University Honors Program

Terry Papillon, Director
Christina McIntyre, Associate Director
Russell B. Shrader, Senior Assistant Director
Sara Taylor, Assistant Director
Amber Smith, Assistant Director
Tammy Jo Guynn, Fiscal Office Manager
Amy Ingram, Administrative Assistant
Dan Thorp, Hillcrest Preceptor
Heather Gumbert, Honors residential college, Principal
Charles J. Dudley, Director Emeritus

For further information: 540-231-4591


University Honors Program

    In keeping with the university's commitment to provide educational opportunities consistent with the ability of the individual student, Virginia Tech invites a select group of students to enroll in Honors. University Honors provides a combination of special sections of regular courses, honors seminars and colloquia, tutorials, independent study, and undergraduate research. Honors courses enable students of superior academic talent to be challenged to their full intellectual capacity. The honors faculty includes Alumni Distinguished Professors, University Distinguished Professors, and members of the university's Academy of Teaching Excellence. University Honors represents a combination of study within departments and course work cutting across departmental lines. The program is designed both to broaden and deepen the student's intellectual life.


    Entering freshmen are encouraged to apply to University Honors if they have a cumulative GPA of 3.80 (as reported on their high school transcript) and a minimum SAT score of 1350 (critical reading and mathematics) or a minimum ACT composite score of 30. Students who do not meet these criteria but feel an exception should be made are able to apply. We expect that the other components of the application (extracurricular, honors, awards, publications, etc.) will off-set the lower quantitative scores.  Transfer students and continuing Virginia Tech students who achieve a GPA of 3.60 or greater are invited to apply. Students remain in the program on the basis of their continued high academic performance and the pursuit of one of five honors diplomas.

Course Selection

    Course selection is not necessarily tied to the student's major field of study.

    Honors students may participate in honors reading groups, honors colloquia, and honors sections of regular courses.  Honors sections of regular academic courses often are offered in biology, political science, history, economics, chemistry, English, mathematics, and psychology. Occasionally, honors sections are offered in other subject areas as well.  Departmental honors courses are managed directly by the respective departments.

Honors Diplomas

    An honors diploma is a designation to the undergraduate diploma. One University Honors diploma would not suffice at a University such as Virginia Tech. We have created five Honors options for the students eligible for Honors.

Degree Description
Commonwealth Scholar Considered to be a viable diploma option for transfer students entering University Honors late in their college career.
Scholar in Health Studies Created for students desiring to enter a career in a health related field gained in connection with the minor in Medicine and Society.
Honors Scholar The baseline diploma for Honors students who do not complete an Honors thesis.
In Honors For students desiring to enter graduate school or professional school immediately following graduation and are interested in undergraduate research. Thesis required.
Honors Baccalaureate The most rigorous diploma available to University Honors students. Designed to prepare students for graduate or professional school immediately following graduation. Thesis required.

Throughout the course of an Honors student’s career there are several benchmarks for obtaining the various diplomas. Following the freshman year, students declare their diploma intention. Progress towards the diploma is reported annually. As a senior, University Honors students order their honors diplomas.

Graduation Requirements

  • University Honors students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 or higher.
  • University Honors students must meet all the requirements determined by the department of the major(s) and college(s) conferring the degree(s).
  • University Honors students must complete all requirements for their anticipated Honors diploma(s).

Honors Advising

    A primary function of the University Honors staff is to assist students in mapping an Honors diploma that is attainable in conjunction with their departmental degree(s).

    Additionally, departmental Honors Advisors work specifically with University Honors students.  These departmental Honors Advisors act as an extension of the University Honors office to help students with exceptional advanced opportunities within their chosen field of study.  Departmental Honors advisors should be contacted when specific questions arise related to the completion of degree(s).

    Advising for major national scholarships like Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright Scholarships are available through University Honors for all Virginia Tech students. 

Honors Communities

    There are opportunities for Honors students to become part of one of the Honors communities:  Hillcrest Hall and the Honors Residential College (HRC).

    The Hillcrest community is home to 106 students and is housed in Hillcrest Hall.  The Honors Residential College is located in East Ambler Johnson Hall and is home to approximately 320 students along with Faculty Principals in residence.  Both communities are composed of students from all majors and levels, freshmen through seniors. 

    While students are encouraged to apply for the communities, Honors residence is not a requirement to be a University Honors student.  Many honors students also reside in other Living Learning Communities offered throughout the University.

Undergraduate Course Descriptions (UH)

A course for first-year University Honors students that is facilitated by students and faculty. Introduces students to the scope, nature, and requirements of University Honors and opportunities as a Virginia Tech student. First-year residents of Hillcrest Community and Honors Residential College required to participate. Optional for first-year non-house students. Fall semester only. Variable course content. May not be repeated. Pass/Fail only. (1H,1C)

This class is designed to help students thinking of a career in healthcare investigate some of the many professional tracts and careers available.  Representatives from some of the professional schools and professionals will present different career paths that are available to students interested in health care.  The class will also cover some of the issues in biomedical ethics, health policy, how to prepare for admission test (such as MCAT, DAT, etc.), how to finance professional school, and the "nuts and bolts" of the application process. (1H,1C)

Reading based sections within the honors houses in which small groups of students work toward two goals: the practice of discussion, debate, and argumentation; and the art of community building. Honors house members only. Variable course content. Repeatable with different content. Pass/Fail only. (1H,1C)

Reading based sections in which small groups of students practice discussion, debate, and argumentation grounded in a topic or genre of reading of their group's choosing. Sophomore honors standing. Variable course content. May be repeated with different course content. Pass/Fail only. (1H,1C)

Honors Section. Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

Honors Section. Variable credit course.

Honors Section. Topics vary by semester, check Honors webpage for current and upcoming offerings. (2H,3C)

A course designed to draw together students with a very knowledgeable student facilitator on special topics of mutual interest under the guidance of a faculty col-facilitator. Some topics are broad and interdisciplinary while others explore a single topic in depth. Open to all Honors students. Sophomore Honors standing required. Variable course content. Repeatable with different topics. (3H,3C)

A two-part course. Part one: three hours a week working directly with community partners. Part two: a one-hour class to reflect on the service experience and discuss readings and other course materials that place the experiential learning into a theoretical context. Open to all Honors students. Variable course content. May be repeated with different course content. (1H,6L,3C)

Honors Section. Variable credit course.

Small, seminar-style course of one or a few students. Students explore a specific topic that is new to them a faculty member who provides individual attention and is an expert in that established field. Open to all Honors students. Junior Honors standing. Variable course content. May be repeated with different course content. (1H,6L,3C)

For Honors students facilitating Honors courses that encourage and require student facilitation or mentorship responsibilities. Student Teaching Assistants and their sections are overseen by honors faculty or staff. Student Teaching Assistants meet weekly with a member of the honors staff in a class designed to prepare them for the facilitation experience and to monitor their progress. Open to all Honors students, subject to Program approval. Sophomore Honors standing required. Variable course content. May be repeated. Pass/Fail only. (1H,2L,2C)

Honors section. Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

Honors section. Variable credit course.

Honors section. Variable credit course.