Gateways to Opportunity

The Stanislaus University Honors Program is designed for students who desire a program of study suited to the cultivation of strong intellectual curiosity. As a condition of admission to the program, students must demonstrate a solid commitment to both their own intellectual growth and the success of an academic community of learning. Though we will not require evidence of high levels of prior academic achievement, we are committed to admitting only those students who can demonstrate unusual curiosity, a hunger for intellectual vitality, strong academic capabilities, and a personal investment in contributing to the growth of collective learning.

Much of the coursework in this program is theme-based and linked across semesters. The skill-building courses will work together to promote effective integration of the basic aptitudes of sound intellectual work. Communication skills are emphasized at all levels of the curriculum. The program stresses development of increasingly sophisticated aptitudes for research and analysis. As a result of considerable training in a broad array of methods of discovery, students will develop a versatile range of research competencies. They are encouraged to apply these skills to significant questions and problems, in creative ways that reflect multiple levels of intellectual and community involvement.

The goals for this program are predominantly student-driven, but when taken collectively, they also hold promise for the larger campus community. Our primary goals are:

  • to offer suitable challenges and opportunities to highly motivated and committed students.
  • to provide these students with engaging intellectual environments to facilitate the growth of strong academic skills.
  • to provide a context in which students explore connections between theory and practice, in part by completing service-based experiential learning exercises framed in the community interest.
  • to provide an intellectual context in which students learn to connect or integrate ideas and methods across disciplines, especially as a basis for developing versatile interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving.
  • to provide opportunities for faculty to serve as personal research mentors to highly motivated, broadly trained students.
  • to impart through these experiences a lasting love and enthusiasm for learning, the confidence and ability to think for themselves, and a lifelong commitment to promote the well-being of human communities.

Overall, the Stanislaus University Honors Program reflects many of the core academic values we would like to see reflected in every student's quest for higher learning. These values include helping students:

  • build creative intellectual aptitudes around strong academic skills in reading, speaking, thinking and writing.
  • appreciate service-based experiential learning activities as a valuable complement to intellectual endeavors.
  • develop a capacity for independent research and constructive teamwork.
  • develop the aptitude for applying congruent research methods and analytical frameworks to problems of serious social consequence, in the service of authentic community interests.

Academic learning communities as a context for personal growth and development, including linked and clustered courses, interrelated program goals, and assessable learning objectives requiring increasingly integrated skills.

Close faculty/student mentoring relations emphasizing faculty guidance of student research.

Peer mentoring across all four years of the program.

Service learning as a way to expand the applied scope of theory and research and to develop greater civic attunement.

Integrated First-Year Experience: careful instruction in the subtleties of college-level reading and writing; a communication course to develop your discussion skills; and a Critical Thinking seminar in which all the previous skills are brought into play and integrated with thoughtful analysis of socially significant issues, culminating in a capstone critical thinking project.

A Senior capstone effort to demonstrate effective, thoughtful communication of original and compelling research, scholarship or creative activity reflecting a facility for interdisciplinary analysis, and the application of methodologies that cut across or link together two or more disciplines.

There will be considerable student assessment throughout this program. In addition to year-end reviews, there will be pre- and post-testing throughout the First Year Experience curriculum, assessments of course assignments requiring the application of skills and aptitudes developed in prior coursework, and cumulative assessments of a senior capstone thesis or research project.

The Honors program will be assessed using the following measures:

  • Pre- and post-testing in the First Year Experience curriculum.
  • Statistical assessments of the incoming levels of students attracted to the program over time, and of their relative success in comparison to non-Honors students reflecting similar incoming levels of achievement or promise.
  • Placement surveys reflecting degrees of success when Honors students apply to graduate programs, seek out interesting or challenging lines of work, or achieve a personal challenge related to their coursework in the program.
  • Annual student satisfaction surveys, including an end-of-program exit survey, and annual surveys of faculty who teach or mentor students in the program (including faculty who teach Honors students outside the Honors curriculum).
  • Demonstrations of student achievement (including quality of senior capstone project and conference presentation).
  • Measures of student diversity and social-economic level to monitor for significant disparities relative to the student population as a whole, consistent with the stated mission of the university.

The Director will continue working with faculty teaching in the Honors program to develop and refine an academic assessment plan for the program.

Students in the Honors program are expected to complete their coursework on schedule. Four-year admits must complete all required courses during the first and third years of the program. Some or all of the required coursework in the second and fourth years of the program may be deferred to allow a fifth year of study for students who have declared a high-unit major (95+ units of prerequisites, coursework in the major and general education requirements). Junior admits to the program must complete the required courses in the third-year curriculum on schedule (including HONS 3000 and HONS 3500), but may defer some or all of their required fourth-year coursework to a fifth year if they have declared a high-unit major.

Retention in the program will be automatic for students who meet the following two criteria: 3.0 GPA in Honors courses and an overall GPA in the top 40% of students in their major.

Selected students will participate in an end-of-year consultation and portfolio review with their Honors advisor or the director of the program (or designee). Students in the program will be encouraged to write an end-of-the-year reflective essay for their portfolio. This essay will be a central focus of the consultation/review.

Students who fall short of our GPA standard for automatic retention, or who fail to complete their Honors courses in a timely manner (as defined above), will be retained only on a probationary basis. In such cases, the student must agree to meet all applicable criteria by the end of the following academic year as a condition for continued enrollment in the program. While each case will be reviewed on its own merits, we would generally expect a student to meet these criteria by the end of the following year to remain in the

Updated: August 14, 2023