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The Honors Experience

The Honors College is more than just academics it's an experience that begins on your first day on campus, and continues beyond graduation. The Honors College Experience enhances the Madison Experience by intentionally mixing students from disciplines and majors from across the entire campus. This ecosystem creates experiences that move students to higher levels of commitment and success. It incubates ideas and experiments that enrich the entire campus community. The Honors Experience allows students to chart their own unique pathway and challenges them to intentionally link together the types of engaged Madison Experiences that we know transform lives.

Being in the Honors College affords you a number of unique benefits.


Enriched Curriculum

Honors classes encourage faculty and students to explore the world’s problems more creatively and in greater depth. Honors courses tend to emphasize discussion and persuasion, and challenge students to engage in rigorous and imaginative thinking.

The requirements of the Honors College are flexible. We grant students the freedom to shape their own honors curriculum to fit their interests and needs. Many Honors courses also satisfy other university or major requirements. The signature Areas of Emphasis course sequences provide opportunities for students to push their education beyond the classroom and help you develop real-world strengths in leadership, global studies, service, research, and creative expression. 


Authentic Faculty Mentorship

Authentic academic mentorship lies at the heart of the Honors experience. Through small classes, individualized study, and independent research, Honors students have access to exceptional faculty from across the university. The Honors Capstone Project provides the framework for close, sustained collaboration with a faculty mentor. Your mentors are dedicated to training a new generation of civic leaders, community change agents, and academic experts. For many Honors students the opportunity to forge these professional relationships endures as the most important moment of their college careers.


Research and Scholarly Opportunities

Scholarly work is a fundamental component of an Honors education. Undergraduate research and scholarship at JMU is extremely varied. It may involve scientists working in a lab or the field; archival investigations in the humanities or survey methods in the social and health sciences; business plans and website design; photo or art exhibitions; musical and dance recitals. Regardless of type, undergraduate scholarship increases a student’s depth of knowledge, strengthens critical thinking and writing ability, and develops long-range planning and project management skills.

All students in Honors are expected to assemble a portfolio of experiences, engage in research or scholarly work, or become involved in sustained creative endeavors during their time at JMU. The Honors Capstone Project, the culminating Honors activity, is a three-semester mentored experience culminating in a substantial written thesis, portfolio, or creative work.


Study Abroad

The Honors College offers specially-designed study abroad opportunities for its students. Honors Seminars Abroad allow students to explore a living part of the world’s cultural heritage for three weeks in May while earning six academic credits and fulfilling Honors requirements. Past years' destinations include London, Florence, Barcelona, Malta, and South Africa. JMU study abroad programs in Oxford, Cambridge, and St. Andrews also afford additional opportunities to earn Honors credits abroad. We encourage you to open additional doors to the world through the plentiful other study abroad programs offered through the university.

To help support these study abroad opportunities, Honors students are eligible for scholarship support. In addition, the Honors College office coordinates university applications for nationally competitive scholarships and works closely with students throughout the application process. Recent scholarships awarded to Honors students include the Fulbright, Goldwater, and Boren scholarships, among others.


Honors Housing in Shenandoah Hall

Shenandoah Hall

Honors students at JMU join a unique community of scholars. The Honors College offers its students the opportunity to live in dedicated Honors housing. Three hundred first and second year Honors students live together in Shenandoah Hall. The Honors Living and Learning Center provides experiences and facilities for high achieving, highly motivated, and intellectually curious students to live and work together with one another. Intellectual engagement is the primary driving forces in programming for the Honors Living and Learning Center.

Shenandoah Hall is air-conditioned and has wifi. It is located next to the E-Hall dining facility and is across the street from a world of beauty in the university's arboretum. Entering freshmen are encouraged, but not required, to live in the Honors residence hall. Honors students who come to JMU planning to live with a non-Honors student may be able to live in the Honors residence if space permits.


Additional Privileges and Benefits

Hillcrest House

  • Honors recognition on your transcript and diploma. 
  • Access to Hillcrest House facilities, which provide Honors students a comfortable student lounge, study areas, and a computer lab.
  • Honors faculty and advisors, who are there to help you make the most of your college experience.
  • Priority registration, because Honors students juggle demanding course loads and academic commitments.

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