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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Liberal Arts Honors Program?

The Liberal Arts Honors Program is not a major, but an enriched feature of the College’s core curriculum. As with regular students, Honors students are required to fulfill the demands of the core curriculum, in addition to the major, but they do so in special Honors sections which, to put it simply, require more reading, more writing, and more seminar participation. Honors students enjoy plenty of flexibility to pursue any major or minor at the College.

How much of the core curriculum do the Honors courses cover?

Honors courses may be taken in almost every segment of the core curriculum: in the four-semester Western Civilization sequence, in Philosophy, Theology, the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts. Mathematics is the only segment of the core which does not offer an Honors section, and that is because students fulfill their mathematics requirement at those levels, usually some species of Calculus, appropriate to their particular math backgrounds.

Are Honors students required to take all their core-curriculum courses in Honors sections?

No, except for the Western-Civilization sequence, they are not so required, although most students choose as many Honors core courses as their individual majors will allow. Ordinarily, they will take the four semesters of the Western-Civilization sequence in their freshman and sophomore years, and then spread the rest of their Honors courses over the four undergraduate years. These choices are always made after one-on-one consultation with the Director or Associate Director of the Honors Program during the Registration period.

What is the minimum number of Honors courses required for the Honors certificate?

The minimum number of Honors courses required is six: four in the Western Civilization sequence, plus two additional Honors courses. Most students take more than the minimum, depending on their major and areas of interest.

What is the minimum grade-point-average (GPA) an Honors student must maintain in order to remain in the Program?

The minimum GPA is 3.25 overall.

Is there any grade “compensation” for the extra work involved in Honors?

Yes, Honors courses are rewarded with an additional 0.17 at each grade level, except for the ‘A’ which cannot earn more than the maximum 4.0.

Is the Honors Program open to all majors in the College?

Yes, Honors students are enrolled in virtually every major at the College.

What about those freshmen who are arriving Undeclared?

About half of the members of the current freshman Honors class decided to matriculate Undeclared. Our strong advisory system will, by no later than the end of the sophomore year, place all of them in majors appropriate to their interests.

Are Honors students separated from the rest of their classmates in residence life or in classrooms?

There is no separate Honors residence arrangement. Honors classes, by definition, are separate, but for most students only one or, at the most, two courses per semester would be taken in an Honors mode. The rest would be taken in the regular program. So participation in the Program does not leave the Honors student isolated from normal campus life.

How much extra work does an Honors course entail?

Perhaps a specific example would best serve here. In Honors Western Civilization courses, one major text is assigned per week - accompanied by other inter-disciplinary readings on the relevant historical and cultural contexts. Freshmen might be assigned Gilgamesh one week, Homer's Odyssey the next week, Aeschylus’ Oresteia the next, Exodus and Book of Job next, and so forth. Most of these works are read in their entirety, and each of them serves as the topic of a two-hour weekly seminar.

How large are Honors classes?

Most Honors classes are seminar size: limited to 15 students. The only exceptions are Honors Western Civilization sections which are taught by three-professor teams and, therefore, designed for a mix of lectures (three hours per week with 40-45 students) and seminars (two hours a week with 12-15 students).

How are students chosen for the Honors Program?

All freshman are considered for the program at the time of application to the College.  The Admission Office selects students on the basis of rigorous high school courses, high class standing, recommendations, student essays, etc. Students not invited into the program upon acceptance to the College can apply at the end of freshman year by meeting with the director or associate director and submitting a letter or application, a copy of grades, and two letters of recommendation from faculty at the College.

How are faculty chosen for the Honors Program?

The Director is responsible for choosing the Honors faculty, almost all of whom have been invited because of stellar reputations in the classroom. Almost every faculty member who teaches in the program belongs to the professorial ranks (full professor, associate professor, assistant professor). There are no graduate assistants teaching in the Honors Program or at Providence College.

Other than the obvious intellectual nourishment that the Honors experience affords, is there anything more practical at the end of the road?

One might argue that in the long run intellectual nourishment is the most practical of all possible benefits. But, more proximately, each graduating Honors student has his or her transcript inscribed with an Honors designation; each student is awarded an Honors certificate; and each Honors graduate is so identified in the Commencement Day program.

With respect to the practical connection between Honors study on the one hand and graduate work and employment on the other, it is perhaps our proudest boast that our graduates have been accepted by the very best Graduate, Law and Medical Schools worldwide. Our students have routinely matriculated in graduate programs at universities like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Penn, Oxford, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Chicago, Toronto, Michigan, Indiana, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and too many more to fit in this space.

Applying to the Program

All initial decisions to invite students into the Honors Program are made by the Admission Office.

Students are selected on:

  • the basis of the rigor of their high school courses
  • class standing
  • recommendations, and 
  • sample essays

Most students are from the top 5% of their high school class. All students who apply to the College are considered for the program. There is no separate application process.

Current students at the College can apply for admission at the end of the freshmen year by submitting to the director:

  • a brief letter of application
  • a copy of all grades from freshmen year, and
  • two letters of recommendation from faculty at the College.

Students who enter the program as sophomores must take two semesters of sophomore Honors Western Civilization, plus four additional Honors courses (including at least one Colloquium).

 

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