The College Honors Program offers academically superior students, regardless of major, the opportunity to participate in a four-year honors experience. The program has two parts: General Education Honors and Departmental Honors. Each part may be taken independently of the other and will be noted on the student’s official transcript. However, both parts must be completed in order to receive the additional designation of “College Honors” on the transcript.
General Education Honors
General Education Honors admits students directly from high school, during their freshman year or as transfers. General Education Honors is normally, although not necessarily, completed by the end of the sophomore year.
Students take a minimum of five General Education courses, normally including the three core requirements, in specially designed honors sections. These sections are designed to be more intellectually challenging than regular courses and are kept small in size, thus allowing ample opportunity for class discussion and for individualized study.
Successful completion of General Education Honors requires a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.00. All honors courses taken are noted on the student’s transcript, as is the completion of General Education Honors as a whole. Students may withdraw from the program at any time.
Admission to General Education Honors is by invitation of the director of honors and the College Honors Committee. Students invited into General Education Honors normally rank in the top 20 percent of their high school class, have taken demanding academic schedules and have scored at least 1200 on the SAT. Each student’s application is reviewed individually and other factors are considered, such as activities, recommendations, the student’s high school curriculum and his or her personal statement. Students may also join on the basis of their performance at Rhode Island College during their first year or as transfer students, if they have not already completed too many General Education courses.
Each year Rhode Island College awards a number of merit-based financial scholarships to students in General Education Honors. Those scholarships are renewable for a maximum of four years as long as the student maintains full-time status with a minimum GPA of 3.00 and makes satisfactory progress toward completing General Education Honors.
Other financial scholarships specifically for General Education Honors students are the Eleanor M. McMahon Award, which is presented to an outstanding graduating senior who has completed both General Education Honors and Departmental Honors; the Eleanor M. McMahon Rising Junior Award, which is presented to a rising junior in General Education Honors who plans to complete a departmental honors project; the John Nazarian Honors Scholarship, which is awarded to an outstanding incoming freshman in General Education Honors; the Director of Honors Scholarship, which is given to a deserving student in General Education Honors; and the Ruth Williams ’33 Honors Scholarship, which is given to students from the Westerly, Rhode Island area.
Honors 351: Honors Colloquium admits continuing and transfer students who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.00, whether or not they have participated in General Education Honors. Although most students will have attained junior status, this colloquium is open to second-semester sophomores as well. This course may be taken twice for credit.
Honors 351 promotes intellectual and social community among students from different disciplines at the college. It teaches students to think self-analytically about their majors and about working in particular academic genres. It helps students decide whether or not to undertake departmental honors work and guides them in the initial stages of identifying, researching and proposing honors projects in their respective majors.
Departmental Honors offers students the opportunity to undertake an independent research, critical or creative project on a topic of the student’s choice and directed by a professor of the student’s choice. Normally, the project begins in the senior year, although it may commence earlier, and carries six to eight hours of independent study credit over two semesters. Students may participate in Departmental Honors whether or not they have completed General Education Honors or taken Honors 351.
A Departmental Honors project is completed in the department of the student’s major. The student must apply formally to the appropriate departmental honors committee, which is responsible for accepting the student’s proposal for an honors project, for evaluating the completed project and for awarding the Departmental Honors designation, which will appear on the student’s transcript. If the student’s project involves work with persons or animals, the project must also be approved by the Committee on Human Participants in Research or the Committee on Animal Care and Use. Individual departments may also require that the student take specific upper-level courses in addition to or as part of the honors project. Undergraduate research/creativity grants are available to support honors projects.
If there is no honors program in the student’s major or if the student wishes to undertake an interdisciplinary project that cannot be accommodated in the major, the student may apply to the director of honors to appoint an appropriate faculty committee to review the student’s proposal and to oversee the project. In such cases, the student’s transcript will reflect completion of an Honors Independent Project rather than Departmental Honors. Such students will still be eligible to receive the College Honors designation on their transcripts.
Students seeking Departmental Honors must have a minimum overall GPA of at least 3.0 and a minimum GPA in the major of at least 3.25. Some departments require higher minimum GPAs. Students should consult the respective departmental honors committees for details. A student whose project is denied honors may appeal that decision through the normal college appeal process.
Honors programs are offered in most departments in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the School of Business, as well as in the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development.