The Honors Program

For information, contact Professor K. Joy Karnas, kjkarnas@cedarcrest.edu, 610-606-4666, ext. 3681

The Honors Program at Cedar Crest College seeks to help Honors students maximize their intellectual potential.  Through collaborative learning exercises and project-based coursework, Honors students will learn valuable team-building, negotiation, and networking skills that will help them actively participate as members of a global society.  Honors students apply their liberal arts education by developing a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of academic disciplines, and by thinking critically and creatively about issues that concern the local, national, and global community.  Honor students will also have the opportunity to broaden their perspectives as they study the art, history, culture, language, natural history, and/or politics of a particular region in a course that first introduces them to some of the challenges faced by people living in this location, and then, through travel, allows them to reflect upon what they have learned.

Honors Program Mission Statement

Within the context of the College’s mission, the Honors Program at Cedar Crest presents academically high-achieving women with challenges that go beyond traditional classes and coursework, requiring students to use critical thinking, knowledge, logic, and creativity as they begin to understand how scholars approach problems.  Through a number of academic and co-curricular activities, the program shapes the women leaders of tomorrow.  The Honors Program is rooted in the tradition of the liberal arts, providing students with exposure to complex and diverse ideas that will inform and enhance their lives as citizens and professionals.

Honors Program Requirements

This is a daytime program and part of the traditional college; therefore traditional students and female SAGE students are eligible.  Freshmen are admitted to the Honors Program if they have attained an 1150 or better on their SAT exams and are in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.  In extraordinary circumstances the Program Director, in consultation with the Honors Advisory Council, may make an exception to the prerequisites upon appeal by the student.  Transfer students are eligible for admission to the program if they achieved a 3.500 cumulative average at their previous host institution with at least 12 credits completed at the host institution.  Students who were not admitted into the Honors Program upon matriculation are eligible for admission to the program if they achieve a 3.500 cumulative grade-point average with 12 or more credits completed at Cedar Crest.  SAGE undergraduate students are eligible if they achieve a 3.500 cumulative after completing 12 or more Cedar Crest credits.   A student in the Honors Program whose cumulative average falls below 3.500 for more than one semester is suspended from the program.  She may participate in the program in the future if she regains the 3.500 cumulative average.

Honors courses, including HON 353/354, will be graded in the following way: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, F. Students will be given Honors credit if they attain a grade of B or higher in a given Honors course. A grade of B-, C+, C, or C- will result in elective credit, but not Honors credit and therefore will not count toward the fulfillment of the Honors Diploma requirements.  Honors courses may be repeated, as the content will change with each offering, however, when calculating the student GPA, all grades will be considered independently and will each count towards the cumulative grade point average.

The creation and maintenance of student portfolios will be key to assessing the Honor Program.  Each student will be required to keep a record of projects, writings, and presentations completed in fulfillment of course requirements, and where possible, presentations will be recorded and kept as evidence of student work.  In addition, the Honors Advisory Council will keep a record of course offerings, along with an indication of liberal arts disciplines covered by each course.  Rubrics will also be collected from faculty teaching honors courses as an indication of student performance.

Honors Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Honors Program at Cedar Crest College will be able to:

  • Communicate ideas through oral presentations and written works <all courses>
  • Analytically and systematically evaluate the relevance of context and personal assumptions when presenting a position  <Honors Explorations>
  • Use critical thinking, knowledge, logic, and creativity as they begin to understand how scholars approach problems  <Honors Explorations>
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the commonalities and connections between various academic disciplines and the relevance of one field to another  <all courses>
  • Work collaboratively with persons from different fields to explore applied, real-world issues and problems  <Afternoon with Honors>
  • Demonstrate the ability to create and complete an original research or creative capstone project that bridges multiple disciplines and meets the professional standards of those fields  <Honors Research>
  • Develop a portfolio of honors activities including creative projects, original writings, and a record of leadership experiences  <programmatic requirement>

Honors Program Courses

The Honors Program overlaps significantly with both the Cedar Crest College First Year Experience and the Liberal Arts requirements.  Overall, to graduate from the Honors Program, students must complete at least 27 HON credits during their undergraduate career at Cedar Crest, but only nine of these credits are in addition to the graduation requirements of non-honors students.  The coursework includes three Afternoon with Honors experiences (3 credits total), four Honors Explorations in the Liberal Arts courses (12 credits total), and six credits of Honors Research.  In addition, students selected to participate in the Honors Program as freshmen will enroll in the honors sections of the first year seminar (3 credits) and WRI 100 course (3 credits).  Students who enter the program after their freshman year will take two additional Honors Explorations in the Liberal Arts course (6 credits) and a WRI-I course.  All Honors students must complete an interdisciplinary Honors Project (original research, creative work, etc.) that they present at the Honors Symposium at the conclusion of their work, as part of the Honors Research Presentation course (0 credits). 

