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Honors opportunities and awards

With the support of financial awards, national recognition, and a community of peers and mentors, honors students bring their future into focus and grow a personal sense of what's possible.

Student involvement

Honors student organizations aim to foster communication and leadership skills while giving students a voice within the honors program. Members can make friends, network, and learn more about the program and KU. If you’re ready to get involved, consider the following roles:

  • Honors Community Advocates member: By coordinating social activities and advocating for Honors students' interests, Honors Community Advocates strengthen the UHP community and its mission to help challenge students to launch extraordinary lives. Interested? Get in touch through HCA's Instagram page or contact
  • Program design team member: Members of these teams assist with the planning, promotion, and presentation of Take Care Tuesday, Living in Color, and Common Cause programming. Interested? Contact Elizabeth Grzesik at
  • Seminar assistant: Honors seminar assistants serve as a role model, a resource, and a mentor to the students of an honors first-year seminar. Visit the "Assistants and Ambassadors" page for more information, or contact Regan Baker at
  • Honors ambassador: Ambassadors serve as a positive student contact for prospective students and their families as they consider Honors at KU. Visit the "Assistants and Ambassadors" page for more information, or contact Harry Swartz at


Competitive programs

With assistance from the KU Office of Fellowships, students in the University Honors Program are often competitive for national scholarships and fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Truman, and Goldwater scholarships. Along with those accolades, students also participate in the following opportunities to deepen their learning at the university:

Honors Opportunity Awards (HOAs) of approximately $250–$1,500 help honors students take advantage of opportunities for intellectual and academic growth, including study abroad programs, service work, internships, conferences, and off-campus research.

Other program awards

In addition to the HOAs and the external and KU scholarships a student may receive, the University Honors Program provides financial support in recognition of various aspirations and accomplishments.

Established by author Sara Paretsky in honor of her father David, a long-time KU microbiology professor, this $300 award helps cover fall textbook expenses for deserving students. A total of three award recipients will be recognized at the spring Honors Advisory Board meeting. Nominations are due Friday, April 9, and applications are due Wednesday, April 21.

The Paretsky Award for Creativity is a cash award of $500. The recipient must be a woman student completing her junior year who has demonstrated creativity and originality in her chosen field. To be considered, students must submit an application that includes one copy of an example or set of examples (dependent upon the chosen field) of the student's creativity, along with a recommendation letter from a faculty sponsor in support of the project. The deadline is Friday, April 22.

A committee of faculty judges will award $500 to the author of an essay that addresses "the relationship of knowledge, thought, and action in public affairs and public policy.” Essays derived from an honors essay, term paper, or research project, are welcome. Submissions should be no longer than 5,000 words, must contain the title at the top-center of the first page and the author’s initials at the top-right corner of every page, and must not contain the submitter’s full name. The deadline is Friday, April 15.  

This annual award recognizes one University Honors Program student who has demonstrated leadership, innovation, and engagement in the program. The student receives a $1,000 award and has an opportunity to inspire the incoming first-year students at Honors Convocation. After a review of nominee materials, which consist of a résumé and a brief statement on a proposed address topic, in-person interviews will be scheduled for finalists. Nominations are due Thursday, April 26

Students in the University Honors Program, preferably those in their sophomore or junior year, are invited to submit an essay addressing some aspect of entrepreneurship, workforce development, Russian and American relations, or their future. A review committee of honors program staff and faculty, appointed by the director, will evaluate essays based on their ingenuity, understanding of the factors that shape human potential, and depth of thought and planning. The award recipient will receive $750 based on the strength of an essay and their academic record. The deadline is Friday, April 15.

This non-renewable scholarship of $10,000, awarded for one academic year, recognizes graduates of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences who have completed the University Honors Program and will pursue a graduate degree at KU. Along with a completed online application form, applicants must submit a curriculum vitae that highlights University Honors Program participation, a 500-word-maximum personal statement that states how the program enhanced their undergraduate education and helped prepare them for their future, and one letter of recommendation about the student's academic excellence and preparedness for graduate study, ideally from the student's undergraduate major. The deadline is Saturday, May 21.