Honors Program FAQ

Honors Program FAQ

Are honors classes extra classes that I take in addition to my regular course load?

No. The honors course work is an integral part of your semester schedule and credits for honors courses are counted toward your graduation requirements. The courses can be General Education courses (GA, GN, GH, GQ, GS, GWS) or electives, or they can satisfy requirements in your major, if appropriate. Think of it as simply turning one of your regular courses into an honors course.

How many honors courses are required?

Students take one full-credit honors course every semester (3 or 4 credits). Students often take more than this minimum requirement. Independent study courses can be designed for 1, 2, or 3 credits.

How do I earn honors credit?

There are three ways to earn honors credit:

  1. You may take a course specifically designated as an honors course.
  2. You may take an "honors option" in a regular course, which means modifying the course in consultation with the professor to accommodate a more in-depth experience. This doesn't mean adding quantity; rather, it means offering a more intensive, often research-oriented experience at an appropriate level. An honors option in a 100-level course will not require you to write a 400-level paper. The assignment or assignment sequence will be tailored within the established framework of the course to provide a more in-depth engagement with the subject.
  3. You may work on your own or with another student in an honors independent study course, which is individually designed by the student(s) and professor around the particular research interests of the individuals involved. All independent study courses must be approved by the honors coordinator and by the director of academic affairs.

Can I enroll in honors work in any subject?

Essentially, yes. Honors courses are offered in a range of general education subjects each year, so much of your honors work will be in areas outside your major. 

Honors options and independent study courses can be completed in any subject, the only restriction is that this honors work must be completed with a faculty member who carries the rank of professor, associate professor, or assistant professor. In some cases, other established faculty members may direct honors coursework with the approval of the Schreyer Honors College. Any coursework that is demonstrably germane to your academic program can be completed for honors credit. However, it's important to first determine if a faculty member is willing to work with you on an honors option/project. Students typically pursue this option once deeper into coursework. 

When I checked the registration website, the honors courses were listed as full. Does this mean it's too late to take an honors course?

Not necessarily. Registration for honors courses is typically controlled, which means that students need specific permission in order to enroll in the course, rather than simply registering via the Web as they would for regular courses. This mechanism ensures that honors students have access to the limited number of spaces in an honors course. (Note: When scheduling, searches in LionPATH must be set to include courses that are full.) 

If you need information about the availability of space in an honors course, or if you have questions about the program, please contact Dr. Kristen Olson, associate professor of English and honors program coordinator. However, please note that even if space is available, you won't be able to register for an honors course on your own. You must have Dr. Olson's approval to add the course to your schedule.

What requirements must be met to remain in the honors program?

Honors students must maintain a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.3 or higher to remain in the honors program. If your cumulative GPA falls below 3.3 during a semester, you may remain in the honors program for one additional semester on provisional status. If your cumulative GPA returns to 3.3, you'll be renewed to full status in the program for the following semester. In addition, you must continue to take an honors course each semester.

Every semester, you'll file an Annual Academic Plan (AAP) with the honors coordinator. This plan will list your full semester schedule and will specify how you'll earn your honors credits. If you wish to modify your program of study, please consult the honors coordinator.

What's the difference between the honors coordinator and the honors adviser?

The honors coordinator is the person in charge of all academic and administrative aspects of the Beaver campus honors program. The honors coordinator is the chair of the honors committee, a board of faculty members who make programming and funding decisions regarding the direction of the honors program. In addition, the honors coordinator is the administrative liaison to the Schreyer Honors College.

The honors adviser is a faculty member who serves as an academic adviser to honors students in the honors program, much like your academic adviser within your major. Your honors adviser will help you with your Annual Academic Plan (AAP) and advise you about honors course selections and any other relevant issues.

Many campuses have several honors advisers and a separate honors coordinator, but Dr.Olson fills both of these roles at Beaver campus.   

Is the Penn State Beaver honors program related to the Schreyer Honors College?

The programs are related, but they're not the same. The Schreyer Honors College is the parent organization of the campus program. The honors coordinator is the Schreyer Honors College administrator at Beaver and serves as the honors adviser to Schreyer Scholars on campus. The honors coordinator also approves Beaver campus courses and programs related to the Schreyer Honors College. However, the two are separate programs.

If you're interested in becoming a Schreyer Scholar, please consult Dr. Olson regarding all aspects of the admission procedure for the Schreyer Honors College.

May I join the honors program at any time? If I'm accepted into the program, may I leave if I choose?

You can join the honors program at the start of any semester, but the requirement to join is a 3.4 GPA. You must maintain a 3.3 GPA and complete at least 3 credits of honors coursework each semester to remain in the program.

Once you're accepted into the honors program, your decision to stay is voluntary. You may leave the program at any time for any reason, although you must notify the honors coordinator of your intention to do so. In addition, you must make appropriate arrangements with any professor(s) with whom you're pursuing honors coursework. You may remain in an honors course if you're already enrolled, but if you're dropping an honors option in a regular course you must make specific arrangements with the professor to adjust any assignment sequence that will be modified. An honors independent study can be dropped or modified as needed in consultation with the professor.

With whom should I speak if I have more questions or need additional information about the honors program?

Please contact Dr. Olson or any member of the honors committee