Honors Scholars Program

Female student on campus smiling

The Honors Scholars Program

HSP Students

Carroll College’s Honors Scholars Program is a cohort and seminar-style Great Books academic program that presents a wonderful opportunity for intellectually curious students across a wide array of academic majors and interests to engage in an interdisciplinary exploration of the great ideas and images of the Western tradition.

Beginning in the fall semester of their first year, Honors Scholars take five seminars, one each semester, in which they study works from authors such as Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Erasmus, Martin Luther,  Mary Wollstonecraft, John Locke, Frederick Nietzsche, and Hannah Arendt.

By critically engaging the most illuminating, provocative, and imaginative texts of the last three millennia, our students explore the claims and limits of knowledge, what duties humans have to their communities, and what truly constitutes a human education.

Each seminar fulfills one of Carroll's Core curriculum requirements. A capstone seminar in the sixth semester concludes the program. Students also study a second language through the intermediate level, which can be fulfilled in a few different ways, including studying abroad. Each cohort stays together over the course of the six semesters, allowing the students to form scholarly communities and lasting friendships. 

Our Honors Scholars come from a wide variety of majors and academic departments— history, anthrozoology, political science, engineering, nursing, business, biology, chemistry, sociology, philosophy, and theology. Some of our Honors Scholars are student-athletes; others are members of the debate team. Many are involved in service to our Carroll community as peer tutors, peer ministers, admissions ambassadors, and residential advisors. 

Students studying together as they prepare for mid-term exams

It seems a little intimidating at first, reading complicated texts in a week and coming together to discuss them. However, this program has challenged me to express my thoughts concisely and listen to others’ perspectives to better understand complex literature. More importantly, it has provided me with a really good group of friends who bring snacks to class, go to movies together, and can come together and have respectful and enlightening conversations.

Anna Brown Junior in the Honors Scholars Program

The Curriculum

All of our courses are discussion-based seminars: this means that we expect students to lead the course of discussion. Honors Scholars faculty serve as tutors in your education: we are there to prod you, guide you, and lend our expertise when necessary. These courses are interdisciplinary, and so participants acquire an integrated view of fundamental human endeavors. Through the seminar setting, participants strengthen and refine habits of critical inquiry and discussion techniques that can be applied to any field of academic or professional involvements. Our inquiry in each seminar is informed by our motto—Scientia, Caritas, Humanitas—or, knowledge, love, and human nature. Our consideration leads us to the following questions:


  • What is the proper role of the search for knowledge in human life?
  • What is most important for a human to know?
  • What is the character of the knowledge in question, and how does it pertain to our judgment of the Ultimate Truth?
  • What do we owe God?
  • What do we owe our fellow human beings?
  • What can love accomplish?
  • What is most necessary to improve the human condition?
  • What would a good and just society look like?
  • What are the greatest dangers to human societies?

Beyond the Classroom

The program also offers an education beyond the classroom. Honors Scholars participate in a wide variety of cultural programs, projects, and activities, including a speaker series, discussions, educational trips, dinners at faculty homes, and attendance at performing arts events.

In order to graduate as an Honors Scholar, students must complete the Honors Scholars capstone. This project provides the student with the opportunity to synthesize what has been learned during his or her tenure in the program. Students who complete all of the Honors seminars and the capstone are recognized at graduation.

The Honors Scholars Program has helped me to bond with my peers and learn more about the world around me. We are constantly exposed to different thoughts and perspectives that can aid in understanding the people that surround us and society at large. It has also allowed me to read great books that I would not have had the opportunity to read otherwise.

Lola Baerlocher Sophomore in the Honors Scholars Program

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Upon completion of the program, Honors Scholars will possess the following skills:
  • The ability to explore the pivotal ideas presented in seminal works from the Western intellectual tradition and in select non-Western texts in an effort to understand and question what constitutes the contemporary Western perspective.
  • The ability to recognize the interrelationships of ideas within a given historical era and the effect of these interrelated ideas through the ages.
  • Preparation for more advanced studies in the liberal arts.
  • Acquisition of an integrated view of fundamental human concerns.
  • Development of rigorous habits of critical inquiry that can be applied throughout life experiences.

I love the holistic picture of philosophy and theology the Honors Program provides. Engaging with my peers every week over complicated texts has been a fantastic experience.

Catherine Dudley Sophomore in the Honors Scholars Program

Cost of Attendance by Semester

SemesterHonors Scholars CourseCore Curriculum Requirement Satisfied
First year, fallHNR 150 Greek and Roman ThoughtCORE-110 First Year Writing Seminar (3 cr)
First year, springHNR 250 Christian and Medieval ThoughtFaith & Reason - Theology (3 cr)
Sophomore, fallHNR 251 Renaissance ThoughtArts & Letters - Literature; and Intermediate Writing (3 cr)
Sophomore, springHNR 350 Restoration and Enlightenment ThoughtPhilosophical Reasoning (3 cr)
Junior, fallHNR 450 Modern ThoughtFaith & Reason - Philosophy,  Ethical Reasoning (3 cr)
Junior, springHNR 495 Honors Capstone(2 cr)

Intermediate competency in foreign language (200-level or above)

The program director has the discretion to waive this requirement, e.g. for students for whom English is a second language, or for those unable to take appropriate Carroll classes that build on their earlier studies.

There are several ways to meet this requirement. The most common way is that students take four semesters of a foreign language through the intermediate level. 

Honors Scholars students must maintain a high level of achievement to remain in the program. Each June 1, Honors Scholars students are evaluated to learn whether they have met the GPA requirements to remain in the program. The minimum required cumulative GPA is 3.25; however, the program director has discretion to allow students who maintain a GPA of at least 3.00 to complete the program if the student's GPA dips despite good overall progress. The minimum in-program GPA is 3.50.

Two Students Study in Library

If you are or someone you know is interested in learning more about the Honors Scholars Program, please reach out to the HSP Director, Katherine A. Greiner, Ph.D., associate professor of Theology. 

Dr. Greiner herself is a proud alumna of Carroll College’s Honors Scholars Class of 2005 - please reach out to her. Prospective students for the upcoming academic year may also apply to the Honors Scholars Program.

Apply to be an Honors Scholar

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