The Patrick Leahy Honors College

The Patrick Leahy Honors College (PLHC) offers an academically challenging environment for some of the University’s most outstanding undergraduate students. It involves a broad cross section of the university, representing every undergraduate college and a wide range of academic disciplines through robust coursework, research, and societal engagement. The PLHC is above all a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to the ideals of excellence in scholarship and intellectual inquiry.

Admission to the Patrick Leahy Honors College

Admission to the PLHC is based on prior academic performance and is gained through one of two avenues. First-year students may be invited to the PLHC based on the strength of their application to the university; no additional application is required. Approximately 280 first-year students comprise each year’s class. Because the college exists to recognize and encourage academic excellence, it also welcomes applications for admission from sophomores who were not in the PLHC in their first year but were among the top performers as first-year students at UVM. Sophomore admission requires an application form, a 3.40 (or higher) grade-point average at the end of two semesters, and responses to a set of essay questions. Admission is determined on a space-available basis. Students transferring into UVM should contact the Patrick Leahy Honors College office to express their interest.


Patrick Leahy Honors College students have “dual citizenship" at the University: they are members of both the PLHC and one of the seven undergraduate degree-granting schools and colleges. The PLHC curriculum supplements and enriches the University's degree offerings with seminars that broaden intellectual horizons, stimulate reflection & discussion, and inspire scholarly inquiry. PLHC courses are taught by distinguished members of the UVM faculty with expertise in a wide range of academic disciplines. These courses frequently fulfill degree and Catamount Core Curriculum requirements.  Enrollment is limited to PLHC students.  Students who complete all Patrick Leahy Honors College academic requirements, in addition to the degree requirements of the home school/college, graduate as Patrick Leahy Honors College Scholars.

First-Year Seminars

First-year PLHC students take a series of two-courses, one in the fall (HCOL 1000) and one in the spring (HCOL 1500). Seminars during the fall semester engage with a wide variety of contemporary social and ecological challenges, while sharing a common focus on writing and information literacy. The spring semester seminars build on skills and knowledge formed in the fall by introducing students to collaborative group work and public speaking. 

Sophomore Seminars

Students take one three-credit seminar (HCOL 2000) during each semester of sophomore year, totaling six credits. Ranging from topics in the humanities to the STEM disciplines, courses are primarily focused on providing students experience with research. Course themes vary from year to year.

Junior and Senior Year

In the junior year, students enroll in thesis preparatory coursework through their home school/college or the Patrick Leahy Honors College. During the senior year, students complete a six-credit research thesis or senior project approved by the home school/college. The senior-year requirements vary across the schools and colleges.

Accelerated Entry into Master's Degree Pathway

Patrick Leahy Honors College students who would like to work toward a master’s degree as an undergraduate have the option of meeting their six-credit thesis requirement—typically completed in the senior year—with six credits of master’s thesis work through one of the Accelerated Master’s Pathways (AMP) at UVM.  In the 2024-25 academic year, twenty-seven master’s programs are eligible for this option: Animal Biosciences, Biochemistry, Biology, Biomechanical Engineering, Biostatistics, Chemistry, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Community Development & Applied Economics, Complex Systems & Data Science, Computer Science, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, Electrical Engineering, English, Food Systems, Greek & Latin, History, Historic Preservation, Interdisciplinary Studies, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Natural Resources, Nutrition & Food Science, Pharmacology, Physics, Psychology, and Statistics. Students who have completed all undergraduate degree requirements except for their six credits of thesis work, and who have formally accepted an admission offer to an AMP, may walk in the PLHC recognition ceremony. The Patrick Leahy Honors College will award these students the undergraduate Patrick Leahy Honors College Scholar distinction upon completion of their master’s thesis.

Academic Standards

A cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 3.40 (or higher) is required to remain in good academic standing in the Patrick Leahy Honors College. A student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.40 (or higher) to graduate as a Patrick Leahy Honors College Scholar.

Academic Standing Review

At the end of each semester, the Patrick Leahy Honors College Dean's Office reviews academic records of PLHC students to identify those eligible for enhanced academic advising or dismissal. Students under consideration receive notification of their academic standing in the Patrick Leahy Honors College after the close of each fall and spring semester. Those who are notified of dismissal have the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Criteria for Enhanced Advising

Patrick Leahy Honors College students with a cumulative GPA below 3.40 will be given one semester of enhanced academic advising to raise their GPA to a 3.40 (or higher). The PLHC will also place students with a grade of Incomplete on enhanced advising for the following semester. Enhanced advising in the Honors College consists of regular meetings with Honors College advising staff, as well as work with other academic support programs determined to be an important part of student success. Following the semester of enhanced advising, student academic records will be re-reviewed. Students who raise their cumulative GPA to a 3.40 (or higher) will be removed from enhanced advising. Those who do not earn a GPA of 3.40 (or higher) may be subject to dismissal from the Patrick Leahy Honors College.

Criteria for Honors College Dismissal

Students who do not earn a cumulative GPA of 3.40 (or higher) after a semester of enhanced advising are eligible for dismissal. In addition, the following situations may warrant dismissal from the Patrick Leahy Honors College:

  • Receipt of grades of C- (or below) in nine credits (or more) of coursework
  • Offenses committed against the academic integrity code, as determined by standard university procedures
  • Lack of satisfactory progress toward the completion of Patrick Leahy Honors College requirements

Academic Standing Review involves taking personal or academic considerations into account prior to dismissal for any of the situations listed above. 

Students dismissed from the Patrick Leahy Honors College have the opportunity to appeal the decision in writing (unless otherwise stated), and will receive information on the appeal process in the dismissal notification. After the review of an appeal, the student will receive notification of the decision via UVM email.

Once dismissed from the Patrick Leahy Honors College, students will be dis-enrolled from any Patrick Leahy Honors College courses. There is no possible re-entry for students who are dismissed from the Patrick Leahy Honors College.

Residential Component

Patrick Leahy Honors College students live together in the residential complex, University Heights, during their first two years at UVM. In the PLHC community, students learn together in their courses, grow together through advising & peer mentoring, and participate in programming that encourages an academic work-life balance in college. All PLHC students have access to the University Heights Complex, which includes classroom space, study & lounge areas, administrative staff, advising resources, and the Fellowships, Opportunities and Undergraduate Research Office.

Co-Curricular Activities

All UVM faculty, students, and the general public are invited to participate in Patrick Leahy Honors College events such as lectures and symposia presented by faculty, students, and distinguished visiting scholars and artists. In addition to public forums, Patrick Leahy Honors College students are encouraged to develop their capacities in the five supporting pillars of the College: leadership, service, research, inclusion & wellbeing.  The PLHC enables students to explore their interests in these areas through co-curricular programming.

Fellowship and Undergraduate Research Support

The Patrick Leahy Honors College provides special advising for all undergraduates at UVM, not just those in the College. The Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research (FOUR) office connects with students interested in working with faculty outside the classroom by providing advising and financial support to pursue and present research. As a student's interest grows, FOUR helps develop the next steps: this can include specialized internships, research or teaching abroad, or preparing for and funding a graduate education. FOUR also provides mentoring for students applying for nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships (e.g., Fulbright, Truman, Udall, Goldwater, and Rhodes).