Frequently Asked Questions

 How do I know if Honors is right for me?

  • It depends...Beyond what you can offer with impressive high school credentials, do you see yourself as a true academic scholar--as someone who desires to fully engage in the life of the University both in and outside the classroom?
  • Before applying to the Honors Scholar Program at CMU we ask students to reflect on the question, "Is Honors the right fit for me?" by reviewing the Honors Program Mission and Vision Statement as well as its four core values. How closely do our four core values seem to fit with who you are as an individual? 
  • Are you motivated in the classroom by more than earning just a letter grade?  Is it exciting to imagine yourself engaging in lively discussions with top CMU faculty and a diverse group of high academic-ability peers who will challenge you to think in new ways?  Do you see yourself as a participant in a research group or creative project team?  Are you intrigued to by the opportunity to study abroad in places like Europe, China, and South Africa?  Do you have a desire to serve others for the greater good?
  • In short, are you someone who has aspirations to aim higher and achieve more to make the world a better place?
  • If you can answer yes to most of these questions then we invite you to apply to the Honors Scholars Program at CMU! 


What are the benefits to being in the Honors Program?

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Unique curriculum offers alternative specialized ways to meet general education requirements
  • Caring and dedicated Honors faculty willing to mentor students 1:1 in their discipline
  • Special opportunities to take Honors courses taught across the U.S. and around the globe
  • Ability to live and learn with other high academic ability Honors students in Honors housing
  • All students admitted to Honors in Fall 2013 or later have a substantial Honors or Centralis Scholarship valued between $20,000 (when combined with a Board of Trustees Scholarship in Fall 2013) and $87,000!
  • Opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research projects and creative endeavors.
  • Specialized Academic Advising, including completion of an Academic Planning Document
  • Priority Registration
  • Access to advising/mentoring for National Scholarships
  • Opportunities to participate in Honors cultural and enrichment activities


How many students are in the CMU Honors Program?

  • Approximately 800 students, or about 4% of the CMU on-campus student body is a member of the CMU Honors Program.

What requirements must I complete in order to graduate from the CMU Honors Program? 

  • Honors have four years to complete the following requirements in order to graduate from the CMU Honors Program: 
    • At least 22 credit hours of Honors courses, (including HON 100 and 9 credits at the 300 level or above),
    • 6 credits of Diversity/Global Citizenship Courses (see below),
    • 120 hours of service
    • An Honors senior capstone research project or creative endeavor completed in collaboration with an Honors faculty member. 
What courses count as Diversity/Global Citizenship?
  •  You will need to complete at least 6-8 credits of Diversity/ Global Citizenship Courses.  This can include any combination of the following:  Study Abroad Courses, foreign language courses,  American Sign Language Courses, and special approved diversity courses such as HON 150, Racism in America.  Students admitted to the Honors Program Fall 2012 or later can receive the Honors Program International Study Award ($2000 for a full-semester study abroad; $1000 for a short-term study abroad experience.  Honors students must be in good standing with the CMU Honors Program in order to receive this scholarship.  The Honors Program strongly encourages students to study abroad.  In fact, you will be advised your first semester in Honors to apply for a passport if you do not already have one.
What is an Honors Senior Capstone Project? 
  • To graduate from the Honors Program a student is required to complete a capstone project with the support of a faculty member.  These capstone projects take many forms and include original studies, scholarly papers, and creative presentations and exhibitions.  Most of our graduates say that this was one of the most important opportunities of their educational careers.
Is the Honors Program just for science majors or students interested in doing research?
  • No. Students from all majors are encouraged to join the Honors Program. Honors students can be found across all of the departments and in every major.


 Will being in Honors delay my graduation?

  •  For most students, the answer is no.  During your first semester our Honors advising staff will help you complete an Academic Planning Document that maps out all classes you will need to graduate from CMU--semester by semester.  With careful planning most Honors students are able to double-count their Honors requirements with courses they already need in order to satisfy the University Program and competency requirements, as well as their major and minor curriculums.  Many students have room in their academic career for a number of "general electives" and Honors courses can be used to fulfill those as well.  Ultimately, it is best to think of Honors as a small minor and that like a minor, you will have requirements and expectations to complete it.


Are Honors Courses more difficult than non-Honors courses?

  •  No.  Honors courses embody a qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.  You can engage in discussions and activities in a class of 20 that are difficult to do in a class of 80 or 100.  For example, Honors classes offer more site-visits (which range from local day trips to time abroad), group projects, special speakers and enrichment opportunities.  Honors classes are not lecture courses--they involve a higher degree of class discussion and 1:1 contact with the faculty member.  Honors students tell us they prefer to take Honors classes over non-Honors classes.  Recent data shows that Honors grades in Honors courses are at least equal to or higher than grades awarded in non-Honors sections of the same classes.


I am new to the whole college thing.  Should I apply to Honors now or wait until my sophomore year when I am more comfortable with "the way college works"?

  •  Do not wait.  The Honors Program is designed to acquaint first year students to the college experience, especially if you are the first in your family to go to college.  We offer smaller class sizes, a comprehensive Introduction to Honors courses (HON 100), and specialized advising for first year Honors students.


Is Honors Housing Available?

  • Honors housing is available in Larzelere Hall, one of the most active and vibrant living/learning communities on campus.  The advantages of Honors Housing are that you would live and study with fellow Honors student and the Honors offices are located nearby in Powers Hall.  In addition, there is classroom space, study rooms, a fireside room for special events, an Honors registered student organization office and meeting space.  Students living in Larzelere Hall are more likely to graduate from Honors and have a better Honors experience.  Centralis scholarship recipients are required to live in Larzelere Hall their first year at CMU and any hall on campus their second year, though most choose to remain in Larzelere Hall their second year.


