Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Sacramento State General Education Honors Program?
  2. What makes this an Honors program?
  3. What are the advantages of the GE Honors program?
  4. What courses make up the Honors program and how do I take them?
  5. Will it be hard to enroll in my Honors courses every semester?
  6. Who teaches the Honors courses?
  7. Do I have to take all of the classes in the GE Honors program?
  8. I have AP credits; am I required to take all of the classes in the Honors program?
  9. Will participating in the Honors program require me to take additional classes to graduate?
  10. How can I combine GE Honors with a major?
  11. Is there anything to the Honors Program aside from taking classes?
  12. What is General Education?
  13. Is it possible to get into the program even if I don't meet the academic requirements?
  14. I am a first-time college student. No one in my family has gone to college before and I am unsure of what to expect; can I handle the Honors program?
  15. I didn't take AP or Honors courses in High School; can I enter the GE Honors program?
  16. I am a transfer student entering as a junior; can I participate in the Honors program?
  17. I am a returning student or a non-traditional student; can I participate in the program?
  18. Can I take Honors courses if I am not participating in the whole program?
  19. Is the GE Honors program right for me?
  20. How do I apply to the Sacramento State Honors Program?

What is the Sacramento State General Education Honors Program?

In Fall 2006, the Sacramento State General Education Honors Program was inaugurated. This unique program offers students a challenging liberal arts course of study enhanced by a close-knit community of students and faculty with the resources of Sacramento State, a public university of nearly 30000 students, behind it. This program is particularly suited to students who

  • See education as a chance to explore the questions they have about the world in all of its aspects
  • Want to apply themselves to demanding standards and prove that they can succeed
  • Envision a future for themselves that requires preparation for challenges with a breadth of knowledge and experience
  • Enjoy meeting students and faculty with a wide variety of interests and being part of a diverse community that explores the arts, sciences, letters, and social issues seriously, and committed to a deep understanding of the culture, ideas, and history of the world
  • Want to make the most of their college experience and take full advantage of a unique environment dedicated to questioning, learning, and discussion.

As part of the GE program at Sacramento State, students take most of their classes in courses designed specifically for this selective program. These classes, capped at smaller size than similar courses in the mainstream General Education program, are designed for students who learn best when they are most active and involved. Seminar classes emphasize discussion about the readings rather than lecture, science classes focus on laboratory exploration, and lectures and exams encourage students to ask and answer their own questions.

Rather than rely on textbooks, the program challenges students to learn directly from the greatest works of cultures that have influenced history and still speak to us today. These courses will raise questions. What is happiness? How do we know what we know? How should society balance competing values and claims? What is the meaning of religion today? Justice? Science? Education truly begins with questions like these, questions that we must ask and explore, but whose answers are elusive and need to be sought by each individual student for him or herself.

The central principle of the Sacramento State General Education Honors program is that students need to ask these questions for themselves, and that a community of people asking the same questions can support the active, inquisitive mind of the individual student.


What makes this an Honors program?

The General Education Honors program distinguishes itself from the mainstream General Education Program in several ways. The General Education Honors program requires that students think about things globally. The program includes courses covering literature, philosophy, and social thought from around the world, leading students to approach experiences and ideas very different from their own upbringing. The Honors program believes that without taking an active role, students cannot gain the full rewards of their education. Students have to read original classic texts from around the world, not simply textbooks that report what these books say. Students must participate in class discussions, not simply listen to a lecture that they record and repeat at the next exam. Students should engage in research and laboratory activity, rather than sit quietly in classrooms. All of these activities prepare students for future leadership roles in many fields, from business and politics to the arts or non-profit sector; where problems are never narrow, solutions are never predigested, and where Honors graduates will have the confidence, experience, and ability to know how to be independent actors in the world.


What are the advantages of the GE Honors program?

  • Community of like-minded students
  • General Education classes presenting challenging and rigorous work
  • Active learning environment
  • Study of world cultures and history
  • Interconnected classes from a variety of disciplines
  • Chance to read important and life-changing books
  • Scholarship money available
  • Advising from faculty
  • Priority dormitory space reservations
  • Priority registration and an organized class schedule
  • Honors designation on the diploma
  • Opportunities for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities

What courses make up the Honors Program and how do I take them?

