The 2018 to 2019 Lee Honors College Student Handbook
This handbook is intended to provide students with important information about the Lee Honors College. All honors college students are students of the University, and as such, the Lee Honors College operates with the policies, practices and guidelines established for all undergraduate students at Western Michigan University as described in the WMU catalog. Students are strongly advised to regularly consult with a Lee Honors College advisor. The honors college website, app and social media pages should be used to remain informed of important information and updated policies regarding the honors college and WMU. Honors students are held to the policies in the Lee Honors College Student Handbook in effect at the time of their admission to the honors college. While the handbook is intended to facilitate smooth and orderly progress toward completion of honors requirements, the information presented is subject to periodic revision and shall not be construed as a contractual or otherwise binding obligation of the college or University.
The mission of the Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College is to provide an exceptional undergraduate experience for high achieving students, to inspire in our graduates a thirst for the lifelong pursuit of creative inquiry and discovery, to provide our students with the skill and passion to address critical challenges, and to foster personal responsibility informed by a global perspective.
A Lee Honors College student is any student who has been formally admitted to the Lee Honors College and who has received a letter indicating their acceptance to the honors college and graduation requirements. The Lee Honors College recognizes these categories of students and alumni:
First Year Students: Students who enter directly from high school or early/middle college into WMU and the honors college.
Internal Transfers: WMU students who did not enter the honors college directly from high school but join by invitation or application after enrolling at WMU for one or more semesters.
External Transfers: Those who enter the honors college as a part of their transfer to WMU from a community college or other four-year college or university.
Lee Honors College Graduates: Individuals who have completed all graduation requirements as stated in their acceptance and requirement letters at the time of their entry in to the Lee Honors College.
- Automatic invitations are issued for first year students with an ACT composite score of at least 26 or a composite score of at least 1170 on the old SAT, or a 1240 on the redesigned SAT (math plus critical reading), and a high school cumulative GPA of 3.6 or better.
- Automatic invitations are issued for external transfer students with transfer GPA of at least 3.5.
- Automatic invitations are issued for current WMU students with two consecutive semesters' cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and at least 3 semesters remaining prior to graduation.
- Students who do not meet automatic admission criteria may apply for admission to the college by completing an application with a statement of interest and a supporting letter from a teacher or counselor.
All students receive a letter of admission outlining their specific requirements for graduation from the honors college. Following completion of all requirements, as detailed here, students become Lee Honors College graduates. This achievement will be acknowledged in the University commencement program along with a special notation on the diploma and academic transcript.
Program Requirements and Opportunities
- First year students must complete a minimum of 18 hours of honors credits.
- Transfer students (internal and external) must complete the number of honors credits stated in their letter of admission to the honors college.
- Honors courses must be taken for a letter grade - they may not be taken for credit/no credit or pass/fail.
- To qualify for honors credit, a course must be listed in the honors college course catalog or be approved by an honors college academic advisor, the associate dean or dean. Individual professors, a department or program may not grant honors credit for a course without explicit permission from the honors college.
- Students may receive honors credit for a variety of experiential learning options, subject to honors college approval. A more detailed list of these types of options follows later in this handbook.
- Students must complete at least half of all honors credits by taking Lee Honors College catalog courses.
- Up to half of required honors credits may be completed via other opportunities (such as experiential learning options).
- A letter grade of "C" or better is required in any course used to satisfy the Lee Honors College credit hour requirement.
Courses Available for Honors College (HC) Credit
Lee Honors College Catalog Courses
Honors courses are designated with either the HNRS prefix or with the letters "HC" following the course title. Students are encouraged to review and use the course catalogs published on the honors college website. Additionally, courses taken prior to enrolling in the honors college or at other institutions do not qualify for HC credit. Students receive honors credit equal to the actual credits offered for an honors lecture and separate honors credit for a lab. In the case of a zero credit honors lab associated with a non-honors lecture, students will receive one honors credit. Questions should be directed to an honors college academic advisor.
Study in the States: These Lee Honors College courses offer educational opportunities that take place outside of Southwest Michigan. Except for the cost of tuition, the honors college pays all expenses, including travel and lodging, associated with the course. Some courses also count for general education credit.
Experiential Learning Credit
Up to 50% of your honors course credits may come from experiential learning courses.
Foreign Language: A maximum of four honors credits will be given for two semesters of non-honors sections of the same foreign language taken at WMU. No honors credit will be provided for a single semester of study for a foreign language. May be repeated for additional honors credit for additional foreign language(s)(up to the 50% cap). However, no additional honors credit will be given if a student takes more than two semesters of the same language.
Credit for Fine Arts and Athletics: Students may receive up to three honors credits for performance courses as well as for participation in a varsity sports course. Credits may be earned by repeating a course in a single area (e.g., marching band) or by completing multiple approved courses.
