Honors Program

UNC Asheville’s Honors Program was founded in 1985 and provides a rich curriculum for motivated students who seek to understand themselves and make a difference in the world. Together, students, staff, and faculty create a community of dedicated and enthusiastic scholars who are committed to liberal learning by means of enhanced advising, mentoring, experiential learning, and other support services. Honors students have opportunities to:

  • Participate in enriching co-curricular and extracurricular activities
  • Forge strong relationships with outstanding professors
  • Interact with distinguished campus visitors during Asheville Ideas Fest
  • Travel in the United States and abroad and earn Honors credit

The program is based on honors coursework as well as co-curricular activities that “extend learning beyond the classroom.” Course work emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of liberal learning, the historical and cultural context of knowledge, and the value of understanding the foundations of contemporary ideas. The University Honors Program encourages independent study, collaborative research, study abroad, and a capstone experience. Co-curricular activities might include meetings with visiting scholars, discussions following selected cultural events, field experiences, service learning, study abroad, and other travel opportunities.

Benefits of Honors Program participation include:

  • Optional honors housing block for first-year students
  • Access to exclusive study spaces: The Laurel Forum, Honors Library, and the Honors Seminar Room
  • Leadership development and community-engaged scholarship
  • Option to run for leadership positions in the Student Honors Advisory Council
  • Graduate with Distinction as a University Honors Scholar on your transcript
  • Exclusive access to Honors courses taught by award-winning faculty
  • A small community of fewer than 200 scholars

How to Join the University Honors Program

Applications to the Honors Program are competitive. For the 2024-2025 incoming class we received 2,195 applications and only 3% of applicants will matriculate into the program.


Incoming, First-Year Students

Incoming, first-year students are automatically under consideration for admission to the Honors Program. Admission to Honors is competitive, we only accept a maximum of 50 students per year. Students who are admitted to the Honors Program will receive a separate acceptance letter from the Director of the Honors Program. If you are not initially admitted, you may request to join the honors waitlist by emailing the Director. Waitlist decisions are made on a rolling basis based upon space availability.

For prospective students, there are no additional deadlines and no separate application is required to be considered for the Honors Program. For applicants in the 2023-2024 application cycle, please indicate your interest in being considered for Honors within your application. Our assessment considers the strength of the curriculum pursued, grades in core academic classes, writing, recommendations, leadership potential, and potential for impact in our community.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may be admitted to the Honors Program. Transfer students should be aware that the full Honors course load leading to Distinction as a University Honors Scholar is difficult to complete in fewer than three years, so it is recommended that transfer students schedule an advising appointment with the Director of the Honors Program to plan out their curricula. Transfer students often earn Recognition as an Honors Scholar, which has fewer credit hour requirements and is suited to students who plan to study at UNC Asheville for fewer than 3 years. Please see the Benefits page and the Requirements page for more information on these two paths.

Current UNC Asheville Students

Current UNC Asheville students may apply for admission to the Honors Program after their first semester at UNC Asheville. Students interested in applying should first schedule an advising appointment with the Director of the Honors Program to ensure that such a path will work for the student’s schedule. Applications can be requested from the Director and are accepted on a rolling basis each semester.

For more information about the Honors Program, please contact honors@unca.edu.


The UNC Asheville Honors Program is a member of the Southern Regional Honors Council