Academic Catalog

Honors Curricula

The University’s honors curricula serve to challenge highly motivated students through courses of advanced study; to provide academic programs of unusual breadth and depth; to provide recognition of outstanding scholastic achievement; to foster interest in research and scholarly activity; and to provide students an opportunity to work with outstanding faculty.

Dual Recognition: Students who complete the requirements for University Honors and, in addition, the requirements of a College/Department Honors Program, shall have both designations on the transcript and the diploma. Only a single senior essay, thesis, or project shall be required.

More information about both University Honors and departmental Honors is available online and at the Honors College as well as through the respective departments/colleges.

University Honors Curriculum

The University-wide Honors curriculum, managed by the Irvin D. Reid Honors College, allows undergraduate students in any College or School to pursue individually-designed Honors Programs which complement their majors.

Benefits of membership in the Honors College include Honors advising, Honors pre-priority registration, Honors sections of general education and major courses, and designation of completion of the Honors curriculum on the diploma and transcript.


Students with excellent academic records are eligible to apply to the University’s Irvin D. Reid Honors College. Normally, the following are required:

Entering Freshmen: Entering freshmen admitted to the University by December 1 are considered for acceptance to the University Honors curriculum. Consideration is based on regular University admission; no further application is required. Invited freshmen are invited to participate in the Honors College scholarship event, Scholars Day.

Matriculated Students and Transfer Students: Students who have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or above at Wayne State University may apply for acceptance to the Honors College. Applications are available at the College.

Eligibility to register for Honors courses: Students whose cumulative grade point average is at least 3.3, but who are not formally in the Honors College, are eligible to elect honors courses to enrich their educational experiences.

Retention: The academic record of each student shall be reviewed at regular intervals. To remain in the University Honors College, a student normally shall be expected:

  1. to pursue a course of study consistent with the objectives of the Honors College, as recommended by the University Honors Council and approved by the President or his/her designee; and
  2. to maintain a cumulative grade point average greater than or equal to 3.3; however, Colleges/Departments may establish a higher g.p.a. requirements for retention in a College/Department program.

A student whose cumulative grade point average is below 3.3 and is, for that reason, dropped from the Honors College, may reapply when his/her cumulative g.p.a. is 3.3 or higher.

University Honors Requirements

The College shall require Honors-designated course work totaling a minimum of twenty-eight credits for the baccalaureate program the student is pursuing. Students in this College MUST SATISFY THE GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS, but the approved General Education courses may differ for the Honors College after review by the Honors Council and the General Education Implementation Committee and approval by the President or his/her designee. The Honors College General Education core curriculum will define a common body of knowledge beginning with the freshman Honors first-year sequence, and including a specified complement of Honors courses chosen from existing General Education options as determined by individual departments in consultation with the College.

Graduation: For graduation with University Honors, students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3, and must complete a minimum of twenty-eight credits in honors-designated course work (including HON 1000, an Honors Foundational Seminar course, a service learning course with HON 3000, at least one HON 4200-level Honors seminar and a minimum of three credits in an independent research project, essay, or thesis). Graduates of the University Honors College will be so recognized on the transcript and diploma.

College or Department Honors Requirements

Undergraduate departments in Colleges and Schools have developed programs leading to honors degrees. Details of these programs are included in the College and Department sections of this Bulletin.

College or Department Honors Curricula require a minimum of twelve credits in honors-designated course work of which at least three credits may be in an independent research project, essay, or thesis in the student’s College/Department and at least one HON 4200-level Honors seminar. Students also must meet the requirements of their major fields. The honors requirements for the major may include approved modifications of normal major requirements.

Graduation: For graduation with department honors, students must meet the requirements approved by their department/college/school, including a minimum 3.30 grade point average, an Honors thesis and at least one Honors seminar.

Graduation with Distinction

Wayne State University bestows upon students completing the baccalaureate degree three separate designations for scholastic excellence reflected in the cumulative grade point average: Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude.

Graduation with distinction will be indicated on the student's diploma and on the transcript.

Graduation with Distinction will recognize at each graduation the top twenty per cent of students in each College who have earned the highest grade point average in their Colleges, with the following approximate distribution:

  • Summa Cum Laude: Top five percent
  • Magna Cum Laude: Next five percent
  • Cum Laude: Next ten percent

The specific minimum grade point averages will be determined each year in the following manner, but graduation with distinction will not be awarded in cases of any g.p.a. less than 3.0.

Based on the grade point average distributions of the previous year's senior class, the grade point average cut-offs for each College will be established to provide for recognition of the top eighteen to twenty per cent of the graduating students.

The criteria for Graduation with Distinction include:

  1. A minimum of fifty-six credits in residence at Wayne State University.
  2. A qualifying minimum grade point average (calculated as explained above) on all course work at Wayne State University must be completed by the end of the semester of graduation. (For notation in the  commencement program, the grade point average on all course work completed prior to the semester of graduation will be used.)
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