKS score.

Students can contact Dr. Brian Laird or Lindsey Roe with questions.

The honors program works closely with the biology and chemistry departments to make the best placements possible using information available from a student's academic record, including ACT/SAT scores, AP credits, and transfer credits. Any additional credits or changes to a declared major or concentration should be reported as soon as possible. Students will have the opportunity to change their pre-enrolled schedule at Orientation with assistance from advisors, if necessary.

Important Links

Parent/guest note

  • While you are invited to Orientation and welcome at presentations and programming throughout the day, you will not be able to join your student for advising and enrollment. Discuss plans with your student before Orientation, should you feel it necessary.