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How important is Honors curriculum for Grad school admission?

  1. Dec 22, 2008 #1
    Hello, I am second year engineering physics major looking to go to grad school for either physics or nuclear engineering. Unfortunately my freshman year I decided not to do the honors curriculum because I had only took very basic high school courses and didn't feel prepared for it.

    How important is doing honors for admission to grad school, assuming that GPA, GRE and research experience are (will be) all strong?
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  3. Dec 22, 2008 #2


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    An Honors program in which one does quite well would perhaps give one an edge if there were competition, but it's not necessary. Doing well in a non-honors program will be sufficient for grad school.
  4. Dec 22, 2008 #3


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    It depends. At my university, a non-honors curriculum would not properly you for grad school, and would be missing some key courses (basically all of 4th year). It really varies by what each institution calls "honors"
  5. Dec 22, 2008 #4


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    My Nuclear Engineering department had a 4 year program that prepared one for Grad School. I was invited to stay for the MS/PhD programs, so pursuing an advanced degree was a given.

    The bottom line is a rigorous and diverse undergrad program.
  6. Dec 22, 2008 #5
    Thanks for the responses. That is what I was thinking however I thought I would make sure while I am on break.
    At mine you have to have completed x ammount of honors or grad courses within your first three years while maintaining a certain GPA. So it boils down to taking Honors in the general first year courses and a few in the general curiculum courses. It kind of stinks because all of my NE classes are grad level courses since my university does not offer any undergrad NE courses. Oh well...
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2008
  7. Dec 22, 2008 #6


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    The honors course work is somewhat surprising.

    I know of two universities, UIUC and RPI, which offer both NE and Eng. Phys. Perhaps you can compare your EP program with theirs, and also look at the undergrad and grad NE programs.
  8. Dec 23, 2008 #7


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    I would be very careful with this and look into the specific graduate programs you are interested in. As I understand it, many programs won't consider one for admission without an honours degree.

    If grad school is a door you want to keep open, why not transfer into an honours program?
  9. Dec 23, 2008 #8


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    Remember that honors may mean different things to different people. At my university, I can join the honors program as a physics major, but it won't add any extra physics courses to my transcript. All the honors courses are extra liberal arts courses. (I go to a Jesuit liberal arts university).

    At my university, you cannot get an "honors degree." You get the same B.S. degree in physics whether you are in an honors program or not. All the honors program does is is add the words "honors program" to you transcript. Your degree will still say "B.S. in Physics."

    When people refer to an "honors degree", I think they are referring to something different than an honors program at an American university. The former may indeed be required depending on your school and country where you obtained your education. The latter is not required for admission to American graduate programs.
  10. Jan 18, 2009 #9
    Thanks for all the help and replies.

    I am also wondering about if I choose to do research in say a physics area but decide to go the grad school for nuclear engineering (Or vise versa) will that look odd? So far I like bothe fields a lot and haven't totally committed to just one field. Thanks!
  11. Jan 18, 2009 #10
    Any (relevant) research looks good, and might help you decide between the two.
  12. Jan 18, 2009 #11


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    Dont do honors if it requires even an hour of more work. Invest that time into research with a professor if you want to go to grad school. Weight given on honors << Weight given on research experience.
  13. Jan 18, 2009 #12

    Vanadium 50

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    I agree with G01. I think there's a confusion between an honours degree and an honors degree.

    As far as whether an honors program will help you get into grad school, maybe a little, but the point of college is to get a broad, general education, not necessarily to climb the next rung on the ladder.
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