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Honors Program

A fit for any major, Saint Louis University's Honors Program allows eligible students to develop an individual course of study that complements their curriculum, earning an honors degree in that discipline.

Honors Program student in graduation cap and gown with honors cords sits on a bench in surrounded by brick buildings in Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

The University's Honors Program encourages learning in and out of the classroom through experiences such as seminar-style classes, independent studies, internships, research projects, teaching opportunities and study abroad.

Students at SLU-Madrid work closely with an honors advisor to create a rigorous course of study that advances academic and career interests. The Honors Program brings students and faculty together in a community of scholars to explore topics of mutual interest in an interdisciplinary way. In addition, it provides an experience through which students gain cultural competency skills, grow professionally, and discern their talents through reflection in the Jesuit tradition.

Curriculum Overview

SLU's Honors Program is flexible, allowing SLU-Madrid students to adapt its requirements to their schedule. Students must complete 25 credits of honors academic credit, divided between Core and Major Enrichment units (21) and Contemplation in Action units (4). Core and Major Enrichment courses include the honors seminar taken in the sophomore year, course contracts, graduate courses, and a capstone project. Contemplation in Action units build on experiential learning opportunities such as research and internship experiences, study abroad reflections, the international partnership and Community ESL teaching programs, professional development and vocational discernment workshops, wellness seminars, and peer-instruction experiences.

Course Requirements

Students admitted will follow this Honors Program Curriculum Guide (PDF). The guide provides an overview of all core/major enrichment and contemplation in action options. Of those options, the following experiences are required for all honors students:

  • HR 2800 Honors Seminar (3 credit hours): A cross-disciplinary course for second-year honors students, taught on a different theme or topic each year. The course draws from a wide range of disciplinary materials and perspectives, including anthropology, art history, biology, fine and performing arts, history, literature, philosophy, social sciences and theology.
  • HR 4000 Honors Collaborative Inquiry (3 credit hours): A broad-based, discussion-oriented course designed to help juniors and seniors develop awareness of and apply their disciplinary expertise to issues of national and international importance. Students may propose another upper-level honors course or contract to satisfy this requirement.
  • HR 4960: Honors Senior Capstone (3 credit hours): Complete a comprehensive research or creative project in your major/minor during senior year. It may be completed as an independent project or via an existing departmental course (with appropriate honors enrichment).

You may earn your additional credit hours in a variety of other ways, such as:

  • Contract courses: You may contract a nonhonors course in your major, minor or a core curriculum requirement to receive honors credit. In this case, the honors requirements are determined by the professor and the director of the Honors Program. If you pursue this option, you must change your course to honors status within the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Independent study: You may undertake an independent study project in your major to obtain honors credit.
  • Honors internship: Work with Career Services to identify internship opportunities and how to meet the requirements to earn honors credit.
  • Graduate courses: Graduate political science and Spanish courses are available at the Madrid campus every semester. Approval by the department is required.
  • Study abroad: If you participate in a study abroad experience, which includes a semester in St. Louis, you may earn three hours of honors credit per semester.
  • International partnership: Join an international student from SLU-Madrid's Academic English Program as a conversation partner. You'll meet at least five times a semester for a total of 10 hours. You must complete the required training and written reflection to earn honors credit. Three semesters are required to complete a full three-credit honors unit.
  • Community ESL teaching experience: Join other students to teach English to people from the community and acquire hands-on experience while exchanging cultural knowledge. Learn more about this unique SLU-Madrid program.
  • Honors Career Foundations: Take SLU-Madrid's BIZ 3000/CORE 3500, specially adapted for honors students, where you will complete additional career development activities such as a narrative autobiography.
Benefits of the Saint Louis University Honors Program

Enriching Coursework

Students in the Honors Program can access special academic experiences that enrich their general education studies and deepen their major-specific coursework.  

Specialized Advising

Students in the Honors Program work closely with their honors advisors, who assist students with designing and completing a curriculum plan that accounts for honors requirements as they complete a primary program of study. 

Honors Degree Distinction

Students completing the program will earn an Honors Bachelor of Arts or Honors Bachelor of Science degree in their discipline, a distinction beyond the traditional awards of summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude, which are rewarded only for grade point average.

Priority Registration 

All SLU-Madrid Honors Program students are permitted to register during the priority registration period (one business day before the regular start date), which allows them to craft a schedule according to their preferences and study habits. 

Staying in the Program

To remain in good standing in the Honors Program, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5.
  • Earn honors credits every year.

You will be placed on probationary status if your cumulative GPA drops below 3.5. You will work with your honors advisor to develop an improvement plan. Students are evaluated at the end of each semester. Students who fall below the minimum threshold for multiple semesters may be dismissed from the program. Each decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

Application Requirements

The Saint Louis University Honors Program welcomes students from all majors to apply for admission. While most students join as first-year students, current SLU-Madrid students and transfer students are also invited to apply. Admission to the University Honors Program is determined by a holistic review of prior academic performance, extracurricular involvement, leadership experience and evidence of intellectual curiosity (as evidenced by letters of recommendation and a personal statement). 

Regardless of student type, all students must answer the following prompt as their personal statements:

The University Honors Program invites students to reflect critically on questions related to professional and academic goals, responsibilities to themselves and their communities, and an overall sense of what makes for a good life. This discernment process often begins with an honest self-assessment — embracing certain parts of our identity and occasionally challenging the labels placed upon us by our families, communities, and society more broadly. For this essay, we invite you to respond to the following prompt (500 words maximum): "Although I am _____, I am not _____."

The personal statement is the best way to share who you are with our admissions committee, so be creative and strive to write authentically. Don't just try to write what you think we want to hear or what you think “an honors student” should say. We look forward to reading your essay.

Submit letters of recommendation directly to the University Honors Program. Applications will not be reviewed until all materials have been submitted. If you are applying as a first-year student, you may submit the same letters of recommendation you used for general admission. If you are a current Madrid student, at least one letter of recommendation must come from a current SLU faculty or staff member.

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Eligibility and Deadlines

First-time college students must have an outstanding high school academic record in a rigorous curriculum (represented by A's and B's in all classes and a minimum 3.8 GPA). In addition to reviewing students' transcript(s), the committee reviews a personal statement and letters of recommendation, and evaluates all applicants using a common multidimensional rubric. Completed applications are due no later than Dec. 1 for enrollment in the University Honors Program in the fall of the freshman year.

Current students must have completed at least one semester at Saint Louis University, earned at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA, and have earned fewer than 45 credits at the time of application. Completed applications are due no later than Oct. 15 for spring enrollment and Feb. 15 for fall enrollment.

Transfer students must have earned at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA at their previous institution(s) and have earned fewer than 45 credits at the time of application. Transfer students may be awarded honors credit (not to exceed 12 units) for previous honors coursework at the discretion of the director of the University Honors Program. Decisions about honors transfer credit will be made at the time of admission. Completed applications are due no later than Oct. 15 for spring enrollment and Aug. 1 for fall enrollment.

International students with outstanding academic records in a rigorous high school curriculum are encouraged to apply. An equivalent grade point average of at least 3.8 on a 4.0 scale and a minimum English proficiency score of 90 on the TOEFL (IBT) or 7.0 on the IELTS is required, in addition to the personal statement and letters of recommendation.