Frequently Asked Questions
Built on the legacy of honors education at Rutgers-New Brunswick, the Honors College is distinct from the school-based honors programs in the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and School of Engineering. While the school-based honors programs serve students only in their specific schools, the Honors College brings together students from across the liberal arts and professional schools to live and work together to tackle global issues in a community where intellectual curiosity, hands-on knowledge, diversity, collaboration, and giving back are central to its philosophy. The Honors College requires all of its first year students to live in the Honors College living-learning community as part of its mission of creating an interdisciplinary experience for high-achieving students across academic fields.
While students in the school-based honors programs and the Honors College have different curricular requirements and extracurricular opportunities, they share much honors coursework and meet together frequently through co-curricular and scholarly forums.
Learn more about Honors at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
The deans and faculty of the schools participating in the Honors College—the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, School of Engineering, Rutgers Business School, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy—work closely with the administration and staff of the Honors College.
Students accepted into these participating schools may also be invited to become members of the residential Honors College. Members of the Honors College are granted their degrees by the schools to which they were accepted, and must complete all core requirements for the Honors College, for their academic school of enrollment, and for their chosen major(s)/minor(s).
While test scores and GPAs are important markers of academic achievement, they are far from the sole criteria we take into account in selecting Honors College students. The Honors College’s mission is to bring top students from all of the schools together based on each school’s particular criteria and its pool of admitted students.
Not necessarily. The Honors College selects top students from each school, based on that school’s pool of admitted students. It is possible you could be invited to be part of the Honors College through one school, and not through another. For example, you could be admitted to the engineering, pharmacy, and fine arts schools, but only be invited into the Honors College through the pharmacy school.
All Honors College students receive a four year renewable scholarship.
For more information, visit our scholarships page.
A core element of the Honors College is the first year living/learning environment, where students from across the New Brunswick campuses, representing the different schools, come together for shared academic and extracurricular experiences. Because we see this first year experience in the Honors College community as quintessential to what the Honors College is, we do not accept students after their first year. However, for continuing or transfer students who are interested in pursuing an honors education, they may contact the honors programs based within the individual schools. Learn more by contacting the school-based honors programs.
A student’s Honors College membership continues as long as he or she meets the minimum academic requirements and remains a student in good standing with the Honors College. That remains the case if the student transfers to a different school at Rutgers–New Brunswick. However, students who seek to change schools after enrollment cannot be guaranteed continued receipt of their scholarship. Each student’s petition will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the dean of the school to which the student wants to transfer.
Because the first year experience in the Honors College community is quintessential to the Honors College, we do not accept students after their first year, and this includes transfer students. Many of the school-specific honors programs will continue to offer opportunities to transfer and continuing students. Learn more by contacting the school-based honors programs.
There is no separate application for the Honors College. To be considered for the Honors College, students must apply to Rutgers by the regular December 1 deadline.
Honors College students are invited from among the highest achieving students admitted into the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, School of Engineering, Rutgers Business School, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.
The Honors College takes a holistic approach to selecting students, including review of academics, after school activities, community involvement, GPA, and test scores. While test scores are only a part of the evaluation, the median SAT score for the Honors College class of 2022 is 1530.
Honors College invitations go out in early February.
To accept your invitation to the Honors College, you need to officially enroll at the academic school through which you've been invited. Please keep in mind that your Honors College invitation is linked to the school through which you were invited and is non-transferrable.
We also encourage you to complete your housing application through your Enrollment Pathway as soon as possible, by June 1 at the latest.
Please note, if you do not see the Honors College as a choice on your housing application in the enrollment pathway, do not worry. You will automatically be placed in the Honors College community.
Honors College students are afforded a variety of opportunities, beginning with living in the Honors College community for first year students. Honors College students receive support on every level, with dedicated academic advisers, academic and administrative staff, live-in faculty, and peer mentors in the Honors College building. The facility itself provides a number of benefits from high-tech seminar spaces to lounges throughout the building designed for collaborating in groups, socializing, or studying quietly.
