There are approximately 1500 students enrolled, all working toward an Honors Baccalaureate degree in their academic major. The HC offers the benefits of small classes, a residence hall option, student learning centers and personal advising with the research and involvement opportunities of OSU. Demand for entrance into the HC is high and competition strong. We evaluate applicants not only on their academic accomplishments, but also on their level of writing, while considering coursework, extra-curricular activities, and contribution to community. The HC welcomes students from diverse academic, cultural and geographic backgrounds.

Admission to the Oregon State University Honors College (HC) is competitive. Students who are eligible to apply must complete the appropriate HC application.

First-Year Students

Students applying to the HC directly from high school apply by filling out the Honors College section of the OSU undergraduate application for admission on OSU's website or on the Common App.

* Note: First-year applicants who applied to OSU without filling out the Honors College application section and now wish to apply can do so by submitting the first-year Honors College application. All information must be filled out even if the questions also appeared on the OSU application.

Transfer & Current OSU Students

Students who are already enrolled at OSU and wish to apply to the HC should fill out the Honors College current student application.

Students transferring to OSU from another college or university who wish to apply to the HC for fall 2020 admission should fill out the Honors College transfer student application.


International Students

International students who meet HC application eligibility will be invited to apply to the Honors College when they are offered admission to Oregon State University.

Minimum Requirements for HC Admission

First-Year Students (entering from high school)

3.75 cumulative unweighted high school GPA (students who don't meet the GPA minimum can qualify with a test score of 1300 SAT or 27 ACT)

Transfer Students (transferring to OSU from another college or university) 

3.5 Cumulative transfer GPA

Current OSU Students (already enrolled at OSU)

3.5 Cumulative OSU GPA 

Honors College Tuition and Financial Aid

Honors College students are assessed Honors College differential tuition each term. HC differential tuition enables the Honors College to provide small seminar-style classes, academic advising, co-curricular activities and other amenities. HC differential tuition is currently $500 per term and will appear on each student's billing account for each fall, winter, and spring term that the student is enrolled at Oregon State.  

The HC recognizes that the HC Differential Tuition associated with enrollment in the Honors College can present a financial challenge for some students. All Honors College students can apply for HC scholarships through ScholarDollars, including an Honors College Differential Tuition Scholarship specifically for continuing students. Students who are having difficulties paying the HC differential tuition are encouraged to speak with an honors advisor.

HC Application Checklist

  1. Identify which type of HC applicant you are and make sure you meet the minimum HC application criteria.
  2. Apply to the HC either on the OSU application (first-year students) or on the HC website (current OSU students and transfer students). On the HC application you will be asked to provide a written response to the HC essay question (450-500 words). Note: Essay questions are updated each year. See below for this year’s essay question.
  3. Check your e-mail regularly. The HC will communicate with you via e-mail with questions or important updates.

There is no fee to apply to the Honors College

HC Admission Selection Process

Though similar, the selection process for HC admission is separate from admission to the university. Due to enrollment constraints, HC selections are extremely competitive. While many applicants meet the minimum criteria for HC admission, not all applicants will be offered admission.

Selection criteria for an incoming first-year student is based on cumulative un-weighted high school GPA, SAT or ACT scores (optional), and the response to the essay question. The strength of courses taken in high school, as well as personal or academic attributes that will enrich the Honors community, are also considered.

For college transfers or current OSU students, selection criteria are based on the applicant's college GPA and the essay response. Personal or academic attributes that will enrich the Honors community are also considered.

Application Deadlines & Admission Decision Dates

First-Year Applicants

  • Early Action application submission dates: August 1st - November 1st
  • Early Action HC admission decision date: December 31st

* HC admission decisions will be sent to all Early Action applicants at the same time and you'll receive a decision no later than December 31st. 

  • Regular Decision application submission dates: November 2nd - February 1st
  • Regular Decision HC admission decision date: March 31st*

* HC admission decisions will be sent intermittently between February 1st and March 31st. 

      Current OSU Applicants

Applicants can apply after completing one full term with at least 12 credit hours at OSU.

  • Application submission deadlines: End of week 1 each term 
  • Admission decisions: End of week 4 each term 

    Transfer Applicants

  • Application submission dates: January 1st - March 15th
  • HC admission decision date: April 30th

2020 HC Application Essay Prompt

All Honors College applicants must complete this essay in 450-500 words.

The essay is an important part of your HC application and should represent your polished writing. While many college admissions essays invite you to share a personal story, the HC essay has a different focus: it asks you to demonstrate your critical thinking skills. In 450-500 words, provide your perspective on the issue raised in the prompt. The essay as a whole should address the specific and substantive question(s) posed. In evaluating your response, we will consider your writing skills and ability to think deeply and creatively.

“It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect.” –Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist (New York: Anchor Books, 1999), p. 38.

Whitehead invites us to think of failure as a positive influence because it drives progress. Perfection, on the other hand, does not exist, so there is always “incentive for improvement.” For example, there might be ways to improve cell phones, self-driving cars, social media, presidential elections, or the final season of Game of Thrones.

Identify something specific (not a person) that could be improved. Then, write an essay in which you:
  1. Briefly outline its failures or limitations.
  2. Explore how those might guide its evolution.

Do not select yourself, a personal anecdote, or any of the above examples as the topic for your response. The best response will offer a unique and specific example that will stand out among the many essays the admissions committee will review.


If you have questions, please contact us at or 541-737-6400