There are approximately 1200 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 application section of the OSU undergraduate application for admission.

* 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.

The deadline for first-year students to apply to the Honors College for Fall 2019 admission was February 1, 2019. 

Transfer & Current OSU Students

Students who are already enrolled at OSU and wish to apply to the HC for fall 2019 admission 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 2019 admission should fill out the Honors College transfer student application.

The Transfer & Current OSU students' application for fall 2019 admissions will open on January 1st, 2019. 

The deadline for Transfer & Current OSU students to apply to the Honors College for Fall 2019 admission was March 15, 2019. 

International Students

First year International students who qualify and 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.

The deadline for first-year students to apply to the Honors College for Fall 2019 admissions was February 1, 2019.

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. Honors students who are unable to pay the differential tuition in a specific term can apply for a HC Differential Tuition Grant.

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. Verify that the OSU Office of Admissions receives official transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores (first-year students only).
  4. 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

All admitted students will be considered for HC scholarships. If admitted, you may be asked to provide additional information to be used in the scholarship selection process.

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 of them 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, plus a response to the essay question. The essay response is weighed equally with GPA and test scores, so give special consideration to the essay component of the application. The strength of courses taken in high school, as well as personal or academic attributes that will enrich the Honors community, may also be 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.

Dates & Deadlines

First-Year Applicants

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

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

*New for 2018: HC admission decisions will be mailed intermittently between February 1st and March 31st. 

Current OSU & Transfer Applicants

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

HC 2019 Application Essay Question

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.

“Geography is life’s limiting factor. Speciation—life itself—is ultimately a matter of warm and cool currents, rich and bare soils, deserts and forests, fresh and salt water, deltas and jungles and plains.”
—Annie Dillard, “Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos,” A Forest of Voices, eds. Chris Anderson and Lex Runciman (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1995.), p. 220.

In the passage above, Annie Dillard discusses the impact of geography on life. We can understand this passage metaphorically as well as literally: the environments in which communities or individuals find themselves, through choice or fate, can shape who or what they become.

There are many examples of defining factors and their impacts. Mesopotamia’s growth was possible because of the fertile soil and close proximity to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Portugal’s geographical and political relationship to Spain in the 15th century initiated an era of maritime exploration. Rosa Parks, Steve Jobs, Ai Weiwei, Amelia Earhart, Malala Yousafzai, Elon Musk, and Meghan Markle were shaped by specific life experiences and circumstances. The Cold War between the US and Russia provided the foundation for the Space Race.

Rather than using one of the above examples, identify your own choice of an individual or community from literature, history, or the modern world as the subject of your response.

Then, write an essay in which you

  1. Choose one individual or community and describe their environment and defining factors – what are the “deserts and forests,” “fresh and salt waters,” or “rich and bare soils” of their circumstances?
  2. Explain how those circumstances and defining factors shaped this individual or community.

Please do not select yourself or a personal anecdote 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