Honors College

Chris Willerton, Dean
ACU Box 29142, Abilene, Texas 79699-9142
Zellner Hall, Room 100

Phone: 325-674-2728
Fax: 325-674-6581
Email: chris.willerton@acu.edu
Web: www.acu.edu/honors

The Honors College offers academic enrichment to ambitious undergraduate students in any major. Since the array of courses and teachers varies, students should contact the dean for current information. Teachers of honors courses are listed in this catalog under their respective departments.

The Honors College offers highly motivated students extra stimulation and recognition in
their course work, opportunities to work with selected faculty members and the chance to do independent projects in their major field. Students receive special advising, early registration and coaching on competing for major graduate scholarships.

The ACU Honors College differs from others in emphasizing Christian responsibility. Its mission is to give bright students the academic challenge and professional preparation they want, and to do so in a Christian environment.

There are three tracks in the program, University Honors, General Honors and Departmental Honors. The courses required for each will fit into most degree plans. There are no extra costs and (with few exceptions) no extra courses required for Honors College participation. Frequent social events and small-group chapel gatherings encourage fellowship among Honors College students and teachers. Members of the Honors Students’ Association advise the dean and carry out arrangements for social events.

The ACU Honors College is active in the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Great Plains Honors Council.

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   University Honors
The University Honors track requires that 30 hours of a student’s degree plan be taken for honors credit, distributed as follows:

  • Lower-level course work, 18 hours: options include special Honors College sections of selected general education courses (freshman/sophomore University and Degree Core), Honors Humanities, Honors Seminar in the Arts, and Honors College Service-Learning.
  • Upper-level course work, 6 hours: students earn honors credit by contract in courses in the major field.
  • Honors Capstone, 3 hours: students complete research or a creative project in the major field during the junior or senior year.
  • Honors Colloquia, 3 hours: colloquia are interdisciplinary honors short courses, earning one semester hour apiece.

A student completing these requirements and attaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 will graduate with “University Honors” (as well as cum laude or other distinctions). This distinction is printed on a certificate to accompany the student’s diploma, and the graduate wears a gold stole at commencement.

   General Honors
The General Honors track requires 21 hours comprised of 18 of freshman-sophomore honors credit described above, plus 3 hours of colloquia. A student completing these requirements with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 will graduate with “General Honors” and receive a certificate.

   Departmental Honors
The Departmental Honors track requires 12 hours at the junior and senior level: two courses with Honors College contracts, 3 hours of colloquia and an honors capstone project. A student completing these requirements with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 will graduate with “Departmental Honors” and receive a certificate.

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   Admissions Requirements
Students must be formally admitted to the Honors College before they can register for Honors classes. Applications are available in the Honors College office or on the Web. To apply for admission, freshmen must satisfy the following criteria: (1) have either a high school grade point average of 3.75 or rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class; (2) have either an SAT score of at least 1210 (Math and Critical Reading) or an ACT score of at least 27; (3) submit a satisfactory resume (achievements, awards, offices, etc.); and (4) submit a satisfactory HC Application Essay. Instructions and the application are available online at www.acu.edu/honors. Advanced students (including transfers) need a solid record in their previous college work. Students whose qualifications are slightly below the standard may petition to enter the program on probation. These students should submit a letter describing their grades and other evidence of high ability and motivation (e.g., special awards or success in honors courses).

To stay in the Honors College, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.2 as a freshman, 3.3 as a sophomore and 3.4 as a junior. Graduation with Honors College distinction requires a 3.5.


Freshman and sophomore Honors College credit is available in Honors Humanities I-II-III, Honors Seminar in the Arts, Honors College Service Learning, and in selected classes in Bible, communication, science, and other core curriculum courses.

Freshman and sophomore Honors College classes are limited to 20-25 students (colloquia to 15) and are taught by selected faculty members. No honors classes are offered in summer school. Students may earn part of their honors credit through Study Abroad, collaborative learning (group projects with other honors students), and contract work in selected junior/senior-level courses. Up to 6 hours may be earned through Honors College Service-Learning (this is honors credit only, not degree credit.) Up to 12 hours credit for honors courses taken at another school may be counted toward ACU honors requirements. This transfer of honors credit is assured if ACU has an honors articulation agreement with the other school. Otherwise, honors credit will be accepted at the discretion of the ACU honors dean.

A student’s first and second Honors Humanities classes (HCOR 221, 222, 223, taken in any order) will count as either history or sophomore literature. The third counts as history, literature or fine arts.

Junior and senior credit is available by contract in selected courses in the student’s major. To pursue a contract, the Honors College student attends the class with non-Honors students but does different or additional work that calls for high ability.

Topics for colloquia are announced yearly. They are open to Honors College students who have completed at least three semesters of full-time college study. Colloquia are always interdisciplinary, allowing students with any major to find a connection. Each colloquium meets for 15 clock hours on evenings or weekends and earns 1 hour credit. A colloquium emphasizes reading and discussion, and requires a position paper from each student. Topics have included Politics, Art and Society; The Mind and Healing; Christians and Bioethics; The Problem of Evil; Music and World Culture; and Leonardo da Vinci.

The Honors Capstone is an independent project or internship completed during the junior or senior year that may earn variable credit as a guided study or may be combined with a departmental seminar. The project is directed by a committee of professors and can be tailored to specific career interests. Capstone projects for particular degrees or fellowships can usually be counted as Honors Projects.

Course Descriptions
See the Course Descriptions section of this catalog. Courses offered by the Honors College include those with the following designation: HCOL, HCOR.

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