Honors Program

For select students dedicated to getting more out of their education, the Honors Program provides a place to pursue intellectual challenges and personal excellence.

What is the Honors Program?

The honors experience includes challenging courses dedicated to higher-level thinking and depth of understanding; special opportunities for social and intellectual engagement outside of the classroom; and access to the honors suite in the new state-of-the-art Tsotsis Family Academic Center. If you want to be a member of a community of friendship and learning that is dedicated to academic, personal, and professional accomplishment, this is the place.

Special opportunities available to members of the honors program at Assumption include Summer Honors Fellowships, which fund one-on-one collaborative research with a professor, and Honors Travel Scholarships, which defray the costs of joining in an Assumption-sponsored travel experience.

A Look Inside the Honors Experience

Inside the classroom, honors students engage with similarly motivated students and attentive professors in order to achieve a greater depth of understanding and higher-level thinking. The honors curriculum, which is available to students of all majors and intellectual interests, begins in the first year and culminates in a Senior Honors Thesis. Our curriculum is dedicated to providing a comprehensive, liberal education in preparation for a successful life.

Every semester, the Honors Program provides you with the opportunity to experience intellectual comradeship with similarly motivated students and professors through optional Book Summits and social activities each semester. The Honors Program at Assumption seeks applications from excellent students who aim, also, to become excellent thinkers, professionals, citizens, and human beings.

Program Contact

Elizabeth A. Colby Davie, Ph.D.

Director of the Honors Program, Professor of Organic Chemistry
508-767-7264 Testa Science Center - Room 246


  • Courses

    First Year: A yearlong Honors COMPASS linkage (4 courses)
    Sophomore Year: Elective—any course with an Honors designation
    Junior Year: HON300 Junior Honors Seminar
    Senior Year: HON444 Senior Honors Thesis

    Students must take seven Honors courses. They are required to maintain a minimum GPA in those courses of 3.25 and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25. In addition, students are required to defend their Senior Honors Thesis to a committee of at least three faculty members.


    The Honors Seminar will help students identify a faculty mentor and develop a project topic for their Honors Capstone Thesis. Each student will prepare a brief abstract, a substantial description of the project, an annotated bibliography of relevant sources, and a timeline for completion of the project. Students will defend their complete project proposals to an audience of their peers and faculty mentors during the final weeks of the semester. Prerequisites: Membership in Honors Program.

    In the Honors Capstone, each student will produce an independent research thesis or creative project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. (The project is proposed and approved during HON300 Honors Seminar.) Students will meet on a weekly basis with their faculty mentor for advice and guidance, but primarily will work independently on the project throughout the semester. A summary and defense of the capstone work will be organized by the faculty mentor and completed by the end of the spring semester. Prerequisites: HON 300 and Membership in Honors Program.

    Other courses frequently taught in the Honors Program include the following:

    PHY 131 Honors Physics I and II
    MAT 131 Honors Calculus I and II
    SOC/ENG 225 The Literature of Social Responsibility
    PSY 101 Honors General Psychology
    POL 110 Political Issues: The Quest for Justice
    POL 201 American Government
    ENG 130 English Composition
    LTE 140 Introduction to Literature
    PHI 100 Socrates and the Search for Truth
    PHI 151 Ethics and the Good Life
    THE 100 Introduction to Theology
    THE 153 Revelation: Ancient and Modern
    ARH 160 Art: Ancient and Modern
    HIS116-117 Honors History of Western Civilization I and II


    To earn an Honors Program Certificate a student must complete the seven courses described above as part of the Honors Program. Students are required to maintain a minimum GPA in those courses of 3.25 and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25. In addition, students are required to defend their honors thesis to a committee of at least three faculty members. First-year students receiving a 3.5 GPA in the fall semester are invited to apply to the Honors Program and may join the program during their sophomore year.

    Course Descriptions

  • Can students in the Honors Program also study at Assumption’s Rome campus or other study abroad programs? 

    Yes. The Honors Program is the size of a minor, and almost all of its courses satisfy core or major requirements, so it creates no obstacle for studying abroad. But plan early—depending on your chosen major or majors, studying abroad may require more planning.

    How many courses are required by the Honors Program? 

    The Honors Program requires seven Honors courses. 4 to 5 of these double count in the Foundations Program, which is required of all students.

    How is completing the Honors Program rewarded? 

    Enhanced learning opportunities and intellectual friendship are their own rewards! In addition, students who complete the Program receive an Honors certificate, recognition at graduation, and a record on their official transcript of successful completion of the Program.

    Can student-athletes also participate in the Honors Program?

    Yes. Many Honors students participate in Assumption’s athletics. Academics, obviously, should come first. In fact, Honors athletes often find that the discipline and structure of an athletic program reinforces, rather than conflicts, with the discipline and structure of their academic programs.

