Honors Program

  • Pair with any bachelor's degree
    • Degree Enhancement

    Get Involved

    A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

    • Field Experiences: Complement courses without specified field experiences or develop a more in-depth project for disciplinary-based field experiences.
    • Independent Study: Undertake detailed study and/or research into a unique topic or issue stemming from an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach.
    • Place as Text: Travel to sites and explore the concepts of “extending text” and mapping the site from a variety of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.
    • Service Learning: Apply concepts, theories and methods to issues affecting local communities.


    Program-Based Scholarships

    The Western Presidential Honors Scholarship


    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.

    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit western.edu/mars.

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit western.edu/scholarships.

    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
  • Pair with any bachelor's degree
    • Degree Enhancement

    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.

    The Honors Program welcomes high-achieving students from all majors and disciplines. 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.