For over 40 years the Honors Program has given men of talent the opportunity to pursue an education in an environment tailored to the way men learn best. The program is designed for students who give evidence of intellectual curiosity, independence of thought, and excitement in learning. It is for the man who sparks the enthusiasm of fellow students and challenges the best in his teachers. The size of Hampden-Sydney and its excellent faculty provide the perfect environment for this multifaceted program, which includes academic rigor, independent research, and cultural enrichment.

Benefits of being an Honors Scholar

Hampden-Sydney Honors Scholars receive special designations during convocation and graduation. Honors Scholars are eligible for additional benefits:

  • priority for research awards that provide a stipend and on-campus housing for students interested in pursuing independent Honors Summer Research
  • housing option for a small number of upperclassman Honors Scholars who wish to live together in a special academic environment
  • cultural and social events for Honors Scholars, such as trips to plays, concerts, and lectures
  • travel expenses for scholars attending regional and national conferences
  • eligibility for the The Harrison Scholarship, an "in course" scholarship for exemplary students who have excelled while at the College. Candidates are identified after their freshman year at Hampden-Sydney, based on their grades. Harrison Scholars are entitled to the same benefits, and bound by the same requirements, as other Honors Scholars. The scholarship stipend is $20,000 and takes the place of the student's original academic scholarship.

Become an Honors Scholar

Students applying to Hampden-Sydney College with a high school g.p.a. of 3.8 or higher will be invited to apply to become a Hampden-Sydney Honors Scholar. In addition to demonstrating a record of academic excellence, interested applicants will be asked to submit:

  • a letter of interest that outlines the student's academic goals and reasons for applying to the program, and
  • a letter of support from a teacher who can speak to the student's academic abilities and intellectual curiosity

Students who do not apply to the Honors Program as incoming freshmen but who achieve a College g.p.a. of 3.3 or higher may choose to apply to the program following their first year at Hampden-Sydney. Interested applicants will be asked to submit:

  • a personal statement outlining the student's academic goals and reasons for applying to the program, and
  • letters of support from two College faculty members who can speak to the student's academic abilities and intellectual curiosity.

Honors Program Requirements

Students in the Honors Program will maintain a 3.3 cumulative g.p.a. and will complete 15 hours of honors classes/experiences over the course of their time at the College.

Freshman year (3 hours):
In the fall semester of the freshmen year, all honors scholars are enrolled together into a special "honors" section of a currently existing core course. This course allows honors scholars to become acquainted in a classroom setting while simultaneously completing one of the College's required core courses.

Sophomore and Junior years (6 hours):
Honors scholars participate in 6 hours of honors work across the sophomore and junior years.

3 hours are obtained by taking a one-semester interdisciplinary honors seminar (HONS 101 or HONS 102) during the sophomore year and earning a B or better.

The interdisciplinary honors seminar is a course jointly taught by two instructors from different departments of the College. These seminars are small, discussion-oriented classes that investigate interesting multidisciplinary topics not otherwise covered by the general curriculum, and that focus on critical inquiry and debate.

The 3 remaining hours may be obtained in one of three ways and may be completed during either the sophomore or junior year:

  1. Taking a second interdisciplinary seminar
  2. Completing 3 hours of independent research under faculty supervision and earning a B or better.
  3. Successful completion of an approved project as part of the honors summer research program.

Senior Year (6-12 hours):
Honors scholars complete a year-long capstone experience (HONS 497-498) in their major(s) that focuses on developing independent scholarship and creativity, while enhancing intellectual achievement.

Honors Courses

Faculty of the Divisions of Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences
Director: Michael J. Wolyniak

HONORS 101-102. (3-3)
INTRODUCTORY HONORS. Consideration of a selected topic designed to introduce students to modes of inquiry and underlying assumptions of various disciplines. Prerequisite: Honors scholar status; permission of the Honors Council required. Offered: 101 in the fall semester; 102 in the spring semester.

HONORS 261, 262, 361, 362, 461, 462. (1)
HONORS READING SEMINAR. A small-group seminar course normally meeting weekly and following one book over the course of a semester. Students participate in and take turns leading discussions. Additional reading, speaking, and writing assignments may be given. Open to honors scholars (sophomore and above level) and to other students with instructor's permission. Up to six courses can be taken for up to six hours counting toward graduation. Prerequisite: none. Offered: each semester.

HONORS 497-498. (3 to 6 credit hours each semester)
HONORS CAPSTONE. Students participating in the Honors Capstone undertake, under the guidance of an advisory committee, at least three and at most six hours of original scholarship during each semester of the senior year. Prerequisites: senior status and designation as an Honors Scholar; approval of proposed scholarship by members of the Honors Council. Offered: 497 in the fall semester; 498 in the spring semester.

updated 7/25/17

Summer Research Program

Often, students will find that they have a strong interest in an area of study or investigation but that they lack sufficient time during the semester to explore these ideas. For this reason, the Honors Council sponsors the summer research program.

This program is designed for students who wish to pursue a line of independent research under the supervision of a faculty member. The program allows a student to do significant research during the summer without sacrificing the opportunity to take regular course work. 

Summer Research

Senior Capstone Projects

The final stage in the Honors Program is a year long Senior Capstone program. The Capstone is a chance to immerse in a research subject of personal interest to the student. The Senior Capstone emphasizes breadth as well as depth of study and thus is different from Departmental Honors projects housed within a major.

Senior Capstone students are permitted the maximum amount of freedom consonant with the satisfactory development and completion of their personal projects. The students in the best position for success in the Capstone will have completed most major and Core requirements by the end of the junior year.

The essence of the Senior Capstone Program is responsible individualism. Within a reasonable academic framework, the student is offered an unexcelled opportunity for personal intellectual fulfillment.

Senior Capstone Information

Honors Council

The Honors Council is responsible for recruitment of honors scholars; coordination of departmental honors for juniors and seniors; administration of a program of book seminars, lectures, and cultural events; administration of the Introductory Honors Program; and administration of the Honors Scholarship program.

Members of the Council:

Dr. Michael J. Wolyniak, Director
Elliott Associate Professor of Biology 
P.O. Box 183 | Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
(434) 223-6175
Office: Gilmer 129

Dr. Robert H. Blackman, Professor of History

Dr. Steven D. Bloom, Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Janice F. Siegel, Associate Professor of Classics

For more information about other honors programs visit the National Collegiate Honors Council.

updated July 2015

Alex Abbott '17

Alex Abbott '17 recently won the Best Paper award at the 3rd annual National Undergraduate Philosophy Conference at West Virginia University, but he might argue that he cannot touch it, nor even see it.

Alex Abbott '17

Honors Program

Dr. Michael J. Wolyniak , Director
Associate Professor of Biology
Gilmer Hall, 129 | P.O. Box 183 
Hampden-Sydney College | Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
(434) 223-6175

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