Honors Program

Research. Service. Leadership.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I join the Honors Program?

Honors students have access to enhanced educational opportunities designed to foster long-term intellectual, personal and career growth. These include: unique, interdisciplinary courses that encourage creative and critical thinking, opportunities to be mentored by upperclassmen and then to become a mentor yourself, career-development workshops, leadership training, service-learning opportunities, participation in academic conferences, and more. You are also part of a community of learners. Many Honors students have met their friends for life through the program because of the bonding that took place freshman year through shared living in the residence hall, enrichment activities, classes and other community-building experiences. Mentoring and personal development are also a major part of the Honors experience. In addition to having an academic faculty advisor in your major, you will work closely with the Honors Program Director, Dr. Amy Story, to achieve your personal and professional goals.

How can the Honors Program benefit by career preparation?

Honors students have access to special educational opportunities designed to foster their long-term intellectual and personal growth, thus setting them up to be more successful in their applications to jobs or graduate school. Having studied a second language, completed a higher level math, written a senior thesis, and participated in internships, research experiences, and substantive service work are all important markers that demonstrate a commitment to go the extra mile to develop your abilities and to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Our coursework and personal development experiences will help you become a better leader, team-member, critical thinker, and communicator—all skills that are highly sought-after in the working world. The diverse body of experiences and competency across skill sets is what sets our students apart from their competition.

What requirements need to be fulfilled in order to graduate from the Honors Program?

The Honors Program has a couple of graduation requirements that go a beyond what you might have to do for your major or the regular BW Core Curriculum.

Those requirements are as follows:
  • Complete a minimum math level of pre-calculus (MTH 140).
  • Reach intermediate level second language proficiency (equivalent of two years of college language study), or one year of study in two languages.
  • Write a senior thesis, a project intended to give you an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor and produce a final product that will assist you in reaching your long-term goals.
  • Take a total of 24 credit hours in Honors (about 20% of your total hours required to graduate).
The 24 credit hours will be made up of a variety of Honors courses and experiences. Some courses are basic requirements, like the first-year English course (ENG 131), while others are special topics courses. Honors students can also fulfill Honors elective credits through a wide range of options that encourage them to broaden their experiences, engage with community partners, and build their resumes. For example, students can get Honors credit for studying abroad, partaking in substantive service work, securing competitive and educational internships, and doing independent research with a faculty mentor.

What is the rigor compared to a regular course schedule?

The Honors Program does require a somewhat more rigorous Core Curriculum than that required of the non-Honors BW student, as noted above. In terms of the experience in Honors courses, there is no reason to believe that these courses will be “harder” than non-Honors. Instead, Honors courses are of a different nature than non-Honors. They are intended to be interdisciplinary explorations of specific topics and are designed to help students make connections between theoretical ideas and real-world experiences. Additionally, what you get in Honors courses that is different is a more engaged and well-prepared group of classmates and thus a higher level of discussion about and comprehension of the material in the class. Honors classes do not necessarily involve longer papers, harder reading, more homework, etc. than non-Honors courses.

How will Honors courses fit in with my schedule and major?

The Honors Program works to create a schedule that allows the most flexibility for our students as possible, and provides priority registration times to ease our students’ ability to schedule all of the courses they may need.  Honors classes typically range from 1-3 credits (most courses in departments are either 3 or 4 credits), so they are smaller and easier to fit into a demanding course schedule. We also have a number of ways that students can get credit in Honors without sitting in an Honors class. You can turn ANY course into an Honors course by working with the Honors Director and the faculty member teaching the course to design an additional project that goes beyond the class curriculum.  You can also get Honors credit for study abroad or for internships, to give two examples out of many. Overall, while most Honors courses will not be classes that fulfill your Major requirements, they will fit in with your major(s) and minor(s) and should not add time to your graduation clock. 

Can I complete the Honors Program if I am in the Conservatory?

