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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.

Academic Information Meeting

Assigned to students and accessible prior to Orientation, the Academic Information Session (AIM) is a video that serves as an overview of graduation requirements and program features. The University Honors Program AIM also covers honors-specific aspects of Orientation and of a student's KU career.

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 Orientation attendees begins.

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 few 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 at least two honors courses in addition to your seminar.

Keep in mind that honors courses can meet requirements for the KU Core 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 experience that allows you to apply material you have learned in the classroom to a real-world experience and/or utilize and learn valuable leadership skills. ELEs are loosely defined because we don’t want to prescribe these experiences for you but have your explore opportunities. Many students dedicate an ELE to undergraduate research at KU. Seminar instructors, who also serve as honors mentors, can help facilitate connections to departments and faculty. Research articles on department websites can also give students a sense of professors to contact about opportunities. 

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. Orientation 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 sciences;
  • Students with the goal of attending medical school.

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 with a declared biology major or pre-medicine concentration 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 preparation or experience will be invited to enroll in BIOL 151 (Honors Biology), which focuses on advanced principles and research participation.

Students with a declared biology major or pre-medicine concentration will also 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 biological sciences or admission to medical school. In May, an invitation to enroll in CHEM 190 (Honors General Chemistry) and CHEM 191 (Honors General Chemistry Lab) will be extended to students with advanced chemistry and mathematics skill, IB or AP Chemistry completion within the last year, and a score of 30 or higher on the MATH ACT.

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.