Three Penn State Departments Offer Specific Honors Programs

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Most Penn State students are familiar with the Schreyer Honors College and all that surrounds it. Far fewer, however, are acquainted with the three department-specific honors programs offered at University Park.

These programs don’t lead directly into the honors college, but instead operate independently of Schreyer. Such honors programs exist through a specific degree called the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science, through the Department of Economics, and through the English Department.

B.S. in Engineering Science with Honors

For engineering students searching for a little more of a challenge than any ordinary engineering degree might already pose, the B.S. in Engineering Science honors program may peak your interest.

This B.S. program provides a broad, flexible base focused on understanding the underlying concepts of just about any variety of engineering. This base is comprised of a plethora of mathematical concepts that yours truly has no working knowledge of – like electricity, magnetism, computational analysis, and more. That sounds complicated.

This program is designed with potential graduate students in mind. The Engineering Science program sets up undergraduates with interdisciplinary understanding of all that goes into engineering and a working knowledge of the complexities of today’s technology.

Students in the B.S. in Engineering Science program take a variety of honors courses, which can be found here. Engineering Science students must maintain at least a 3.33 GPA in order to graduate with honors. A pre-med option for this honors program is also available.

The Honors Program in Economics

Many Liberal Arts students have inevitably heard of the Paterno Fellows Program, but tht’s not the only option when it comes to undergraduate honors programs within the college. For students studying economics, a department-led honors program may pique your interest.

The Honors Program in Economics allows students to take on independent research and have close contact with faculty members and other bright students.

This honors program goes back 50 years with a rich history of successful alumni. Led by Professor Russell Chuderewicz – who is also the advisor of the Economics Association – the Honors Program in Economics is an integrative 12-credit sequence taken during your senior year.

This program, which is run by the Department of Economics within the College of the Liberal Arts, has a competitive admissions process with lots of requirements for entry. For example, interested students must have declared a major in economics and must have completed all of the following econ classes: 102, 104, 106, 302, 304, 306, as well as three more courses within the major (which includes at least one 400-level class).

The more math and statistics classes you’ve taken, the better your chances are for acceptance into this prestigious program.

The Honors Program in English

For those students skilled in the understanding and use of the English language, rhetorical skills, and creative means of expression, the Honors Program in English has a lot to offer. Once again, English majors also have access to the Paterno Fellows Program, but this honors program is specific to the English Department.

Students in the Honors Program in English take three honors seminars in English over the course of their undergraduate careers. These seminars generally cover materials and topics that fulfill English requirement, so that the Penn Staters enrolled in this program won’t have to take any more classes than a normal English student.

“So, each year, one of our honors seminars is an early period literature course, one is a 19th century course, one is a creative writing course, one is a course that fulfills our diversity requirement, and so on,” said Marcy North, a Faculty Honors Adviser in English.

This unique honors program within the English Department is a point of pride for English faculty and staff alike. Some seminars offered this year include “Beyond Beowulf,” “Novel Novels,” “Poetry Intensive for the Curious,” and “Writing the End of the World.”

“These seminars are taught by tenure-line faculty, the course caps are kept very low, and the special topics allow students to explore interesting areas of literature, rhetoric, and creative writing in depth,” North said.

Students enrolled in the Honors Program in English also write an honors thesis after completing three of these seminars. Part of the brilliance of the required seminars is students often discover their thesis in one of these courses.

More information about the requirements and background information for this honors program can be found here.

Penn State is ripe with lesser-known academic programs and degrees for students looking to expand their horizons as undergraduates. Sometimes finding them just takes a bit of looking around.

Photo By: Carly Weiss
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Derek Bannister

Derek is a junior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at derekbannister@onwardstate.com.

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