University Honors Program

Extend your education with the University Honors Program.

The University Honors Program at Cal U provides academic, professional and social opportunities for students with high academic potential to join a supportive community of students who are challenging themselves to make the most of their university education.  

Incoming freshmen and Honors Program students in good standing are eligible for a number of honors-specific scholarships, grants and awards. They take innovative courses with outstanding Cal U faculty. Honors students also have access to honors housing in Smith Residence Hall, a dedicated computer lab and library.

The program’s director, Dr. M.G. Aune, is a professor of English at Cal U. The associate director, Dr. Craig Fox, is an associate professor of philosophy. Along with program secretary Kim Orslene they are available to answer your questions about the University Honors Program.

For information, contact the University Honors Program.
Mail:    California University of Pennsylvania
250 University Ave.
Box 100
California, PA 15419

Phone: 724-938-4535 or 724-938-1544

Read the latest University Honors Program newsletter

University Honors Program requirements

University Honors Program students must earn 24 honors credits by graduation. These credits are parallel to, not in addition to, the 120 credits a student must earn to graduate from Cal U. 

To remain in the Honors Program, students must:

  • Maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.25 or higher.
  • Demonstrate ability in all honors (HON) courses.
  • Demonstrate satisfactory progress throughout their Honors Program curriculum.

Any student who fails an HON course (not an addendum course) will immediately become ineligible for the program. If a student's GPA slips below 3.25, he or she may be granted up to two probationary semesters to bring the GPA up to the requirement. 

Students who do not meet progress requirements may be granted up to one probationary semester to earn more honors credits. During the probationary period, students lose some benefits of Honors Program membership, including early registration, honors courses through addendum and the priority housing option. 

Students who earn a GPA that cannot be recovered to a 3.25 within two semesters will be ineligible for the University Honors Program.

Students who join the Honors Program in their first year must complete a minimum of 12 honors credits (HON or addenda) by the end of their fourth semester of full-time study.

Students who join the program after their first year of full-time study are required to complete a minimum of nine honors credits (HON or addenda) by the end of their second semester of Honors Program membership and full-time study.

Students who are declared ineligible for the University Honors Program for any reason lose all UHP privileges, including early registration and the priority housing option.

Required Honors Courses

All honors students complete the following HON courses:

  • HON 100: Honors and University Orientation (1 cr.)
  • HON 150: Honors Composition I (3 cr.)*
  • HON 200: Honors Research Practice I (1 cr.)
  • HON 250: Honors Composition II (3 cr.)
  • HON 300: Honors Research Practice II (1 cr.)
  • HON 499: Honors Thesis Project (3 cr.)

HON 100 fulfills the University's freshman seminar requirement, HON 150 fulfills the University's Composition I requirement and HON 250 fulfills the University's Composition II requirement.

*Incoming freshmen may use AP scores or other credits to place out of HON 150.

Additional HON courses are available each semester. Read descriptions of all honors courses in the Academic Catalog.

Honors Program Course Rotation 

Every Fall Semester:

  • HON 100: Honors and University Orientation
  • HON 150: Honors Composition I
  • HON 499: Honors Thesis
  • Rotating Honors general education elective course
  • Rotating Honors general education elective course


Every Spring Semester:

  • HON 250: Honors Composition II
  • HON 200: Honors Research Practice I
  • HON 300: Honors Research Practice II
  • Rotating Honors general education elective course
  • Rotating Honors general education elective course



  • HON 265: Global Transitions I
  • HON 270: Global Transitions II
  • HON 320: Topics in Self and Society
  • HON 330: Topics in Culture and Society
  • HON 335: Topics in Science and Technology
  • HON 340: Topics in the Arts and Humanities
  • HON 490: Honors Research Practice


Spring 2018 Courses 

  • HON 340: Topics in Arts & Humanities - The Auteur Film (TR 3.30-4.45), taught by Dr. M.G. Aune, director of University Honors Program and professor, Department of English.
  • HON 201: Quantitative Problem Solving (TR 2.00-3.15), taught by Dr. Craig Fox, associate director of University Honors Program and associate professor, Department of Communication, Design and Culture.

Read course descriptions in the Academic Catalog.

Addendums: Honors Credits for Non-Honors Courses

In order to accumulate the required 24 honors credits by graduation, an Honors Program student should earn at least three honors credits per semester. 

An addendum is an opportunity for a student to earn honors credits for a non-honors course. Students gain a deeper understanding of the course content by independently pursuing a meaningful project that has been mutually created by the student and the instructor and extends beyond the typical coursework. 

An addendum allows an Honors Program student to:

  • Explore a subject of interest in greater depth, detail, or creativity.
  • Pursue work that might contribute to his/her honors thesis project.
  • Pursue work that might provide the basis for a conference presentation, publication or graduate school application.
  • Learn more about current research and developments in a particular disciplinary area.

Learn about the Addendum Process for students.

Thesis Projects: The Honors Program Capstone

The thesis project is intended to be the capstone of the student's education and Honors Program experience and an opportunity to demonstrate his/her skills in a chosen field. Students have freedom in designing their projects. Past thesis projects have ranged from traditional research projects of approximately 30 pages to creative writing pieces to original artistic works such as dance recitals and gallery shows 

Students earn three (3) HON credits for the project by registering for HON 499. The course is offered in the fall, and students typically present their thesis project in the spring, after two semesters of work.

For the thesis project, each student works with a committee of four or more faculty members of their choice:

  • A thesis adviser. (This does not have to be your major adviser, but should be someone with whom you have a good working relationship.)
  • An independent reviewer.
  • An Honors Advisory Board member.
  • A research librarian

Members must be faculty at Cal U, and at least one must be from the Honors Advisory Board. The committee guides the student in creating a reliable and valid thesis in his/her chosen area of study. Once a student has arranged a committee and proposed a project, he/she must complete and submit an honors thesis declaration form to the University Honors Program office. 

Students are required to present their theses to their committees and classmates upon completion. Family and friends may attend the presentation, which is typically about 20-25 minutes, followed by questions from the Honors Advisory Board and others in attendance. At the end, the committee will meet (with the Honors Program director and/or associate director) to discuss the project and grades. It is common for the committee to request a final round of changes to the thesis before assigning a final grade.

Students may begin working on their thesis projects at any time; however, they may not register for HON 499 until they have completed 18 honors credits (HON courses or addenda). 

Typically, students earn a grade of "Incomplete" for the HON 499 course at the end of fall semester. That grade is replaced with the final grade once the thesis project is completed, typically during the spring semester.