    What can students in the Honors Program major in? 

    Anything. The Honors Program is designed to be compatible with any of Assumption’s many majors—ranging from philosophy, history, political science, or psychology to biology, neuroscience, education, accounting, or nursing.

    Do I need to know what my major is to join the Honors Program? 

    No. Many students begin college unsure of their major, many begin dedicated to a particular major, and many change their minds. The key is to find a major that simultaneously challenges you intellectually and that you enjoy. That may require some fishing around, which is healthy. Students are required to declare a major by the spring of their sophomore year.

    Can students in the Honors Program also double major? 

    Yes. Many Honors students double major. After all, it makes sense that Honors students would often be interested in many fields and in how they relate.

    Do Honors courses count toward major or core requirements?

    Almost all Honors courses can count toward the rich and diverse Foundations Program at Assumption and/or toward the requirements of a major. The exception is HON300 Junior Honors Seminar, a semester-long workshop in which students develop their proposals for completing their Senior Honors Theses.

    Does my thesis count in my major? 

    The Senior Honors Thesis often counts toward the student’s major or minor. It is the department chair of the student’s major or minor discipline who must decide. Students may choose to write their Senior Honors Thesis in any discipline—not just in their major.

    What kinds of projects can satisfy the requirement for a Senior Honors Thesis? 

    The Senior Honors Thesis must be a scholarly academic project completed under the guidance of a faculty mentor. It may be any type of scholarship in any discipline. Examples include humanistic essays, original empirical research in the social or natural sciences, works of fine art or fiction, business plans, or reports that analyze and synthesize the status of current knowledge of a topic.

    How early should I choose my topic for my Senior Honors Thesis? 

    By the spring semester of junior year. HON300 Junior Honors Seminar is a workshop in which students identify a mentor and a topic and conduct preliminary research into that topic so that they are fully prepared to begin their senior thesis. Before then, during freshman and sophomore years, students should focus on their core and major courses, start conversations with professors who excite them intellectually, and reflect on which academic topics most deeply interest them.

  • The Honors Program at Assumption seeks applications from excellent students who aim, also, to become excellent thinkers, professionals, citizens, and human beings. Honors students should be animated by broad and energetic intellectual interests and should be willing to take intellectual risks and challenges.

    Select intellectually promising students are invited to apply for the Honors Program after they have applied and been accepted to the University. To be invited to apply for the Program, students should, in their applications to the University, demonstrate academic excellence in standardized test scores and class rank and should show a passion for learning. Students with an outstanding first semester may also apply to join the program at the beginning of the sophomore year.

  • All freshmen at Assumption University complete one COMPASS linkage. Each of these linkages is grounded in a core seminar in one of three primary liberal arts disciplines—literature, theology, or philosophy. The Honors Program sponsors three different linkages each year. Disciplines frequently involved in Honors COMPASS linkages include philosophy, art, literature, theology, writing, history, and political science.

    Unlike other COMPASS linkages, the Honors first-year experience continues all year. This special, yearlong experience has both academic and social benefits, as students get to know each other and their professors and develop intellectual friendships. Each Honors student takes two courses in the fall semester with a learning community of the same students. The learning community reconvenes in the spring semester with the same students. All four of these courses fulfill Honors Program requirements, and they are consistent with all majors.


Elizabeth A. Colby Davie, Ph.D.
Director, Honors Program Director of the Honors Program Professor of Organic Chemistry
Amy M. Cirillo, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Rachel M. Coleman
Assistant Professor of Theology
Jeremy Geddert, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Political Science LEX Director
Georgi Y. Georgiev, Ph.D
Professor of Physics
Leamarie Gordon, Ph.D.
Department Chair, Psychology Associate Professor of Psychology
Maria Teresa Herd
Assistant Professor of Physics Associate Professor of Physics 3-2 engineering program director
Esteban Loustaunau, Ph.D.
Professor of Spanish Director of the SOPHIA Program Director of the Center for Purpose and Vocation
Molly Brigid McGrath, Ph.D
Professor of Philosophy Director of Center for Teaching Excellence
Toby Norris, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art History
Rachel D. Ramsey, Ph.D
Associate Professor of English
Carl Robert Keyes, Ph.D
Professor of History Department Chair, History Pre-Law Advisor
Paul S. Shields, Ph.D
Associate Professor of English
Samuel A. Stoner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Thomas Wheatland, Ph.D
Associate Professor of History

First-rate Academics in a Catholic University Setting

Assumption University awakens in students a sense of wonder, discovery, and purpose, forming graduates known for their intellectual seriousness, thoughtful citizenship, and devotion to the common good. Students are provided an education that shapes their souls, forms them intellectually, and prepares them for meaningful careers. Enlivened by the harmony of faith and reason, here, students’ minds and hearts are transformed.

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