The Honors Program at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa shares much in common with Honors Programs of many other major universities in the US. As part of a premiere research institution, we are situated in multicultural Hawai`i, at the center of the Asia-Pacific region.
Our specific goals combine our institutional identity with an honors education, as outlined in our Student Learning Outcomes, but we also have four guiding principles:
The Honors Program allows entry at any point to talented and motivated students. There are two "natural" entry points--freshmen admission and junior status.
First year students entering the program are encouraged to consider Honors as a four-year commitment, and we hope that everyone admitted will anticipate graduating with an Honors degree. First year students are admitted to Selected Studies, the lower division component of the Honors Program. If they complete Selected Studies in good standing, they may earn Sophomore Honors, which is noted on their transcript. Completion of Sophomore Honors leads to automatic continuation in the upper division Honors Program, and an opportunity to earn an honors degree.
Sophomores are also welcome to join Selected Studies and it may still be possible to earn the credits for Sophomore Honors. If this is not possible, it may be more advisable to directly apply to the Upper Division Honors Program.
The Honors Program actively recruits UHM juniors and transfer students who have declared their majors. Even Seniors may apply, and earn an Honors degree, as long as they have the talent, motivation and time (at least 2 regular semesters and a summer) to complete the coursework.
The Honors Program is open to any student with a minimum GPA of 3.0 who wants to do a Senior Honors Project, which is independent research or creative work beyond the requirement of standard degree programs at UHM. The most important characteristics of an honors student are motivation, commitment to excellence, and willingness to take risks.
Please note that there is no requirement to complete the Honors Program, penalty, nor even any record (such as notation on the transcript) should you decide that you no longer wish to continue in Honors.
According to the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, UH Manoa is one of only fifty or so "Research One" institutions in the U.S. Given our competitive advantage, the Honors Program is designed to train students to conduct independent scholarly research and creative work that will prepare them for graduate school and professional school, as well as more generally for their chosen careers.
Honors courses (HON) provide opportunities for undergraduate students to experience small seminar-style classes, while satisfying General Education requirements and learning skills and knowledge necessary to conduct independent research, creative work, or other form of scholarship appropriate to their major. All of the courses involve inquiry-based learning, a process in which students ask their own questions and seek their own answers under the guidance of specially selected faculty.
The sequence of courses begins with a 100-level course (HON 101) that provides an introduction to research and creative work at UHM. HON 101 course is recommended for all Honors students and is required to earn Sophomore Honors.
The second level in the sequence is a 200-level Sophomore Seminar (HON 291) which lead to multi-disciplinary understanding of complex situations and contexts, such as sense of historical empathy and a sense of place. At present, there are two principal forms, "Reacting to the Past" and "Place as Text," though others are possible. HON 291 is required to earn Sophomore Honors.
The third level in the sequence is composed of the 300-level "Engagement Series," a set of courses that act as a capstone for the lower division component of the Honors Program. These courses provide opportunities for students to engage in service, providing them with historical and theoretical understanding of the relevant field and practical skills for activities such as mentorship, leadership, public policy formulation, and community service. One 300-level seminar is required to earn Sophomore Honors.
The fourth level in the sequence is the Junior Seminar (HON 491) a multi-disciplinary seminar in experiential learning. Ideally, this class is organized around a project in which students work both as a collective and in teams to solve problems outside of the typical classroom setting. This seminar may challenge students in research, creative work, or other applied forms of scholarly activity. Particularly favored by the Honors Program are proposals for problem-based and/or community-based research, case studies, design-projects, and other activities that will provide hands-on training that may be useful for the Senior Honors Project. HON 491 is required of all students in the upper division Honors Program, but may be waived for students who complete Sophomore Honors.
The fifth level in the sequence is the Senior Honors Project, a nine-credit sequence that involves developing and presenting a proposal/prospectus (HON 495) and the completion of a thesis (HON 496). In HON 495, they prepare specifically for their Senior Honors Project, which may be a conventional thesis, a performance or creative work, a design project, action research, or even an internship, depending upon the student's chosen field. The Senior Honors Project is conducted over two semesters under the direct supervision of a faculty member:
The Honors Program is about much more than academics, although we expect all our students to strive to reach high levels of excellence in their scholarship. Honors students also excel in leadership and service, in multicultural and intercultural activities, and in care of self, concern for other people and the environment.
The UHM Honors Program has an Engagement Requirement such that all honors students must demonstrate active engagement in scholarship and career development, and in leadership and service, intercultural activities, and personal well-being. Students maintain a CV that documents their engagement activities which they update and submit each semester during advising.
The Honors Program is first and foremost a community of scholars, but it is much more than that. We take an active interest in and support each other's academic activities, of course, always encouraging high standards of excellence, but we also are concerned about each other as persons and as members of other diverse communities. There are many ways that we do this, but three important initiatives are peer mentorship, residential learning community, and the Honors Student Organization.
Mentorship is s vital principal for the Honors Program at UHM. Students may receive formal training in a class on mentorship and they are given multiple opportunities to develop mentoring skills and relationships in the classroom, in learning communities in the dormitories, and in other contexts, such as through the Honors Ambassadors program. Honors students always have access to personal advising, and through the Senior Honors Project will have the opportunity to work closely with their own faculty mentor.
Through the Honors Housing program we also maintain a vital residential community for those who wish to "dorm" with us. Presently, there are three floors of Hale Aloha Ilima reserved for about 80 first-year student living in our "Freshmen Honors Residential Community" and one floor in Frear Hall for about 36 students living in the "Honors Learning Community." In these communities you'll become friends with other Honors students and form a community of support for study, co-curricular activities and personal well-being.
The Honors Student Organization provides opportunities for leadership and service, as well as social activities such as bowling outings, hikes and other programs. The Honors Program provides a 24/7 lounge and locker access in one of the campus libraries so members always have a place to study or kick back and "talk story."