The predecessor of the Honors College was established in 1980, with options for both a general Honors Program and individual departmental honors programs. Students enrolled in the Honors Program were able to select from courses that boasted “smaller classes, more and livelier discussion, and more opportunity for independent study projects.” Students were also members of the Honors Student Association, which held lectures, volunteer opportunities, and social events on campus throughout the semester. An Honors Lounge, for Honors students only, was opened in Fine Arts Room 529 in 1981. Departmental honors programs, which are still in place at UMBC today, are tailored to each department’s requirements and encourage original research by the undergraduate students; students that complete this program graduate with Departmental Honors.
The success of the Honors Program and departmental honors eventually led to an expanded program, and a proposal to create an Honors College was submitted by Provost Adam Yarmolinsky in March 1988. The Honors College and Lounge are now located on the second floor of the Library.