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 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

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 an additional 6 hours of honors course work:

Three credit hours must be obtained by taking an Honors Seminar.

Honors Seminars 201-202. During the sophomore and/or junior year, honors students enroll in either Honors 201 or 202. These interdisciplinary seminars are designed around varied and engaging topics, and are meant to foster intellectual curiosity while building analytical skills. Students are encouraged to take one seminar before the end of the sophomore year. Interested students may take additional seminars through the junior year.

Additional hours may be obtained by participating in independent research or summer research.

Independent research. Independent research includes a minimum of 3 credit hours. Students
must engage in active scholarship consistent with their field of study. Proposals for independent research are reviewed and approved by the Honors Council.

Summer research. Students may choose to submit a proposal for participation in the summer research program. Successful completion of an approved project can be substituted for 3 credit hours of honors work.

In the senior year, honors students enroll in the Honors Capstone.

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 at the end of 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 submission of a written report at the end of the second semester, a public presentation, and an oral defense of the thesis before the supervisory committee.

Summer research program. The Honors Council also administrates the summer research program, which is open to all Hampden-Sydney students who meet the application requirements. The summer research program includes research grants awarded to rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors who show exceptional promise as independent researchers. Application is made to the Honors Council.

updated 7/30/21

Honors Courses

Director: James W. Frusetta
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 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 7/28/22

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. James W. Frusetta, Director
Elliott Associate Professor of History  
Maples Hall 006 | Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943
(434) 223-7206

Dr. Byron B. "Trey" Carson, Assistant Professor of Economics and Business

Dr. Ashleigh D. Elser, Assistant Professor of Religion

Dr. Michael C. Strayer, Assistant Professor of Mathematic and Computer Science

Mr. Elijah H. Edwards '22 (student representative)

Mr. Taylor J. McGee '23 (student representative)

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

Travis Stackow '19

Travis Stackow '19 was selected to present his summer research at the Central Slavic Conference, an honor granted to a select few undergraduate students.

Travis Stackow '19

Honors Program

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

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