For over 50 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 Honors Program is meant for the student who gives evidence of intellectual curiosity, independence of thought, excitement in learning, appreciation of knowledge—for the young man who sparks the enthusiasm of fellow students and challenges the best in his teachers. With its small classes and excellent faculty, Hampden-Sydney provides a first- rate learning environment for such active, engaged students. The program is designed to provide the strongest academic students at the College with opportunities for enriched classroom experiences and independent research pursuits; to enhance students’ liberal arts education by providing interdisciplinary experiences; and to create and sustain a community of like- minded young scholars.

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
  • engagement in scholarly training, research, and activity beyond those done by the typical Hampden-Sydney student
  • eligibility for the the Harrison Scholarship, a 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 merit scholarship is $5,000 a year for the junior and senior years, added to existing scholarship aid.

Apply to the Honors Program

Become an Honors Scholar

Find out more about the Honors Program application process for both prospective students and current students

Apply to the Honors Program

Honors Program Requirements

If accepted into the program, students must complete the following course of study:

First year honors sections.
In the fall semester of the freshman year, all honors scholars are enrolled together in a special honors section of a core course. In addition to fulfilling a requirement of the College core curriculum, this class provides honors students with the opportunity to engage intellectually with each other and with a faculty mentor.

In the sophomore and junior years, students complete two additional requirements:
During the sophomore year, honors students enroll in one of the Honors Seminars 201-202. These interdisciplinary seminars are designed around varied and engaging topics, and are meant to foster intellectual curiosity while building analytical skills. Students may choose one of the following four options to personalize the other requirement:

1) Independent research undertaken in the junior year. Independent research includes a minimum of 3 credit hours. Proposals for independent research must be reviewed and approved by the Honors Council in advance. The course description must specify that it is to count for Honors.

2) Summer research. Students may choose to submit a proposal for participation in the summer research program. To fulfill this option they must complete the approved project, as evaluated by the Honors Council.

3) An additional Honors Seminar 201-202.

4) Honors Reading Seminars. Students may combine three 1-credit HONS 261-262 courses to fulfill this requirement.

In the junior and senior year, honors students undertake the pre-Capstone sequence.
Honors students enroll in HONS 301 in the fall of their junior year, and HONS 401 in the fall of their senior year; each course is 1-credit hour. Honors students may appeal to be released from either or both courses, on demonstration of sufficient ability or experience as evaluated by the Honors Council and in consultation with their capstone advisor.

In the senior year, honors students enroll in the Honors Capstone.
The honors capstone promotes independence, self-reliant study, and appreciation of the intricacies of an academic discipline within the broader spectrum of the liberal arts. The senior capstone project allows students to design and implement a year-long project in their major department(s). Students submit a capstone proposal in the junior year, which is then reviewed and approved by the Honors Council.

The student’s work is supervised by a committee comprised of departmental representatives and Council members. Successful completion of the capstone includes both an oral defense of the thesis before the supervisory committee and submission of an appropriate scholarly product (e.g., paper, presentation, display, exhibit, performance) at the end of the second semester.

updated 8/8/23

Honors Courses

Director: Dr. James C. Frusetta-Ulfhrafn

Faculty of the Divisions of Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences


HONORS 201-202. (3-3) HONORS SEMINAR. 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: 201 in the fall semester; 202 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 301. (1) HONORS PROPOSALS. Students participating in the Honors Capstone take Honors 301 in the fall semester of their junior year. This course explores how research is framed in different disciplines and develops students’ abilities to prepare a full proposal that illustrates the aims, process, and anticipated outcomes of a capstone project. Offered: fall semester.

HONORS 401. (1) HONORS PRESENTATIONS. Students participating in the Honors Capstone take Honors 401 in the fall semester of their senior year. This course sharpens both students’ ability to present specialized information to a general audience and to craft questions and critiques regarding such presentations. Offered: fall semester.

HONORS 497-498. (3 to 6 credit hours each semester) HONORS CAPSTONE. Students participating in the Honors Capstone may undertake, under the guidance of an advisory committee, three to 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 8/8/23

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; student programming; administration of the Introductory Honors Program; and administration of the Harrison Scholarship program.

Members of the Council:

Dr. James C. Frusetta-Ulfhrafn, Director
Elliott Associate Professor of History  
Maples Hall 006 | Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
(434) 223-7206
jfrusetta@hsc.edu

Dr. Marc Hight, Thompson Professor of Philosophy
mhight@hsc.edu

Dr. Christopher McMillion, Assistant Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs
cmcmillion@hsc.edu

Dr. Michael C. Strayer, Elliott Assistant Professor of Mathematic and Computer Science
mstrayer@hsc.edu

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

Izac Olatunji ’23

Izac Olatunji ’23 traveled to a remote corner of Alaska and gained new insights on home and heritage as a research assistant to Hampden-Sydney College Associate Professor of Rhetoric Sean Gleason.

Izac Olatunji ’23

Honors Program


Dr. James Frusetta, Director
Elliott Associate Professor of History
Maples Hall, 006
Hampden-Sydney College | Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
(434) 223-7206
jfrusetta@hsc.edu

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