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. It is not a scholarship program, but Honors Scholars are eligible for additional benefits:

  • 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
  • engagement in scholarly training, research, and activity beyond those done by the typical Hampden-Sydney student
  • 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. Honors students are expected to attend at least half of all offerings of the Honors Research in Progress Seminar series each academic year featuring Honors Senior Capstone students presenting their research ideas. 

Freshman year (3 hours):
In the fall semester of the freshmen year, all honors scholars are enrolled together in a special Honors-only section of a currently existing core course.This will give students the chance to participate in a seminar-style course with their Honors student peers and get a sense of the level of rigor and scholarship required from the Honors Program.

Sophomore and Junior years (6 hours):
Honors scholars participate in 6 hours of honors work across the sophomore and junior years. These credits may be obtained through

  • HONS 101/102 seminars
    Worth 3 credits towards both Honors requirements and graduation from the College, these seminars offer students the chance to engage in scholarly activity that provides skills-based training for success in independent scholarship. 
  • HONS 261 reading seminars
    Worth 1 credit towards both Honors requirements and graduation from the College, these reading seminars give students the opportunity to study a specific text in detail over the course of an entire semester.   Independent study in preparation for Senior Capstone
  • Independent study (490 or 495-level)
    It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that students participate in an independent study course in the spring semester of their junior year. Students will prepare a literature review and make preparations for writing the proposal necessary for the Senior Capstone project. Ideally 3 credits towards graduation, students may appeal to the Honors Council for a 1 or 2 credit independent study to count as a 3 Honors credit experience.      
  • Summer research or internship experience
    • Summer research students are eligible for 3 Honors credits upon completion of their final presentation and paper.
    • Upon completion of a research experience or internship outside of Hampden-Sydney, students may earn 3 Honors credits with a final paper and approval from the Honors Council.

In  the spring of the junior year, Honors students will submit a proposal to the Honors Council detailing their Senior Capstone research.  This proposal will include a statement of intent for the project, a rationale, a preliminary bibliography, a timeline for the work, and (if applicable) a budget for supplies. 

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

  • meet at regular intervals with his Senior Capstone committee
  • deliver an Honors Research in Progress seminar to the College community
  • present a draft of his final Capstone paper to his Capstone committee, deliver a public final defense of the project, and submit a final draft of the paper to the Honors Council and the Senior Capstone Committee

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


Special Topics

HONS 102-02/RHET 285, TR 8:30-9:50, 
Drs. Nicholas Deifel, Hugh Thurman III, and Michael Wolyniak

Communication in the Natural Sciences 
We live in an exciting time in human history for scientific advancement and achievement, yet the public has never distrusted scientists at higher levels.  There is a significant need to teach scientists how to best communicate their findings with the general public and for the public to work with the scientific community to critically analyze the ramifications of scientific achievements.  In this course, we will explore how science is reported in the popular media and how to develop strategies to effectively ,accurately, and ethically disseminate scientific findings to a popular audience.  We will consider both written and oral forms of communication in the course and utilize current developments from the scientific community to practice how to effectively analyze and report these findings in a way that fosters accurate debate in general society.

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
mwolyniak@hsc.edu

Dr. Robert H. Blackman, Professor of History
rblackman@hsc.edu

Dr. Steven D. Bloom, Professor of Physics and Astronomy
sbloom@hsc.edu

Dr. Janice F. Siegel, Associate Professor of Classics
jsiegel@hsc.edu

Mr. Hayden H. Robinson '18 (student representative)
robinsonh18@hsc.edu

Mr. Kole F. Donaldson '19 (student representative)
donaldsonk19@hsc.edu

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

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
mwolyniak@hsc.edu

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