Internship, Field Experience or Independent Study: The honors college encourages students to explore opportunities to conduct independent academic inquiry under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students may receive honors credit for an approved internship, field experience or independent study. Please note that to receive credit for internship, field experience or independent study, the appropriate approval form, which is available on the honors college website, must be submitted prior to initiation of the experience. It is possible to receive honors credit for more than one field experience or independent study with prior approval from the honors college dean or associate dean. Approval will only be granted if the experiences are substantially different. Up to three credits will be granted for a single experience. Experiences completed for WMU credit will be granted one honors credit for each WMU credit earned.
HNRS 3990: Field Experience: One to six hours of credit for an organized experience with a person or agency involving work and learning activities. This honors course requires the submission of the Independent Study or Field Experience Agreement form and must be supervised by a WMU faculty member. Generally one credit hour will be awarded for each sixty hours of documented work with approval of the faculty member.
HNRS 4950: Independent Study: One to six hours of credit for an independent study of at least one semester which explores subjects outside the usual course structure and is supervised by a WMU faculty member. This honors course requires the submission of the Independent Study or Field Experience Agreement form. Generally one credit hour will be awarded for each sixty hours of documented work with approval of the faculty member.
Departmental Field Experience or Independent Study: A student taking a departmental internship, field experience or independent study course may receive honors credit if the appropriate pre-approval form has been submitted to and approved by an honors college academic advisor.
Honors Credit for Internships Not Taken for WMU Credits: Internships and field experiences that are not taken for WMU credit may be approved to reduce the number of honors credits required for graduation by a maximum of three credits. An appropriate departmental chair, or their designee, and honors college advisor, associate dean or dean must approve this application prior to the initiation of the experience. Upon completion of the experience, the departmental chair or their designee must sign an affirmation that the experience has been satisfactorily completed for a reduction in the number of honors credits required for graduation to be granted. Typically sixty hours of documented work will be equivalent to one credit hour.
Study Abroad: We strongly encourage participation in a study abroad program. Study abroad credits appearing on a student's WMU transcript, whether for a WMU course or a course run through another institution, will be counted as honors credit, with a maximum of three credits per semester. Multiple study abroad experiences may count for additional honors credit with honors college advisor, associate dean or dean approval.
To graduate from the Lee Honors College, all students must complete and successfully defend an honors thesis. The thesis topic will vary depending on the field of study. For example, a traditional research paper, a public performance, a work of art, a design project, a business plan or educational curriculum may be completed for the honors thesis. While it is typical for a student to choose a thesis topic in their major field of study, this is not mandatory. The thesis committee chair and the dean or the associate dean of the Lee Honors College must approve the thesis topic. For more information, please see the thesis page of this website.
A full-time WMU faculty member must chair the honors thesis with at least one additional committee member. Committee members may include faculty, staff, graduate students (except graduate students who are supervised by the thesis chair) or members of the broader community with expertise relevant to the thesis. The chair and at least one committee member must attend the thesis defense and approve the final thesis product.
All honors students must complete one credit of HNRS 4980: How and Why to Write an Undergraduate Thesis and one or more credits of HNRS 4990: Honors Thesis. HNRS 4980 must be taken not later than the junior year. One or more credits of HNRS 4990 must be taken subsequently with the thesis mentor as the instructor of record. HNRS 4980 and/or HNRS 4990 may be substituted with an honors college-approved departmental course, (e.g., senior design project for engineering students; senior recital or performance for fine arts students; see an honors college academic advisor for a full list of approved substitutions); for a comprehensive list, please visit the Requirements page of our website. HNRS 4980 may count toward the honors course credit requirement and HNRS 4990 may count as experiential credit. These two courses may not be taken concurrently.
The thesis declaration form should be submitted at least three semesters prior to the intended semester of graduation. The thesis defense certificate request form should be completed and submitted at least one month prior to the planned date of the thesis defense. Honors theses must be defended prior to graduation from WMU. We strongly encourage, but do not require, that the thesis defense be completed in the Lee Honors College during the designated Thesis Celebration days. All contents of the thesis defense packet and a digital copy of the final, approved thesis must be submitted to the honors college within thirty days of the student's graduation date; however, students are urged to submit their digital copies as soon as possible after approval by the thesis chair. All thesis-related forms and instructions are available on the thesis page of this website.
Community Service Requirement
All students must complete 20 hours of community service each academic year. The last day to submit community service logs fo 2018-19 is June 26, 2019. Community service hours are reduced to 10 hours per year for a year in which a student joins the college in the spring semester or graduates in the fall semester. Additional hours completed within an academic year will not be carried over to the following year. Service activities must be documented by submitting the online volunteer form.
Students will be notified in August of each year via the annual audit process whether they have met the community service requirement of the previous academic year. Students who do not submit documentation for outstanding annual requirements will be dismissed from the honors college on Oct. 2, 2019.
A complete list of guidelines and examples of volunteer sites can be found on the honors college community service website.
Honors College Sponsored Event Requirement
This requirement is intended to encourage students to explore the rich array of events available through the Lee Honors College. All incoming first year students must attend at least four honors college sponsored events during their first year and two in their second year. Transfer students are required to attend two honors college sponsored events during their first year as an honors student. Failure to attend and present a Bronco Card at the required number of events by the end of the academic year will result in dismissal from the honors college.
