The Honors Program

Director: Linda Tredennick
Associate Director: Erik Schmidt

The Honors Program at Gonzaga is an energetic community of student and faculty scholars dedicated to the importance of intellectual inquiry and creative expression. The program provides students an enhanced liberal arts curriculum in which they are encouraged to take ownership of their learning, research agenda, personal and professional goals. Faculty work to help cultivate the intellectual virtues and skills that will allow students to flourish. We strive to promote an active commitment to social justice, global awareness and engagement, interdisciplinary approaches to critical questions, collaboration, and academic excellence. We offer a vibrant and sustaining intellectual life both in and outside of the classroom for our students and for the Gonzaga community as a whole.


The program consists of two parts: annual Honors colloquia (the Greek word for conversation) and Honors sections for much of the University Core. The Honors Colloquia takes interdisciplinary and highly active approaches to important aspects of contemporary society. 

The second part of the academic program consists of a number of honors seminar sections of core classes. They break down as follows:

  • First Year Seminar: HONS 190, the Freshmen Honors Colloquium, will fulfill the First Year Seminar requirement in the University Core for Honors students
    Philosophy: There are four honors philosophy seminars: PHIL 101H, PHIL 201H, PHIL 301H and finally a senior honors philosophy seminar, PHIL 489H on the Philosophy of Technology. (which doubles as the Core Integration Seminar for Honors students).
  • English: There are three honors English seminars, ENGL101H an advanced writing course, and two literature seminars, ENGL 104H and ENGL 206H.
  • Math and Science: All students are required to take first semester calculus (MATH 157) and one science course.
  • Social Science: One University Core Social and Behavioral Science course
  • History: One University Core History course
  • Religious Studies: There are two required Religious Studies courses, one of which is an honors seminar: a History of American Christianity seminar (RELI 240H) and one from a wide array of world religion core courses.
  • Fine Arts: Honors Students are required to take 6 credits in music, art or drama, 3 of which may be performance credits.
  • Speech: There is an honors Rhetoric seminar (COMM 270H).
  • Foreign Language: Two year college proficiency in a modern language or one year in classical Greek or Latin.

Honors students are also strongly encouraged to spend a semester abroad (typically in their junior year). The Honors program has a wide experience with a number of study abroad programs catering to various fields of interest, including engineering, the physical sciences, and business.

Honors students majoring in Engineering, Business, Human Physiology and Nursing have somewhat reduced Honors common curriculum requirements due to their heavier course loads.

Student Development

One of the most important elements of the Honors program is the community, friendship, and mentorship it provides. Crimont Hall is the home of the Honors Living-Learning Community, but also provides a quiet, library-style study lounge, a lounge for socializing and relaxing, kitchens, recreational equipment, academic space, and access to Honors Faculty. Throughout the year, it hosts many events, including social for the Bigs Littles (student mentorship) program, class dinners, lectures, open houses for families and the Gonzaga community, and the annual Haunted House.

The Honors program also sponsors two all-program retreats, a Christmas party, the Senior brunch, and a number of co-curricular and social events.

A hallmark of the program is its emphasis on leadership and service. Honors students are found in leadership positions across campus and serving throughout the Spokane community. Upon graduation, a sizable number of students choose to enter a service program such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or the Peace Corps. Many also apply for post-baccalaureate awards, such as Fulbright, Marshall, and Rhodes scholarships. Honors students are awarded their diplomas with a special honors designation and are granted special recognition at commencement ceremonies.


Approximately thirty five to forty members of the entering freshman class are accepted into the program. Acceptance is based not only on evidence of previous academic achievement, but also on promise of future success. The application process values extra-curricular interests, intellectual curiosity and engagement, and ability to bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the program. For more information, one can contact the Honors Program office at 509-313-6790.

Honors Program Requirements

Honors students will complete the University Core curriculum by completing specific Honors sections for some requirements, traditional sections for the rest of the requirements, and also completing some additional requirements. The requirements listed below reflect the additional requirements for Honors students and the specific Honors sections required for certain core requirements. This is not an exhaustive list of all core courses that will be required. For a list of all University Core curriculum requirements, please visit the University Core curriculum section under the Degree Requirements and Procedures page.

Honors Colloquia
HONS 190 Freshman Honors Colloquium(1) 3 credits
HONS 290 Sophomore Honors Colloquium  3 credits
HONS 390 Junior Honors Colloquium 3 credits
HONS 490 Senior Honors Colloquium 3 credits
Honors Seminar Sections - Core Courses  
PHIL 101H Reasoning - Honors 3 credits 
PHIL 201H Philosophy of Human Nature - Honors
3 credits
PHIL 301H Ethics - Honors 3 credits
PHIL 489H Philosophy of Technology(2) 3 credits
ENGL 101H Writing - Honors 3 credits
ENGL 104H Honors Literature I 3 credits
ENGL 206H Honors Literature II(3) 3 credits
MATH 157 Calculus- Analytic Geometry I (or higher) 4 credits
RELI 240H American Christianity Seminar  3 credits
COMM 270H Honors Rhetoric 3 credits
Fine Arts and Design: 3 credits beyond University Core requirement, may be performance credits 3 credits
Foreign Language: Two year college proficiency in a modern language or one year in classical Greek or Latin
(1) HONS 190 fulfills the University Core First Year Seminar requirement.  
(2) PHIL 489H fulfills the University Core Integration Seminar requirement.  
(3) ENGL 206H is only required for students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education.   
Lower Division
HONS 190 Freshman Honors Colloquium
3.00 credits
For Honors Students
HONS 290 Sophomore Honors Colloquium
3.00 credits
For Honors Students
HONS 190 Minimum Grade: D
Upper Division
HONS 390 Junior Honors Colloquium
3.00 credits
For Honors Students
HONS 190 Minimum Grade: D
HONS 490 Senior Honors Colloquium
.00- 3.00 credits
For Honors Students
HONS 190 Minimum Grade: D
HONS 497 Honors Leadership Internship
1.00- 3.00 credits
Internship requires completion of a form, and Dept. permission and cannot be registered for via ZAGWEB. For Honors Students.
HONS 190 Minimum Grade: D

In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.

The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.

Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?

  • The First-Year Seminar (DEPT 193, 3 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of FYS courses).  
  • Writing (ENGL 101, 3 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
  • Communication & Speech (COMM 100, 3 credits): This course introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.
  • Scientific Inquiry (BIOL 104/104L, CHEM 104/104L, or PHYS 104/104L, 3 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
  • Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.

Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?

  • Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
  • Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses) .

Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?

  • Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?” 

  • Core Integration Seminar (DEPT 432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by several departments across the University (click here [PDF] for list of CIS courses).

The Broadening Courses

  • Fine Arts & Design (VART, MUSC, THEA, 3 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
  • Literature (3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences (3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

The Designations
Designations are embedded within already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.

  • Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Writing (ENGL 101), which carries one of the WE designations, students must take two other WE-designated courses (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).
  • Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here [PDF] for a list of approved courses).

Major-specific adaptations to the University Core Curriculum

All Gonzaga students, regardless of their major, will complete the University Core Curriculum requirements. However some Gonzaga students will satisfy certain core requirements through major-specific programs or courses. Any major-specific adaptations to the core are described with the requirements for the majors to which they apply.