Honors students studying in the Wentz Science Center.

North Central College Honors Program

Go Beyond the Classroom

Our prestigious and rigorous Honors Program provides a unique opportunity for you to expand and demonstrate your knowledge beyond the traditional classroom.

Join the Honors Program through our Express Lane admission program. Apply to the Honors Program by November 1 to receive an invite to our unique honors visit event and by January 15 to have the essay component of the application waived! Additional details regarding your next steps can be found below.

What is the Honors Program?

The Honors Program is designed for students, pursuing any major, who are interested in taking intellectual risks and engaging in rigorous and meaningful work. It is an opportunity to test and push your limits with the support of expert faculty and encouragement of fellow honors students.

Engineering lab

What makes the program unique?

You will be surrounded and supported by students who also enjoy discovering new concepts, examining contemporary topics from different perspectives and working to become leaders in their fields. The program is designed for students with the motivation to make the most of their college experience. We know the Honors Program is great, but you don’t have to take our word for it—we’ll let our students tell their stories.

Honors program student

Why should I apply?

There are so many reasons to apply, but we will narrow the list to just three:

1. Marketable Skills

Participating in the Honors Program speaks volumes about your abilities and aspirations—and future employers and graduate schools are listening. Employers and graduate programs say they are seeking candidates with the ability to collect and analyze information, collaborate within a team and demonstrate independent initiative. Your honors courses and thesis project will equip you with these and many other essential skills.

2. Community of Support

You will be supported by a community of high-achieving peers and professors who will sharpen your inquiry skills and help you achieve your goals. But we also have a lot of fun! We host social and cultural events designed to foster relationships and create lasting memories. Past events include:

  • Back to School Picnic to kick off the school year
  • Happy Hours after midterms each semester
  • Honor Salons at which faculty are invited to share their innovative research
  • Seasonal events:  Fall Festival, Winter Formal Dance, Spring Banquet
  • Field Trips to Chicago

3. Recognition at Graduation

Your completion of the Honors Program will be featured on your official North Central transcript and highlighted in the Commencement program. The Honors Program will conclude with a special cording ceremony during which your thesis director will present you with your honors cords.  Along with your fellow honors graduates, you will proudly wear those cords as you cross the Commencement stage.


How does the Honors Program fit with my major?

The Honors Program is different from your high school honors or AP courses. Rather than taking an honors section of a chemistry or math class, honors courses at North Central are unique courses that will be spread out across semesters throughout the duration of your time here. The number of specific honors courses you take is smaller than the amount needed for a minor.

Students in lab classroom

What is the Honors Thesis?

Your honors thesis is the capstone course for the Honors Program. You get the opportunity to work one-on-one with an expert faculty member on a project you design together. It might sound overwhelming, but it’s an incredible experience. You chart the course for this year-long independent study. Past areas of research include:

  • Traditional research based on laboratory work
  • Analysis of a piece of art or a significant text in your field
  • Artistic performance
  • Experimental social science study
  • Extended business plan
  • Community-based research project with a local organization

Living Learning Communities

As an honors student, you have the option to live in a residence hall only available to students in the Honors Program. We call this a “living learning community.” The living learning community provides access to faculty, study spaces and specialized social and cultural programs. Honors housing is not traditional freshman housing, therefore, there may be a difference in cost. Traditionally, the honors living learning community is housed in Ward and Patterson Halls.

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Additional Resources

Students presenting

Program Requirements

Students working together

Honors Program Application Process

Students outside at a table

Honors Program Students Testimonials

Professor and student at table

Honors Program Faculty & Staff

Stay Connected! 

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Find the best visit option for you

Whether it’s online or in-person, we have a variety of visit options to help you learn more about the Honors Program and our Cardinal community.

Honors Program Visit Options

North Central Information Sessions

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