Joining Commonwealth Honors College as a Current UMass Amherst Student

If you are a UMass Amherst student ready to take on the rigor of an honors curriculum, you can apply to join some of your most academically talented peers in CHC. Each year, we welcome hundreds of current UMass Amherst students into our community of scholars.


Application Cycle

Application Period:

November 1, 2015 - January 5, 2016

(for admission beginning Fall 2016)

Decision Notification by:

Late February 2016

 The next application period will open on April 1, 2016.

Learn More



Before applying, learn more about the benefits of Commonwealth Honors College, the honors curriculum and requirements, the Commonwealth Honors College fee, and the credentials earned by graduating with honors.

If you have further questions, you may speak with a Peer Advisor by booking a "CHCH Admission inquiry" appointment at




Current students are eligible to apply to Commonwealth Honors College if they have completed one full-time semester of 12 or more graded credits at UMass Amherst and earned an overall and most recent semester GPA of 3.400 or higher at UMass Amherst.


The full Commonwealth Honors College curriculum is comprised of two components: General Studies and Advanced Scholarship. Depending on your academic status, you may choose to apply for entry into the full curriculum or into one of the Advanced Scholarship options.


Consider your options carefully. It may not be possible to switch plans without reapplying to CHC.

Academic Status

Application Eligibility           

  • First-year student
  • Undeclared major
  • Pre-major (e.g., ISOM, ENGIN, Pre-Med)

May apply to only the full curriculum option of General Studies + Advanced Scholarship in Multidisciplinary Honors (GSMH)

  • Sophomore, junior, or senior with a declared major

May apply to

  • the full curriculum option of General Studies + Advanced Scholarship (either Multidisciplinary Honors (GSMH) or Departmental Honors (GSDH)) or
  • one of the partial curriculum options:
    • Departmental Honors (DH) or
    • Multidisciplinary Honors (MH)


Curriculum Overview

See curriculum and requirements for details on each component of the Honors College curriculum.

Full Curriculum

General Studies


Advanced Scholarship

  • Five honors course requirements
  • Focuses on breadth of study which builds skills and knowledge for grappling with both the timeless issues of humanity and the current dilemmas facing our culture
  • Courses encourage interaction among students across a wide range of academic interests
  • Typically 2-3 honors courses plus a 6-credit honors thesis or project
  • Intended to provide a depth of study
  • Opportunity to delve into topics of personal interest and to contribute to new knowledge

Departmental Honors (DH)

Multidisciplinary Honors (MH)

  • Depth of study specified by the major department
  • Designed to complement and enhance the major
  • The best choice for students who wish to pursue graduate studies or a career directly related to the major
  • Depth of study outside of the student's major or between two or more disciplines
  • The best choice for students who wish to engage in serious academic pursuits that are not directly supported by their major’s DH track


Application Process

A competitive application process is used to select students who demonstrate outstanding academic performance, are prepared for the rigors of an honors curriculum, and can contribute to the diversity and accomplishments of the Honors College community.


Application Instructions

The Honors College application asks questions about your academic history and plans. It also requires a personal statement.

Personal Statement

Please write a carefully crafted, 500-600 word personal statement in which you explain why you want to engage in honors work and how honors work will help you realize your academic goals. Personal statements will be judged for writing ability, clarity, originality and expression.


Your personal statement should have a header that includes:

  1. Your full name
  2. Your SPIRE ID number
  3. The Honors curriculum sub plan to which you are applying
  4. Your current major or pre-major as listed on SPIRE


When composing your Personal Statement, please respond to these questions:

  1. Why are you interested in joining CHC?  What contributions can you see yourself making to a community of scholars?
  2. What are your serious academic interests? What academic experiences -- courses workshops, lectures, films, books -- have you found to be intellectually rewarding? Have you participated in any extra-curricular activities that relate to your academic interests and future goals?
  3. What excites you about the opportunity to engage in research and complete an Honors Thesis/Project? What topics might you investigate or with which faculty member(s) would you like to work? Do you have any special skills or have you had any experiences that are relevant to completing an Honors Thesis or Project?  (If you are applying to Departmental Honors, please answer this question with as much detail as possible.)


As you compose your personal statement, keep in mind that this statement is both an opportunity to articulate your commitment to the pursuit of academic excellence and the only sample of your formal writing available to the application review committee. The review committee will expect clear, well-developed writing with compelling examples. The committee will also expect carefully proofed work that includes sound structure, spelling and grammar.

Submission Tips

The online application cannot save drafts!  We recommend that you compose your statement in a word-processing program, save it on your computer, and then copy/paste it into the application.


Acceptance decisions are sent to students by email. Note that all official correspondence goes only to students’ addresses.


Your admission to Commonwealth Honors College will be recorded on SPIRE shortly after the admissions decision is made. 


All accepted students must attend a CHC Orientation Session to learn more about their membership, requirements, and benefits.

The Commonwealth Honors College Fee will be assessed for every semester in which you are enrolled in Commonwealth Honors College.