The Honors Program is designed for students of exceptional initiative and ability who enter the program as first-year students by invitation or by application within the first year of their college career. The Honors Program is designed to foster the kinds of critical thinking, cross-disciplinary curiosity, analytical and creative rigor expected in honors courses in all disciplines, to enrich the experiences for entering and lower-division honors students through intellectually challenging course work, and to provide significant opportunities to interact with an academically energetic cohort during four years of honors study. Sweet Briar students who are not accepted into the program as incoming first-year Honors students may apply for admission in the spring semester of their first year. Students who transfer to Sweet Briar from another institution also may apply for admission to the program.
The Honors Degree
The Honors Degree is the culmination of an honors course of study at Sweet Briar College. A student wishing to pursue the Honors Degree should consult with her advisor and the chair of the Student Advancement Committee as early in her college career as possible.
The path to an Honors Degree consists of five to six classes (13-16 credits) taken by all honors students concurrently and over all four years. Students must achieve a 3.4 overall GPA and take the following courses:
- CORE 110H Design Thinking (3 credits, required grade: P). As an honors section of the first 3-week core class that all entering first-year students take, this class will bring the cohort together.
- CORE 130H Women in the World (3 credits, required grade: B or better). This course will bring honors students back together in the sophomore year for another shared experience.
- HNRS 399 Honors Summer Research Project or HNRS 470 Junior Research (3 credits, required grade: P/B or better). Students will prepare for their senior research through either the Honors Summer Research Program or Junior Research. Both will be supervised by an advisor in the student’s major.
- HNRS 471 Honors Thesis Proposal (1 credit, required grade: P). This course will be taken in the fall 3-week session of a student’s senior year. Taken with all other students intending to graduate with an Honors Degree, this course will encourage collaboration, critique, and cross-disciplinary discussions as students prepare to begin their intensive senior research.
- HNRS 472 Senior Honors Research (3-6 credits, required grade: B+ or better). A student’s senior research may take place over one or two semesters (depending on discipline), following the guidelines currently established by participating majors and supervised by an advisor in the student’s major as well as two additional thesis committee members.
Students who are admitted into the program after their first semester may petition the Student Advancement Committee to accept alternate work as the equivalent of the first-year honors course(s) in fulfillment of the Honors Degree requirements. Transfer students may also petition Student Advancement Committee for honors equivalency credit for appropriate work completed at their previous institution to count toward the course requirements for the Honors Degree. Students who complete a Sweet Briar-approved course abroad may petition the Student Advancement Committee to accept it as the equivalent of an honors course.
The Senior Honors Thesis project provides the Honors student with the opportunity to design and complete a long-term project in her major program. To be eligible to initiate a Senior Honors Thesis project, a student must have successfully completed CORE 110H, CORE 130H, HNRS 399/470 and at least three courses that count towards her major, in addition to having a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Seniors will initially be enrolled in HNRS 471 Honors Launchpad, a 1-credit course in the fall 3-week session, during which they will develop their proposals and learn research and presentation techniques. If the thesis proposal is approved, the year-long research project or creative endeavor moves forward under the direction of a faculty member from, or approved by, her major program. Periodically, she may meet with other students doing thesis work and with the chair of the Student Advancement Committee. The Senior Honors Thesis project must be completed in a form specified by the major program no later than two weeks before the end of classes in a student’s final semester. The thesis project is evaluated by a committee made up of the candidate’s thesis advisor, a second reader from the College and a third reader from outside the College, most often faculty from another college. The committee also conducts an oral examination on the thesis and determines the level of honors (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors) to be awarded. A candidate who does not meet the requirements for successful completion of the Senior Honors Thesis project is transferred to candidacy for the regular degree and will receive credit for independent study for her work.
The award of the Honors Degree is noted on both the student’s transcript and diploma.