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Honors Program

Scholarship & Service

The Honors Program at Concordia University Irvine provides highly capable, curious, and accomplished students with special opportunities to pursue their scholarly interests.

In the Honors Program, students and professors investigate and navigate together what life is and what it should be. They wrestle with life’s pressing questions, issues, and problems. They discuss prominent conceptions of truth, goodness, and beauty. They seek solutions to serve the world and secure their neighbor’s welfare.

Honors students have the ability and opportunity to explore broadly and to dig deeply into life with professors and peers. They also have the responsibility to use their minds in insightful and loving ways for others.

The words of Saint Paul in his letter to Christians in Philippi guide us in this academic calling.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:4–5

Honors Qualifications

To qualify for the Honors Program, first-time college students must achieve the following:

  • High School GPA of 3.7 (cumulative and weighted)

Students who meet this minimum standard are invited to submit an application to join the Honors Program.

Current CUI students who are similarly academically qualified and motivated may petition into the Honors Program.

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As an Honors student my professors challenged me to think deeper and to critically examine what I was learning and how to apply it to my life.

Honors Scholarship

First-time college students who meet the Honors Program’s minimum academic qualifications are invited to apply for the Honors Scholarship, which covers up to $26,000 in tuition each year. This is awarded to qualified students after applying to and being accepted into CUI and the Honors Program. 

Deadline for application is December 1st. Applicants must have been accepted to the university by this time.

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Presidential Honors Scholarship

First-time college students with a weighed cumulative high school GPA of 3.9 or higher are invited to apply for the Presidential Honors Scholarship. This is CUI's highest academic merit award and covers up to 100% of tuition each year. This is a highly competitive scholarship with a limited number of awards. It is awarded after applying to and being accepted into CUI and the Honors Program.

Deadline for application is December 1st. Applicants must have been accepted to the university by this time.

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Good Standing & Graduation Requirements

To remain in good standing in the Honors Program, Honors Scholars must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher; this is checked at the end of each academic year. Honors Scholars must do an Honors Investigation, or a President's Academic Showcase, by their junior year. Presidential Honors Scholars need to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher; this is checked at the end of each academic year. They must do a President's Academic Showcase by their junior year. Both must also make progress each year toward graduating with distinction as an Honors Associate or an Honors Scholar. Other Honors students without a scholarship in the Honors Program must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher, which is checked at the end of each academic year. They are also encouraged to work toward achieving the distinction of Honors Associate or Honors Scholar.

  • Honors Associate
    Accumulate 12 points, including one Honors Investigation or President’s Academic Showcase
  • Honors Scholar
    Accumulate 18 points, including one Honors Investigation or President’s Academic Showcase

Points may be accrued through a combination of Honors points listed below.

Benefits of the Honors Program

In addition to taking our nationally-recognized Enduring Questions & Ideas (Q&I) curriculum, which one higher education publication has called “an honors program for everybody,” Honors students can:

The quality of professors and course material helped my faith and intellect grow in new ways.

Honors Point Menu

Courses designated as H(onors) sections (and other course options) 2 points each
Honors Investigations with a professor 1-3 points each
President's Academic Showcase with a professor 1-3 points each
Great Commission Showcase with a professor 1-3 points each
Oxford Study Abroad Programme 6 points
Concordia Cambridge Program 6 points
Around-the-World Semester 3 points for its Global Cultural Studies minor
Study Abroad through another program Variable points
Foreign Language: New-to-You (2 semesters) 4 points
Foreign Language: Continuing study of one language at intermediate or advanced college level 2 points per semester
Double Major 8 points
Minor outside of the major 3 points each
Scholarship & Service Capstone Essay 1 point
I am currently doing an Honor Investigation and it is awesome to be able to dive deeper into something I’m passionate about with one of my professors.

Honors Courses

You want to register for an Honors class! Here’s what you need to know:

Although the CUI Honors Program is much more than just Honors courses, we do offer several classes targeted specifically towards students who desire higher academic and intellectual achievement. These courses (denoted with an H section) are designed to challenge students and promote a deeper, more disciplined dive into an environment of academic discourse.

Honors classes are reserved only for students in the CUI Honors program. The director of the program knows who is and who is not in the program. If you think you ought to be considered a CUI Honors student, please make an appointment with the director!

