History of the Honors Program

Old Main, home of the College of Arts and Sciences1920s: The University of Colorado recognizes students who earn exceptionally high grades with a cum laude or magna cum laude designation.

1926: A committee within the College of Arts and Sciences considers ways to encourage student achievement beyond simply getting good grades. This committee’s recommendations result in the creation of the Honors Program.

1931: The Honors Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado officially begins. Juniors and seniors in the upper 30% of their class could earn up to 12 hours of credit for Honors Program coursework.

1932: 15 students graduate with Latin honors after passing two exams: a qualifying exam at the beginning of their senior year followed by a comprehensive exam in either their major or in general studies. If students passed both exams, they were then awarded an honors designation based on the recommendation of a body of faculty known as the Honors Council.

1933: The Honors Program receives its first official funding – $178 for library expenses. The program expands to include sophomores in the top 20% of their freshman class. Participating students could now receive up to 18 hours of credit for Honors Program work.

1937: The Honors curriculum is categorized into three core areas: Natural Science, Social Science and Humanities, all of which are still recognized in the current Honors curriculum.

1942: 34 students graduate with Latin honors.

1945: The senior Honors thesis emerges as a central feature of both Departmental and General Honors. The CU catalog now states for the first time stated that Latin honors are granted "upon the basis of special honors work and not simply upon the basis of grades obtained in class."

1957: The Honors Program receives national recognition when the Rockefeller Foundation grants the program $28,000 to conduct a three-year study and host a national conference on "The Superior Student in the State University." The conference is such a success that in 1958 the Carnegie Corporation funds a national agency based in Boulder, the Inter-University Committee on the Superior Student, the precursor to today’s National Collegiate Honors Council.

1962-1967: The Honors Program becomes known nationwide as a model program due to its requirements of informal discussions, a special readings program as well as independent study.

1978: 102 students graduate with Latin honors.

1981: All students attempting to graduate with Latin honors must now write a senior thesis.

1989: The Honors Program expands to 50 courses every year.

Dennis Van Gerven, Director of the Honors Program 1995-20051990: The Kittredge Honors Program (now the Honors Residential Academic Program) opens with approximately 100 students.

1998: 199 students graduate with Latin honors.

2003: The Honors Program expands again, now offering about 80 courses every year.

2010: The Honors Residential Academic Program grows to 290 students in both Arnett Hall and Smith Hall East.

2012: 300 students graduate with Latin honors, a record for the program.

2013: The Honors Residential Academic Program moves to Smith Hall, now with a population of 330 students.