HON 211 Afternoon with Honors 3 credits
HON 320 Honors Explorations in the Arts 3 credits
HON 321 Honors Explorations in the Humanities 3 credits
HON 322 Honors Explorations in the Social Sciences 3 credits
HON 323 Honors Explorations in Global Studies 3 credits
HON 324 Honors Explorations in Mathematics and Logic 3 credits
HON 325 Honors Explorations in the Natural Sciences 3 credits
HON 326 Honors Explorations in Ethics 3 credits
HON 330 Honors Explorations in the Arts, Writing II 3 credits
HON 331 Honors Explorations in the Humanities, Writing II 3 credits
HON 332 Honors Explorations in the Social Sciences, Writing II 3 credits
HON 333 Honors Explorations in Global Studies, Writing II 3 credits
HON 334 Honors Explorations in Mathematics and Logic, Writing II 3 credits
HON 335 Honors Explorations in the Natural Sciences, Writing II 3 credits
HON 336 Honors Explorations in Ethics, Writing II 3 credits
HON 353 Honors Research/Project 2-3 credits
HON 354 Honors Thesis and Presentation 0 credits

Honors Program and the LAC

All Honors Explorations in the Liberal Arts courses will carry LAC designations that correspond to the discipline in which the course most naturally lies.  Courses offered in the Honors Program will emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of our global society.  These courses will bridge the liberal arts, marrying disciplines from the natural sciences to the social sciences, business to nursing, mathematics to humanities, etc.  Instructors for these courses will be asked to identify a primary area of liberal arts content, and identify how they will fulfill college standards for LAC approval in that area, so that the course may be given an LAC designation.  By completing the entire Honors Program, students will satisfy 15 credits of the liberal arts program: 12 credits of LAC designated courses plus Writing I (3 cr).  In addition, some of the Honors courses will likely carry a Writing II designation, allowing for the fulfillment of additional graduation requirements.  Note that in accordance with current policy, the Honors courses will be considered “wildcard” courses, and will not be subject to the discipline designation rule, as the interdisciplinary nature of the courses will lend breadth to the subject material.  As long as the content of the course is different, students may repeat the same course number and count both courses towards the LAC.  Depending on their own personal interests, Honors students will also have the option of taking additional courses in the Honors Program to complete more of their LAC requirements.

Honors Project

The Honors thesis/project is very flexible, but must have a cross-disciplinary dimension.  It may be a research paper, a play, a portfolio of paintings, or another kind of creative work.  In most cases, students will begin developing the concept for their Honors Project during their sophomore and junior years, but the majority of the work will be completed during their final two semesters at the College.  Ideally, the project should build upon things that the student has learned through her coursework, bridging multiple disciplines and covering topics that were discussed with classmates, speakers, and the instructor in the Afternoon with Honors seminars.  All students must identify one or more Honors Project mentors (see below) who will oversee the completion of the work, and the thesis/project topics must be approved by the Director of the Honors Program before the student may begin.  Note that students may count the capstone experience in their academic major toward their Honors Project, as long as they include a cross-disciplinary component in their capstone experience, to be developed with their Honors faculty mentor, and complete a total of 6 Honors Research credits.  The final project will be presented as part of the Honors Symposium, and a copy of each student’s honors thesis or creative project will be kept in the College archives in the Cressman Library.

The Honors Project mentor, in most cases, is a member of the Cedar Crest faculty; however, a student is free to choose an expert from outside the College community, subject to approval by the Director of the Honors Program.  Such individuals must have a professional standing appropriate to the academic purposes of the student’s research/creative project.  Students are encouraged to work with more than one mentor, particularly to ensure the inclusion of a cross-disciplinary dimension in their project.  Whether a student works with a single mentor or multiple mentors, it is important to contact faculty members as early as possible, to explain fully the nature of the proposed project, and to make sure of their availability through the time frame needed for completion.