In some exceptional circumstances, students who want to take Honors classes can register for them, but this requires the approval of the CUI Honors program director. Make an appointment with the director for further details.

When Honors classes are offered, they generally offer credit for Q&I breadth required courses. They have a limited student to faculty ratio, and different standards than the regular undergraduate offering.

3-credit Honors courses are worth 2 points towards graduating as an Honors Associate or Scholar.

Register for these courses early and often! Anticipate these offerings in your own grad plan! They need students to make the course happen (low enrollment will shut them down). Over the last couple of years, the following Honors courses have been offered: INT 100, THL 201, THL 202, ART 111, COM 211, PHY 231, THR 111, WRT 201, PSY 101, THL 465

Looking into the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 terms, the following courses will be offered:
INT 100-H, Fall 20
WRT 201-H, Fall 20
THR 111-H Fall 20
MUS 331-H Fall 20 
THL 201-H Fall 20
PHY 231-H Fall 20
ART 111-H Fall 20
COM 211-H Spring 21
THL 465-H Spring 21
PSY 101-H Spring 21

I want to take a class as an Honors class but it doesn’t offer an Honors section. What do I do?

This is where an “Honors Investigation” may work in your favor. First, talk to the faculty member who is teaching your class. Find out whether that person is willing to offer you a little extra time and effort to dive deeper, to accomplish the necessary work in that course’s curriculum but also to go above and beyond the requirements of the typical classroom. The two of you can agree on a reasonable scope to satisfy honors level work for that course, and submit the plan to the CUI Honors director on an “Honors Investigation” application, found in your Honors folder in Google Drive!

I want to take a class as an Honors class but it doesn’t offer an Honors section. What do I do?

This is where an “Honors Investigation” may work in your favor. First, talk to the faculty member who is teaching your class. Find out whether that person is willing to offer you a little extra time and effort to dive deeper, to accomplish the necessary work in that course’s curriculum but also to go above and beyond the requirements of the typical classroom. The two of you can agree on a reasonable scope to satisfy honors level work for that course, and submit the plan to the CUI Honors director on an “Honors Investigation” application, found in your Honors folder in Google Drive!

You want to do an Honors Investigation! Here’s what you need to know:

Investigations are born from your independent research or creative work under the guidance of a mentor professor. Narrow down a topic and find a professor to mentor you. Or chat with a prof and develop a topic together. This is as much about the relationship you engage with a professor here at CUI as it is about producing research or a creative project.

Once you have a topic, a scope, and a timeline, apply to do the Honors Investigation. The application is available in your honors portfolio (named YourLastName, YourFirstName), which you can access in Google Drive via your eagles account.

Completed Honors Investigations earn 1, 2, or 3 points towards graduating as an Honors Associate or Scholar. A 3-point project embraces a scope of an entire semester’s worth of work, the equivalent of which you’d complete in a 3-unit undergraduate course of independent study, that is, a 15-week semester’s worth of work in one course. Understand that the timeline in a regular class normally comprises about 45 hours of face-to-face time, and an additional 90 hours of reading, writing, thinking, digesting, and producing work for such classes. You should anticipate that a 3-unit Honors Investigation will take a semester’s worth of work, about 120-140 hours to complete, including face-to-face time with your mentor professor and your independent work.

Final projects for such work can be anything approved by your faculty mentor (a paper, a creative project, whatever), whose signature confirms you’ve done the requisite research and work towards the final offering. If it’s a term paper, this would look like a substantial study of about 25 pages.

On the same analogy, a 2-point project (including Honors Investigations that are undertaken to count as “honors section credit” in conjunction with a typical class section) should aim at 15-17 pages; a 1-point project should aim at 8-10 pages. Creative work that does not result in a written offering should consider the equivalency of scope (hours of work to produce the relative results: 45 hours, 90 hours, 135 hours).

Your mentor professor’s time is remunerated based on point value ($100 per point); this comes from the CUI Honors program and is not billed to you.

It is also possible to engage an Honors Investigation for course credit. I encourage you to look carefully at your grad plan with your major adviser (the department chair or other faculty member who is the champion of your major, minor, or other program) to ensure that such a course would work, and that any course substitutions are confirmed and duly noted with university advising and the registrar. A separate form for engaging an Honors Investigation as an Independent Study is available in the office of the registrar.

