Honors Program

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Gail Syring

Gail M. Syring 

Director of Hillyer Honors

Hillyer Academic Strategies Instructor  


The Hillyer Honors program is specifically designed for our students with high academic achievements.

As an Honors student, you participate in enjoyable and stimulating learning experiences  in and outside of the classroom. You enrich your education and have opportunities to improve your academic achievement by participating in interdisciplinary seminars, taking educational trips, pursuing independent projects, and presenting your work to the public. Throughout the program, you are mentored by outstanding faculty work with engaging classmates.

Life as a Hillyer Honors Student

  • First-year students who have completed at least 15 credits in the fall semester and maintained an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher can qualify for our spring humanities honors seminar.
  • Second-year students who have completed at least 30 credits and maintained an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher by the beginning of the second year can qualify for our fall science honors seminar. (These second-year students also may take one honors course in the College of Arts and Sciences or one course in Hillyer for Contract Honors.)
  • Second-year students who maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher by the beginning of sophomore year are eligible to participate in our Honors experiential experience.

The three Hillyer Honors seminar topics will change to keep you engaged with contemporary issues. Students who meet the GPA criteria and who have maintained academic integrity in all classes will be invited to take the following courses:

  • Humanities Honors Seminar
  • Science Honors Seminar
  • Honors Experiential Experience
  • Finish 9 or more credits of graded honors courses with a grade of B or better
  • Earn 6 of the 9 credits in honors courses: HONB110, HONB200, HONB210, or one honors course offered by another college on campus
  • Maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • You may earn up to three credits by completing an honors contract in a non-honors course

2023 Winterterm Honors Experience Course in Hawaii

Second-year Hillyer College Honors students completed the Hawaiian Honors Experience Course in January 2023 on the island of O’ahu and the University of Hawaii campus.

The Winterterm course included lectures on Classical Buddhism, the Cultural Diversity of the Hawaiian Islands, the History of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the United States entry into World War II. Students toured the I’olani Palace, Pearl Harbor, and the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge. In addition, they met with U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson to discuss current topics in the law. Students earned 3 credits toward their honors graduation requirement.

The program is funded through the generosity of Hillyer alumni who provide scholarship money to defer a significant amount of the costs associated with the trip. 

In 2019 and 2020, Honors students traveled to Hawaii to study Polynesian arts, culture, and history. Photos from those courses are posted in the gallery below. 

Hillyer Honors Students Present at Honors Colloquium

Hillyer College Honors students enrolled in Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Literature Markeysha Davis's Humanities Honor Seminar, Black Womanist Perspectives: My Eyes Speak History, studied the ways that Black women had supported movements for social changes throughout U.S. history.

Three Hillyer Honors students, psychology major Gianna Marie Balsamo ’25, politics and government major Alyssa Locke ’24, and biology major Laurel Clarke ’24, were given the opportunity to present their class projects at UHart’s Undergraduate Research and Creativity Colloquium in April. Read more.

Try out the Honors program because the courses and the faculty will open your eyes to a wide range of new topics. - Alyssa Locke ’24, Hillyer College Honors student

"I never would have imagined being an honors student if it wasn't for the resources and tools that Hillyer provided me. It was easy to make connections with professors and I was inspired to go to class, do my homework, and be involved in the discussion.”

Jacob Lamoureux, '20 Communication