Honors Institute

What are the Admission Criteria for Incoming Freshmen?

The honors program at GCU is designed for entering freshman on the main campus, allowing students to benefit fully from prescribed honors coursework and progression of activities and experiences. A select group of 300 applicants will be admitted each year in order to maintain the optimal student/faculty/mentor ratios. 

Qualified candidates will generally meet the below criteria. However, Honors Institute students will be selected on a holistic basis based on their preparedness for the academic rigor of the honors curriculum and no single factor or combination of factors will guarantee or prevent admission. We advise applicants to discuss both their educational and service/leadership background in the application.

Competency Requirements:

  • Admitted into the university
  • Incoming student with 12 transfer credits or fewer
  • Possess an unweighted minimum high school GPA of 3.8
    ACT composite score of 27 or above
    SAT score (combined critical reading and math) of 1200 or above
  • Demonstration of passion for community service and leadership

Additional Requirements*:

  • Complete the Honors Program application
  • Complete a written essay demonstrating passion for community service and leadership
  • Submit at least two (2) professional letters of recommendation (i.e. faculty/teacher or employer, non-family members)
  • Submit copy of current résumé to include both employment and community service or leadership roles

*Note: In order to apply for the Honors program students must first apply to GCU and be admitted. Only students who are already admitted to GCU will have their Honors application reviewed.

What is the timeline for application and admission?

GCU is excited to introduce a two-tiered admission timeline for the Honors program. Students can apply during the Early Decision or Regular Admission timeframe. Should a student not be selected during the early decision phase, their application would automatically move to the regular admission process for review and consideration. Please see the information below for application timelines and deadlines.

Application Period

Open Application

Application Deadline

Number of Applicants Selected

Acceptance Letter Sent

Early Decision

Sept 1 - Jan 1

Jan 1


Feb 1

Regular Admission

Jan 2 - June 1

June 15


July 1


Application Process*:

  • *Students must apply and be admitted to GCU before seeking admission into the Honors program
  • GCU Honors Application
  • Résumé - Please send your résumé that includes both employment and community service.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation - Letters should be written on behalf of the applicant from high school teachers or counselors. Because our Honors program focuses on servant leadership along with scholarship, it is strongly recommended that applicants also seek out individuals who can speak to community service, employment and leadership. Letters of recommendation are most helpful when each provides new, insightful perspectives regarding the applicant's accomplishments and appropriateness for the program that is not always obvious in the application.
  • Application Essay - Please write an essay (500-750 words) based on the following topics and include the essay with your application materials. You must write on the 'required' topic and one of the 'additional' topics. Please provide a heading for the required topic and the additional topic so that the essay is divided into two distinct sections. Essays must be type written and double-spaced. Be sure to proofread your essay for correct grammar, clarity, organization, thoroughness, relevance to the topics, proper punctuation and correct spelling.
    • Required Topic - All applicants must include this topic in their essay paper. The material must be a minimum of 250 words.
      • Explain your service involvement or leadership role in the local community and describe what you learned from those experiences. 
    • Additional Topics - Choose one of the following to include with the required topic.  The response must be a minimum of 250 words.
      • Why are you interested in pursuing the Honors Distinction at GCU and how can you contribute to the honors community on campus?
      • How do you hope to change personally and intellectually as a result of participating in the GCU Honors Program?
      • Describe a situation from your life where you were a change agent or a servant leader.
      • If someone were to describe you as an animal, what would you be and why?
      • Explain how a steam engine, a table and a bottle are similar.
      • If you could meet one famous leader in history, who would it be and why? 
      • Based on your desired college major, in what way could your discipline impact the world?
  • Submit any additional materials/work products/ documentation which allow us to learn more about you as an individual or candidate for this program.


Continuation Standards:

Upon acceptance into the Honors Institute, students may remain enrolled as long as they adhere to the following, which will be reviewed by the Honors Committee annually:

  • Maintain an enrollment cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Complete the Annual Symposium each year with a "Pass" grade
  • Refrain from committing Student Code of Conduct violations