Below are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the Honors Program, including questions about Honors benefits, classes, and requirements for entrance and degrees.

If you wish to join the Honors Program, or if you have questions that are not answered adequately below, please contact us; we would love to speak with you. Call the Whitney Young School of Honors and Liberal Studies at (502) 597-7015. For toll-free calls dial 1-800-633-9415 inside Kentucky or 1-800-325-1716 outside Kentucky and ask for extension 7015. Contact us by email here:

The most common question is this: Why should I join the Honors Program?  See what current students have to say at Why Honors?

You are also encouraged to ask questions of current students on the Facebook page maintained by the Whitney Young Honors Student Council.

Benefits of the Honors Program

How will the Honors Program benefit me in my major?  All Honors Program classes develop the intellectual skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical and reflective thinking. These skills can be put to use in any major, and are especially beneficial for students who intend to pursue graduate or professional degrees.

What makes the Honors Program different from the rest of the University? All Honors Program classes are small, with usually no more than fifteen students. All classes are based on student discussion of assigned readings. The faculty guide the discussion to keep it focused, and offer explanations when necessary, but the heart of every class is active student preparation and participation.

Is the Honors Program a good preparation for law school? Yes, the Honors Program is KSU’s designated pre-law program because it provides excellent preparation for law school. For more information, see Pre-law education and Honors.

Is scholarship or financial aid available? Yes. In addition to the financial aid and scholarships available to all KSU students, Honors Students can apply for special scholarship awards. For more information, see Honors Scholarships.

Can I study abroad? Yes, the Honors Program encourages students to participate in the KSU Study Abroad programs. For more information, see Study Abroad and Honors.

What are the special opportunities open to students in the Honors Program? The Whitney Young Honors Program is a member of the Kentucky Honors Roundtable, in which Honors students from the Kentucky public universities meet twice a year for fun and learning. Honors students may also attend regional and national conferences, including the Southern Regional Honors Conference, the National Collegiate Honors Council, and the National Association of African-American Honors Programs.  For more information, see Honors Conferences.

What can I do with a degree in liberal studies? Graduates have had successful careers in many fields including law, medicine, education, business, computer science, journalism, and public service. Employers in technical fields often value the breadth of mind and communication skills students gain through liberal studies. Since Honors Program students learn how to learn, they are able to grow professionally on the job and advance beyond entry-level positions. Also, students come to know themselves and their world better, and so can shape for themselves richer and more satisfying lives. For more information on what our graduates have done, see What can I do with a Liberal Education?

Can student-athletes participate in the Honors Program? Yes. Honors students have participated in all of KSU’s intercollegiate sports, including basketball, football, golf, softball, baseball, tennis and track.

Honors Program Classes, Teachers, Resources, etc.

What are the Honors classes like? All Honors Program classes are small classes in which students read and discuss excellent books. Students and faculty gather around a table and through conversation about the assigned readings we help each other to understand The atmosphere is collaborative, not competitive. Students questions are welcomed and encouraged.

How hard are the Honors classes? Honors classes are genuine college courses, but they are not too difficult for students who do the work. You don’t have to be gifted to do well in the Honors Program. You will have to study, and learning how to study effectively is one of the benefits of the Honors Program.

Do the students and faculty get to know each other? Yes. Since classes are small, and the faculty have full-time assignments in the Honors Program, the students and faculty all get to know each other. Unlike what might happen at a larger university, Honors students do not feel “lost in the crowd” here.

Is academic help available for students? It is. In addition to student-organized study groups, the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) offers one-on-one sessions to help students with general academic issues such as time management and study skills, and well as providing tutoring for individual courses. Also, all faculty have extensive office hours and are glad to help students. If you want help, you will get it.

I see a lot of books on the Honors Program shelves in the bookstore. Do we read all of them? Don’t panic. The Honors Program does require a significant amount of reading. Learning to read carefully, critically, with enjoyment and understanding is one of the benefits of the program, and that cannot happen without sustained effort. But the readings are not excessive, and many texts used in the fall freshman courses are used again in later courses.

What are the faculty like? The faculty have diverse academic backgrounds, but are united in a commitment to undergraduate liberal education. Many have active research programs; all are accessible and devoted teachers, mentors, and advisors.

Requirements for Entrance and Degrees

What are the requirements for entry into the Honors Program at the freshman level? Generally students must have a high-school GPA of 3.0 or better and an ACT score of 21 or better (or SAT composite of 1,000). Sometimes we accept strongly-motivated students who meet one but not both of the criteria. (If you are in that category, please contact us.)

Is there a specific major that I must have in order to be in the Honors Program? No. The first two years—the Honors Core which satisfies all the core liberal studies requirements of the University—is compatible with every major

Are there admission requirements for the B.A. program Honors Option? No. Although the B.A. Honors program courses are challenging, we welcome all serious students who wish to participate.

What are the course requirements for the Honors Core? The Honors Core, which fulfills all of the University’s liberal studies requirements, consists in a four semester sequence of liberal studies seminars, a four semester sequence of language and literature courses including writing labs, and a four semester sequence of math-science courses. (Students who major in natural science do not take the math-science sequence; they fulfill those requirements through courses in their major.)

What are the requirements for the Honors B.A.? The Honors B.A. requires 30 credit hours. Specific courses include three seminars and two tutorials, a senior essay capstone course in which students work together with a faculty advisor on an extensive essay, and three other courses of approved electives (which may be drawn from courses required for another major). The Honors B.A. has been designed to make it easy for students to double-major in liberal studies and another discipline.

What are the course requirements for a minor in Liberal Studies? The minor requires 18 credit hours. Four courses must be drawn from Honors Program offerings; the fifth may be an approved elective.

What is the Honors A.A. degree, and what do I need to do to receive it? The Honors A.A. degree requires completion of the Honors Core and an additional 12 credit hours of approved courses. As with all KSU degrees, students must apply for the degree in order to receive it.

One final question: What is liberal studies? 

Liberal studies is also called liberal education, and it has two aims. First it aims to develop the intellectual skills and habits necessary for an independent mind. Liberally educated people have powers to read, write, reason and learn on their own, and so can guide their own lives and advance in their chosen careers. Second, liberal education grounds us in a tradition of inquiry into fundamental human issues. Students read excellent books (ancient and modern from across the globe) to become acquainted with the best that has been thought and said in politics, religion, philosophy, science, literature and other disciplines of human concern. By making this tradition of inquiry their own, students learn to know themselves and their world.

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