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University Honors Program

University Honors Program
Kansas State University
203 Leadership Studies Building
Manhattan, KS 66506

785-532-6542 fax

Amanda Braun presents her honors project.
Amanda Braun poses with a group in front of her honors project.
A student presents her Honors Project

Curriculum Details

In addition to holding a 3.5+ GPA at the time of graduation, UHP students will be required to complete requirements in four distinct categories:  a one-credit Honors First-Year Seminar course, four honors Courses, three Co-curricular Experiences, and an honors Project.  Each requirement category is described in detail below.


  1. Courses by contract, experiences, and projects are proposed, approved, and monitored for completion through the Honors Administration Link, more commonly known as HAL.
  2. Approval should be obtained prior to starting the course or activity.
  3. You may not “double dip” by counting a course or activity in more than one category.
  4. If an activity such as an internship or capstone project is formally required by your major, that activity may only satisfy a UHP requirement if an additional enrichment and/or intellectual product is agreed upon and verified.

Requirements (by Category):

UHP students must complete the requirements specified in each of these four categories (in addition to earning a 3.5+ cumulative GPA).  Click the purple arrow to read the details.

Honors First-Year Seminar

UHP students will complete UHP 189: Honors First-Year Seminar (1 credit) 
Each UHP 189 section will have a distinct topical focus developed by its instructor, but all sections will also include a few common elements, such as instructions regarding how to use the Honors Administration Link and an introduction to the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships.  We encourage students to take UHP 189 during their first semester in the program.
Students entering the Honors Program after the freshman year may petition to make a substitution for UHP 189, usually an additional Honors course or co-curricular experience.  Research Topic and Proposal Development (cross-listed as either DHE399 or GENAG396) is recommended.     


Four (4) for-credit academic courses  (12 credits minimum)

At least four UHP-eligible courses must be completed for credit for a minimum total of twelve credit hours.  UHP students will have the flexibility to choose from a menu of three eligible options:

  • UHP-designated courses (e.g., Honors Chemistry, Honors Introduction to the Humanities) that carry course credit.  Available courses are listed here.
  • Contract courses (i.e., a regular for-credit course where the student and instructor agree upon additional scholarly expectations and outcomes).
  • Course credits taken for undergraduate research.  We will bring these research credits into HAL automatically (but let the office know if they are not showing up)
  • Instructions for how to initiate and record contracts in HAL are available on the Honors Courses page.

Co-curricular Experiences

Three (3) co-curricular experiences and/or additional for-credit academic courses (total credits will vary: no minimum)

Co-curricular experiences must be recorded and approved in HAL.  Here are instructions for doing that: How to Enter a Co-Curricular Experience into HAL.

The co-curricular requirement is intended to accommodate multiple forms of experiential learning, co-curricular enrichment, and/or additional UHP-eligible coursework. The menu of eligible co-curricular options listed below provides detailed guidelines for what constitutes a qualifying experience.

General Guidelines

Many forms of campus participation have value, and we encourage UHP students to involve themselves in such activities.  However, in the UHP curriculum we want to  emphasize complementarity to academic and scholarly development. Eligible experiences should require you to intentionally reference and integrate knowledge from your curriculum in an applied fashion and involve active accountability through supervision, mentorship, instruction, etc.  
Thus, eligible co-curricular experiences do not include routine participation or leadership in campus clubs or “student life” activities.
  • Experiences should be propose through the Experiential Contract option in HAL prior to undertaking the experience. 
  • One kind of experience may be repeated. For example, a student might satisfy the "Experience" requirement through three seasons of debate team participation, three undergraduate research experiences, etc.
  • An experience that is formally required by your declared major may only be counted as one of the three co-curricular experiences if an additional enrichment and/or intellectual product is approved.
  • If extracurricular leadership or service experiences are associated with a for-credit academic experience, students can explore the possibility of contracting that course for Honors credit.
  • This list will develop over time and can never be truly comprehensive. Students can propose (by contract) other experiences that are well thought out, meaningfully challenging, and contributory to their intellectual and academic development, pending approval by the appropriate College coordinator and the UHP staff.  In such instances, the student should articulate a clear connection to his/her academic curriculum.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is intrinsically valuable, requiring students to integrate information from a variety of sources in order to formulate both questions and strategies for answering those questions. It also exposes students to skills and techniques that they might employ in their professional futures.
If you are earning academic credit for undergraduate research involvement, we would prefer that apply under the "Courses" requirement.  In that instance, there is no need to create a contract.  We can bring the credits into HAL automatically (just let the office know if they are not showing up). 
If you choose to participate in research but do not earn academic credit for that experience, you will need to create a co-curricular experience contract in order to record your involvement for the UHP.  
Note that a single experience cannot be counted in both categories.  In addition, credit hours linked to the completion of the UHP Project may not be used to satisfy either the "Courses" or “Experience” requirement.
Students may satisfy an “Experience” requirement by completing a defined undergraduate research project. You can also satisfy one of the three “Experience” requirements by participating in an ongoing project for a full semester or summer.  Eligible participation should include a meaningful number of hours, active engagement with research/inquiry objectives,and significant opportunities for skill development during the course of the semester.
Three distinct research projects, or three distinct semesters of undergraduate research experience, may be used to satisfy all three “Experience” requirements.  Research experiences for academic credit can satisfy "Experience" requirements, if other Honors courses have already satisfied your "Courses" requirement.

