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


How to Apply

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

New freshman and transfer students who have already applied to PSU and current PSU students wishing to join Honors College must apply to the Honors College via a separate 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)
December 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
May 1 Enrollment confirmation priority deadline for fall term admits
August 1 Final deadline to apply to the Honors College for fall term 2020

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. Follow the instructions listed above to apply. 

Current PSU students interested in enrolling in the Honors College should follow the instructions above to apply. If you are considering enrolling in Honors in your Senior year must meet with Honors advisor Brianna Avery prior to applying, to review your plan for completing the senior thesis. 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 carefully composed, 300-500 word 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. How did you come to develop this interest? What is the experience like when you are engaged with it? Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? What can we learn about you from this interest or passion?

Respond to one of the following prompts:

Question 2A: In her essay, “Peculiar Benefits,” the African American writer Roxane Gay writes,

“Privilege is a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.  There is racial privilege, gender (and identity) privilege, heterosexual privilege, economic privilege, able-bodied privilege, educational privilege, religious privilege and the list goes on and on. At some point, you have to surrender to the kinds of privilege you hold because everyone has something someone else doesn’t . . . . Privilege is relative and contextual. Few people in this world, and particularly in the United States, have no privilege at all. Among those of us who participate in intellectual communities, privilege runs rampant. We have disposable time and the ability to access the Internet regularly. We have the freedom to express our opinions without the threat of retaliation. We have smart phones and iProducts and desktops and laptops. If you are reading this essay, you have some kind of privilege. It may be hard to hear that, I know, but if you cannot recognize your privilege, you have a lot of work to do; get started.”

For this essay, show how you think with and respond to another writer. In a carefully crafted and well-organized essay of 300-500 words, describe what you understand Gay to be saying about privilege. Additionally, discuss what strikes you as significant about Gay’s understanding of privilege and why. 

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."

For this essay, show how you think with and respond to another writer. In a carefully crafted and well-organized essay of 300-500 words, 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?