BYU Honors Program
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|Affiliation||The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints|
|Location||Provo, Utah, United States|
|Director||Dr. Spencer Magelby|
|Affiliations||Brigham Young University|
The BYU Honors Program is a department within the College of Undergraduate Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The program complements the university's educational agenda by providing the benefits of a small liberal arts learning community to interested students. These benefits include offering small classes with learning that challenge students to reach their highest potential; fostering a spirit of ongoing inquiry that includes undergraduate research in a mentored environment; and underscoring the importance of combining personal excellence, faithful discipleship, and meaningful service.
The program awards the distinction of University Honors, the highest distinction BYU awards its graduates. The distinction requires students to complete an honors curriculum requirement, a Great Questions requirement, an Experiential Learning requirement, an honors thesis requirement, and a graduation portfolio that summarizes the student's honors experiences.
The BYU Honors Program began in 1960 with just 100 students in order "to provide capable and motivated students with an enriched education." Another 50 students joined them in the spring semester. Its goal, according to university president Ernest L. Wilkinson, was nothing less than to "cultivate the best young brainpower in the nation." The first quarter century of the program's operation witnessed numerous administrative adjustments and curriculum changes in order to help fulfill Karl G. Maeser's vision of this hill covered with temples of learning.
The Honors Program's first home was in the Harold B. Lee Library, where it functioned for many years in increasingly crowded facilities before moving temporarily to the Heber J. Grant Building. Innovative new courses were created, and the best possible faculty mobilized to provide a quality experience for students. One uniquely stimulating feature has been the freshman colloquium, and interdisciplinary forum taught by a team of three or more professors from different fields of expertise, and emphasizing integrated, mutual learning.
Perhaps the most significant development during these years has been the institution of an "open door" policy for Honors participation, making it possible for any capable student to take Honors classes and become involved in honors activities. Formal membership is no longer required. The BYU Honors Program is open to all students willing to put forth the effort necessary to achieve their fullest potential.
In 2013, BYU modified the requirements to graduate with University Honors.
The program is overseen by a director who typically serves as an associate dean to the College of Undergraduate Education concurrently. The Honors program at BYU is open-enrollment, meaning that any student can commit to graduate with university honors and join the honors program. Honors students have certain privileges, such as discounted tickets to arts events (to help offset the cost of the Great Works requirement) and the opportunity to pre-register for honors classes.
The designation University Honors on some Brigham Young University transcripts and diplomas is not to be confused with the variant forms of Latin honors (e.g., "cum laude") that BYU, like other universities, uses to recognize graduates with high grade point averages. Instead, it represents participation in an uncommon educational experience—designed to bring out the best in undergraduates of unusual promise. This designation is the highest distinction BYU awards its graduates, and it is sometimes referred to as "highest honors." About 4,100 young men and women have earned that recognition in the past 47 years. Recipients of this designation receive a medal to wear at graduation and their diplomas display "University Honors."
Prior to June 2013, the distinction required students to complete an honors curriculum requirement, a Great Works requirement, an Advanced Languages requirement, a service requirement, an honors thesis requirement, a graduation portfolio that summarizes the student's honors experiences—all while maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA. In June 2013, BYU modified the program, removing the GPA and Advanced Languages requirements, and changing other aspects of the Great Works (now "Great Questions") and service (now "Experiential Learning") requirements.
The Honors Program is commonly a testing ground for innovative and new ideas. Many professors teach Honors courses that are so unique that the only logical place to offer their course is in the Honors Program.
- "Honors". Brigham Young University. Archived from the original on August 8, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- "BYU Graduation Honors". Brigham Young University. Archived from the original on 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- "New Program Requirements" (PDF). BYU Honors Program. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- "HBR Profile". Retrieved 16 February 2013.
- Horowitz, Jason (February 18, 2012). "Mitt Romney, as a student at a chaotic time for BYU, focused on family, church". The Washington Post.