Instructional/Tutoring Experiences

The act of helping other students learn requires a level of synthesis that builds a greater understanding of and appreciation for the subject at hand while simultaneously developing a number of presentational, and analytical skills. Several types of university employment related to teaching and instruction may be counted in the “Experience” category:
  1. Teaching Assistants (for any for-credit class).  This includes Learning Assistants for CAT Communities, LEAD 212 Class Leaders and CAPD Peer Educators. 
  2. Paraprofessionals for the Academic & Career Information Center
  3. Writing Center Peer Tutors
  4. University Experience Instructor
  5. Tutors employed by an official university unit. To list a few examples: Educational Supportive Services, Scholars Assisting Scholars, Chemistry Help Room, and K-State Athletics
  6. Work as private tutor.  In this instance, the work must be verifiable and substantial, both in terms of hours worked and sustained engagement with the subject matter.  We recommend approximately 100 hours total.  If the number of hours per week is small, you may contract a longer term of participation in order to establish a meaningful experience.

International Experiences

Internationalization, articulated as part of the 2025 Strategic Action Plan, is an overarching goal of Kansas State University and a potentially invaluable addition to the breadth of perspective and range of competencies that students can apply to all aspects of their education. 
Study Abroad: Any international experience that bears academic credit may count as an experience, so long as credit is awarded by K-State or accepted as transfer credit once successfully completed. Students completing two semesters abroad, or a semester and a summer abroad, will be considered as satisfying two experiences, even if both terms take place in the same host country. Note that a study abroad experience of ten weeks or longer may serve as the basis for the UHP Scholarly Project (with prior approval) but that a study abroad experience may not satisfy one of the three “Experience” requirements if it is used as the basis for the UHP Scholarly Project.
Service Abroad: International Service Teams participation through the Staley School of Leadership Studies may also count as an eligible experience. A number of external opportunities exist for international service. Those may be contracted provided that they:
  • Clearly connect to your academic major.
  • Are responsibly verified by a campus mentor/supervisor.
  • Have a duration of three weeks or longer.


Internships demand that students apply knowledge from their curriculums in a real-world setting, so much so that most employers will only consider interns who have completed some portion of their undergraduate education and/or certain courses. Thus, internships are an important complement to and application of what a student learns in the classroom, and we intend to encourage the pursuit of meaningful internships through their inclusion here. The range of potential internships makes generalization difficult. However, we can establish some general parameters.
  1. We expect UHP students to represent the best tradition of K-State students by performing all legitimate work with enthusiastic reliability, no matter how small or mundane. At the same time, an internship that fills a requirement for the University Honors Program should also entail substantial, relevant and documentable responsibilities that contribute to skill development and knowledge.
  2. When contracting the experience, students should be able to articulate the relevance of the planned internship to their academic studies and to their aspirations.
  3. Internships should entail a minimum of approximately 100 hours of activity regardless of the timeframe (summer or semester). 
  4. We do not intend to distinguish between paid, volunteer or for-credit internship opportunities in this context so long as the substance of the internship appears valid. 
  5. To reiterate, approval for internships should be obtained, via HAL, prior to the start of the activity. As part of this process, the student must be able to identify an individual in the K-State community who can fulfill the “faculty supervisor” role by verifying satisfactory completion of the internship.

Note that a full-time internship experience of ten weeks or longer may serve as the basis for the UHP Scholarly Project (with prior approval) but an internship may not satisfy one of the three “Experience” requirements if it is used as the basis for the UHP Scholarly Project.

Competition Teams

Kansas State University has many academic competition teams that require the integrative application of what students have learned in multiple classroom settings. A full season of participation on a competition team will count as a UHP experience under three conditions:
  1. Team participation must require meaningful preparation and/or practice prior to the competition, at least equivalent to the time expended for a demanding one-credit hour course. 
  2. Team sponsors/coaches must ultimately verify that full and meaningful participation was offered throughout the season (through HAL). 
  3. Participation must include at least one tournament or multi-institution event. We note that, in some kinds of competitions, “full participation” may require more than one event.