The core of the GE Honors program is a two-year global Great Books seminar, where students discuss important works of literature, religion, philosophy, social thought, and science with a faculty member who is more of a guide than an instructor. From the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching, Homer's Iliad, The Bible and Qu'ran, The Tale of Genji, The Conference of the Birds, and Shakespeare's plays to writings of Einstein, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., students will encounter works from all over the world.

Supporting this seminar is a rigorous two-semester World History sequence, dedicated to bringing students into contact with primary documents and the works of great historians. These courses will give students the historical background to appreciate the role of the common people in forming a world beyond that described by the literary elite.

Students go into greater depth in other subjects, including a special Honors Math course that will examine the principles of mathematical thinking as well as teaching mathematical techniques; an Honors Environmental Studies course focused on contemporary scientific, socio-economic, political and scientific principles; and Honors courses in Government, Anthropology, and other subjects which will bring students into direct contact with important secondary works and source material.

Finally, in the upper-level sequence, GE Honors students will take three courses that will form a capstone to the Honors experience. These courses are HONR 101-- Science and the Public Good, HONR 102--Pursuing the Public Good Through Film, and HONR 103--Civic Engagement, Service Learning: Pursuing the Public Good.


Will it be hard to enroll in my Honors courses every semester?

Students enrolled in the Honors Program will receive priority registration status. In a coordinated Honors program, students do not need to worry about registering in classes at the most desirable times, trying to get in classes already filled up, or designing a schedule that fulfills all of the requirements. Honors students will be automatically enrolled in smaller classes planned along a single schedule, allowing a hassle-free and speedy completion of the GE requirements and allowing them to enter their junior year on time and ready to focus on their majors.


Who teaches the Honors courses?

Faculty committed to the ideals of the GE Honors program and to close contact with students are selected from departments throughout Sacramento State. These faculty will participate in the Honors social events and will provide guidance and advice to students in the program. All the classes are taught by specialists in their fields and include the best teachers at the University. The Great Books seminars are taught by a variety of faculty members drawn from this group.


Do I have to take all of the classes in the GE Honors program?

Honors students are required to take all lower division and upper division Honors courses. Exceptions might be granted in consultation with the Honors Program Director. Exceptions may include acknowledgement of AP credits or the necessity for students to take specific courses for their majors. The most common of the latter will be the requirement for majors in many of the sciences to take standard classes in Calculus rather than the Honors Math class, which investigates the meaning of mathematical reasoning.


I have AP credits; am I required to take all of the classes in the Honors program?

In certain cases, students may arrive with AP credit that would normally fulfill certain GE classes. Many of these credits do not apply to the classes in the Honors program, but certain others--such as AP Calculus would. Although there are some cases in which students in the Honors program may petition to waive one or two required courses, such petitions are not automatically granted. Students are encouraged to see that the value of the program goes beyond simply fulfilling requirements, and to realize that the content of the Honors program is considerably different from AP courses offered in High School.


Will participating in the Honors program require me to take additional classes to graduate?

No, with one exception. The 15 courses that Honors students are expected to take will cover 14 required areas in General Education.

The exception is Honors World Civilizations I (Beginnings to 1600) and II (1600 to the Present). Students are generally only required to take either World Civilization I or II to fulfill the C1 World Civilizations requirement. Since the Honors program believes that every person who wishes to be educated in the modern world requires a thorough grounding in world cultures and their histories, Honors students are required to take this specially designed two-semester sequence of World Civilizations.


How can I combine GE Honors with a major?

The General Education Honors Program is composed entirely of GE courses, and allows the GE requirements to be completed in a timely fashion. It will be complementary to most majors. A few majors, such as Engineering and Pre-Nursing are extremely structured, but students can achieve these majors by working closely with the Honors advisors.

Students will be taking only three courses in any semester in the Honors program; leaving ample opportunity for participants to take other classes, either to pursue their own interests or to begin their majors. Students will only take three upper division courses in their last two years of the Honors program, and may devote most of their time to their chosen majors.


Is there anything to the Honors Program aside from taking classes?

An important principle of the Honors Program is that intellectual development does not end when the student leaves the classroom environment. Students and faculty will have opportunities to interact with each other outside the classroom, from regular gatherings in the Honors Lounge to special Honors events; film showings, literary events, symphonies, plays, art exhibits, athletic events, and other campus events. Students in the Honors Program are given priority class registration, have access to a well equipped study lounge, are eligible for scholarships, and personal academic advisors. Honors students will never be alone in their college experience. Small classes and opportunities to interact with fellow students allow them to form friendships that deepen the experience of education as a shared endeavor. The bonds among fellow students and/or the Honors Faculty will continue even after completing the GE Honors program. Students who complete the Honors Program will always have a home on campus at Sacramento State.


