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Creating Honors Courses

What are the mechanisms for a student to earn honors credits?

Stand-alone honors courses or honors sections of regular courses: these can be non-departmental courses in Engineering such as ENGR 102/216, ENGR 181, or major-specific courses.

Note: first-time honors courses and upper-level honors courses can be justified as short courses (i.e., are not required to meet minimum enrollments).

Stacked honors courses: Another option which involves honors and non-honors students attending the same lectures, doing the same assignments and exams. The instructor is responsible for defining the differing requirements for the honors section (e.g., modified assignments, separate discussions, etc.). The combined enrollment of the stacked and regular section is the enrollment number for the course.

For non-departmental courses in engineering, or major specific courses, stacked honors sections are recommended, even just for one student.

Honors undergraduate research and internships: Honors sections (2XX) of undergraduate research (291/491), independent study (285/485) and internships (484). These sections are set up by the student’s department in the same manner as non-honors sections.

Graduate courses: A maximum of 6 hours of graduate coursework can be counted toward the Engineering Honors distinction requirements, if taken for undergraduate credit. Graduate courses being reserved for graduate credit cannot be counted.

Contact the student's track coordinator for questions regarding taking graduate courses for honors credit.

Fast Track: Students participating in the fast track program can obtain honors credit for fast track courses by receiving credit by exam for the honors version of the undergraduate course. Contact the student's track coordinator for questions regarding taking fast track courses for honors credit.

Honors Contracts for non-Honors Courses: This method only applies to courses conducted outside the College of Engineering (for example, the College of Science. These contracts must be set up by the 12th day of class and require the student to work with the instructor to determine how to enhance the non-honors course into one that provides an honors level experience. For example, modified projects or assignments.

An application must be filed with the University Honors Program (HUR) online system by the 12th day of classes. It is initiated by the student, and then is routed to the student’s professor and department head for approval. The professor must confirm completion of the work at the end of the semester for the student to receive honors credit.

Please note that only students admitted to an honors program (e.g., University Honors, Engineering Honors, etc.) can apply and be approved for an honors contract.

For more information on honors contracts, please visit the University Honors page on earning honors credits. For questions regarding honors contracts, please email

How are honors courses or sections created?

The process for setting up free-standing honors courses, stacked honors sections or honors sections of courses, including 491 and 485, is the same process as setting up a section of a regular course, except that the registrar needs to be informed that the section or course is an honors section/course so that they will set the appropriate registration restrictions and add the honors attribute.

The section number uses the format 2XX (e.g., 200). If the professor wants to control admission, the capacity can be set to zero and students will be added by the advisors. These courses can be included in the initial course schedules submitted to the registrar. No approval is needed from the University Honors program.

How to add an honors (HNR) designation to a course number in the Howdy transcript listing?

It is a course attribute that would be added when the scheduler is building the course in Compass. Contact the registrar’s office to change the appropriate attribute to include the HNR designation.

Is there a minimum class size for honors sections or courses?

Honors courses have no lower bound, as the department can request an exemption to the minimum number of students. For a stacked honors course, there is also no minimum class size as the enrollment of the course is the sum of all the stacked sections, including both the regular and honors sections of the course.

How does a department create an honors 491 (491H) or 485 (485H) course?

The department’s advising office creates a 2XX section number of 491/485, following the normal department procedures for creating a 491/485, and notes that it is an honors section. The section number starts with a “2” (e.g., 200, 201, 233, etc.). Examples are: ENGR 491-200, ENTC 491-201, ENGR 485-200, etc.

The department informs the registrar that this course is an honors course and title it as “HNR-RESEARCH” instead of just “RESEARCH.” Likewise, for directed studies, title it as “HNR-DIRECTED STUDIES” instead of just “DIRECTED STUDIES.” To set up a 491H or 485H, an honors contract is not needed.

What are the advantages of a stacked honors class vs. creating an honors contract?

Stacked honors sections are the only option for engineering courses and have the following benefits:

  • Less paperwork on the part of the student, professor, department
  • There will be a visible honors section that other students can consider
  • We can show the students that there are different options for earning honors credit
  • The department can consider splitting off a separate section if the enrollment numbers warrant another section
  • The stacked section earns supplemental funding
  • The professor can have a more visible proof that they have taught honors, which they can use during their evaluation

These benefits can be communicated to the faculty and staff in the department.

