Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Great Books and why should I study them?

In Torrey, books are the main event. All of our talking, thinking, and writing gather around its curriculum. Books worth gathering around need to be so well-crafted that they can stand up to hours of scrutiny, so interesting that they make for hours of great discussion, and so smart that students want to keep learning from them even when the semester is over. Great books meet these expectations and more. Torrey reads (only some of) the great books (of mostly Western civilization) that have stood the test of time (2500 years for some of them) and have formed so great a conversation that it is well worth joining in the here and now.

Do I still take a major if I’m in Torrey?

Yes! The Torrey Honors Institute only delivers general education courses.  Like all Biola undergraduates, Torrey students choose majors and receive Bachelor’s degrees in their chosen fields. Torrey graduates become lawyers, business leaders, medical doctors, scientists, scholars, and more, who also happen to have read Tolstoy and Plato. 

Just what classes does Torrey cover?

The curriculum covers 60 units of Biola’s general education requirements: 30 units of humanities and 30 units of Bible & theology. The only general education requirements not covered by Torrey are math, science, foreign language, and physical education.

What are Torrey classes like?

In Torrey, going to class means participating in a three-hour group discussion of a book. Professors ask questions to guide the group’s discussion, and students wrestle with these big questions together.

Do Torrey students have to take extra classes to graduate?

Torrey course requirements have a 1:1 correspondence with Biola’s general education requirements. In other words, Torrey students take the same number of units to graduate as non-Torrey students. The only exception is the 4-unit senior thesis, required to graduate from Torrey but not required to graduate from Biola.

What is the Torrey group?

A Torrey group is 12-16 students who read the same books and participate in the same sessions. Shared work and shared learning makes it very likely that group members become friends, enjoy meals, and share life together as well. Ideally, students stay with the same Torrey group for all 4 years of the program.

What is the Torrey Mentor?

In session, Torrey faculty teach by asking questions. Outside session, Torrey faculty members teach by mentoring. Each Torrey student has a faculty mentor. The Torrey mentor supports and directs student development and supervises and assesses student work in reading, talking, and writing. Faculty mentors count it a privilege to have 4 years to attend to mentees’ long-term intellectual, spiritual, and personal formation.

Do Torrey classes have more homework than the regular Biola curriculum?

The Torrey Honors Institute is academically rigorous, and Torrey students work hard. That said, there is no busy work in Torrey. Torrey assignments are reading, talking, and writing. All students are required to read the semester’s books, take notes on reading, and write short responses for every book and one longer paper. The Torrey reading list is always available well in advance of the semester, allowing students to work ahead and on their own schedule.

Can Torrey students study abroad for a semester?

Yes! Many Torrey students go abroad for a semester and are still able to graduate on time. For those who can’t go abroad for a semester-long trip, Torrey also offers 2 optional study abroad trips for its students. One trip is offered in January (Rome) and the other in July (Cambridge, U.K.). The 4 units earned on either or both of these trips count toward graduation requirements.


Frequently Asked Questions about the Application


What are the requirements to apply?

All prospective Biola University students who have one or more of the following are invited to apply to the Torrey Honors Institute:

  • A GPA of 3.8 and higher
  • A combined SAT of at least 1250
  • A composite ACT of at least 25

The SAT score reflects the new SAT (post March 2016). Our recommendation for the old SAT was 1800. Due to the recent SAT changes, our recommendations are subject to fluctuate with time as national standards solidify.

I don’t meet all of the requirements. Can I still apply?

Yes, you only need to meet one of the academic requirements to apply.

I don’t meet any of the requirements. Can I still apply?

SAT and GPA scores are good indicators of student success in Torrey, but we know that tests aren’t the whole story. If you think you would thrive in this academic community please apply.

What happens after I submit my application?

First, your application is processed by our staff and reviewed by a Torrey Honors faculty member. If approved, you will be contacted by our admissions office to schedule an interview with the Director of the Torrey Honors Institute (either in-person or over the phone, depending on your location). If at any point your application is denied it will be reviewed a second time by our Director. 

My school does not weigh GPAs. What should I put on my application?

If your school doesn’t provide a weighted GPA you can put the unweighted number in both fields on the application.

Do I need to submit a writing sample to apply?

We do not require a writing sample for our application. Consider your responses to the short answer application questions as a reflection of your writing.

Can I submit a letter of recommendation?

You are free to submit letters of recommendation, but as they are not required they may or may not factor into our admissions decision. Please have letters sent electronically to

How many students are admitted every year?

We are currently admitting 130 students to the Torrey Honors Institute in the Fall. In general, the THI tries to stay at 10% of Biola’s undergrad population.

I am an international student. How do I apply?

Fill out the application as normal. If you qualify for a phone interview you will be contacted by our office staff. If necessary, we can hold the interview via Skype.

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