The Lemieux Library on campus

University Honors Program

Dive into your intellectual passions through a series of academically challenging seminars with other students as curious as you.

Develop Your Skills to the Fullest in Honors

While Honors programs at  other institutions simply provide special sections of regular classes, our university Honors program was crafted to offer a sequence of special seminar-style classes. 

For more than fifty years, the Seattle University Honors Program has provided learners like you with the opportunity to join a community of engaged students and professors, dedicated to the study of great works, ideas and histories that have shaped the development of our world.

Replaces Core Curriculum

Our dynamic Honors program courses fulfill all core curriculum requirements in your program of study.

Empowered Leaders in True Community

Our university Honors program operates on a cohort model that provides you with an invested community of fellow students who will go through the curriculum with you, as you all grow together in your knowledge and leadership skills. 

Through our seminar-style classroom philosophy, paper conferences and oral exams, you will develop poise and confidence in public speaking, conducting research and exchanging knowledge and ideas. 

We consider our university Honors program the perfect pairing of knowledge and skills necessary for you to succeed as a leader in our world today.

Choose an Honors Track That's Right for You

Our Honors program offers three tracks to accommodate and complement students’ diverse interests and collegiate aspirations.

Students in classroom

Intellectual Traditions

This two-year track creates an intensive focus on the humanities disciplines of philosophy, history and literature, the social sciences, and the history and philosophy of science. It provides a strong foundation for a variety of majors.

Professor and students in class

Society, Policy and Citizenship

This two-year track is similar to the Intellectual Traditions track in your first year and places a strong emphasis on political economy and the social sciences in your second year. If you are interested in public policy-oriented careers that complement the social justice focus of the university mission, this could be a great fit for you.

Kathleen Hannick in dark shirt learns she is a Truman Scholar


This three-year track focuses on the idea of innovation as it has informed various areas of human endeavor from ancient times to the present. It is a great option if your intended major includes a large number of required classes offered at specific times.

How It Works

Admission to the Honors Program is for incoming first-year students. University Honors applicants must first apply for admission to Seattle University before completing an additional Honors application.

The first step in applying to Honors is to submit your Common Application to the university. Once your application has been processed by the admissions team, if you have applied to a program compatible with Honors, you will see an invitation to submit an application to the Honors program towards the bottom of your SU application portal/checklist.

  • Due to credit-intensive requirements in the first two years, Nursing, Diagnostic Ultrasound, BS in Computer Science, BS in Biology, BS in Criminal Justice, Criminology and Forensics, specialization in Forensic Science, and BS majors who pursue the Pre-Health Pathway can only take the Innovations track.
  • Pre-Health students majoring with a BA in Biology, English, Creative Writing, History or Philosophy can take any of the three Honors tracks.
  • Science majors pursuing a BA can take any of the three Honors tracks.
  • Engineering students cannot be admitted to the University Honors Program because of class schedule conflicts.
  • Matteo Ricci students are ineligible for the University Honors Program because its program of study has a separate curriculum.

By the end of their course of study, University Honors students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an ability to integrate, analyze, and respond to primary texts and critical issues by using the vocabulary, interpretive methodologies, and theoretical perspectives of different disciplines.
  • Demonstrate the skills of attentive listening, effective communicating, and reflective thinking so that they can be critical when evaluating their own work and the work of others.
  • Apply their synthesized study of the perennial questions about meaning and value to the discussions of specific disciplines as well as to their own lives and to the contemporary world.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to intellectual inquiry, ethical engagement, social justice, and just action so that they are capable of acting as leaders in their fields of study and beyond.
  • Demonstrate historically-grounded knowledge of local and global issues, engaging perspectives from multiple traditions–particularly marginalized traditions–both past and present.


Sahil Bathija on stage at commencement with othersStudents in the program receive an $1,800 Honors scholarship for all four years of their undergraduate education.

All current Honors students in the Intellectual Traditions and Society, Policy and Citizenship tracks with a 3.0 or higher GPA are also eligible for the Madsen Family Honors Program Scholarship.

Recipients are selected based on their academic performance and commitment to Honors, with priority given to students in the Intellectual Traditions track.


Photo of Dave Madsen in front of red backgroundThese awards to qualified students in the  Intellectual Traditions and Society, Policy and Citizenship tracks with a 3.0 or higher GPA are endowed by Dr. Dave Madsen and his wife Mary Anne. A former Honors Director and Professor Emeritus of History, Dr. Madsen taught with inspiration and dedication in the University Honors Program for over thirty-five years before his retirement.

The Madsen Family Honors Program Scholarships, which commemorate Dr. Madsen’s career at Seattle University, are awarded to outstanding students at the end of their first year in the Program. Recipients are selected based on their academic performance and commitment to Honors, with priority given to students in the Intellectual Traditions track.

The scholarships are announced at the annual Honors celebration at the close of spring quarter, and are applied at the start of the next year in the Honors Program.

University Honors students are strong candidates for other scholarships at Seattle University and beyond.

In addition to the Honors scholarship, during spring quarter of sophomore year many Honors students apply for and receive Naef or Bannan scholarships.

While still in the program some Honors students have been awarded Fulbright awards to pursue summer studies in New York or London. The Honors program has also produced many Truman Scholars. 

Visit Financial Aid and Scholarships for more information.

Hear from Our Alumni

Photo of Isabella in pink dress in front of a wall

Isabel Gilbertson, ’22

Since graduating, Isabel has been a U.S. Fulbright Research Fellow, Vietnam and is now a candidate for her Masters in Public Health at the University of Michigan. “I owe not only my Fulbright award and graduate school acceptances but also my ongoing academic curiosity to the Honors program. Each professor that welcomed me at office hours, helped me grow academically, and wrote me a letter of recommendation has changed my life."

Psychology and Public Affairs, University Honors

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University Honors Program