University Honors College

University Honors College

Students sitting the walk of the heroines

Admission Requirements

Honors College applications are evaluated holistically. Factors include: 

  • Academic profile (GPA and test scores) 
  • Writing skill and critical thinking demonstrated in essay prompt responses 

To apply, complete the PSU application, Honors College supplemental essay questions and submit required documents.

Profile of Students Admitted Fall 2019

33% Pell Grant-eligible

31% Nonresident

24% First Generation College Students

29% Diverse Ethnic and Racial Backgrounds


Students doing research on a rooftop in Portland

How to Apply

New Freshman and Transfer students who have NOT yet applied to PSU must apply via the PSU general application.

New freshman students who have already applied to PSU may apply by submitting this application.

New transfer students who have already applied to PSU may apply by submitting this application.

Current PSU students wishing to join Honors College may apply by submitting this application.

Admission Decision Notification

The Honors College receives applications to review once the students is formally admitted to Portland State University. This may cause a delay in notification of application status.

Students who apply for the following fall term by January 1 will be notified with a decision by March 1. All other students will be notified with a decision within about 10 weeks of their admission to PSU; see below for specific admission notification dates. Missing GPA, transcripts, or test scores will delay the process. Due to the large volume of applications we receive, the Honors College cannot provide advanced notice of admissions decisions. 

Honors College admissions decisions that are sent via email will go to the student's @pdx.edu email address if the student account is set up. Instructions for setting up and checking your @pdx.edu email account are included on the Admitted Student Checklist


Honors College Application Deadlines and Important Dates

Below are important dates and deadlines for University Honors College Admissions, refer to the admissions dates and deadlines for more information. Applications to the Honors College are reviewed on a rolling basis. Applicants will be notified of their Honors College admission decision within 10 weeks of their admission to Portland State University.

Date Description
October 15 Deadline to apply for winter term (transfer applicants)
January 1 Priority deadline to apply for fall term (freshman and transfer applicants)
February 1 Deadline to apply for spring term (transfer applicants)
March 1 Notification of admission decision for fall term for freshman and transfer applicants who applied by the priority deadline
March 23 Notification of admission decision for spring term applicants
June 1 Enrollment confirmation priority deadline for fall term admits
July 6 Final deadline to apply to the Honors College for fall term

Winter and Spring Term Applicants

Transfer applicants intending to start at PSU in Winter or Spring terms must apply to the Honors College by the deadlines listed above. Sophomore and Junior transfer applications received after the deadline may not be approved in time for students to participate in UHC early registration but may be considered for the following term. 

  • Transfer Applicants: If you have not yet submitted an application to PSU, apply by completing the PSU application and answering the three Honors-specific essay questions as part of that application.
  • Current Students: Apply by submitting this application. Students considering transferring to Honors in their Senior year must meet with Honors Advisor Brianna Avery to review their plan for completing the senior thesis prior to applying to the Honors College. Term application deadlines are the same as those for Sophomores and Juniors.

Application Essays

To be considered for the Honors College, applicants must answer the following essay questions (minimum of 250 words each). The minimum word requirement for each essay answer is 300 words; 500 words is the maximum. We suggest you write and edit your responses in a separate document and paste them into this application.

For further information about the vibrant community, interdisciplinary curriculum, and research opportunities, visit University Honors College

Honors Application Instructions

You are required to respond to question 1. You must also respond to either 2a or 2b to be considered for admission to the Honors College. Write a 300-500 word, carefully composed essay in response to the prompts.

Question 1: Describe a topic, activity, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Respond to one of the following prompts:

Question 2A: The following excerpt is from the American writer Susan Sontag’s 1977 book of essays, On Photography. For this prompt, show how you think with and respond to another writer. There is no right answer. Find some part of the following excerpt that you can use as a starting point for an essay. In the essay, both describe what you understand Sontag to be saying and respond to her ideas by discussing to what extent you see Sontag’s ideas as still relevant today.

“As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure . . . A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it—by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation that are likely to be exacerbated by travel. Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph, and move on.”

Question 2B: In the introduction to his book The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah states:

"There’s no dispensing with identities, but we need to understand them better if we can hope to reconfigure them, and free ourselves from mistakes about them that are often a couple of hundred years old. Much of what is dangerous about them has to do with the way identities—religion, nation, race, class, and culture—divide us and set us against one another. They can be the enemies of human solidarity, the sources of war, horsemen of a score of apocalypses from apartheid to genocide. Yet these errors are also central to the way identities unite us today. We need to reform them because, at their best, they make it possible for groups, large and small, to do things together. They are the lies that bind."

In a well-developed essay address the following questions: What do you think Appiah means by the "lies that bind" and how would you relate this to ways you think about identity?