Frequently Asked Questions:
- How is the program structured?
- What are modes of inquiry?
- What are the requirements for admission
and when do I apply?
- What are the program benefits?
- How challenging are honors courses?
- What is an enhanced course and how do I enhance a course?
- What is The Honors Student Organization?
- Does the program offer scholarships?
- How do I apply?
- Who do I contact for more information?
- During their first semester in the program, students enroll in a one-credit course entitled “The Nature of Inquiry” (HON 100). This foundational course explores an issue or topic from a number of disciplinary perspectives. The goal is to acquaint students with the fundamental ways in which various disciplines pose questions and seek answers. Throughout, students utilize library resources to encourage information literacy.
- After completing HON 100, and during the next three years, honors students must take one course or tutorial in each of the four modes of inquiry (a total of 12 credit hours). An honors course, tutorial or seminar is offered every semester by some of WestConn’s most distinguished professors in at least one of these modes. Honors courses may include topics such as the history of violence in America, computers and society, or a course on cognition.
- Students must also complete three honors activities. They may volunteer at a local agency, present at a state or regional conference, tutor students, be an active member of the HSO, or even opt to study abroad.
- Lastly, students must complete the honors capstone seminar (HON 400) which involves examining an issue from a number of vantage points.
Students may also apply to participate in a one-year or associate version of the honors program. Requirements include completion of two honors activities, two honors courses and the capstone seminar (HON 400). All courses taken in the honors program, with the exception of the one-credit Honors 100, may be applied toward fulfilling general education credits.
Junior and senior honors students may also want to participate in the honors teaching practicum (HON 497) which allows them to serve as teaching assistants in a class within their majors, or the research practicumwhich allows them to work with professors in their fields of interest as research assistants.
At the heart of the act of knowing lies general epistemes or “modes of inquiry” that organize the way scholars approach and frame the objects or ideas they seek to understand. The honors curriculum is designed to expose students to four of these broadly conceived modes and to provide experience in how they shape questions and, ultimately, the methods by which these questions are answered.
These modes of inquiry are: textual analysis; scientific and mathematical analysis; historical, social and cultural analysis; and artistic creation and analysis. Below is a brief description of each.
Textual analysis explores the various ways in which a text conveys meaning. The word “text” is used broadly and may include a written work, an idea derived from popular culture, a ritual or symbol.
Scientific and Mathematical Analysis
Scientific and mathematical analysis utilizes the scientific processes of induction or deduction, or some type of logico-mathematical representation or modeling, to understand an event or phenomenon.
Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis
Historical, social and cultural analysis examines the ways in which an event or phenomenon is shaped by history, society or culture.
Artistic Creation and Analysis
Artistic creation and analysis is inquiry through the creation, performance or analysis of works of theater, art, literature, music, sculpture or other generative activity. Outcomes focus on the production of art or the critical understanding of creative activity.
Entering first year students must have an SAT score of 1100 (1650 on the three part SAT) or graduate in the top 25% of their class to be eligible to apply for the program. Students already enrolled at the university must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 to apply. However, since the program is competitive and limited in size, meeting these minimum academic requirements is not a guarantee of admission. All students must maintain a 3.2 GPA and make satisfactory progress in the program to remain eligible. Students falling under the 3.2 GPA have one semester to improve their GPA or face expulsion from the program. Students who feel that their GPA or SAT scores do not accurately reflect their academic background or abilities may petition the University Honors Council for admission based on other academic criteria.
High school seniors or transfer students need to apply directly to the program by the second Friday in March for early admission consideration or the second Friday in May for final consideration. Early admissions decisions are usually made by early April and final decisions are usually made by early June. Students already enrolled at the university may apply at any time.
Membership in the University Honors Program provides numerous benefits for participants. First and foremost, the program is designed to foster the type of learning environment that will prepare students for success in graduate school, professional programs or work. As such participation in the program should be placed in a highly visible area on your resume and future applications. Participation in the program signifies to graduate programs and employers that you have undertaken extra efforts to enrich your college work. It is the type of material graduate and professional programs look for when evaluating applications. In addition to these benefits, the honors program also provides a number of specific rewards. To take advantage of these members must remain in "good standing" in the program. This requires that students maintain the GPA guidelines of the program and make satisfactory progress toward completing the requirements of the program. The benefits are:
- The Honors Program is actively involved with the Admissions Department in the scholarship selection process.
- Honors students are exempt form extra charges for exceeding 18 credit hours in a semester.
- Members in good standing are eligible for priority registration. Priority registration normally takes place for two days prior to the beginning of senior registration.
- There are some Honors Housing options available. Honors residents live in a special living/learning environment. This option is dependent on a sufficient number of students wishing to form an honors living environment. An updated description of the Honors Living/Learning Environment will be available in Summer 2011. The Honors Housing application will be available on this site during the Fall 2011 semester. Please contact the Housing and Residence Life office at (203) 837-8531 for further assistance.
- Members in the program have exclusive use of one Honors Cubicle located in the Haas Library. Members also have access to a lap top computer, fast-track recall, subsidized interlibrary loan materials, electronic document delivery, and Yale University Library privileges for extended and special honors projects.
- With the exception of the one-credit Honors 100, all credit hours earned in the Honors Program can be used to fulfill core requirements in the humanities, social sciences or sciences. Credit allocation is determined by Honors Council based on the mode of inquiry best covered by the course or seminar.
- The Honors Program has a limited amount of funds available for travel to regional and state honors conferences. Presenting a paper at such conferences counts toward the fulfillment of one of the required "honors activities."
- Members may participate in an Honors Teaching Practicum (HTP) during their junior or senior years. This option allows honors students to serve as teaching assistants in a course they have taken in their majors. The student receives 3 credit hours for an HTP.
