FAQs: the program

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

“Great Books” refers to texts that fundamentally shaped their societies and whose ideas remain timelessly relevant. We believe it is important for students to study great books because the ideas and questions compelled by these books train them to approach the world with nuance, intelligence, and grace.  

Is Torrey my major?

Torrey is not your major. The Torrey Honors Institute is a unique method of replacing general education courses, and pairs well with any major. Our students study a variety of disciplines and excel in fields as diverse as law, business, film, medicine, the humanities, and more. 

Which general education classes does Torrey replace?

The Torrey curriculum replaces 30 units of humanities classes and 30 units of Bible & Theology (or a total of 60 of Biola’s required general education units). Torrey does not account for Biola’s requirements in math, science, foreign language, and physical education.

What happens in Torrey classes?

Torrey classes are called “sessions.” Put simply, they are three-hour long discussions of the books on our curriculum. In class, a student joins a group of no more than 16 other students that sit together in a circle. At the head of the circle sits one of our faculty members who asks the “opening question.” The students then spend three hours exploring the text at hand under the guidance of the opening question and the tutor. Sessions are textually based, student driven, and tutor guided. They are not, however, lectures. Student participation receives a strong emphasis because the purpose of our classes is to teach students the skills they need to have meaningful, independent interactions with difficult books.

Do Torrey students need to take extra classes to graduate?

No. Torrey students have the same graduation requirements as all other Biola students. The only exception is the 4-unit senior thesis, a Torrey-specific graduation requirement.

What is a Torrey cohort?

A Torrey cohort is a group of 12-16 students who discuss the books on our curriculum together. Ideally, Torrey cohorts stay together until graduation. Whether or not this is the case, our discussion cohorts are where we facilitate the development of high-level discussions, intentional community, and deep friendships.

What is a Torrey Mentor?

Each student in Torrey is assigned a faculty mentor who works with them for the four years of their undergraduate experience. Mentors look after the logistics of the academic project: they grade papers, track session scores, conduct oral tests, etc. They are also, however, available for individualized academic questions and personal and spiritual mentorship. Torrey students often form close relationships with their faculty mentors that last long after graduation.

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

Torrey is an honors program and, as such, possesses high standards and a rigorous workload. It is, however, important to recognize that Torrey consolidates your general education efforts into one class with a single syllabus, reading list, and writing requirement. In normal general education programs, students must keep track of multiple syllabi and homework requirements (all of which are often encumbered with busy work). Torrey’s consolidation of the general education project eliminates busy work and enables our students to focus their energy on two main projects: Torrey and their majors.

Can Torrey students study abroad?

It is quite common for Torrey students to study abroad. Many take advantage of a Biola facilitated opportunity to study at Oxford University for a semester, but there are a number of other remote study programs offered through Biola’s Center for Cross Cultural Engagement. Possible locations include Uganda, Washington, D.C., and Australia.

In addition, Torrey offers an optional three week summer program at Cambridge University. On this trip, students earn four of the units required to graduate from Torrey. Students who wish to study off-campus for a full semester often use Torrey Cambridge units to replace on-campus Torrey requirements.



FAQs: The Application Process


Do I qualify to submit an application for Torrey?

Prospective students who possess

  • an unweighted GPA of 3.8 or higher
  • or a combined SAT of at least 1250
  • or a composite ACT of at least 25
  • or a composite CLT of at least 80

are welcome to apply to the Torrey Honors Institute! In other words, any students who possess one or more  of the above qualifications are eligible to apply for Torrey.


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

Yes. Students only need to meet one of the above qualifications to be eligible for acceptance.

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

Students who meet our application requirements are favored in the admission process. However, if you do not meet any of our requirements and still think you will thrive in Torrey you are welcome to submit an application. We value high test scores, but also know that they are not sole markers of academic potential. Applications with low test scores may be strengthened by an academic letter of recommendation. 

What happens after I submit my application?

Torrey applications are reviewed by our faculty members. Students whose applications are approved for interviews are contacted by our admissions staff to schedule interviews with our Director (we have both in-person and phone options available). Final decisions are made after interview results are processed.

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

If your school does not provide a weighted GPA, please write your unweighted GPA in both fields on the application.

Do I need to submit a writing sample to apply?

Our application does not require an academic writing sample. We do, however, pay careful attention to student responses to the short answer questions listed on the application. We recommend treating them with the care and gravity students generally grant traditional college writing samples.

Can I submit a letter of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are not required in our application process. Students who wish to may submit them to torrey.admissions@biola.edu with the applicant's name in the subject line. 


How many students are admitted every year?

Each year, we admit 136 students to the Torrey Honors Institute. Our current acceptance rate is approximately 25%.


Are there differences between the application processes for U.S. residents and international students?

Torrey’s application process is the same for U.S. residents and international students. The only difference is that it is often easier for students living internationally to conduct interviews via Skype, something we are happy to coordinate.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Sign-up Now

Get Connected

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
© Biola University, Inc. All Rights Reserved.