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Honors Program at JWU Denver: Handbook

Honors Thesis Courses

Handbook and Guidelines

The Honors Program at Johnson & Wales University provides academically advanced students pursuing a Bachelor's degree an Honors-caliber education, builds a community of scholars, and enriches the university's curriculum.  Most students enter the Honors Program upon admission to the university and are selected by the Admissions Office based on a number of factors, including test scores, grade point average, class rank, and other criteria, as well as an application essay.  Non-honors students are eligible to apply to the Honors Program after they have completed at least one term of study at the university and should contact the Honors Directors regarding the application process and requirements.  

Why participate?
Honors scholars have the opportunity to enroll in an enhanced, academic curriculum that will help them develop writing, research, and leadership skills, while producing an impressive portfolio of original, high-quality work.

The program is made up of advanced courses that have small student-to-faculty ratios and are taught by our most dedicated and energetic faculty.  These courses are designed to engage students at a high level, foster independent thinking, develop professional communication skills, and allow frequent opportunities for producing original scholarship and innovative projects.

The program culminates with the completion of an Honors Thesis. The Honors Thesis provides students with the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty mentor while conducting independent research on a topic about which they are passionate. These projects stand as the best evidence to potential employers and graduate school admissions committees of a student's individual aptitude, initiative, and capacity for success.

University Honors Scholar Designation
Students who successfully complete all of the program requirements will graduate as a University Honors Scholar, one of our institution's highest undergraduate academic distinctions. 

Note that the commencement program and the distribution of honors regalia is based on student information as of the Winter term prior to graduation.  Honors students who complete their final program requirements in the Spring term will not have their honors designations appear in the commencement program. They will appear on the final transcript and diploma.

Honors Program Requirements
Honors Students must complete eight (8) total courses:

Two (2) Foundation courses (ENG 1024 and ENG 1027), four (4) Honors Seminars* of their own choosing, and two (2) Thesis Research seminars (RSCH 3020 and RSCH 4020).

Finally, Honors Students are required to complete an Honors Thesis, which must be approved by the Honors Advisory Council.

Requirements for Earning Honors Credit:
All Honors students must receive a course grade of B or better for their work to count toward the required course total. All Honors theses must receive a grade of B or better and be approved by the Honors Advisory Council.

Transfer Courses:
Transfer courses may be used to satisfy general education requirements, but they do not count toward the final number of courses required for the University Honors Scholar designation, unless the course was specifically designated as an Honors course and was taken at a member institution of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

GPA Requirements:
Honors Program students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.40 or better to continue in the program. Students who fail to maintain this GPA will be placed on Honors Warning for one term. Students who fail to attain the 3.40 GPA after that term will be placed on Honors Probation. Students whose GPA remains below 3.40 for a third term will be dropped from the Honors Program. Only one warning and one probationary term are allowed in the entire undergraduate program.

Curriculum Overview
First-year Honors students begin by enrolling in the Honors Foundation, a two-course sequence consisting of Honors Composition: Writing in the Academy (ENG 1024) and Honors Advanced Composition: Civic Discourse (ENG 1027). These courses provide foundational instruction in writing mechanics, research skills, source evaluation and documentation, and critical analysis. 

Once completing the Honors Foundation, students complete four (4) Honors Seminars. These courses are designed to build sequentially upon the skills learned in the Honors Foundation, ultimately preparing students for completing an Honors Thesis. Honors Seminars are topic-specific and cover a wide range of academic disciplines. Students choose from a menu of seminar options each term.

Students finish the program by producing an Honors Thesis. To complete the thesis, students enroll in a two-course sequence consisting of the Honors Research Seminar (RSCH 3020) and the Honors Directed Academic Experience (RSCH 4020). RSCH 3020 provides advanced instruction in research methodologies, guiding students towards the production of a Prospectus (a detailed thesis proposal). In RSCH 4020, students work one-on-one with an individual faculty mentor to complete their Honors Thesis.

Program requirements are completed once the Honors Thesis is approved by the Honors Advisory Council.

The Honors Thesis: A Capstone Experience

All Honors students who wish to graduate with honors and receive the distinction of Honors Scholar are required to complete an Honors Thesis. This project represents a student's culminating achievement in the Honors Program and stands as the best evidence to potential employers and graduate school admissions committees of a student's individual aptitude, initiative, and capacity for success. This project also offers the opportunity to build close relationships with dedicated faculty mentors working in the student's area of interest.

To complete this requirement, students must engage in scholarly research that results in an Honors Thesis of 35 or more pages. At least twenty-five quality sources listed in the Works Cited should support this research. The topic can be related to the student's major or any Arts & Sciences discipline.

Honors Thesis: Overview
The Honors thesis begins with the Honors Advisory Seminar (RSCH 3020). It is recommended that Honors students enroll in RSCH 3020 once they have completed the Honors Foundation and four (4) Honors Seminar courses. 

In RSCH 3020, students explore what makes good scholarship through close investigation of the components of academic inquiry and a variety of research styles.  They are introduced to the strategies of crafting solid research questions, selecting appropriate methodologies and delivering on research agendas.  By the end of RSCH 3020, students will prepare a Thesis Prospectus (detailed research proposal), which includes a project abstract and literature review. They will also select an appropriate Faculty Mentor for their thesis project with the help of their RSCH 3020 instructor and the Honors Program Directors.

In the Directed Academic Experience (RSCH 4020) students complete their thesis project in close consultation with a Faculty Mentor.  Students work one-on-one with their chosen mentor to establish a schedule for meetings and deadlines, assess progress, revise project elements as necessary, and prepare the final work. 

Students are also responsible for seeking approval of their work by the Honors Advisory Council at three specific stages throughout the writing process: (1) the Prospectus Review (at the conclusion of RSCH 3020); (2) the Interim Review (midway through RSCH 4020); and (3) the Final Review (at the completion of RSCH 4020). The thesis is only complete once given final approval by the HAC.

Transferring into the Honors Program

Transfer students may enter the Honors program directly if they can provide documentation of Honors Program enrollment at their former institution, provided their GPA is 3.40 or higher at the time of their acceptance at JWU.

Non-Honors students may apply to the Honors program after the completion of at least one term of university study.  Please see the Honors Program Director for details on the application process and requirements.


The Johnson & Wales University Honors Program is affiliated with the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), the nation's premier organization of undergraduate Honors programs.  

Keep in touch!
Students should maintain contact with the Honors Office throughout their studies at Johnson & Wales University.  They are responsible for notifying the Honors Office of their current contact information.  They should also notify the Honors Office of their graduation date, academic absence or any other change in their regular schedule. 

Honors students are responsible for fulfilling the required Honors courses they need to graduate from the Honors Program. They should also check in periodically with the Honors Office to confirm their progress.  Student Academic Services reviews all Honors student transcripts to determine Honors Program graduation designations.

Honors Program Contacts

  • Office: Centennial Hall Rm 325
  • Email:; 
  • Phone(303) 256 - 9334

Mailing Address:
Honors Program
Johnson & Wales University
7150 E. Montview Blvd. 
Denver, CO, 80220