- Members may also participate in an Honors Research Practicum (HRP) during their junior or senior years. This option allows honors students to serve as research assistants to a professor. The student will receive 3 credit hours for an HRP.
- Upon graduating from the program and the university, completion of the program is noted on the transcript. This entitles the graduate to wear special cords during graduation and to receive special recognition in the graduation program. A certificate indicating program completion is mailed in the summer after graduation.
One of the questions often asked by students applying to the honors program is how much harder are honors courses compared with regular university courses? Somewhere along the way students have acquired the idea that honors courses involve an exorbitant amount of reading and volumes of extra homework. While honors courses are demanding, their intent is not to simply pile on extra work. Becoming a critical thinker, one of the desired outcomes of being a member of our honors program, is not like lifting weight. The goal is not to increase the amount of pounds pressed (or books read) in order increase your "intellectual bulk." In fact, the actual workload in most honors courses is not significantly greater than that found in other courses of the same level. What is different, however, are the types of materials assigned, the quality of class discussions and the faculty expectations about your ability to do independent work. Honors courses are not so much about piling on extra work as about getting intellectually motivated students into one place and letting them engage the materials and learn from one another. Honors courses are also about allowing students the freedom to pursue areas of interest in their own way utilizing an assortment of methodologies and approaches. Honors courses are built on the fundamental assumption that knowledge is a process to be engaged in rather than a static thing to be absorbed. In other words, knowledge is not a closed set of things to be memorized but a set of open questions to be explored. If this sounds like the type of approach that you are looking for then the honors program may be right for you.
In addition to honors courses there are tutorials which are designed like guided readings or independent studies. Tutorial Form
The Honors Council supports and encourages students and faculty to develop individual honors level components where appropriate and possible. Any course may be used as the basis for an honors level enhancement by adding some additional, honors level dimension to the usual requirements. The student will receive one additional credit hour for the successful completion of an enhanced course. The student is expected to initiate the honors enhancement and complete the application process outlined below. When a course is enhanced, one credit is added to the course total and the honors designation "H" will appear on the student's transcript next to the course grade. Course Enhancement Forms
All students in good standing in the Honors Program are automatically eligible. Also, any student with a GPA of 3.2 or higher at the time of application is eligible.
All faculty members are eligible to participate. Consideration in the form of a partial credit hour is associated with enhancement in the same amount as a student developed study (one semester hour for the student =.11 load credit for faculty). Part-time faculty must submit a revised contract to receive the additional credit.
Considerations of time
Course enhancements are generally formed during the semester in which the course is being taken. Students are advised that the process should be completed within the first few weeks of the semester.
Honors course enhancement application and approval
An enhancement is established through a contract between the student and faculty member and the completion of the appropriate forms. The completed application contains (1) the cover page, (2) the enhancement contract, and (3) the request for faculty workload credit. When all these forms are completed and signed by faculty and student submit to the Director. The appropriate Dean's office should send copies to the Honors Director, the Registrar, and the student.
Details of application & approval elements
- Cover page: The cover page is attached ("Project Approval Form'). The student should fill it out and secure the required approval and signatures. Any enhancement is subject to the approval of the Director and the Dean of the school in which the course is offered.
- Enhancement contract. On a separate page following the cover page, the student should provide a description of the honors component (using the following titles).
• Personal Statement: The student should set forth the goals of this honors component, specifically discuss the reasons for undertaking the project and how the honors component enhances the course to honors level (Examples: adding to the syllabus, making a course interdisciplinary, creating a multi-cultural element to a course, including a dimension of public service, etc.).
• Enhancement: List or describe in some detail the particular element(s) of the honors component. Include whatever activities are supplemental or alternative to the regular requirements of the course. (Examples: extra or alternative written work, projects, presentations, meetings with outside mentors, etc.)
• Evaluation Process: How the honors component is graded should be specified. However the honors component is graded, only one grade is ultimately given for the course. (Examples: the student is graded on all work, including the honors component, a separate grade is given for the enhancement which is then averaged in with the grading for the regular requirements of the course, etc.).
• Scheduling: A schedule of meetings of the faculty member or other people and the student and deadlines or due dates if appropriate, should be included. The honors component must be completed by the end of the regular course. (Examples: weekly meetings, interviews with outside mentors, attendance at events on or off campus, etc. If added or alternative work is assigned, when that work is due.)
- Request for faculty workload credit: (Attached) Submitted to the Dean of the school in which the course is offered.
The Honors Student Organization (HSO) is the student honors group of the University Honors Program. The group's goals are to provide opportunities for academic and cultural growth, as well as personal performance, community service and social interaction. Frequent social gatherings are held to update members on happenings within the group and to plan activities. Members of HSO need not be members of the University Honors Program, although they must adhere to the program's GPA requirement. Members of HSO may apply for admission to the Program if they so choose. Students in the University Honors Program may use being an officer or an active member of the program as one of their "honors activities" requirements. For more information contact the Director of the program.
The Honors Council and Honors Director work directly with the Admissions Office to identify, screen and select recipients of merit-based scholarships at Western. The initial screening usually begins in January with awards being offered in late January and February. There is no special application required for these awards beyond the university admission application.
High Schools seniors or transfer students may use the application found on this website. Those who are offered and accept a university merit-based award are automatically members of the program if they wish. Students already enrolled at the university may either apply directly to the program using the application or be nominated by a faculty member. Nominations are, however, not a guarantee of acceptance.
Dr. Christopher Kukk, Dept. of Social Sciences
Old Main, Suite 108
Western Connecticut State University
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810
(203) 837 - 9501