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General Program Information

The University Honors Program offers an enriched course of study for academically talented and intellectually curious students. Honors Scholars take courses especially designed to encourage creative thinking and independent learning, and they complete a long-term original research project in the form of an Honors Thesis.


First-time first-year students and continuing or transfer students with fewer than 45 credits (exclusive of college credits earned in high school or in summer sessions) are eligible to apply to the University Honors Program. In general, first-year applicants are expected to be in the top 15% of their respective high school classes, have earned a 3.5 cumulative GPA, and/or have achieved at least a 1250 on the SAT (combined score for the evidence-based reading/writing and math sections). Continuing or transfer students should have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or above. The most important qualifications of all is a commitment to learning and an enthusiasm for intellectual challenges.

In addition to applying for admission to the University, prospective students need to complete a separate online application form which can be found on the homepage of the Honors website after November 1.

The application requires an additional essay (selected from one of two available prompts), and two recommendation forms from academic teachers who can speak to academic ability and potential. Annually, the deadline for applications is February 1.

Standards for Retention in the Program

To maintain good standing in the program students must (1) meet the following minimum cumulative GPA standards: First-year students 3.30; Sophomores 3.40; Juniors 3.45; Seniors 3.50, (2) maintain 12 graded credits each semester (exceptions require Honors Director approval), (3) complete at least one Honors course per academic year, and (4) demonstrate active involvement in the co-curricular activities of the Honors Program and the University community.


Why Become an Honors Scholar?

The University Honors Program offers students excellent opportunities to develop attributes that typify those who are willing and capable of assuming leadership roles in their respective communities. These opportunities are provided through intellectually challenging courses, working with other highly motivated students, involvement in student-initiated projects/activities, and completion of an independent research project in the form of an Honors Thesis under the supervision of a faculty mentor. In addition, the Program provides opportunities and encouragement, as well as financial support, for Honors students wishing to participate in local, regional, and/or national conferences. The Program offers an excellent preparation for graduate or professional schools, or any competitive career. Students who complete the program requirements are recognized as University Honors Scholars at commencement and on their transcripts.

In addition, all incoming Honors Scholars receive the largest possible scholarships. These scholarships are renewable for four years for those who maintain the program's standards and requirements. See updated scholarship amounts.

Juniors embarking on their Honors Thesis research are eligible to apply for a $1,000 Summer Thesis Enhancement Fellowship. Incoming Honors first-year students who wish to live on campus are housed on the same floor in Constitution Hall. Participation in the Honors Program improves the chances of continuing students obtaining the housing residence of their choice in subsequent years. The curriculum of the Honors program satisfies part of the University's Liberal Arts Core requirement. Honors Scholars, who may major in any four-year program offered at Eastern, often find that their Honors Thesis may also satisfy the LAC's Tier III course requirement.

Honors Curriculum

Honors courses are designed to integrate and complement the work students accomplish fulfilling the LAC requirement and requirements of their major. The program consists of 23 credits, up to 6 of which may be waived for continuing or transfer students.

Upon completion of the LAC and Honors Program Curriculum, students will be able to demonstrate

  1. Critical Thinking by:
    • Identifying and stating a problem or issue to be addressed; 
    • Analyzing and evaluating complex ideas, artifacts, information, and arguments that can address the problem or issue; 
    • Stating and assessing the assumptions and limitations of ideas, artifacts, information, and arguments that can address the problem or issue; and 
    • Formulating well-reasoned beliefs, judgments, or conclusions.
  2. Ethical Reasoning by:
    • Recognizing ethical issues; 
    • Identifying their own ethical positions; 
    • Analyzing other ethical positions; and 
    • Considering the impact of decisions and actions on other individuals, society, and the environment.
  3. Communication by:
    • Recognizing and utilizing the most appropriate means to address specific audiences; and 
    • Employing communication methods relevant to specific contexts or genres to effectively inform or persuade.
  4. Creativity by:
    • Utilizing newly acquired strategies and skills within a creative domain; 
    • Synthesizing ideas, perspectives, information, or materials in original ways; 
    • Creating an imaginative act or product with new ideas, perspectives, information, and materials; and 
    • Evaluating the role of their own values, interests, and ideas in the creative process and act or product. 
  5. Quantitative Reasoning by:
    • Interpreting and explaining information presented in quantitative forms (e.g. equations, graphs, diagrams, tables); 
    • Converting information into quantitative forms when required; 
    • Creating arguments and arriving at judgments based on quantitative analysis of data; and 
    • Expressing quantitative evidence in support of arguments 

All entering first-year student honors scholars take FYI 100 (Honors First Year Introduction) as a cohort. This course is taught by the director of the honors program and is designed to give Honors Scholars an introduction to the honors program, campus life, and the liberal arts philosophy at Eastern.

The first-year students cohort of Honors Scholars take HON 150 (Great Ideas in the Advancement of Knowledge) in their spring semester. This team-taught course explores examples of aesthetic, ethical, and cultural values through the study of art, literature, and economics. Honors Scholars participate in an intellectual discourse of a scholarly community, while working through various texts that examine the ways in which various disciplines and works depict society and the individual's place within it.

During their sophomore and junior years, Honors Scholars take 3 Honors Colloquia (Honors 360-362). These are innovative interdisciplinary courses designed specifically for the program by outstanding scholars and respected teachers. Topics covered in recent colloquia include: Site-Specific Theatre, Anthropomorphism, Corporate Social Responsibility, and The US in the Middle East. Colloquia may feature off-campus excursions and international travel. The three required Honors colloquia fulfill any three of the five Tier II categories of the LAC.

In the fall of their junior year, students design and begin work on an Honors thesis (HON 380/488) under the direction of a faculty advisor in Honors 380. During spring of their junior year and fall of senior year, Honors Scholars draft, revise and complete their respective research projects in Honors 488. The Honors Thesis allows students to complete an original research or creative project, and is excellent preparation for advanced study and challenging careers.

Honors Activities

NCUR19In addition to their academic lives, Honors Scholars become involved in a variety of programs and activities sponsored by the university, their major department, and the Honors Program itself. The Honors Club, a student organization, meets twice a month throughout the academic year. It sponsors trips to cultural events and other college campuses. For example, several students, along with the Director, present their research at the Northeast National Collegiate Honors Council Conference (NE-NCHC), the National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and others.
The Student Honors Council makes recommendations concerning the Honors curriculum and requirements, the Honors curriculum and requirements, and sponsors cultural and social events on campus, including the activities of Honors Week, usually the last week in April. Other Honors student initiatives include social service and educational activities in the Windham/Willimantic area, hosting prospective first-year students, and mentoring programs for new students.