University Honors Program

Mission and Vision

Collaborating in the Catholic, Jesuit educational tradition, the University Honors Program (UHP) fosters intellectual excellence, an appreciation of ethical context, and an awareness of the spiritual and religious dimensions of human existence. As citizens and leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion, UHP students at Santa Clara University will use their gifts to cultivate knowledge and faith to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world.

General Information

The University Honors Program is the umbrella Honors Program for the entire university, providing Santa Clara's most able students with intellectual opportunities based in small, seminar-style classes, especially in courses fulfilling Undergraduate Core Curriculum requirements. The UHP course of study combines broadly based, liberal learning with depth of specialization in a major field. UHP courses are designed to fit within the curricula of the humanities, natural and social sciences, business, and engineering. Possible majors include every undergraduate field in the University. With no more than 17 students each, seminars emphasize analytical rigor, effective expression, and interaction among professors and students. In the classroom and elsewhere on campus, UHP students enjoy a level of collaboration exceptional even at Santa Clara.

Notable Features

The University Honors Program features priority registration, housing in four of the eight RLCs, special lectures every quarter, a comprehensive year-long senior thesis or project, and special fellowships and scholarships available only to Honors students.

How and When to Apply

Level I

The Honors Program admits 68 first-year students each fall into what is called Level I. Entry at Level I is usually by invitation to admitted first-year students who are Presidential Scholars, Provost Scholars, or Johnson Scholar semi-finalists. Level I includes a curriculum of nine Honors-level courses plus a senior thesis. Some additional students are accepted for entry at Level I based on available space. Students must submit applications for Level I by April 15 the year before entrance into the University. Level I application forms are available on the UHP website at

Level II

First-year students who have established a grade point average of 3.65 after completing 32 units of study at Santa Clara may apply for admission to Level II. Applicants will be evaluated for entry into Level II based on academic performance, recommendation letters from two SCU faculty members, a written essay, and an interview with the Director. Five Honors-level courses plus a thesis are required for students admitted at this level. Students must submit applications for Level II by the end of week 4 in the spring quarter of their first year. Level II application forms are available on the UHP website at

During the spring quarter, after consultation with the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions to determine acceptance criteria, the Director will identify a group of "Distinguished First-Year Students." These students will attend a special reception in their honor where they will be recognized for their academic achievements at SCU, introduced to University administrators, and informed of useful University programs. Each of these students will be automatically invited into the UHP if he or she is not already a member. These students do not need to submit an application, but will need to meet with the Director for information on the program.

Students who transfer from another institution are normally asked to complete 32 quarter units at Santa Clara, with a 3.65 GPA, before applying to the UHP. Based on academic records, faculty recommendations, and consultations with admissions officers, exceptions may be made for a student arriving from an equally selective four-year university.

Qualifications for First-Year Admission

The University Honors Program generally draws its students from among those already admitted to the University as a Presidential Scholar, Provost Scholar, or Johnson Scholar Semi-finalist. This acceptance recognizes high achievement in classes, standardized tests, service to school and community, leadership, and a desire for lifelong learning.

Entering Honors Program students typically present a combined SAT score in the upper 1400s or higher, with a correspondingly high grade point average in college-prep courses. As a rule, the first-year UHP class averages a cumulative SAT score of about 1500 and college-prep GPA above 3.9, with comparable ACT scores (above 32).

These considerations represent typical qualifications and do not guarantee admission to the program. The Director and faculty may weigh other factors in determining a candidate's suitability for the limited number of places available each year.

For more information about courses offered through the University Honors Program, see Chapter 6.

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