Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College

Four students walking from campus housing to class

Kimberly S. Engber, dean
A1180 Shocker Hall • 316-WSU-3375

The Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College aims to prepare students for innovative work in a complex society, to engage students across campus in intellectual inquiry and debate and to support exploration, discovery and community engagement. Honors students pursue meaningful work in honors seminars and interdisciplinary tracks to earn honors distinctions on the transcript or diploma. They apply what they have learned in class to honors research and creative activity, internships, student exchange and study abroad.

Students are encouraged to meet with the Cohen Honors College dean, faculty and advisors to design an honors course of study that meets their academic needs and professional goals or passions. Visit the college website to find a form to petition for an exception to honors curriculum requirements.

The college also provides opportunities for students who are not members through the undergraduate research and creative activity grants program and leadership programs in partnership with Student Involvement.

Honors Values

Members of the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College community uphold four pillars, aiming to be:


Innovative people solve problems creatively. They spot needs and take risks that their proposals will satisfy those needs. Innovation often requires bringing together the people, resources and expertise to develop new solutions, a sense of entrepreneurship. Innovation frequently involves interdisciplinary applications — borrowing from one field of endeavor to solve problems in another.


Professionals get results while committing themselves to high standards. Professionals do a good job for the sake of it. Professionals persevere in passionate pursuit of long-term goals.


The intelligent person masters the knowledge of a chosen specialty but also knows the value of knowledge from many other disciplines.  A true intellectual is not simply a person who knows a lot or gets good grades. An intellectual is an intelligent person with a passion for and interest in knowledge, wisdom and inquiry.


Transformational people strive to make a positive difference for a better world, a better community. Transformational people commit themselves passionately to a cause larger than themselves, put themselves in service to others, and practice good citizenship. They open their minds to the diverse views of others and deliberate the issues.


Admission Requirements

  • For students with fewer than 24 college credit hours: a minimum high school GPA of 3.700, or a composite ACT score of 27 (SAT 1220)1 or better.
  • For students with 24 or more college credit hours: a minimum GPA from college credit hours of 3.500, or a composite ACT score of 27 (SAT 1220)1 or better.

Students who have a passion for learning but who do not meet the admission requirements may petition the Cohen Honors College for special admission. For more information, contact the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College office by email:, or phone 316-978-3375.

Normal Progress

To maintain active Honors status, students take a minimum of 3 honors credit hours each year and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.250. Students should take at least 6 credit hours in honors seminars (HNRS prefix) or departmental honors courses (H following the course number) each year in order to graduate within four years with the minor in university honors or the honors baccalaureate diploma. Many of the university’s general education program requirements can be fulfilled by taking HNRS or H courses.

Probation and Dismissal

Students whose overall WSU GPA drops below 3.250 or who do not take any honors courses for a period of one year will be placed on probation and will be required to meet with an honors advisor. At the end of either the fall or spring semester immediately following the semester in which the student is put on probation (whichever comes first), the case will be reviewed by the Honors College dean who will decide to either return the student to good standing or dismiss the student from the Honors College. Students may also be dismissed from the Cohen Honors College at the discretion of the dean for violations of principles of academic integrity or other behavioral offenses. Students may appeal dismissals from the Honors College to the Honors Advisory Council.

Honors Living-Learning Community

All students admitted to the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College may apply to live in the Honors College Living-Learning Community in Shocker Hall. Students who live in the Living-Learning Community:

  • Take at least 3 credit hours each year in honors courses;
  • Participate in the social, cultural, academic and service programs offered; and
  • Abide by the rules set by housing and residence life.

The Honors Living-Learning Community is designed to promote close interactions among honors students and to create an environment that maximizes learning, social development, civic engagement and personal growth.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Grants

The Cohen Honors College offers opportunities for all undergraduate students across campus to receive funding, recognition, and guidance for faculty-mentored research and creative activity. For more information, stop by the Cohen Honors College office or visit the undergraduate research webpage (

Self-directed research and creative activity guided by a faculty mentor prepares students for professional advancement or graduate study and fosters an innovation-oriented intellectual culture across the university. Individual students or small groups of students learn to formulate a relevant question or articulate a creative problem, design research methodology or project timeline, and present results to a disciplinary or diverse audience. Students from all majors and backgrounds are eligible to pursue undergraduate research and creative activity. Past student research grant winners have undertaken any number of tasks, including library research, designing and administering surveys, interviewing, conducting laboratory or field experiments, entering and verifying data, analyzing data, writing reports, establishing connections to arts communities outside of Wichita, presenting at regional and national conferences, and working in national archives.

