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The Lt. Col. James F. Sheehan ’55 Honors Program, the Commonwealth Honors Program at Worcester State University, gives high-performing and motivated students opportunities to realize their academic potential and achieve their future goals. We promote scholarly excellence and awards among both students and faculty through our curriculum and events programming. We are a strong community dedicated to sustaining the intellectual and social development of our students and enhancing life at Worcester State. Our program is part of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Honors Program and a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council.
Information for New Students
As an honors student, you will be required to:
- Complete 7 honors courses (21 credits)
- If you join the program after your first year, you are required to complete 6 courses
- Honors courses generally fulfill Worcester State’s LASC or major/minor requirements and must be passed with a minimum grade of B
- Honors classes may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
- Attend at least 2 honors events per semester
- Maintain a 3.2 GPA
Commonwealth Honors Project
We encourage all honors students to complete a Commonwealth Honors Project during their junior or senior year to earn the added designation of “Commonwealth Honors Scholar.” These projects typically encompass significant original research, artistic achievement, or civic engagement and are presented in a public forum such as an undergraduate research conference or our campus-wide Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity. Being a Commonwealth Honors Scholar will bring you additional recognition at graduation, and—more importantly—provides you a chance to integrate your college learning in a meaningful capstone experience and to prepare for graduate study or your career goals.
Some of the previous honors projects led by honors scholar graduates discussed topics such as:
- DNA in cattail species (Sang Lam)
- Inhibition of long-term face memory as impacted by face recognition and mental imagery (Aliana Acevedo)
- Examination of Nitroxyl and GAPDH as cancer targets (Alisha Papdakis)
- Racism on campus and its effects on black students experiences (Anita Asante & Daniella Frimpong)
- Prevention of nurse burnout through better leadership (Ashley Cotting)
- Motherhood and how it is impacted by age and marital status (Imane Samari & Arhum R. Rizvi)
Join the program at almost any time during your college career!
Important Notice for Accepted Students
If you have been offered a place in the Honors Program along with your admission to Worcester State, do not forget to accept your invitation for the Honors Program. This is a step separate from the process of your basic enrollment at Worcester State. Once you have accepted your invitation to join the Honors Program, you will receive information about the Honors orientation day, which takes place over the summer prior to your first semester at college. In addition, please note that your first-year fall schedule should include Honors College Writing and Honors First Year Seminar sections, rather than regular college writing and first-year seminar sections.
Residence Life & Housing
We work closely with the Residence Life and Housing Office to cluster our honors students together in the first-year residence halls. We also offer an Honors House living-learning community for sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Wasylean Hall.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Honors Program is a track within Worcester State’s existing academic programs. It is not a stand-alone curriculum. You should take a minimum of 7 honors courses during your college career if you enter the program during your first semester at Worcester State (a minimum of 6 if you enter after your first semester); however, all of the courses you will take for honors should also count either towards the Liberal Arts and Sciences Curriculum (LASC), your academic major, or your minor.
All first-year honors students take 2 courses: an all-honors First-Year Seminar plus the Honors College Writing course EN 202. Many first-year students also take additional honors classes during the Spring semester.
The Interdisciplinary Seminar should be completed during sophomore or junior year. This all-honors course will introduce students to interdisciplinary research methods while exploring a specialized topic. The seminar will also prepare students to complete a Commonwealth Scholar Project in their junior or senior year.
The Honors Program provides guided navigation through the university system throughout your 4 years. Honors students have Honors Program advisors in addition to an advisor in their major. And, of course, you have access to all of Worcester State’s Academic Success resources.
The Honors Center has a designated library room, the Honors Lounge, used for study and collaboration, program planning and meetings, etc. In addition to the speakers and events on the Worcester State campus calendar, we plan a lively series of social and cultural events throughout the year just for honors students. Popular honors traditions include the President’s Dinner and Theatre nights, the fall Boston day trip, and the spring overnight trip to New York City.
Your honors participation is recognized on your transcript and at graduation. An enhanced academic record will strengthen your future graduate school and employment applications. The Commonwealth Honors Project is your chance to conduct and present independent research, synthesize your honors and college studies, and experience integrated learning by bringing it all together as a junior or senior and earning Commonwealth Honors Scholar distinction.
