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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Penn State Beaver Honors Program:

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 towards your graduation requirements. The courses can be General Education courses (GA, GN, GH, GS) 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 usually take one Honors course every semester. A typical class is 3 or 4 credits. Independent Study courses can be designed for 1, 2, or 3 credits.

University College guidelines allow that students who complete at least 9 credits of Honors course work or 4 Honors courses at the lower division level will be eligible for a Campus Honors Certificate. Students who complete at least 9 credits of Honors courses or 4 courses at the upper division level beyond those credits earned for the Campus Certificate will be eligible for a College Honors Certificate.

How do I earn Honors credit?

There are three ways to earn Honors credit, i.e. in an Honors course, an Honors option, and/or an Honors Independent Study course.

  1. You may take a course specifically designated as an Honors course.
  2. If you've completed or are enrolled in at least one Honors course during the academic year, 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. If you've completed at least one Honors course, 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 interest(s) of the individual(s) involved. All Independent Study courses must be approved first by Professor Carey McDougall, director of academic affairs, 724-773-3571.

Can I enroll in Honors work in any subject?

Essentially, yes. The only restriction is that 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 course work with the approval of the Schreyer Honors College.

It's important to determine first if a faculty member(s) is willing to work with you on an Honors course(s). Any course work that is demonstrably germane to your academic program can be completed for Honors credit.

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.

If you need information about the availability of space in an Honors course(s) or if you have questions about the program, please contact Dr. Kristen Olson, associate professor of English and Honors Program coordinator, 724-773-3899. 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 3.4 or higher to remain in the Honors Program. If your cumulative GPA falls below 3.4 during a semester, you may remain in the Honors Program for one additional semester on an academic warning status. If your cumulative GPA returns to 3.4, you'll be renewed to full status in the program for the following semester. In addition, you must take an Honors course each semester.

If you wish to modify your program of study, please consult Dr.Olson. 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.

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 for the campus Honors Program, the University College, and 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 holds both of these positions at Beaver campus.   

Is the Penn State Beaver Honors Program related to the Schreyer Honors College housed at Penn State University Park?

The programs are related, but they're not exactly the same. The Schreyer Honors College is like the "parent organization" of the campus programs in that it defines policy, to some extent. 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.

The subtleties of distinction between the two programs can be complex. However, if you're interested in becoming a Schreyer scholar, consult Dr.Olson regarding any aspect 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 3.5 GPA for students who are currently enrolled. You must maintain a 3.5 GPA to remain in the program; therefore it's easier to stay in the program as opposed to being accepted into 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 Dr. Olson of your intentions. In addition, you must make appropriate arrangements with any professor(s) with whom you're working on Honors courses.

You may remain in an Honors course if you're already enrolled, but you'll have to make specific arrangements with the professor to adjust any assignment sequence that will be modified if you're dropping an Honors Option in a regular course. 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?

For any information about administrative structures, requirements, Honors courses, possible Club activities, or any other Honor-related courses, please contact Dr. Kristen Olson, associate professor of English and Honors Program coordinator, 724-773-3899, or contact any member of the Honors Committee listed below.

Honors Committee:

Dr. Kristen Olson, Chair
Associate Professor of English
724-773-3899
klo10@psu.edu

Dr. Robin Bower
Associate Professor of Spanish
724-773-3886
rmb29@psu.edu

Dr. Carol Schafer
Associate Professor of Theatre, Integrative Arts, and Women's Studies
724-773-3591
cas2@psu.edu

Mr. James Hendrickson, P.E.
Instructor in Engineering
724-773-3859
jah64@psu.edu