Honors Curriculum: Distinctions on the Transcript or Diploma

The Cohen Honors College offers multiple honors distinctions, ranging from a 12-credit-hour Emory Lindquist Honors Scholar transcript distinction, to 12-credit-hour Interdisciplinary Honors Tracks, to a 24-credit-hour minor in university honors, to an Honors Baccalaureate (HB) conferred by the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College. The Honors Baccalaureate is the highest academic honor a student can receive on a WSU diploma.

Students who transfer to WSU having completed all or part of an honors program at another university, college or community college should speak to the Honors College dean or advisor about having those credits counted toward an honors award at WSU.

Honors Course Offerings

Students can earn honors credits for a range of courses and experiences:

Honors Seminars (HNRS-prefix courses)

Small, discussion-based seminars that fulfill Tier 2 and Tier 3 general education requirements are offered every semester. These courses are open to all Cohen Honors College students. Students not in the Honors College may request permission to take one honors course.

Departmental Honors Courses

Many departments offer honors sections of traditional courses, as well as innovative courses designed specifically for Cohen Honors College and departmental honors students. These courses are marked with an H after the course number.

Honors Research Seminar (HNRS 485 or HNRS 486)

The Honors Research Seminar presents methods of inquiry and research concepts from several academic disciplines and provides students with opportunities to participate directly in research projects.

Applied Learning

Honors College students are encouraged to engage beyond the classroom in applied learning such as service learning and internships, including the following honors courses:

Honors Tutorial (special topics or service-learning experience; 1–2 credit hours, repeatable to 3 credit hours)
Travel Seminar (up to 4 credit hours)
Independent Study (repeatable up to 6 credit hours)
Cooperative Education (up to 4 credit hours)
Noncredit Internship
Internship (up to 4 credit hours)

Honors Option Contracts

A student may petition to receive honors credit for any course taught by a full-time faculty member by submitting an honors option contract. Each honors option contract must be approved by the instructor and the Cohen Honors College dean or advisor. A student may take only one honors option each academic year.

An honors option requires a student to design meaningful work to supplement regular course material. (Examples include, but are not limited to, more in-depth research and writing assignments, presenting additional material to the class, and service projects with written reflection.) Students are required to:

  • meet with the instructor before the end of the third week of classes to design a special assessment or project;
  • fill out and turn in the honors option contract to the Cohen Honors College dean by the end of the third week of classes;
  • schedule at least two additional meetings with the instructor, with at least one meeting before midterm;
  • complete all requirements for the honors option two weeks before the final day of class.

When a student has completed the honors option contract requirements, the instructor notifies the Honors College dean who then asks the registrar to update the student’s transcript to show that the student earned honors credit for the course. There is no penalty if the student does not complete the additional work.

Course Descriptions

Courses in the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College are offered in three formats. Because course descriptions are listed in numerical sequence, the following summary is presented to assist in locating courses by format:

Introductory Honors Courses

Introduction to the University
Introduction to the University for Transfer Students

General Education Seminars

Seminar I: Fine Arts
Seminar I: Humanities
Seminar I: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Seminar I: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Seminar II: Fine Arts
Seminar II: Humanities
Seminar II: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Seminar II: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Seminar III: Fine Arts
Seminar III: Humanities
Seminar III: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Seminar III: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Survey of Leadership
Survey of Law & Public Policy
Seminar in Fine Arts
Seminar in Humanities
Seminar in Social and Behavioral Sciences
Seminar in Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Applied Learning and Research

Honors Tutorial
Travel Seminar
Independent Study
Cooperative Education
Noncredit Internship
Honors Research and Creative Activity Seminar

Degrees and Program Tracks Offered by the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College

Emory Lindquist Honors Scholar (12 credit hours)

The Emory Lindquist Honors Scholar track is designed particularly for first-year and second-year students, but is open to qualified continuing and transfer students. The Emory Lindquist Honors Scholars curriculum leads students to explore intersections among academic disciplines and professions and to participate in academic research and creative activity.

