The Honors Program at Oakton offers immersive, small college learning experiences within the context of a large community college. As part of the Honors Program, you’ll have access to a variety of innovative Honors courses. These stimulating classes are filled with passionate students who are especially motivatedStudent studying in Des Plaines library. and intellectually curious, just like you. You’ll have the opportunity to think more broadly, explore more deeply, and connect with diverse ways of thinking. 

You’ll also take part in our specialized Learning Communities and Core Seminars. These are unique learning experiences that integrate course content from two different disciplines around shared themes. Meeting with professors from each course present, the Learning Communities present a high-impact learning experience where you explore topics in greater depth that enhance your critical thinking. View the kinds of projects that Oakton students work on.

In addition to classes, as part of the Honors Program, you'll have access to opportunities for research and further study in regular classes and several scholarship and fellowship programs (see below for more). Special academic counseling, workshops and resources will help you make the most of your time at Oakton and transfer successfully to a four-year institution. Oakton’s Honors students—especially those who complete the Honors Scholar Designation—have a strong track record of receiving prestigious scholarships and transferring to the schools of their choice.

You'll also be able to join the Honors Student Organization.


To apply to Oakton's Honors Program, you need at least one of the following:

• For current college students: a 3.5 GPA* across at least 12 credits, at Oakton, or any college.
• For recent high school graduates: a 3.5 GPA, or an ACT score of 25 or better, or an SAT score of 1200 or better.
• Or, a GED score of 300 or better.

*If you are a current Oakton student with a 3.25 GPA, you can still apply and be considered with an instructor recommendation. 

If your GPA is slightly lower and you would still like to apply, please reach out to the Honors Coordinator. If you already have an associate or bachelor’s degree, you may also be admitted.

Apply to the Honors Program

Transfer, Scholarship and Research Opportunities

Four students with Honors stolls at graduation.

The Honors Program has direct transfer relationships with multiple colleges and Universities that allow you to transfer from Oakton's Honors Program directly into their Honors Program, including: Elmhurst University, University of Illinois at Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and Illinois State University.

The Honors Coordinator facilitates applications from Oakton students for multiple national scholarships that occur annually, including the Jack Kent Cooke, Udall, and Goldwater scholarships. Honors students have been exceptionally successful in winning these highly competitive national scholarships.

Additionally, the Honors Program selects one student per year to receive the Elmhurst University/Oakton College full-tuition scholarship.

Learn more about paying for college

Additional Opportunities

In the Honors Program, you will have access to a variety of unique and rewarding opportunities:
What it is

Any Honors class that you complete will appear as “Honors” on your final transcript. Additionally, you can earn having the Honors Scholar Designation recorded on your final transcript, which is one of the highest academic honors granted by the college. When you transfer, apply to other schools, or apply for scholarships, the Honors Scholar Designation sets you apart from other students with high GPAs, and it is taken as a mark of serious academic achievement.

How to earn it

To earn the Honors Scholar Designation, you must maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA and complete at least 18 credit hours of Honors classes. This includes at least one Honors Learning Community or Core Seminar, and no more than two classes (usually six credits) earned through Honors Contracts. After the Honors Program has verified your course record, the Honors Scholar Designation is added to your transcript.

Honors Contracts offer you the opportunity to earn Honors credit for classes that are not currently being offered as dedicated Honors sections. You’ll work one-on-one with your professor outside of regular class time on an Honors project designed by you and your professor. Classes completed with an Honors Contract will appear as “Honors” on your final transcript.

Email your professor before registering or talk with them in the first weeks of the semester to see if completing an Honors Contract will be right for you and the class.

The Honors Program hosts an ongoing calendar of dynamic speakers and events. This also includes informal workshops dedicated to helping you succeed at Oakton, seek scholarship opportunities, and transfer to the school of your choice. Additionally, you will be able to join the Honors Student Organization (HSO) and participate in HSO events and activities.

What's Next?

We are glad you are considering attending Oakton College. No matter where you are in your decision-making process, we are here to help you with your next steps. Whether you're ready to apply now, need information on paying for college or have questions and want to contact someone, we're here to help.


Students often wonder if Honors classes are ‘harder’. Rather than being ‘harder’, Honors classes are work of a different kind. They often cover much of the same course material as a ‘regular’ course, but with smaller class sizes, close interaction and help from your professors on projects, deep learning engagement with your peers in the Honors Program, and integration of multiple disciplinary perspectives and ways of thinking about course topics.

There are no minimum course requirements to participate in the Honors Program. However, to graduate with the Honors Scholar Designation, you must complete 18 hours of Honors courses, some of which must come from the Learning Community.

Learning Communities combine two courses from different disciplines. For example, the Learning Community Introduction to Global Studies/Ethics examines environmental ethics within the context of the history of humans’ impact on the environment. The Core Seminar Honors Interdisciplinary Laboratory Research is an interdisciplinary Bio-Chemistry Lab primarily for STEM pre-majors. If you wish to graduate with the Honors Scholar Designation, you must take at least one Learning Community.

You may sign up for the regular version of the course and work with the instructor to open an Honors section. You enroll in the Honors section class in order to complete additional assignments, such as research projects or class presentations. Additionally, there are no prerequisite courses required to join the Honors Program.

There are no additional costs or fees to be admitted and take courses in the Honors program. It is not an international honors society or club, it is a special academic program within Oakton College (the two year version of the Honors colleges typically found at many elite traditional four-year colleges and universities). 

Yes, they should. Almost all of the Honors classes we offer fulfill the same general education requirements as 'regular' classes. Oakton is part of the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), and our curriculums are designed to allow you to transfer seamlessly to other Illinois institutions. Still, it's best you work with your advisor to be sure you're taking the proper courses required by the four-year institution you intend to transfer to. All Honors classes meet general education requirements unless otherwise noted.

Honors classes meet on the Des Plaines campus unless otherwise noted. Online availability varies by course. Review listings in the course catalog to be sure.

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