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Elmira College Honors Program

Mission and Learning Goals
The Honors Program at Elmira College embodies the conviction that the traditions of inquiry and knowledge historically identified with the liberal arts and sciences make up the core of a college education and the foundation of a productive and meaningful life. While the College is committed to a strong general education for all students regardless of their major or chosen career, the Honors Program builds upon that commitment through an immersion in the “practical liberal arts” in which exploration of the liberal arts and sciences is geared toward nurturing civically engaged scholars and professionals. Students who display extraordinary academic abilities, a high degree of motivation, and wide-ranging intellectual and cultural curiosity are invited to join a community of faculty, staff and peers in an integrated program of specially designed courses and co-curricular learning experiences.

Learning Goals
Students who complete the Honors Program will be able to:

  1. Apply the skills of critical thinking, writing and problem solving across the liberal arts and sciences disciplines
  2. Analyze and synthesize a broad range of material from across the liberal arts and sciences disciplines
  3. Design and execute a research or scholarly project that integrates information and modes of inquiry from two or more disciplines
  4. Demonstrate the practical value of the liberal arts through effective civic engagement
  5. Demonstrate leadership in engaging in the intellectual and cultural life of the College and the community

I. Co-curricular Benefits
Honors program students gain special access to academic and social events including opportunities to meet with visiting artists and scholars, field trips, and receptions held at the President's Home. Honors program students also enjoy priority status for course registration and the opportunity to live in honors housing. Special recognition will be offered at commencement and on students’ transcripts.

II. Academic Standards
In addition to remaining in good disciplinary standing with the College, honors students are expected to complete at least 30 credits of coursework each academic year and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher. Those with cumulative GPAs between 3.00 and 3.49 are considered to be on a probationary status, while those earning below a 3.00 or receiving a grade below a C- in any course are automatically removed from the honors program.

III. Curriculum
First-year participants in the program enroll in special honors sections of College Composition and the First Year Seminar, courses that are required of all Elmira College students. In addition, students in the Honors Program will complete a minimum of 12 additional credits as outlined below. Each of these courses counts toward the total number of credits required for graduation. The sophomore seminar and the honors electives will fulfill general education elective requirements. While an effort will be made to ensure a range of offerings across the liberal arts and sciences disciplines, there is no guarantee that a student will be able to fulfill a specific general education requirement with an honors course.

A. Sophomore Seminar (3 credits)
The Sophomore Seminar, offered in the fall of the sophomore year, is a team-taught, interdisciplinary examination of a specific topic or question. The Seminar enables honors students to produce a piece of research that addresses a problem and argues a set of claims by drawing on knowledge from more than one discipline. The topics will change each year—as will the faculty—but each Seminar will build on the critical reading and writing skills developed in first-year honors courses to give students the methodological structures necessary for more advanced, independent research in their upper-division courses. Possible seminar topics include Fear, Justice, War, Beauty, Death, the Good Life, and Doubt.

B. Honors Electives (3 courses; minimum of 9 credits)
Students must complete a minimum of three (3) honors electives (a 4 or 6 credit course counts as a single elective) in order to meet program requirements. A selection of electives is offered each term. Students will have the full four years to complete their three required honors elective courses and are welcome to take more than the required minimum.

V. Admission to the Program
A. Criteria: Applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

B. Process: The deadline for high school students to apply to the program is May 1st. A committee consisting of the director of the honors program and two faculty members teaching in the program will evaluate candidates. Emphasis will be placed on identifying students who are independent thinkers willing to take academic risks. Approximately 30 freshman honors students are invited to join the program each fall. Students with test scores and/or a class rank below the standards outlined above may be admitted if they demonstrate unusual promise. First-year Elmira college students who demonstrate superior academic ability may apply by December 12th for admission to the program after completing one term of study at Elmira College or by June 30th, following completion of Term III of their freshman year. Transfer students are ineligible to apply.

All interested students must be accepted for admission to the College and must submit an honors program application and a reference letter from a classroom instructor who is familiar with their academic work. Admission to the program is highly competitive.

The honors program application may be completed online by clicking the link below.

Honors Program Application

Students must be admitted to the College by the Office of Admissions in order to receive notification of their acceptance into the honors program. Students will be notified of their acceptance into the program on a rolling basis.

Additional information about the honors program can be obtained from:

Charles Mitchell, PhD
Professor of American Studies and Honors Program Director
Elmira College
One Park Place
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607) 735-1937