Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate from BYU with University Honors should have achieved the objectives listed below.  We have also listed with each objective not only the Honors courses and requirements that address the objective, but also how major courses, major capstone papers or projects, and GE courses fit into and complement your Honors education.

  • Possess a mature understanding of the philosophy of your home discipline and a basic, working understanding of the philosophy of the university’s other major disciplines.

      Each discipline has a different way of “thinking” about the world—certain questions and topics are more important than others, each makes certain assumptions about what matters and how we know what we know, and each has developed particular methods, rules of evidence, modes of communication, etc., that ensure quality in its scholarship. It’s important to know the disciplines on their own terms, but it’s also important to recognize the limitations of each discipline. Moreover, by the time you graduate you should be able give intelligent responses to these two significant questions:

    • What difference does my disciplinary education make to my understanding of the Restored Gospel?
    • What difference does my understanding of the Restored Gospel make to my disciplinary education?

    • And as you acquire at least a basic understanding of the major disciplines you will begin to see the possibilities and benefits of an “interconnected” approach to at least some of the big or “Great” questions and problems we face in our world. (HONRS 120, major courses, GE courses, UNIV 291, 292, 293)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page Honors Interdisciplinary Education.

  • Recognize and articulate Great Question(s) that undergird and give meaning to the narrower questions we try to address in our academic and professional work, and in our actions and relationships in the world.

      Behind everything we want to know and understand at the university and in life—no matter how specific—are an ever-broadening chain of questions about why and how things work the way they do, what is or should be important to us, and above all, what can or should be done about the problems and concerns we face in our collective and individual lives. Each discipline at the university approaches such Big or “Great” Questions uniquely, with different methodologies, assumptions, and expertise, but they all share a fundamental investment in them. In fact, the disciplines need each other because no one discipline has the ability to provide sufficient answers to our most important and urgent questions. Furthermore, Great Questions at BYU also invite and perhaps even require us to integrate our faith into the intellectual work we do. (HONRS 120, UNIV 291, 293, 293, HONRS 320, Great Question Essay)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page Questions, not answers, drive education.

  • Develop, articulate, and conduct research on the questions—great or narrow—that interest you with the appropriate and accepted academic methodologies, practices, and conventions.

    • Research begins as a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world, others, and ourselves. But the ability to ask the right questions in a single discipline or in an interdisciplinary context is essential for success in education and beyond. Your awareness of and engagement with Great Questions in your Honors education will complement what you learn from engaging discipline-specific questions in your major. To graduate with University Honors, you first produce a Great Question Essay at least two semesters before your graduation, and then produce an Honors Thesis by the time you graduate. Where the Honors Thesis requires you to narrow your interests to an investigation of a research or creative question that will make an original contribution to the specialized, discipline-based knowledge of scholars and practitioners in that discipline, the Great Question Essay allows you to broaden your interest beyond your home discipline in order to engage an educated public on important issues that bear on the well-being of individuals, families, communities of various kinds, and human society more generally. Both documents require careful, thorough research. The Great Question Essay demonstrates your ability to do sufficiently rigorous research in fields outside of your specialty (e.g., the disciplines you incorporate into the Great Question Essay). The Honors Thesis requires you to demonstrate sophisticated, mature research skills in your chosen major with the tried and tested methods that your particular disciplines have developed to ensure the quality and integrity of those results. (UNIV 291, 292, 293, HONRS 320, Great Question Essay, major courses, major capstone paper or project where applicable, Honors Thesis)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page Sense of Wonder.

  • Write clearly, insightfully, and persuasively in the specialized discourse of your discipline and in the more general “educated public” discourse we use as a society to discuss and deliberate on matters of common interest and importance.

    • All writing in an Honors education should exhibit correct grammar, clear sentence structure, effective organization, intelligent and accurate word choice (including the use of technical terms where needed or appropriate), mature awareness of and sensitivity to audience, proper attribution to and complete citation of sources, etc. But each discipline has its own genres, conventions, and practices, and the Honors Thesis must demonstrate the student’s facility with such matters. The Great Question Essay is less restrained by disciplinary styles and requirements, but there are nevertheless rhetorical strategies and genres that are well established in educated public discourse. You will be expected to be able to explain and defend the choices you make in this regard. (All Honors courses and requirements, GE courses, many of your major courses, and your major capstone paper or project where applicable)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page What will you do with your BYU education?.

  • Apply and also increase what you learn at BYU in education-related service and in the world beyond BYU.

    • Applying or teaching what you’re learning as you learn it is a great way of actually deepening and expanding what you end up learning. You can achieve this learning outcome through two kinds of activities:

      1) An approved international study experience—study in an international setting is not only a great way to learn about the world through direct experience, but also a way of interrogating what you already thought you knew about the world. BYU’s Cambridge Direct Enrollment Program, the Oxford Social Innovators Program, and many of the International Study Program’s Study Abroad and Field Studies programs will qualify.

      2) Involvement in approved education-related service—people helping other people learn, especially beginners or people with special needs or learning disabilities, is one of the best and most moral ways for us to truly learn what is important. You may engage in this activity within the Honors Program itself (HONRS 120 and the IDC courses will each involve a number of peer mentors/teaching assistants), or you can take up a variety of activities off campus through BYU Tutoring, the University Accessibility Center’s service opportunities, or education-related activities in the Y-Serve Program. (credit earned through ISP programs, HONRS 390, HONRS 399)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page Feeling Lost in the Crowd?.

  • Live and work in the world with wisdom, reverence, and love.

    • Last but certainly not least, an Honors education is concerned not only with what you know and can do, but also who you’ve become. To the knowledge you acquire in your studies, a BYU Honors education hopes to add wisdom: the virtue that balances the theoretical with the practical, intellectual courage with intellectual humility, diligence with patience; that tempers the needs of the individual with the needs of the community, and that informs our search for new possibilities with an understanding of what the past can teach us about the very concept of possibility. To your efforts to discover and develop your own skills and talents, a BYU Honors education wishes to instill a sense of reverence: to make important to you that which is important to God; to search for and welcome the truth and "anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy" wherever it may be found or encountered; to devote yourself in work, as well as service, to people and other living beings before things or ideas. Finally, to your drive and ambition for personal success, a BYU Honors education seeks to center your focus on the greatest of all virtues—love, or charity: Paul and Mormon have this one nicely covered; read 1 Corinthians 13 and Moroni 7 often. (All Honors courses and requirements and, hopefully, every other learning and service experience you have at BYU)
          For more details on how this learning objective is fulfilled in part see the page Man grows with his higher aims..