Honors & Distinction

Honors in the Major

The L&S Honors Program provides a community for high-achieving and highly motivated students who seek to deepen their intellectual engagement. Honors offers small, intensive faculty-led courses and research opportunities. Each department in the College of Letters & Science administers its own Honors in the Major (HM) requirements. Requirements for admission and for completing Honors in the Major differ among departments.

Students wishing to earn Honors in the IS Major must declare in the second semester of the junior year and meet the following requirements:

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

A Minimum of 16 Upper-level Honors Credits

A minimum of 16 upper-level honors credit that fulfill requirements in the major is required. Those courses that would count for honors would include courses specifically designated honors in the Schedule of Classes (Timetable) along with appropriate and pre-approved special topics courses (e.g., Poli Sci 401 and 695, Intl St 601).  No blanket statement can be made about the suitability of topics courses for the major. They will be designated as fulfilling honors credits on a case-by-case basis.  Professors occasionally invite undergraduate students to take graduate-level courses. When this occurs, candidates for Honors in the Major should seek pre-approval from International Studies advising staff to count those courses towards Honors in the Major requirements. These requests will be reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis and a DARS exception will need to be entered.  Students who both study abroad and pursue Honors in the Major must also work closely with the advisor to determine which, if any, courses taken abroad will fulfill honors credits in the major.

GPA Requirement

A 3.5 GPA in the major and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW-Madison at the time of graduation.

Two Senior Seminars (6 credits)

Complete the following upon consultation with the international studies advisor: two senior seminars (6 credits) such as the International Studies topics seminars.  For those students who are invited to take graduate-level courses an individual exception will need to be made.  Students may also choose to do an interdisciplinary senior thesis, which is a two-semester commitment. Complete the Honors Senior Thesis Petition Form when you choose to do so. Advising for Honors in the Major is through the International Studies Program.

Complete Honors in the IS Major Form

Although you will work with your advisor during the process, Honors in the IS Major must be submitted at least three weeks before the end of your junior year (second semester).

Complete L&S Honors Declaration Form

Complete the L&S Honors in the Major Declaration in conjunction with your IS Major Advisor.  You can read more about Honors in the Major on their website.

Distinction in the Major

The award of Distinction in the Major is granted at graduation, upon the recommendation of a department to the Dean of the College of Letters & Science, to any student not earning the Honors degree who has done outstanding work in the major and who has passed a comprehensive examination on that work.  The award is noted on the student’s official transcript.

Students not enrolled in the Honors Program may apply for Distinction in the IS Major.  International Studies students must declare with an IS Major Advisor and meet the following requirements:

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

GPA Requirement

A 3.5 GPA in the major.

Substantial Extra Work

At least one of the following: senior thesis, senior seminar, or “substantial extra work” in an advanced course within the major.  Professors occasionally invite undergraduate students to take graduate-level courses. When this occurs, candidates for Distinction in the Major should seek pre-approval from International Studies advising staff to count those courses towards distinction requirements. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

A Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation from a member of the UW faculty submitted to the international studies advisor three weeks before the date of graduation.

Complete the Distinction in the IS Major Form

Complete Distinction in the IS Major Form and submit it to an IS Major advisor at least six weeks before your date of graduation.