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You want to do a President’s Academic Showcase! Here’s what you need to know:

Showcase represents a unique opportunity for Concordia students to participate in competitive research encompassing all departments on campus. Similar to an Honors Investigation, students will work one on one with a professor to create a research project. Expand a class paper that you are proud of. Pursue an avenue of research that you are uniquely interested in. If you have no idea what to do, approach a professor and work with them to develop an appropriate topic.

Just like Investigations, Showcases also can be worth either 1, 2, or 3 points. A 3 point project should be around 25 pages long, and should have taken 120-140 hours to complete, between face-to-face time with the professor and independent work. A 2 point project should be 15-17 pages, and a 1 point project should be 8-10 pages. These points will count towards graduation as an Honors Scholar or Honors Associate, and may also be submitted for class credit. Students must fill out a separate form available in the Registrar’s Office to receive class credit.

Students are required to complete a research paper and prepare a presentation for the Academic Showcase. The paper can be a maximum of 25 pages. The student must then prepare a poster and will present their research to the showcase judges alongside all of the other participants. Based on the paper and poster presentation, five finalists will be selected for Tier 1 and winners will be selected for Tier 2. The Tier 1 finalists will then prepare a 15-minute oral presentation for the judges, who will select the winners. All finalists and winners receive a monetary prize for their achievement, based on their placement. There is also an award given for the student with the best poster.

Academic Showcase projects are separated into Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 2 is reserved for underclassmen attempting their first showcase. Tier 1 is comprised of upperclassmen and students who have already participated in Tier 2. A Tier 1 project must be worth 3 points in order to be competitive.

The President’s Academic Showcase is handled by a committee outside of CUI Honors, and they set their own deadlines and keep their own records of who has completed showcase work, so you don’t have to submit any paperwork to CUI Honors to demonstrate your participation in the Showcase. But please take responsibility for observing Showcase deadlines – and remember that if you enjoy a scholarship that requires Showcase participation, CUI Honors must see evidence of your successful completion of the project by the spring term of your junior year (the year before you plan to graduate)! And please not: projects that satisfy scholarship requirements are 3-point projects.

You want to do a Great Commission Showcase! Here’s what you need to know:

The Great Commission Showcase is a reflection of Concordia’s commitment to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20) by recognizing the work of a student who has recently participated in a university sponsored mission project or short-term mission trip.

Students wishing to participate in the Great Commission Showcase must work under a faculty mentor who is willing to guide the student through the Showcase process. A Great Commission showcase is judged based on three components:

  • A reflection paper of 3500-5500 words. The research paper includes cultural and economic factors about the field, anticipated challenges, and what the student learned about his or her faith.
  • Participation in the Great Commission Showcase poster session.
  • Finalists will give a 10-15 minute oral presentation.

Once they have secured a mentor, students will contact the Great Commission Showcase Director to express their interest. The winner of the Great Commission Showcase receives a cash prize and a matching reward for the non-profit ministry of their choosing. Honors students can receive 1-3 Honors points for participation in the showcase, based on the breadth of their project.

The Great Commission Showcase is handled by Christ College – there is no paperwork you need to file with CUI Honors. But you do need to let me know you’ve completed and submitted a project if you want the honors points for it!

More information about the Great Commission Showcase can be found here.

You want to present a paper/project at a student conference! Here’s what you need to know:

  • The honors program encourages undergraduate research in every discipline
  • Local conferences offer an opportunity publicly to share the fruits of research
  • Students whose papers are accepted for oral presentation, reading, or poster session at an approved conference may receive 1-3 honors points
  • Contact the honors director to ensure that it is an approved conference ahead of time
  • The university offers undergraduate research support in the form of funding that can assist in registration and travel expenses for conferences. Contact the dean of your college or talk to the honors director for details.

You want to study abroad in Oxford! Here’s what you need to know:

Concordia University, Irvine participates in the Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP), allowing qualified students to study at one of several Oxford colleges for any of their regular terms as an associate member of the college. Students are selected through a process of application including an interview with CUI’s director of study abroad and the director of CUI Honors. Because this study abroad experience is highly competitive, it is usually reserved for undergraduate students who are juniors or seniors in CUI Honors, though any may apply.

