Shawnee State University has designed its Honors Program for students with exceptional academic ability and curiosity. The courses designated as fulfilling the Honors Program give these students unique opportunities for reflection, discussion, and investigation while also fulfilling certain standard graduation requirements. The program brings these students together in a challenging but supportive environment which nourishes their intellectual, social, and creative growth.
Honors courses are specially designated sections of the General Education Program (GEP). Our Honors courses emphasize writing as well as critical and analytical thinking, and other skills relevant to the course. In addition, students are encouraged to think independently and creatively. Honors students graduating with a four-year degree are required to take six GEP Honors courses (18 semester hours). One of these must be Honors Senior Seminar, which focuses on a particular theme or problem and requires students to write a 20-page persuasive paper that addresses the theme or problem from contrasting perspectives. Honors students graduating with a two-year degree must take three (9 semester hours) GEP Honors courses. Any SSU student with a minimum GPA of 3.3 or higher may register for an Honors course without officially joining the Honors Program, at the discretion of the instructor, provided there are sufficient places in the course for Honors students.
All incoming Honors students are also required to take Introduction to Honors, a course desgined to help Honors students transition into the University, learn what it means to be an Honors scholar, become acquainted with other Honors faculty, students and the director. The course is taught by Dr. Rhoni Maxwell-Rader, director of the Honors Program.
The Honors Program offers several events, specifically designed for Honors students, each academic year. These events may focus on a theme or topic of interest or special significance or may be designed to provide an opportunity for enhancing the community of Honors students. Honors students are expected to participate in at least one Honors activity per year.
One special event is our Honors Program Orientation for incoming students. This event is held each year in August to introduce students to SSU, the Honors Program, Honors faculty and each other. Our orientation also coincides with early hall move-in. Students living on campus are permitted to move in earlier than other residence students, usually the day before our Honors Program Orientation. Honors Program students may live in the Honors residence hall or other halls. Information about the Honors residence hall and Honors Program Orientation is mailed directly to incoming Honors students.
Beginning in fall 2011, our Honors Program began offering an Honors residence hall. Honors students are able to live on campus together in a living and learning community. Having the honors students living in the same complex allows students to bond with one another and to work together. During the 2011-12 academic year, the honors residence students assumed leadership of the University's reclycling program and hosted a number of events specifically designed for the residents. The hall also boasts resident assistants (RA) who is in the Honors Program. The Honors Hall is currently located in Campus View across from the Clark Memorial Library.
A vital part of the Honors Program is providing opportunities for our students to use their talents to make a difference in the community. Our honors students are required to complete six community service projects during their time at Shawnee (only three are required of those completing an associate's degree). For each community service project, honors students are required to write a 5-6 page research essay reflecting on their experiences. Our program offers a number of sponsored projects each term for which students can participate. As well, students can choose from projects on their own or secure projects offered through our University's Student Leadership and Engagment department. Our hope is that our students will continue to be involved in their communities beyond the Honors Program requirement and graduation.
Honors Program Distinction for Bachelor's Degrees. Students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 and satisfactorily complete Introduction to Honors and a minimum of additional 18 semester hours of specially designated Honors sections of the GEP and/or Honors Contracts. Nine hours, which must include Honors Senior Seminar, must be completed at Shawnee State University and cannot be transferred in. As well, students must have completed six community service projects and required reflections assignments. During their senior year, honors students must also give a presentation at the Celebration of Scholarship. Honors students are encouraged to use one of their community service essays as a platform for their presentation.
Honors Program Distinction for Associate Degrees. Students are required to satisfactorily complete any 9 hours of specially designated Honors sections of the GEP and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 at Shawnee State. As well, students must have completed three community service projects and required reflections assignments.