What are the Honors Program admissions criteria?

  •  Admission to the Honors Program is based on past academic achievement, evidence of potential for continued academic success, and fit with our Honors Program mission and values. This application is your opportunity to document your fit with our Honors community and includes required essay reflections, evidence of your previous academic accomplishments, and references able to attest to your future academic potential.

    The Honors council recommends a minimum 3.7 high school GPA and a 27 ACT score for admission into Honors.
  • The Honors Council recognizes that GPA and ACT scores are imperfect indicators of academic potential. Students with a commitment to academic excellence who do not meet these suggested standards are encouraged to apply and to provide additional evidence supporting academic promise and fit with the CMU Honors community.  It is important to note that there may be few if any seats available for regular admission as most or all seats are typically filled through the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition held in the fall of each year.

Are there scholarships available for students in the Honors Program?

 Yes.  For high school seniors entering CMU fall 2014 the following scholarships are available.

Award ​Number Available ​Award Amount ​How to Apply / Compete for this scholarship
​Centralis Scholar Award ​20 awards


 four-year total*

  • ​Compete in the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition fall 2013.  Must have a 3.7 HS GPA and a minimum 27 ACT score to compete.  See competition details below.




​130 awards


four-year total

  • ​Compete in the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition fall 2013.  Must have a 3.7 HS GPA and a minimum 27 ACT to compete.  See competition details below.


When can I apply for admission to the CMU Honors Program?

At this point in time all Honors Scholar offers available for fall 2014 admission have been made. Though not likely, but should spots become available, interested new applicants (who did not compete in fall 2013 at the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition) can apply through the regular admissions process, in which case the applications are due March 1. Students who competed at the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition in fall 2013 who did not receive an award will be also be considered if any spots become available.

Registration for the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition will be available in September 2014 on the CMU Admissions Website for those high school students intending to enroll at CMU fall 2015.  


How do I apply? 

For high school seniors there are three pathways for admission to the CMU Honors Program:


​Pathway ​Details
Priority Early Admission to the Honors Program
  • ​ Priority consideration for early admission to the Honors Program will be given to students who compete at the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition Days held on CMU's campus on Saturday, October 26, 2013 or Saturday, November 16, 2013. Applicants must have at least a 3.7 high school GPA and a minimum 27 ACT score to compete in the Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition Days.


  • To be eligible to compete, applicants must: 1) Apply to CMU on or before October 18, 2013 for the October 26 Competition; and on or before November 8, 2013 for the November 16 competitionWhen applying be sure to submit your official high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores along with your CMU application. Note that this is a separate application from the Scholarship Competition Application that you will download from the Admissions website and bring with you to the Competition Day. 2) Additionally applicants must complete their registration for one of the Competition Days on or before October 18, 2013 for the October 26 Competition; and on or before November 8, 2013 for the November 16 competition. Registration can done online through the CMU Admissions website found at or by calling the Admissions office at (989) 774-3706 or toll free at 888-292-5366. 3) Once you have registered download a copy of the Competition Application at This application must be completed in its entirety and presented onsite when you arrive for the Competition Day. Note that the Competition application is different than the CMU Admissions Application referenced above.


  • During the competition you will have one hour to write an essay and respond to a prompt. The topic of the essay will be provided at the competition. During this half day event you and your family will discover how CMU's programs and services will help you reach your academic and career goals. You will have opportunities to receive information about CMU's academic programs at special forums as well as explore CMU's advanced on-campus facilities. You will also have opportunities to meet with Honors staff and students to learn more about the benefits of being a member of the CMU Honors Program.


  • At the competition conclusion offer letters will be mailed to in mid-December, 2013 to the winning students. Students have until February 1, 2014 to accept/decline the award or to ask for an extension to the deadline. Please note due to the number of students who compete for these scholarships it is expected  that most or all of the seats available for fall 2014 will be filled through the competition. Any remaining seats will be recruited and awarded through the regular and open admission processes, including reconsideration of Competition applicants that did not receive a first-round offer.
​Regular Admission to the Honors Program
  • ​The regular deadline to apply for Honors Program Admission, (open to those who did NOT compete in the Fall Centralis and Honors Scholarship Competition Days), is March 1, 2014. Applications for regular admission will be made available for download on this website beginning January 2013. Admission decision letters will be mailed to regular admission applicants who met the March 1 deadline on March 15, 2014. Please note there will be a limited number of seats, if any, remaining for the regular Honors admission process as it is anticipated all of the seats available for fall 2014 will be filled though the early admission process granted to Centralis and Honors Scholarship competitors. During the regular admissions process, please note applicants who do not meet the suggested standards of 3.7 HS GPA and 27 ACT are encouraged to apply and to provide additional evidence supporting academic promise and fit with the CMU Honors community.
​Open Admission to the Honors Program
  • ​Students who did not compete during the fall competition days and did not meet the March 1 regular deadline can still apply to the Honors Program if seats are still available after March 1 through the Honors open admission process. At this point seats available are expected to be few in number, if any, and will be reserved for students with outstanding credentials and applications. The process will be competitive and only strong applicants will be encouraged to apply for these remaining seats. Applications for open Honors admission will be made available on this website March 2. Decisions will be made on a rolling basis until all scholarships/spots have been awarded.




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