Questions About The Honors College:

1. How is UAlbany’s Honors College different from other Honors Colleges?

UAlbany’s Honors College is a community of developing scholars who are serious in academic pursuits; enthusiastic in community engagement; and passionate about reaching out to the world. Honors students enrich and broaden their undergraduate education by

  • Having guidance by BOTH the Honors College and Departmental Honors programs: The Honors College takes a student-centered approach to nurture aspiring students at every stage of their academic journey, regardless of their major. Departmental Honors programs further ensure excellence in students' chosen field.
  •  Learning with a group of academically talented and highly motivated students of diverse backgrounds, with the option of living in honors housing all four years
  • Challenging Honors seminars and research opportunities offered by faculty and industry experts
  • Special Honors College events promoting cultural/social enrichment and intellectual development

2. How many credit hours are required by the Honors College?
In addition to 18 Honors credit hours (or 12 for first-year UAlbany students), most Honors students also need to apply to Honors programs in their chosen discipline, with additional requirements.

Questions About Honors Courses:

3. How do honors courses compare to other courses at UAlbany?
Honors courses are designed to be intellectually challenging for the bright, serious students who comprise The Honors College. This may mean that honors courses are more challenging than courses available to all undergraduates at UAlbany. For example, the first semester of honors calculus is more intellectually challenging than the first semester of calculus. Similarly, when the English course “Growing Up in America” is offered as an honors course, it is expected to be more intellectually challenging than the same course offered to non-Honors students. Students in The Honors College enjoy and appreciate the challenging nature of their honors courses. No students have reported that their honors courses are too challenging or that their professors expect levels of understanding of which they are incapable. Surveys of students in The Honors College also suggest that they spend slightly more time on their honors courses than they do on their other courses. However, none of them have reported that the time spent on their honors courses is excessive or a burden.

4. When should honors courses be completed?
An Honors student should complete his or her honors courses during the freshman and sophomore years. Not only are most of these courses designed primarily for freshmen and sophomores, you also want to finish them before you move forward with your departmental honors program, which usually requires additional coursework and achieving other standards.

However, if taking an honors course during the junior year would be beneficial to the student’s educational plan—such as attending a study abroad program in the sophomore year—the student should file a petition for exception by the Dean.

5. What do I do if there is no honors program in my major?
Students in any major offered at UAlbany can graduate from the Honors College. Most majors at UAlbany have an honors program. Students in the Honors College who are in these majors must first apply to their departmental honors programs during their sophomore year, and once accepted, complete the honors requirements in their major (these requirements are listed on each department’s website).

A few majors at UAlbany do not have an honors program. Students in these majors should attend general advising session offered by the Dean during their sophomore year to determine the courses they will need to take in their major to graduate from The Honors College. (For more information, see Honors, Honors, and More Honors.)

Whether a major does or does not have a departmental honors program, Honors students must complete an honors thesis, approved by the student’s research advisor and department head/thesis committee.

Questions About Research and Honors Thesis:

6. When should I start to get involved in research?

The answer is “Now”! It is never too early for honors students to get started in the research process. Many aspects of research are interesting and intellectually challenging, requiring not only refined thought but also active engagement. In addition, being involved in research helps the student to understand the type of thinking that is at the foundation of a discipline, allows him/her to meet and work closely with other students interested in a discipline, provides ongoing contact with a professor who is a scholar in that discipline, and offering opportunities to find answers to a research question. There is no benefit to waiting to become involved.

By their junior year, Honors students should be actively involved in some form of research. Those who are not may not be able to locate a professor willing to mentor them through their senior thesis. We have many suggestions for how to become involved in research on our research opportunities webpage.

7. Do I need to write a senior thesis to graduate with honors in my major AND an Honors thesis to graduate from The Honors College?
No. Each honors student must complete one senior thesis that is acceptable to the faculty in his or her major. Since the faculty members in a major are the experts in that area, they are the sole judges of whether a student's thesis is an appropriate piece of scholarly work.

8. Should I try to graduate early?
There is little glory in graduating early and it will not distinguish one as a particularly accomplished student. It is unlikely that any professional/graduate school or an employer will rate someone’s application higher because s/he graduated a year early. They will be more interested in the breadth and depth of the courses a student has taken.

Students are encouraged to stay a fourth year even if they do not need to. Try to take another course or two in the major each semester to deepen your knowledge. Alternatively, try to broaden your education by taking a course in some subject outside the major or about which you know little. If you want a bit of a break, take 12 credits during each semester of your fourth year. Take a pass/fail course or two. There are many ways to reduce one’s academic load while remaining in this academic environment to which most of you will seldom have the chance to return.