A strengthened understanding and expanded perspective comes when honors students extend learning beyond boundaries, stretch into new spaces, and apply what they’ve learned.

Enhanced Learning Experiences

To graduate with honors, students complete four distinct Enhanced Learning Experiences (ELEs) from eight possible areas listed below. Their descriptions are not exhaustive, and some valuable learning experiences may not fit neatly into the categories listed. Students are welcome to propose alternative experiences for review and approval by University Honors Program staff and faculty.

This ELE enables students to gain awareness and experience with social responsibility through service to others. Students may complete this ELE by completing the Service Learning Certificate or accumulating at least 45 documented hours of public service to philanthropic organizations or service efforts, including KU-related, community, or self-initiated efforts. 

This ELE challenges students to be engaged, responsible society members who understand privilege and respect the experiences of others. Qualifying experiences include engagement with Common Cause, participation in a diversity-oriented scholars program, involvement in a DEI committee or task force, or leadership of an organization that promotes social justice through their mission and activities. 

This ELE prepares students to understand, adapt to, and thrive in a diverse global environment. For this ELE, students may complete the Global Awareness Program (GAP), participate in an approved study abroad experience, be selected as a Global Scholar, or fulfill a valid curricular experience. International students may also complete the KU Core’s GE 4.1 goal.

This ELE encourages students to actively participate in the arts, or to develop a critical appreciation of them. Students may complete the Arts Engagement Certification, participate for at least two semesters in a musical ensemble as a non-music major, gain at least 45 hours of engagement with an arts organization, or contribute to or curate an exhibition or publication.

This ELE encourages students to prepare for their professional careers. Completing the Certificate of Entrepreneurship, the Certificate in Professional Selling, the Certificate in Music Enterprise, a 45-hour internship or shadowing experience, or a 40-hour student teaching or a teaching practicum satisfies this ELE, as does creating a start-up.

This ELE challenges students to assume leadership responsibilities, effecting change in their communities and beyond. Students may earn the Leadership Engagement Certificate, fill a position in Student Senate, serve for a minimum of two semesters as a teaching assistant or leader of a campus or community organization, take a role as an honors ambassador or seminar assistant, or complete either the SELF Program or Business Leadership Program.

This ELE helps students learn how to locate and evaluate information, solve problems, think creatively, and communicate their findings.  Examples include completing the Research Experience Program Certificate, earning departmental honors, receiving an Undergraduate Research Award (UGRA), publishing research work in a peer-reviewed journal, and presenting at a professional or academic conference, such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students may also participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) or at least two semesters of faculty-led undergraduate research. They may also complete a research internship or at least two research-intensive courses at the 700 level or above.

This ELE enables students to integrate learning across departmental and disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinarity learning fosters innovation and flexibility of thinking and problem solving. Students may complete two majors or a major and a minor in different academic divisions (or schools, for students pursuing a major within a professional school) or complete the Sustainability Certificate to fulfill this ELE. Students should contact their advisor to confirm that a program or degree path qualifies.

Funding an ELE

Students can fund their ELE activities with an Honors Opportunity Award (HOA), which are given four times a year to support activities like study abroad programs, off-campus research, and more.

ELE completion

To complete an ELE, students post a reflection that typically consist of three parts: a paragraph summarizing concisely what a student did and the time commitment; another paragraph that explains the ways in which the experience expanded their understanding, perspective, skills, or preparedness; and a concluding paragraph that describes how the experience shaped learning. In order to maintain relevance and significance, reflection should be submitted within one semester of an ELE’s conclusion.

ELE submission

On the front page of the KU Portal, click the upper-left "Customize" button, then search for "undergraduate certificates" and add this panel to your page. When you’re ready to submit a description and reflection for your ELE, click the "Honors Program" button. Some tips:

  • Share specific experiences. Each should illustrate an instance of learning.
  • Answer all three parts of the prompt. It's surprisingly easy to skip one.
  • Don't overthink it. If you miss something, you'll be notified to resubmit.
  • There are no length requirements. Aim for “reasonable but meaningful.”
  • Use the ELE Hours Tracking Form (.xlsx) as a supporting document, if helpful.