While at Oxford, students study one-on-one with a tutor for 13-14 weeks a term, and may study almost any academic subject they wish. All tutors are experienced fellows or lecturers of Oxford colleges.

Students must possess a GPA of at least 3.0 to enroll in this program. Honors students will receive 6 honors points for participation in the OSAP programme.

Interested students are encouraged to begin thinking about the possibility of study in Oxford with Faith McKinney, the director of study abroad at CUI. Some other general information about OSAP can be found here.

You want to study abroad in Cambridge! Here’s what you need to know:

Concordia University, Irvine partners with Westfield House to give students the opportunity to live and study in the historic university town of Cambridge, UK. Students may take up to 15 credits in Cambridge, 3 of which must be the British Life and Culture Seminar. Classes are held on campus, which has a library, lecture room, and common meeting area, and are led by the faculty of Westfield House. They may also use one or two of their course credits to enroll in “Cambridge Experience” classes, which are held in several of the various colleges of the university. Students taking these courses attend lectures by Cambridge professors and are supervised and assessed by Westfield House faculty. In the British style, courses typically consist of relatively few lectures and little homework. Instead, students must read and work independently under the supervision of Westfield House professors in order to be prepared for assessments at the end of the semester. Students will also be issued a Cambridge University I.D. card which will grant them access to the University Library and several of the colleges.

Students will live together in Luther Hall, across the road from Westfield House, along with students from other universities studying at Westfield House. Luther Hall is equipped with two full kitchens where students may prepare their own meals, as well as a common room and laundry machines. Several grocery stores, pubs, and restaurants are within easy walking distance of Luther Hall.

Daily chapels are held at Resurrection Lutheran Church on the Westfield House campus, as well as a weekly service on Sunday. Choral Evensong - a traditional, English chapel service - is held every evening at several of the various colleges of Cambridge University, including King’s College and St. John’s College.

Luther Hall is within easy walking distance of the city center of Cambridge, which has many shops, an open air market, and several of the colleges of the University. Students will also have the opportunity to take trips throughout England in association with some of the courses offered at Westfield House.

All students of Concordia University, Irvine may apply for the Concordia Cambridge Programme, but Honors students are given priority. Students must achieve and maintain a 3.0+ GPA to be accepted into the program. Honors students will receive 6 Honors Points for participation.

Interested students should speak with either Faith McKinney, the director of study abroad, or Dr. Scott Ashmon, Provost. Additional information can be found here.

You want to participate in the Around-the-World semester! Here’s what you need to know:

The Around-the-World semester is a unique opportunity offered once every two years to gain a global perspective by traveling to 10 different countries over the course of a semester with a group of peers and professors. Each student earns 18 units of course credit and will receive a minor in Global Cultural Studies. Classes are taught by Concordia faculty members that lead the trip, and are further supplemented by visiting CUI professors at different points along the journey. Each student critically engages with primary literary and religious texts from each country to provide a cultural background that will shape their experiences with the varied cultures they will encounter along the way.

Honors students who participate in the Around-The-World Semester are awarded 3 points in the Honors Program (for the Global Cultural Studies minor).

For further questions, interested students may direct their queries to [email protected]. Additional information can be found here.

You want to study abroad! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Contact Faith McKinney in the CUI Study Abroad office for any and all opportunities ([email protected])
  • Any honors points for study abroad will be negotiated before the trip and will depend on the nature of your study and experience.
  • Depending on scope, classes, activities, purpose, and service, it is entirely possible for a study abroad program to qualify for 1-3 points.

You want to take a New-to-You foreign language! Here’s what you need to know:

Residential foreign language study at Concordia University counts for honors points just like honors courses. 4 points are awarded for successful completion of any 101 - 102 sequence; every semester-long class of 3 or more credit hours of language study taken at the 200 level or above awards 2 honors points per class.

Residential language courses regularly offered at CUI include Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Spanish. Other language opportunities may qualify for honors points; contact the Honors Director for details.

For More Information

Dr. CJ Armstrong, Honors Program Director
Phone: (949) 214-3407
Email: [email protected]

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