Academic scholarships are not administered by the Honors Program, although we are proud to report that many honors students are awarded scholarships. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information about the range of scholarships that are available.
In addition, all eligible honors students are guaranteed generous grants to support their research, travel, and study abroad programs while enrolled at Worcester State.
First-year honors on-campus residents are informally clustered together in their first-year residence hall. Honors House in Wasylean Hall is an available option for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
You will not be alone. About half of our students commute to campus and participate in our academic, cultural, and social events. All honors students are welcome and encouraged to attend events hosted by Honors House.
Information for Current Students
If you are already an Honors student, you know the basics: earn at least a B in a total of 7 honors courses (6 if you’ve transferred in to the program), maintain at least a 3.2 GPA, and attend at least 2 honors events per semester. But how can you really thrive in Honors? Here are some suggestions.
Learn more about CHP & grants.
“Commonwealth Honors Scholar” is the highest distinction for students graduating from public colleges and universities in the state of Massachusetts. In addition to the regular honors requirements, students must complete a Commonwealth Honors Project and present the project at a public forum or conference. Commonwealth Honors Scholars are recognized with a special listing in the graduation booklet, and the achievement is listed on your transcript.
Project Guidelines & Standards
The project should represent integrative/synthetic/capstone work. As such, it should be completed during the junior or senior year. Depending on a student’s major field, a CHP might take the form of laboratory or literature research, production of a creative or performing arts piece, or community engagement. Regardless of its particular form, a CHP should contextualized within a scholarly framework. It can be pursued as an independent study or developed within a LASC or major capstone course, but it must go beyond the requirements for a graded course project. A CHP must also be supervised by a faculty advisor and presented either as an oral presentation or poster at public forum such as:
- Worcester State’s annual Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity (presentation at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity is required to be eligible for a CHP Prize)
- Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference at UMass Amherst
- Other forum with approval of the program directors
The Honors Program sponsors an annual Commonwealth Honors Project Prize competition. A panel of distinguished faculty and administrators judge the projects at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity, and the first, second, and third place winners are awarded cash prizes and certificates of recognition.
While students should work under the supervision of a professor in their major field, the program coordinator is also available to answer any questions and guide you through the process. We also offer proposal workshops and a practice dinner prior to the Worcester State and UMass undergraduate research conferences.
Approval Process & Deadlines
The proposals will be reviewed by the Honors Advisory Board. Deadlines will be announced in the Smore newsletter.
Please note that the form must be APPROVED in ADVANCE of the public forum.
The Honors Program has funds to provide a limited number of grants of up to $300 each to support student travel and research needs related to honors work. Applications will be evaluated based on proposal quality, and grants will be awarded on a rolling basis.
The application requests the following:
- A description of the independent project, coursework, or educational experience to be supported
- Details on how the funds will be spent
- A brief statement of how the supported experience will contribute to the student’s educational or career goals
General eligibility guidelines for honors student grants are:
- Students must be enrolled in the Worcester State Honors Program in good standing (GPA 3.2 or above)
- Funds must be used to support educational experiences for which students are receiving academic credit (including independent studies, internships, study-abroad, or other off-campus programs, and regular courses) or for Commonwealth Honors Projects
- Any requests for funding of projects completed within the framework of a regular academic course must come from the students involved in the project, not the course instructor
- Any student who receives a grant must agree to present his or her work at the Celebration of Scholarship and Creativity in April
Examples of acceptable uses for honors student grants include, but are not limited to:
- Support for travel to an off-campus conference or research site
- Support for participation in a study-abroad or other off-campus program for academic credit
- Funds for research supplies
- Funds for photocopying research materials or preparing presentation materials
Student Event Credit Form to be filled out after you’ve attended an event
Honors Scholar Project application to be filled out and approved before presentation.
Honors by Request to be filled out before the end of add/drop of the current semester
Study Abroad grant application students are eligible for up to $1000 grant to cover the cost of study abroad (pending available funding)
Travel and Research grant application students are eligible for up to $300 grant to cover the cost of research or conference attendance (pending available funding)