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Honors Program

Admission Requirements & Curriculum

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum 1300 SAT (math + cr) on tests taken prior to March 2016 or a minimum 1360 (math + EBRW) on tests taken after this date or a 29 ACT Score.
  • Minimum 3.75 high school G.P.A.
  • Students accepted to Westminster College who meet the criteria for the program will be contacted by letter from the Honors Program Director with further instructions about the program.
  • Minimum Westminster G.P.A. of 3.7 in the fall semester
  • Support form submitted by all professors from the fall semester
  • Essay
  • Students who meet the criteria for the program in their first semester will be contacted by email from the Honors Program Director at the beginning of the spring semester with instructions on how to apply to the program.



The Honors Sequence is comprised of the following courses:

Honors 201: Ancient Greek Justice (with two-week travel to Greece in May)

The course focuses on the ancient world and changing ideas of justice and human flourishing from the Bronze Age Mycenaean Civilization recounted in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey to concepts of legal justice and democracy as developed during the golden age of Athens with the teachings of Socrates and Plato. We trace the ancient world’s changing ideas of justice through literature, drama, and philosophical texts, as well as through its archeological history. In May we travel to Greece for two weeks and visit many of the key archeological sites featured in our readings, including Mycenae, Delphi, the theatre at Epidauros, and the centers of citizen justice in Athens—the Areopagus, Parthenon, and Agora.

We work closely with the Athens Centre, a highly-respected educational organization based in Athens. The Athens Centre runs programs in language, culture, classics, archeology, and more, for many universities across the country, including Penn State, Colby, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, and Colorado College. They provide us with experts in archeology, art history, language and culture who lecture on site.

Course developed and team-taught by Dr. Bethany Hicok, Professor of English and Honors Program Director, and Dr. David Goldberg, Associate Professor of Philosophy (fall 2016; 8 credits: 4 during fall semester + 4 awarded after travel; RP and HC IP and Cluster Credit).

Honors 202: The Renaissance and Scientific Revolution

The Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution were cultural and intellectual movements in Europe that spanned the 14th to 17th centuries. The period's strong emphasis on learning about the world, nature, and human beings, and the birth of a new approach to science and culture distinguishes this period from the Middle Ages. Understanding perspective and human anatomy transformed art and gave rise to such masterpieces as Michelangelo's David, Botticelli’s Venus and da Vinci's Last Supper. The printing press allowed for the dissemination of information to a wide audience and encouraged discoveries in science and mathematics. New thinking about the self and authority led to the reformation of the Western church by Protestant leaders, such as Luther and Calvin. Advances in navigation led to the investigation of new worlds. This course studies contributions to the ongoing quest for knowledge, and includes the works of Shakespeare, Dante, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo and Copernicus.

Course developed and team-taught by Dr. Bryan Rennie, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Dr. Russell Martin, Professor of History, and Dr. Natacha Fontes-Merz , Associate Professor of Mathematics (spring 2017; 4 credits; HC IP Credit).

Honors 203: The Battle for Public Memory

“He who controls the present controls the past.” This famous quotation from George Orwell draws our attention to the complicated relationship between ourselves and our history. History is not just what happened prior to the present. It is also the way we choose to tell the story of past events. How we choose to present the stories of our past is often a complicated and highly contentious process. The information that individuals choose to highlight and ignore say at least as much about contemporary social and political relationships as they do about the events being retold. This class will focus on a number of conflicts over public memory, both personal and political. Topics will include obituaries, memorials, the construction of museum exhibits, the impact of nationalism and political ideology, and the selective preservation and destruction of ancient artifacts.

Course developed and team-taught by Dr. Shannon Smithey, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Dr. Angela Lahr, Assistant Professor of History (fall 2017; 4 credits, ST IP Credit).


The Honors Cluster

Honors 204 and 205: Bio-politics: Infectious Disease and Government in Africa

Disease is a biological phenomenon but it is also a political one. Combining the two perspectives provides a much richer understanding than can be provided by purely biological or political exploration. Studying disease from solely a biological perspective overlooks much of its human impact. Studying African politics without understanding the biology of infectious disease limits understanding of the social welfare challenges African governments face. To understand the human impact of disease, we must consider the biological angle, but we must also consider how human behavior and institutions affect the response to disease and the impact that diseases have on human populations. For example, the spread of AIDS is a biological issue, but it became such a pronounced problem in southern Africa because of labor migration and political decisions regulating race and gender. The ability of countries to combat infectious diseases is tied to political decisions about public health and social welfare policy. Students need both a biological perspective and a social science perspective if they are to appreciate the impact of infectious diseases fully.

Course developed and taught by Dr. Katherine Robertson, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Shannon Smithey, Associate Professor of Political Science (spring 2018; 8 credits; SD IP Credit).

Honors students are strongly urged to take the entire five-course sequence together in order to build a strong scholarly cohort. However, students are required to take the first two courses in order. Hon203 and the cluster can be taken out of sequence if the honors student has a compelling reason for doing so, such as study abroad or conflicts with the students’ disciplinary requirements.


The Honors Capstone: 

Westminster College is a leader in institutional support for undergraduate research, requiring a Capstone in most disciplines. The Honors Capstone allows you to take this experience to the next level with an interdisciplinary honors board and formal defense. Independent research in their disciplines allows our students to present nationally and internationally and leads to job opportunities, prestigious internships, and graduate school. 

For detailed information about the Honors Capstone Research project, click here.