Honors College students also have access to tutoring, dedicated extra- and co-curricular programs, honors housing opportunities beyond the first year, special internships and research opportunities, specific funding for study abroad, and more. Honors students at Rutgers also have exclusive registration for honors classes and honors sections of classes.
The Honors College is a four-year experience that begins with living in the Honors College community in the first year. In addition to living in the Honors College community, requirements for members include:
- The Honors College Forum—an interdisciplinary, hands-on exploration of major technological, cultural, political, and social issues in our world, featuring small student teams learning about cultural diversity and working together to propose innovative solutions addressing global health, sustainability, conflict, environmental problems, technological and political disparities, and more.
- A Byrne First Year Seminar—a one-credit exposure to the excitement of original ideas as faculty members share their curiosity, their intellectual passions, and how they develop new ideas and fields of knowledge.
- Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars—the classic scholarly format: work intensively in small classes with faculty on research topics from climate change to the role of play in different species, and from definitions of good and evil to mapping the brain.
- Departmental Honors Courses—honors sections of traditional and special departmental honors classes that can fulfill school or major requirements, and provide a smaller, more hands-on experience than the traditional, non-honors sections of these courses.
- Service Learning—a total of 30 hours of approved service in the first three years as part of the Honors College mission to develop service-minded “innovation citizens.”
- Capstone Project—the culmination of the four year experience, an original, sustained project under the supervision of a faculty adviser, complete with funding for research, that can range from the traditional honors thesis to performances, and from prototype design to professional work in the field.
One of the most compelling parts of the Honors College is that it brings top students and faculty from across the liberal and professional schools of the New Brunswick campuses into one living/learning community. In that environment, students can interact with one another both in their residence hall experience and in their academic lives, taking common coursework and participating in classes on site in the seminar rooms in the facility. Seminars, especially, are interdisciplinary by design, engaging students from multiple disciplines in cross-cutting knowledge and research. In addition, from their first year forward, all Honors College students have access to on-site Honors College specific programming, including arts and musical performances and social events with faculty, and special trips to area museums, exhibits, and lectures.
Yes. Honors College women may also be a part of Douglass Residential College (DRC). Students must complete the residential and mission course requirements of both programs. In their first year, DRC women live together in the Honors College DRC section. This fulfills the Douglass residential requirement and gives DRC women the option of moving to a DRC residence hall in their second year.
The Honors College Forum, or mission course, must be taken in the first year. Honors College DRC women must also take the DRC mission course during either their first or second year as scheduling allows.
Honors College coursework is integrated into a student’s course of study so as not to conflict with or add additional credits to the student’s school/major requirements. In order to graduate as an Honors College Scholar, Honors College students will complete the Honors College curriculum, including coursework, capstone project, and service requirements. Honors College students must meet the requirements of their departments, majors, and schools as well.
Students who complete all Honors College requirements will have the designation "Honors College Scholar" on their diplomas.
After the first year, Honors College students have opportunities for honors housing across the New Brunswick campuses though they continue to have full access to the programming and professional opportunities regularly taking place in the Honors College. Additionally, Honors College members who have moved to other campuses will also have opportunities to develop programming to suit the needs and interests of their own localized honors communities. Such programming may include workshops for pre-med and pre-law students, social events, workshops on senior capstones, and cultural gatherings.
No. All first year members of the Honors College must live in the Honors College community.
Some Honors College scholarships are designated specifically for the Honors College. Students should contact the Honors College directly to find out about their particular cases. If a student wants to participate in a school-based honors program rather than the Honors College, he or she must contact that school’s honors program.
At the center of the Honors College is the unique living and learning environment provided by the new facility. This dedicated residence for first year students also houses the administrative offices, apartments for live-in faculty, high-tech seminar rooms, and a variety of lounges designed for collaborating in groups, socializing, and studying quietly.
Like other residence halls at New Brunswick (with the exception of the Douglass campus), the residence hall is co-ed. In arrangement with the Douglass Residential College, part of one floor of the Honors College residence is designated as all-women.