Registering Students for Honors Courses

Can a student with a Texas A&M cumulative GPA of 3.5 up be enrolled in an honors course even without being admitted to an Honors program?

Regardless of membership in an honors program, a student can enroll in honors sections if they have the appropriate Eligible for Honors Sections (HNEL) attribute that is required for enrollment in honors sections. The attribute is assigned to the following:  a.) Students with a 3.5 GPA or better  b.) Students with no GPA but admitted to an honors program during their first semester at TAMU.

I have an incoming freshmen who has been accepted into the Engineering Honors program who is unable to enroll in honors courses. Why is this the case?

A common scenario which results in a student not being able to enroll in an honors section is an incoming freshman taking classes the summer before their first semester and not meeting the 3.5 minimum GPA requirements, leading to the removal of the HNEL attribute. Once fall grades post and the cumulative GPA is 3.5 or better, the student can get the HNEL attribute added back and can be eligible to register for honors sections the following semester. 

Can those accepted to EH after the registrar cut-off of the 12th class day, who are not given priority registration, still register for honors courses during pre-registration for the following semester?

Yes, students that meet the following criteria can still register for Honors courses:

  1. Have a 3.5 or higher Texas A&M GPR or
  2. Eligible to register for honors sections as first-semester freshmen based on class rank and test scores. Any student who does not meet the criteria above needs to be given an attribute override (i.e., set the HNEL attribute).

I have a student whose GPA fell below 3.5, but who is still in Engineering Honors, since they are a freshmen within the grace period. How can they pre-register for an honors course for the next semester?

They should still be able to register for honors courses, however will require an attribute override from the department advising office. Note: the departmental advisor will NOT do an HNEL attribute override, but an attribute override (ATTR) which requires the advisor to specify the specific course section.

For non-engineering courses, they can still do the honors course contract.

I have a student who needs to take an honors course but cannot enroll themselves because they lost the HNEL attribute. How can I help them register for needed course?

The student needs to get an attribute override (ATTR) to force them into a particular honors section of the course by the department offering the course to show that the approval is coming from the department. Note: the departmental advisor will NOT do an HNEL attribute override, but an attribute override (ATTR) which requires the advisor to specify the specific course section.

For Transfer Students

Transfer students can request the opportunity to enroll in an honors course for their first semester at TAMU if their transfer GPA is 3.5 and up.

Transfer students will need to earn a 3.5 GPA to be eligible to register for future honors courses (i.e., past their first semester at TAMU) . We tell students this when they are granted the HNEL attribute in order to register for honors courses in their first semester. The HNEL attribute is added automatically for continuing students by a script that is GPA dependent.

Upon finalization of their Texas A&M GPA, and in the event that they have a 3.5 and up, they can register for an honors course during open registration.

What is the fee if the student is only enrolled in the zero-credit hour course (for example, during the summer)?

If the student is not receiving any credit hours for a course, then there is no charge. You will only be charged if you are registered for one or more credit hours.

Other Questions

How can the student fulfill the requirement of having at least 12 credits of engineering courses?

Sample courses listed below will already fulfill 12-14 credit hours of engineering courses: ENGR 102 (2 hours) ENGR 216 (2 hours) ENGR 181 (1 hour) 482-ethics (3 hours) 491 (4-6 hours).

For students that are being placed on probation due to their cumulative GPA going below 3.5, do they have any other options aside from probation?

There are two options:

  • Go on probation if there is a high probability that the student can raise their GPA to 3.5 or higher. If their overall GPA at the end of semester is at least 3.5, then they will be taken off probation and put back in good standing with Engineering Honors. During the probationary period, the student will still be a member of the program and welcome to participate in all Engineering Honors activities. However, university rules do not allow them to have priority registration during pre-registration for the next semester.
  • For students who will not be able to pull up their overall GPA to at least a 3.5 (even after assuming a term GPA of 4.0 in the current semester), leave the program before consuming the maximum allowable one semester of probation, then thereafter reapply after the GPA is back to 3.5 and up. Although the student won’t be able to participate in Engineering Honors activities, he/she will not have consumed their one semester of probation.

For students who have a double major, what would happen if they do not meet requirements of both majors? How about 1 of the majors?

A student cannot be in the Engineering Honor program if they don’t meet the requirements of at least one of the departments that they are majoring in.