What is General Education?

The state of California requires that public university students take a variety of courses outside of their majors in order to provide a broad educational background in addition to the technical knowledge gained in a single major. These courses form the graduation requirements known as the General Education (GE) program at CSUS.

The standard version of the General Education program requires students to select their classes from a smorgasbord of options. Many students may find--the focused and sequential GE Honors program more rewarding and more meaningful. The General Education Honors program is a structured set of interrelated classes that fulfills almost all of the GE requirements. Honors students take 3 classes within this curriculum for each of their first four semesters. With the easy addition of another two classes, the 'lower division' GE requirements should be completed at the end of the sophomore year.


Is it possible for me to be admitted to the Honors Program even if I don't meet the minimal academic requirements?

The GE Honors program is not intended for every student and requires a special application process. Students must establish that they have the ability to successfully complete the work in the program. This can be established in a number of ways: through GPA, standardized test scores, or recommendations of teachers and counselors.

Another important selection criterion is self-selection. The Sacramento State Honors program rewards most of all those students who are most interested in it. Many of the students it would benefit most profoundly are those who may not match traditional models of academic success. Some high school students are simply late bloomers or were always told that they were not capable of the highest level of academic success. Students who do not qualify through standard academic benchmarks can still be admitted by submitting a short statement explaining their interest, academic experience to date, and why they believe they will be able to complete the program successfully.


I am a first-time college student. No one in my family has gone to college before and I am unsure of what to expect; can I handle the Honors program?

College is challenging without the experience of other family members to rely on, but the Sacramento State Honors Program believes this is no obstacle for anyone with the desire to participate. We encourage first-time students to apply. The smaller classes, greater contact with faculty, cohesive plan of education, and strong community of learners mean that there will be more help from others in dealing with the university environment. Other advantages, such as personal advising from the Director, make the GE Honors program ideally suited for students who have natural ability, but may be uncomfortable in the university environment.


I didn't take AP or Honors courses in High School; can I enter the GE Honors program?

While AP and high school honors classes may be excellent preparation for college, they are not requirements for admission. Sacramento State recognizes that students may not have taken AP or Honors classes for any number of reasons, such as a lack of opportunity or a need to focus on other responsibilities outside of school. The Honors program is suited to students with excellent academic preparation and a record of achievement, but we also seek students whose abilities may not have been recognized before, or who found their earlier school environment too frustrating or stifling. Although intellectual ability is necessary to handle the demanding work of the program, nothing is more important than a willingness to apply oneself to the enterprise of learning.


I am a transfer student entering as a junior; can I participate in the Honors program?

Since the General Education Honors program depends upon students taking their classes together and building a community throughout the GE program, transfer students will usually not be eligible. Most transfer students have already fulfilled most of their GE requirements, and will not want to take additional classes beyond their majors.


I am a returning student or a non-traditional student; can I participate in the Honors program?

Returning students and non-traditional students may participate in the GE Honors program, but their application should emphasize their adult experience rather than their activities when enrolled in high school. Older students often benefit a great deal from the program, as they are mature enough to direct their education themselves and to gain the most from the assigned readings. In class discussions returning students also contribute insights that recent high school graduates might not have thought of. Returning students should be aware, however, that they may have to retake courses in General Education categories that they thought they had fulfilled.


Can I take Honors courses if I am not participating in the whole program?

GE Honors courses are largely interdependent, with topics raised in one class being enriched by the experiences in another; discussions from prior semesters provide background to later classes. Moreover, space in the Honors classes must be reserved for students in the Honors program. Only GE Honors students may take the main Honors seminar classes.


Is the GE Honors program right for me?

Only individual students can answer this question. The GE Honors program will work best for students who have genuinely broad interests and who like to approach issues from several perspectives. It is also best for students who truly enjoy discussing ideas and who find that passive learning fails to stimulate them. Most of all, the Honors Program is best for students who would like a challenging liberal arts education of the kind offered by an elite small college, but who would like to pursue this goal in a large public university.


How do I apply to the Sacramento State Honors Program?

Go to the Admissions Requirements page on this web site and follow the instructions. You must make a separate application for admission to the university before we can consider you for admission to the Honors Program. Once we receive your application, we will act on it as soon as possible.