Honors Program


Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarship: $2,500


The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation, are elite scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program. 

Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

 In addition, all continuing Honors students may apply for Presidential Honors Scholarships. The following information provides due dates, criteria, and how to prepare your application. 

Incoming Applicants:

Eligible candidates should have a high school, transfer, or Western Colorado University grade point average of, at minimum, 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Candidates must also demonstrate leadership qualities or experience and a commitment to intellectual inquiry and academic challenge.

Incoming candidates should submit the following:

  • A cover letter explaining why you want to be a part of Western's Honors Program and what you think the value is in being a part of the Honors Program;
  • Two sealed letters of recommendation from teachers, guidance counselors, professors or academic advisors which address the student’s accomplishments and suitability for a college Honors Program;
  • A copy of your most recent educational transcript;
  • A resume of your qualifications, accomplishments, service, extra-curricular activities;
  • Any other documentation that would be helpful in evaluating you as a candidate for this Scholarship.

Applications are DUE POSTMARKED BY DEC. 7th of the year of application and should be submitted to:

Western Colorado University Honors Program
Dr. Kelsey L. Bennett, Honors Director
The Presidential Honors Scholarship Program
Taylor Hall 110A
Western Colorado University
Gunnison CO 81231

Continuing Applicants (current Western Honors students):

Note that continuing Honors students do not need to have been awarded a previous Presidential Honors Scholarship to apply. 

Continuing candidates should compile and submit the following in one packet, hard copy:

  • A copy of the student's most current Western transcript (minimum 3.5 GPA required);
  • A letter addressed to the Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee containing the following:

a) the student's plan for completing the Honors Program;
b) evidence of Honors leadership abilities through planning and participating in Honors extracurricular activities;

  • One sealed letter of recommendation from a professor or academic advisor which addresses the student's accomplishments and suitability for a Presidential Honors Scholarship.​

Applications for continuing Honors students are DUE BY MARCH 12 of the year of application and should be submitted in hard copy to the Honors Program Director, Taylor Hall 110A. It is the applicant's responsibility to verify that the hard-copy application has been received. 

The Western Colorado University Foundation Scholarship Program Committee will make selections within a few weeks of the closing deadline. Notification of award recipients will follow shortly thereafter.

Faculty & Staff


Kelsey L. Bennett, Ph.D. headshot
Honors Program Director
Phone: 970.943.7021
Office Location: Taylor Hall Honors Center 110A
Brian Bernhardt, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor of Politics & Government
Phone: 970.943.3025
Office Location: Kelley Hall 205
Al Caniff, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Art
Phone: 970.943.3083
Office Location: Quigley Hall 234
David W. Marchetti, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Geology
Phone: 970.943.2367
Office Location: Hurst Hall 224

  • Special Program

Join an interdisciplinary community. Customize your curriculum. Take intellectual risks. Become a mindful and engaged citizen. Live the good life. 


Honors is not about "more work, and harder," but rather about pursuing an enriched, enhanced and deeper undergraduate liberal arts education. Honors students join a diverse and discussion-rich community of intellectually-adventurous scholars.

Innovative curriculum, extensive interaction among peers and professors, experiential learning and interdisciplinary approaches to education characterize the program from day one until graduation. 

The Program

The Honors Program welcomes high-achieving students from all majors and disciplines. It consists of 21 credits built into students' primary schedules. It has three components: Honors Core Courses, Honors General Education Courses and Honors Elective Courses. 

The Honors Core features seven credits across four courses: Gateway, Forum, Introduction to the Great Conversation and Oxford Tutorial. 

Students take two Honors sections of General Education courses, the offerings for which vary semester by semester. 

Honors Electives offer the most autonomy by giving students the option to pursue any combination of field experiences, service learning projects, independent research and study abroad courses. 

Sample Courses

  • Core: What is Art For?

  • Core: Introduction to the Great Conversation

  • GE: Literary Culture of the American West

  • GE: The Anthropology of Food

  • Elective: Behavioral Finance and the Philosophy of Money

  • Elective: Fractal Design

  • Study Abroad Elective: City as Text—Prague


Honors graduates are attractive to graduate schools and employers because not only are they high achieving, global thinkers, but they also write well, communicate and lead groups well, and have the intellectual agility and creative problem-solving skills to think through issues from many points of view.


  • Access to distinctive, innovative and discussion-based courses
  • Access to Honors Lounge
  • Community social events
  • Database access to thousands of internship, research and conference opportunities
  • Diverse peer group
  • Graduate with Honors distinction
  • Honors advising
  • Honors-specific scholarships
  • Leadership opportunities with the Honors Student Advisory Board
  • Priority Honors housing
  • Priority registration
  • Vote for future course offerings


  • 3.5 GPA for admission
  • 1190 SAT/25 ACT
  • 3.0 GPA to stay in program
  • 3.3 GPA to graduate with Honors

Learn More 

Reach out to Kelsey Bennett, Ph.D. for more information.