Eligible Teams

Here is a sample list of eligible teams. With the recent passage of the new curriculum, we emphasize that this list is expected to evolve over time. We will be in conversation with the Colleges to help us determine additional teams that deserve inclusion (such as design competitions associated with the College of Architecture, Planning and Design).
In addition, this list does not intend to exclude competitions that do not occur annually but would still offer a similarly meaningful co-curricular experience. Student involvement with the Solar House competition several years ago, for example, would clearly be an eligible experience.
This list does intend to exclude participation in competitions that require little advance preparation and are primarily an evaluation of skills or knowledge on the day(s) of the event.
  • Aero Design
  • Ag Economics Marketing
  • ASHRAE Design
  • Baja Car
  • Business Ethics Case Competition
  • ChemE Car
  • Collegiate Wind Competition
  • Concrete Canoe
  • Crops Judging
  • Cyber Defense
  • Dairy Cattle Judging
  • Dairy Products Evaluation
  • Debate
  • Food Product Development
  • Formula Car Design
  • Fountain Wars 
  • Horse Judging 
  • Human-Powered Vehicle Design
  • Landscape Contracting
  • Livestock Judging
  • Meat Judging
  • Mock Trial
  • Model UN
  • Personal Financial Planning 
  • Poultry Judging 
  • Putnam Seminar/Math Competition
  • Quarter Scale Tractor
  • Robotics (ECE or BAE)
  • Salina Flight
  • Soils Judging
  • Speech Unlimited
  • Steel Bridge
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems
  • Weed Judging
  • Wool Judging
We emphasize once again that competitions should be co-curricular, affiliated with an academic College, and not extracurricular in nature. Participation on NCAA or intramural sports teams, or related activities such as marching band or cheerleading, cannot satisfy this requirement.

Additional Courses

While we hope that students will view the “Experience” requirement as an encouragement to seek out co-curricular involvement, we also want to affirm the value of cultivating intellectual curiosity through the pursuit of additional Honors coursework. Thus, students may also choose to satisfy one or more of the three “Experience” requirements with additional Honors-eligible, for-credit courses. Here are the essential parameters:
  1. Eligible courses must be approved for UHP credit, either through formal designation as an Honors course or through an approved Honors course contract.
  2. Any single course may only satisfy one of the three “Experience” requirements, irrespective of the number of credit hours attached to it.
  3. A course with a high number of credit hours can be applied, instead, under the “Courses” requirement if the student wishes to maximize its impact within the UHP curriculum.


Students can select one of four tracks to complete their UHP Project as a capstone activity.  Each track emphasizes integrative, independent learning and skill development.

    1. Research track | A traditional “honors thesis” where students complete research under the supervision of faculty members
    2. International track | Project based upon study or service abroad for a minimum duration of ten weeks.
    3. Professional track | Project based upon a full-time internship or co-op experience for a minimum duration of  ten weeks.  Two distinct internships with a single employer may also be used as the basis for a project, provided they total at least ten weeks (with UHP approval granted before the second internship).
    4. Creative track | Project based upon the creation of original creative work, principally for students in the fine and performing arts for whom artistic production is an essential scholarly activity.

All four tracks will require a significant intellectual product that is supervised and approved by a K-State mentor with appropriate expertise. This project can take many forms, given the diversity of academic disciplines that exist in our university. Common themes for the project are: independent study, close supervision of a faculty member, and final documentation (written thesis, video or audio record of performance) of the project.

Project approval must be obtained prior to beginning the proposed project via HAL

Students have the option for earning academic credit for the Honors Project. Consult with the UHP if you think that will be beneficial for your degree requirements. 

Students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to share their completed projects with the academic community.  This normally involves a poster or presentation and can be done at a number of venues; undergraduate research forums, class presentations, or a UHP spring gathering are all good options.

Have questions about the Honors requirements?  Our Frequently Asked Questions are a good place to start.  

Special note: students who matriculated (started taking K-State classes) and entered the UHP prior to January 2016 may continue to follow the previous curriculum.  Those requirements are preserved for reference at UHP Requirements Prior to January 2016.

Honors Project Details

The Honors Project serves as the culminating experience for the University Honors Program and is an opportunity to both develop and showcase your growing skills as a scholar. As you plan to complete the honors project, refer to the guidelines and instructions below, and please don't hesitate to contact the UHP if you have additional questions.

     Honors Project Guidelines

     Step-by-step instructions for project approval

Progress & Performance

Membership in the UHP confers certain benefits, and students must both make satisfactory progress toward completion of the UHP curriculum and uphold a high standard of academic performance in order to maintain membership in the UHP.  The benchmarks for satisfactory progress and performance are fully detailed in the following link:

     UHP Progress and Performance Policy

Transfer Credit Policy

We encourage high-achieving transfer students to apply for the University Honors Program.  To qualify for the program, transfer applicants must have a 3.5 GPA from their transfer institution.

Students may transfer honors courses from another accredited college or university to fulfill some of the Honors Program requirements. At a minimum the following must be completed at K-State:

  1. At least two courses or co-curricular experiences 
  2. The honors project

The UHP 189: Honors First-Year Seminar requirement may be satisfied through the transfer of an equivalent course from another institution. Transfer students who have not taken an equivalent course may petition to substitute our Research Topic and Proposal Development course instead (cross-listed as either DHE399 or GENAG396).