University Honors Program

For further information regarding the University Honors Program, please contact program director Michele Kishita.

Curriculum >>

The University Honors Program at the University of the Arts is intended to provide academically exceptional and creatively gifted students with a rigorous and enriching intellectual and artistic experience while pursuing their undergraduate degree. The University Honors Program will provide an opportunity for students to be a part of a community of Honors Scholars with a high level of commitment to investigating the role of the performing, visual and writing arts in contemporary life. Coursework leading to the fulfillment of the University Honors Program will challenge Honors Scholars to expand the limits of their intellect, artistry and imagination.

Entering new students are invited to be a part of the University Honors Program at the time of admission based on their academic rating. Students can also apply to be a University Honors Scholar upon completion of one semester of coursework at the University of the Arts and must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.75. Honors Scholars must maintain a 3.75 cumulative grade point average in order to continue in the Honors Program.

The University Honors Program comprises a total of 15 credits. Honors Scholars begin the program with one of either of two courses. Honors sections of LACR*102: First-Year Writing Seminar II – Honors or Honors sections of Humanities Seminar serve as the gateway course to the Honors Program. Scholars must also complete one honors-enriched course in each of the following: one course in their major field of study or discipline, one course from the Division of Liberal Arts and one course in a major or discipline outside of their own field. Scholars must also complete the Honors Thesis Tutorial and Colloquia in which scholars complete an Honors Thesis related to the capstone work in their major.

In addition to the Honors coursework, Honors Scholars must also complete 15 hours of community service each semester of the Honors Program for a total of 75 hours to complete the Honors Program requirements. Honors Scholars must also participate in one field experience related to their major through practical professional experiences like internships, apprenticeships and alumni shadowing.

While not required, Honors Scholars are strongly encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to study internationally in order to broaden the scope of their understanding of their field of study. Scholars can accomplish this through a study abroad semester or other short-term travel experiences and courses.

The Honors Program supports the mission of the University to “inspire, educate and prepare innovative artists and creative leaders,” by providing curricular and co-curricular experiences for Honors Scholars that challenge and encourage them to explore and question disciplinary boundaries, to engage in collaborations that investigate multiple disciplines, and to interrogate the way in which their liberal arts coursework can shape and inform their creative practice.

The University Honors Program is unlike other Honors Programs at arts institutions that focus largely on the general education and liberal arts components of a degree program. The University Honors Program at the University of the Arts is an integrative model that asks scholars to seek out and understand the connections between all of their coursework, connecting what they discover in their studio, labor, rehearsal room with cultural and historical underpinnings they investigate in their liberal arts courses. Honors Scholars will also be expected to develop and refine critical and analytic abilities as well as their skills in communicating, both orally and in written form, their vision as creative individuals. Finally, Honors Scholars will be expected to be able to situate their creative and intellectual work in an historical and global context.

In addition to the academic goals of the Honors Program, Scholars will also be expected to demonstrate that they have the ability to understand and engage in the community around them. Scholars must be able to address how their creative work exists in the community. They must also engage in service to their community, helping others understand what it means to be a creative individual and demonstrating how the arts play an essential role in ensuring and enhancing the quality of life.

Professional preparation
Honors Scholars at the University of the Arts are preparing first and foremost to become artists, designers and performers, engaged in a creative professional life. This means providing students with the tools that they will need to be successful as creative professionals, including:

  • The ability to communicate their vision
  • The ability to understand the nuances of the global and economic factors of their profession
  • The ability to present themselves well to potential employers, funders, supporters, etc.

Provide field experiences that further Honors Scholars’ professional preparation
Honor Scholars should have the opportunity during the course of their studies to explore their field through practical professional experiences like internships, apprenticeships, and alumni shadowing.

Provide an intellectual breadth and the critical and analytical skills to effectively communicate their own vision as an artist, performer or designer and their role in society
We expect that Honors Scholars will have a high level of curiosity about their particular fields of study and how their work is situated in historical and global contexts. We also expect that they will possess the skills to think deeply and critically about their fields and their role in their society.

Provide opportunities for Honors Scholars for the development of effective research skills and the ability to synthesize or translate research into a tangible, concrete creative expression
We expect that Honors Scholars will engage in critical inquiry or investigation that makes or creates an original or creative contribution to the discipline. By developing effective research skills scholars will enhance their learning and creativity.

Provide an environment that fosters innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary work
Honors Scholars at the University of the Arts will be expected to explore the traditional boundaries of their disciplines and to work with peers from other disciplines to develop new and exciting means of creating and designing new work

Integrative learning
It is critical that Honors Scholars understand that their degree program is not merely a set of requirements taken in a prescribed order and fashion. Rather, they must understand how each of their courses relates and relies on other course work to help them achieve an education as an artist, performer or designer that is both broad and deep.

Encourage the development of a sense of commitment to and engagement with the community and an understanding of the roles of the artist, performer and designer in the community
The University of the Arts mission statement begins, “Arts have the power to transform society.” Honor Scholars will support this conviction by engaging in community service that encourages them to communicate to others, outside of the University, that art and design form an essential facet of our cultural lives and can improve peoples’ lives. Honors Scholars will work with organizations with which the University has established collaborative relationships.

An understanding of how their own work is situated in a global context
Honors Scholars at the University of the Arts must have an understanding that their creative works exist in a global market and that culturally constructed boundaries are permeable.

An understanding of how their own work is situated in an historical context
All of the disciplines at the University of the Arts have rich historical traditions. Honors Scholars will have a deep understanding of how their work both fits into these historical traditions as well as challenges the historical notions of these fields.

A sense of entrepreneurship
To be an entrepreneur is to be innovative and transformative. We expect that Honors Scholars will have drive and ambition to become the creative entrepreneurs of the next generation. We will help them to build the foundation that will allow them to challenge, question, create and innovate in their fields.

In addition to achieving the outcomes of their major, Honor Scholars must:

  • Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 through completion of their degree requirements
  • Complete additional academic and/or creative work in courses for which they have an honors enrichment
  • Complete a field experience related to their area of study
  • Complete a minimum of 15 hours of community service each semester that they are an Honors Scholar
  • Complete a senior capstone thesis that reflects in‐depth study and research of a carefully designed and approved question or problem. The question or problem should be critical, experimental, applied or creative in nature with the goal of making a unique and original contribution to the field