Students will be notified in August of each year via the annual audit process whether they have met the sponsored event requirement of the previous academic year. Students who do not submit documentation for outstanding annual requirements will be dismissed from the honors college on Oct. 2, 2019.
Specialized academic advising is an important benefit available to all honors students. First year students are required to attend a Mandatory First Year Advising session during their first semester at WMU. Times for these group advising sessions, which are typically held in September, will be announced on the honors college website, app, social media pages and via email. Following their first year, students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with an academic advisor in the honors college at least once per year.
Anthony Helms, Ashleigh Watson, Katie Fox and two advising graduate assistants make up the honors college academic advising team. Dean Gary H. Bischof and Associate Dean Staci Perryman-Clark are the primary advisors for thesis projects, scholarships and graduate or professional school applications.
Please call (269) 387-3230 for an appointment to be assured that an advisor will be available for you and so that we can serve our honors students most efficiently. Drop-in appointments are also available most days, Mon. through Fri., 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3:30 p.m., but may require longer wait times.
All members in good standing of the Lee Honors College are eligible for special priority registration privileges. Honors college students may register at the announced priority time, or anytime thereafter, by logging in to the GoWMU portal. The computer system will identify you as a member of the honors college. If you experience problems registering, call the honors college at (269) 387-3230. For courses with multiple sections, be sure to register for the specific CRN identified with "HC" as part of the title or with an HNRS prefix as provided in the course catalog.
Honors college audits include the semesterly Academic Standing Audit, the annual Lee Honors College Requirements Audit and the Lee Honors College Graduation Audit.
Academic Standing Audit - Fall and Spring Semesters
Following each fall and spring semester, the honors college advising staff conducts an audit of every student's transcript to assess the cumulative GPA and determine honors college academic status. Students with a cumulative GPA below 3.5 will receive an email from the dean informing them that they are no longer in good academic standing with the honors college and recommending (warning status) or requiring (probation status) honors academic advising. Three semesters of a cumulative GPA lower than 3.5 will result in dismissal from the Lee Honors College unless a strong upward trend in cumulative GPA is present.
- Good Standing: A student with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 who has completed all honors college sponsored events attendance and community service requirements is in good standing with the Lee Honors College.
- Academic Warning: A student with a grade point average that drops below 3.5 will be placed on academic warning status with the honors college and is strongly encouraged to meet with a Lee Honors College academic advisor.
- Academic Probation: A student with a grade point average that remains below 3.5 following one semester on academic warning status will be placed on academic probation with the honors college and is required to meet with a Lee Honors College academic advisor.
- Dismissal: After one semester on academic probation, a student who fails to achieve a 3.5 overall grade point average will be dismissed from the Lee Honors College. If extenuating circumstances exist, a student may schedule an appointment with the Lee Honors College associate dean to request a one-semester extension of academic probation status.
Lee Honors College Requirements Audit - Annual
Lee Honors College requirements audits are conducted annually during the summer to address progress toward completion of events attendance, community service and course work. Once audits are completed, students will receive an email informing them of their current status in the honors college. The audits are conducted based on the information present in transcripts, the number of honors college sponsored events at which a Bronco Card has been presented and volunteer service hour submissions. Please contact the Lee Honors College academic advisors with questions regarding the audit.
Honors College Graduation Audit
All honors college students are required to complete the online honors college graduation audit survey at least one semester prior to the anticipated graduation date. A link to the survey is emailed to all seniors at least three times per semester.
University Graduation Audit
A university audit is initiated prior to or at the beginning of the senior year. This audit determines whether or not all university, general education, major and minor requirements have been fulfilled. Students should apply for a university graduation audit at the advising office of their academic major. For additional information please see the Graduation Procedures section in the university undergraduate catalog.
Honors Student Organizations
Two honors organizations are housed within the Lee Honors College: the first year student honor society, Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Kappa Phi honor society for upperclassmen.
Alpha Lambda Delta: First year students in good standing with the honors college may choose to join Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD). Membership in ALD is by invitation only at the end of student's first or second semester at WMU. Anthony Helms, director of academic advising, serves as the administrative advisor, and Dean Bischof serves as the faculty advisor for ALD. For more information, please visit the ALD website.
While we make every effort to inform you of events and necessary information regarding the Lee Honors College, it is also your responsibility to stay in touch with us. Information is published weekly in the honors college newsletter, The Weekly Beacon. We encourage you to frequently visit the website, the app and both the public Facebook page and private Facebook group of the same name (@LeeHonorsCollege) and follow us on Twitter (@leehonorscol) and Instagram (@leehonorscollege). Additionally, we post information on various bulletin boards in the honors college building, as well as on a video display in the lobby. We are responsible for notifying you of pertinent information, but you are responsible for receiving and responding to it. Please check our messages regularly and contact us with any questions.
All Lee Honors College electronic communication will be sent to your official WMU email address, please check it regularly. According to University policy, the honors college is allowed to respond to your messages only if they come from your WMU email account.