Jul 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Honors Program

Program Director:

 Professor Nathaniel Lew (Music)

The Honors Program at Saint Michael’s College provides additional challenges and opportunities to outstanding students, with the aim of enhancing the liberal education offered by the College through engagement in small group discussion, research, and extraordinary curricular and extracurricular opportunities.

The Honors Program is guided by the mission of the College: “to contribute through higher education to the enhancement of the human person and to the advancement of human culture in the light of the Catholic faith.” It is the mission of the Honors Program to enhance the college experience of each Honors Program student; to promote intellectual growth of every student at St. Michael’s College; to encourage active involvement in service to the community.

As a group, Honors students distinguish themselves by their commitment to this mission and its concomitant approach to education; as individuals, they demand more of themselves, of each other and their instructors, and of their respective disciplines.

The components of the Honors Program, all serving these ends, are five Honors Courses, including the Honors Colloquium and the Senior Seminar in the Major with an Honors Capstone Project.

Honors Program Course Requirements

Five courses are required to graduate in the Honors Program. Four of these courses must be full four-credit courses. One of the five required courses is the Honors Colloquium, this is a two-credit half-course.

During the first two years, every student in the Honors Program normally takes two or three Honors Courses. In these courses, students sharpen their skills at close and critical textual engagement and at articulation of questions and ideas, both in writing and in speaking. Enrollment in these courses is limited to fifteen students, and they generally fulfill college Liberal Studies requirements or other graduation requirements (for example in a student’s major or minor).

Honors classes can be chosen from the designated Honors course offerings, which vary from semester to semester. In addition, Honors students may, with the agreement of the instructor and the Honors Program Director, enhance one “regular” course to make it an Honors Course. The Honors project for the course must be academically more rigorous, both in quantity and quality, than the work expected of the other students on the course. The projects will be reviewed and approved by the faculty Honors Committee in conjunction with the Program Director.

A Senior Capstone Project is developed and completed by graduating Honors Program students. The capstone project is developed and completed in the student’s major and usually in the context of a senior seminar. If the senior seminar is a full course, it can be counted as one of the five required courses. If the departmental capstone project is done outside course work or in something less than a full course, the senior Honors student will consult with his/her thesis advisor and the Director of the Honors Program to develop an appropriate capstone project. These students must take four Honors-program courses as well as the Honors Colloquium. Double Majors are required to complete only one capstone project.

Honors Colloquium

The Honors Colloquium is the only course required exclusively of students in the Honors Program. The Honors Colloquium is designed to challenge students in the Honors Program to move beyond the classroom by making use of the full variety of academic, cultural and artistic opportunities available to the wider community. These include lectures, demonstrations, presentations, and performances. In keeping with the goals of a liberal arts education, the Colloquium provides a forum in which students will explore, analyze, and discuss topics in a variety of disciplines.

The purpose of the Colloquium is not to produce mastery of any particular branch of knowledge. It seeks instead to develop broader cultural, social, and political awareness, and to expand the capacity of students to express their ideas and to interact with individuals who hold differing views.


All honors students must complete one semester of the Honors Colloquium. The Colloquium is primarily focused on student-lead discussions on a variety of topics introduced throguh selected readings and academic events. The colloquium syllabus includes the following guidelines:

  1. Students will attend a specified number of on-campus and off-campus academic, cultural, and artistic events during the semester. The number of events will be determined by the instructor. The events selected will be based on students’ own intellectual, cultural, and artistic interests; students can attend events individually, in groups, or as part of a whole class experience. The events will be generally representative of the range of disciplines in the college’s arts and sciences curriculum.
  2. Students will read essays or other texts, selected by members of the class in consultation with the instructor.  These readings, in addition to attended events, will serve as preparation for the weekly discussions.
  3. Students will write brief analytical or reflective reports on the academic, cultural, and artistic events that they attend, in addition to composing weekly pre-discussion responses to the reading.
  4. Students will attend a weekly presentation by classmates and will participate in a discussion session in which they will engage, and they will explore further the ideas suggested by the presentation, as well as by the assigned readings and attended events.  Each student will serve as a discussion leader or co-leader at least once during the semester.

Senior Honors Project in the Major

All students at Saint Michael’s College complete a “capstone” project in their majors during the senior year, either a thesis, a research project, or some other appropriate task, usually completed within the context of a senior seminar.  Specific guidelines are stipulated by each department and may be found on the Honors Program webpage.

Students in the Honors Program undertake projects of greater substance and academic significance than normally expected, developed in collaboration with a faculty mentor.  The projects will be reviewed and approved by the faculty Honors Committee in conjunction with the Program Director. Honors Program members may apply for research funds to help with expenses incurred in the pursuit of their Senior Honors projects.

Honors Housing

The Honors Program at Saint Michael’s College provides additional challenges and opportunities to outstanding students through group discussion, research and extracurricular activities.  Students in the Honors Program may decide to live within Honors Housing.

Honors Housing develops a strong sense of academic community among its participants by integrating topics from students’ coursework. In addition, Honors Housing provides out-of-class opportunities for students to interact with faculty members. Honors Housing provides a community living experience that is supportive of students’ academic success and interests. Finally, Honors Housing promotes students’ academic and co-curricular leadership.

For First Year Honors Housing - priority is given to those incoming first year students who have been invited to join the Honors Program.  Additional space within Honors Housing in the first-year areas will be filled by those students who have/are predicted to have a grade point average of 3.6 or higher.  Designated floors and/or wings are reserved within the first-year buildings for incoming first-year students.

Honors Housing for upper-class students are comprised of single and double rooms, as well as suites of single rooms, located in Halls and Townhouses across the campus. Students must have a 3.6 or higher GPA or be approved by the Faculty Honors Program Committee in order to live in Honors Housing.


Some students are invited to join the Honors Program at the beginning of their freshmen year on the basis of a promising high school record. Students who earn a grade point average of 3.6 or higher in their first semester or by the end of their first year become eligible and enter at the beginning of their sophomore year.

To graduate in the Honors Program, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher. Those who complete the requirements receive special recognition at graduation.

For more information, contact: Professor Nathaniel Lew, Honors Program Director, McCarthy Arts Center 201, Phone: 802.654.2284, Box 377, e-mail: nlew@smcvt.edu.