To receive the transcript designation Emory Lindquist Honors Scholar, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.250 and complete 12 honors credit hours comprising:

One honors general education seminar (HNRS-prefix course) or WSUN honors first-year seminar3
HNRS 485Honors Research and Creative Activity Seminar3
or HNRS 486 Honors Collaborative Research and Creative Activity Seminar
Electives chosen from honors seminars (HNRS-prefix courses) or departmental honors courses 6
Total Credit Hours12

Leadership Track (12 credit hours)

Students who complete the requirements for the leadership track earn the Honors Leadership Track notation on their transcript and earn a leadership certificate. The leadership track curriculum is designed to involve students in study, reflection and application of leadership principles on campus and beyond.

Students select electives from courses already offered in colleges across the university. Through electives, students are introduced to a variety of leadership theories and perspectives. The track culminates in an internship or study abroad experience approved by the faculty coordinator.

Individualized, on-the-job experience allows students to shadow leaders as they work. Ideally a student would intern with a leader in his or her area of interest. For example, a student interested in business leadership might intern with a CEO. A student interested in volunteer leadership might intern with a food bank organizer. A student interested in governmental leadership might intern with a congressional representative or senator. A student interested in educational leadership might intern with a university president, and a student interested in religious leadership intern with a clerical leader.


  • To recognize the main leadership theories
  • To identify different leadership perspectives
  • To recognize applications of leadership
  • To understand the benefits and challenges of leadership.

Program Requirements

Core Course
HNRS 351Survey of Leadership3
Select two of the listed courses. 16
The Presidency - Honors
Leading & Motivating - Honors
Leadership in Self and Society - Honors
Leadership Challenge
Leadership in Self and Society - Honors
Experience-Based Learning
Select one of the following three courses3
Travel Seminar
Cooperative Education
Total Credit Hours12

Law and Public Policy Track (12 credit hours)

Students who complete the requirements for the law and public policy track earn a notation on their transcript. A student may petition the Cohen Honors College to count an alternative course toward the track requirements. Faculty may submit courses to the Cohen Honors College faculty council to be considered for inclusion in the track. Contact for more information.

Program Requirements

Core Course
HNRS 352Survey of Law & Public Policy3
Select one course from each of the following sections: 16
Constitutional History of the United States
Constitutional History of the United States
Law in American Society
Law and Modern American Civil Rights
Philosophy of Law - Honors
Political Philosophy
Political Theory & Philosophy
Legal Environment of Business
Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure
Civil Liberties
Supreme Court
Policy I: Understanding Social Welfare Policy
Urban Sociology
Experience-Based Learning
Select one of the following:3
Travel Seminar
Cooperative Education
Independent Study
Total Credit Hours12

Honors General Interdisciplinary Track (12 credit hours)

Considering a career in neurosciences or ethnomusicology? With approval from the dean, students may complete an interdisciplinary track around a topic of interest to them. Visit the Honors College website to find the petition for an exception to curriculum requirements to request a self-designed interdisciplinary track.

To receive an honors interdisciplinary track transcript designation, a student must maintain an overall GPA of 3.250 and complete 12 credit hours in one of several interdisciplinary tracks. Interdisciplinary track topics include creativity, law, leadership and sustainability. Each 12-credit-hour track consists of a core course and electives as well as a service activity, internship, exchange/study abroad or research/creative project.

An interdisciplinary track must include the following:

Core Course
Choose a 3-credit-hour introductory course that will shape the rest of the track.3
Choose 6 credit hours of electives that will enhance interdisciplinary knowledge of the topic6
Experience-Based Learning
Select one of the options below. 1
HNRS 398Travel Seminar3
or HNRS 481 Cooperative Education
or HNRS 481N Internship
Total Credit Hours12

Departmental Honors

Some departments and colleges at WSU offer students the opportunity to receive departmental honors through their major. Departmental honors tracks are currently offered in aerospace engineering, communication sciences and disorders, modern and classical languages and literatures, mathematics, political science and psychology (under development).

To enroll as a candidate for departmental honors, a student must have junior standing and a cumulative grade point average of 3.250 (higher if department requirements so specify).

Departmental honors tracks consist of at least 12 credit hours of upper-division coursework, including a senior thesis, senior project, senior recital, or equivalent capstone experience. Each department or college specifies requirements for satisfactory completion of the honors track, but a minimum grade point average of 3.500 for work in the honors track is required.

Students who complete all requirements for departmental honors receive a diploma designation. Up to 3 honors credit hours counted toward the student’s major may be counted toward the minor in university honors. For current information about departmental honors requirements, check individual department information in the Undergraduate Catalog.

Courses in the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College