The Honors College admissions process is intended to accommodate every first year student in the facility. However, if the residence does fill, affected students will receive alternative housing in a nearby Honors College community complete with peer mentor support and full access to the Honors College building. We encourage students to indicate their intention to enroll as soon as they decide to join Rutgers University-New Brunswick and this exciting community of scholars.
The Honors College stands for Curiosity, Knowledge, and Purpose. The Forum in turn is structured around three modules: drawing on the curiosity of students to identify global issues; challenging students to propose socially innovative solutions to these issues by harnessing the full body of their knowledge through active research; and having student teams present well-researched, innovatively designed, and socially purposeful ideas for the betterment of society.
Academic specialization at the beginning of higher education is not sustainable given the global challenges that students face. By being exposed to multiple disciplines and complex, multi-dimensional problems (political, social, cultural, economic, technological, ethical, legal, scientific), entering Honors College students receive an immediate, intensive training in higher-order problem solving, gain critical professional skills, and are more quickly prepared to make informed decisions about their respective majors and research plans.
The Forum is designed to develop cognitive and non-cognitive skills which advance student readiness for study at Rutgers as well as internships and beyond graduation. All work in the Forum is designed to provide formative learning across three broad domains of competence.
The Cognitive Domain, which includes critical thinking, reasoning, and logical problem solving.
The Intrapersonal Domain, which involves self-management, including the ability to regulate one’s own behavior and emotions to reach goals.
The Interpersonal Domain, which involves the ability to express information to others, as well as interpret others’ messages and provide appropriate responses.
At the beginning of their college careers, students may not understand the importance of skills—they are focused on classes and grades. But employers and graduate and professional programs definitely care. Detailed, repeated studies show that the learning outcomes and competencies currently being called for by both employers and institutions of higher education include written and oral communication skills, teamwork skills, ethical decision making, critical thinking, and the ability to apply knowledge in real-world settings. The Forum is an integrative educational experience that can play a pivotal role in student learning as well as student career outcomes.
The Forum develops students in the cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal domains by specifically engaging the following skills during semester-long individual and group-based assignments:
Interdisciplinarity: Forum teams are composed of students from varied majors, schools, and perspectives, and they are required to produce a novel and socially innovative idea connecting two or more United Nations-Sustainable Development Goals.
Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving: Central to the Forum's purpose and team-based projects is the charge to identify and propose creative, socially innovative solutions to complex global issues.
Logical Reasoning and Communication: Forum students tackle global problems and produce effective responses and plans within local contexts, requiring them to utilize logical reasoning and refined communication skills (both written and oral).
Team Based Collaboration: Working together demands that diverse student teams engage in modeling collaborative and constructive behavior.
Systems and Design Thinking: Students have to innovate new solutions based on "bottom-up" human-centered approaches to major issues, while also being mindful of overall systemic and theoretical thinking.
None of those, but each is important for the core goal of the Forum, which is skills engagement. The Forum’s curriculum is singularly designed to allow students to fine-tune their cognitive skills and develop their core of non-cognitive skills. This combination will help students advance toward higher-level academic coursework, internships, and be effectively prepared for future employers and graduate programs.
As skills engagement is the core goal of the Forum, social innovation is the vehicle for learning these skills through experience. Student teams propose ideas that are practical and well researched. Only a limited number of students will immediately be interested in social innovation per se, so social projects are vehicles for students to develop key skills and mindsets around integrating academic knowledge and social impact. The UN-SDGs act as a framework for interdisciplinary and critical thinking allowing students to address the challenges that cut across multiple dimensions of human life--material, economic, environmental, social, cultural, technical, political, medical, aesthetic, and moral.
All Honors College students are trained in the Forum, and then employ their experience and knowledge in advanced research and fellowship programs, start-up incubators like the Honors College Innovation Lab, in global humanitarian entrepreneurship commitments, in dedicated service work, and in preparation for their own Honors College Capstone projects.