The Honors Program values having a community of students that is inclusive of all areas of study on campus, including the Conservatory of Music.  While study in the Conservatory is demanding of students both inside and outside the classroom, completion of the Honors Program is still possible and offers great advantages to Conservatory students in terms of broadening their community and base of experiences and opportunities at BW.
Students in the Conservatory fulfill the same Honors Program requirements as other students, but do have the potential to earn up to 12 credit hours through Honors versions of required Conservatory classes.  Classes that are offered in Honors versions include the following:
MUC 111H                 Tonal Harmony 1                2 credits
MUC 113H                 Tonal Harmony 2                2 credits
MUC 211H                 Tonal Harmony 3                2 credits            
MUC 112H                 Solfege-Eurhythmics 1        2 credits        
MUC 114H                 Solfege-Eurhythmics 2        2 credits
MUC 212H                 Solfege 3                            2 credits
                                                                             12 total credits possible
Admission to these Honors courses, however, is based on student performance on placement exams given prior to the start of classes for first-year students and thereafter on performance in the courses themselves.  In other words, students do not simply self-select into these courses and are not in any way pre-approved for them based on their admission to the Honors Program.  Students can move both up and down in terms of their placement in Harmony and Solfege sections (which are offered in tiers based on rigor, pace of study, and prior knowledge), and this movement is largely determined by the judgment of Conservatory faculty.
Many Conservatory/Honors Program students will not place into the Honors sections of Harmony and/or Solfege, but that does not mean that completion of the Honors Program is no longer possible.  In this case, Conservatory students will want to work closely with their Honors Program advisor to find ways to consistently make progress on Honors requirements while also completing their degree in the Conservatory.  Conservatory students might be more likely to take advantage of doing Honors Options in their courses and seeking opportunities to gain Honors Waivers for experiences that do not impinge on their Conservatory course schedule.

What are the admission criteria for the Honors Program?

  • 3.5 or higher high school GPA
  • ACT – 27 Composite with 24 English and 24 Math
  • SAT – 1210 with 550 Critical Reading and 560 Math
  • We also look for second language study, AP courses, and other signs of a rigorous course of academic study in high school.

In addition to the students who meet the established criteria, other qualified students may be issued an invitation to join the program based on recommendations from the Admissions Committee and Honors Program Director. If you would like to be considered for the program, please contact either Admissions or the Honors Program to alert us to your interest.

What is a Senior Honors Thesis?

The Honors Program curriculum culminates in a senior thesis that allows students to select a topic of interest and engage in extensive research with a faculty mentor. Honors theses range from traditional in-depth studies of authors or texts to writing creative works like novellas, plays, and musical compositions to constructing case-studies, business plans, or web-portfolios. Ultimately, the thesis is a “product” that students can use to market themselves to graduate programs or employment opportunities.

Is there a student organization for Honors students?

Yes! The Honors Leadership Board organizes service, leadership, social, and educational programs throughout the school year for the Honors Program. Events include a fall picnic, documentary viewings and discussions, holiday celebrations, trips to local events, and service drives to collect items for local communities in need.

What are some unique opportunities offered to Honors students?

Students in the Honors Program receive priority course registration times in order to help them accommodate our additional expectations. Incoming Honors students are taken on a two-night off-campus retreat prior to the start of fall classes in order to start bonding as a class and becoming integrated into the Honors community. Honors students can also elect to live in Honors living and learning communities, which are dedicated to fostering academic excellence and interpersonal growth.

Starting in 2016, Honors will begin offering a subsidized international service-learning program to Guatemala. Throughout the academic year, Honors offers many opportunities for career and leadership development experiences including our Leadership through Mentoring program and our Leadership and Career Development Workshop. 

Are there scholarships specifically for Honors students?

The Honors Program does not award students with scholarships. However, Honors students are able to apply to the program to request of funding to support travel to conferences, community service trips, study abroad, or the purchase of research supplies. Students can apply for up to a $1,000 to study abroad. 

I have more questions, whom should I contact?

We’d love to hear from you! You can contact the Honors Program office to speak with Director, Dr. Amy E. Story at 440-368-2242 or by email at honors@bw.edu.



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