Jun 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Honors College

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Honors College Faculty and Staff


Simon Stacey
B.A. (Hons), University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), 1996; Ph.D., Princeton University, 2005

Associate Director

Jodi Kelber-Kaye
B.A., Connecticut College, 1986; M.A., University of Arizona, 1994; Ph.D., University of Arizona, 2003

Assistant Director of Curriculum and Retention

Julie Christ Oakes
B.A., M.A., Boston University, 1986; M.A., Stanford University, 1997; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2009

Assistant Director of Recruitment and Assessment

Michael Stone
B.A., University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2014; M.A., 2016

Administrative Assistant II

Lisa Whittle Bolton

Professor Emerita

Ellen Handler-Spitz
A.B., Barnard College; M.A.T., Harvard University; Ph.D., Columbia University, 1983

Courses in this program are listed under HONR.

The Honors College provides a special opportunity for exceptional students seeking a community of diverse individuals for whom the quest for knowledge is its own reward. Coursework in Honors includes Honors seminars, service learning, internships, and independent research

The Honors College at UMBC

The Honors College is for students who seek exceptional intellectual stimulation and challenge. Students are offered a rich liberal arts experience through honors classes, internships, study abroad, and other extracurricular opportunities. One of the hallmarks of the program is specialized attention. Each semester, students receive individual advising from Honors College staff who are also available for consultation throughout the year. Membership in the Honors College is intentionally kept small. With a total enrollment of approximately 500, the Honors College seeks to matriculate 100-150 students each year. Students admitted to the Honors College undertake general honors study in honors versions of regular classes and specially commissioned honors seminars. Honors seminars, the subjects of which vary from semester to semester, cover a wide variety of interdisciplinary topics. Honors courses have limited enrollment and afford participants the opportunity for close interaction with distinguished members of the UMBC faculty. The Honors College encourages the development of advanced-level honors curricula and assists honors students in developing their programs, applying to graduate or professional schools, and gaining financial support for research and graduate study. Recent Honors College graduates have been accepted into programs at Princeton, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, Harvard, NYU, and Georgetown, among others. Students who complete the Honors College curriculum graduate with a Certificate of General Honors, which is noted on their transcript.

Honors Orientation

Incoming Honors College first year students attend a special honors orientation along with students in the specialty Scholars Programs. The program provides students with the opportunity to meet other new students, as well as faculty, staff, and current students. They learn about university requirements and, with the help of faculty and peer advisors, begin to plan their academic careers. A parent orientation is also scheduled.


Honors College students schedule advising appointments in the Honors College each semester. The faculty and staff of the Honors College are available to honors students for advising concerning academic programs, course selection, study abroad, prestigious scholarships, independent study and research options and graduate or professional school admissions. All Honors College students are encouraged to visit the Honors College on a regular basis for informal conversation with the staff and other students.

Honors Forum

Entering Honors College students enroll in HONR 100  or HONR 201 , which meets weekly in the fall semester. Honors Forum introduces students to academic methods and disciplines as they interact with faculty and creative artists. Students are expected to do and present research, participate in campus activities, and reflect on what it means to be full members of a community of learning.

Honors Seminars

Honors seminars involve more in-depth treatment of topics, and some resemble graduate seminars in their small size, depth, intensity of scholarship, and in the special character of the relationship engendered by working closely with faculty members and other students. Honors seminars are generally limited to 25 students. Each semester the Honors College offers six or eight Honors seminars for students to choose from.

Honors Sections of Regular Classes

These are often introductory level courses, such as AMST 100H - Introduction to American Studies (3) , BIOL 141H - Foundations of Biology: Cells, Energy and Organisms - Honors (4) , HIST 103H - East-Asian Civilization (3) , but there are also some 300- and 400-level honors sections for advanced undergrads in the Honors College. The honors section explores a topic at greater depth, introduces material not covered in the regular course, requires an added amount of writing, and features considerable dialogue among students and faculty.

Experiential Learning and Research Courses in Honors

An applied learning experience is required to receive the Honors College Certificate . The Honors College offers a few courses that can give Honors students academic credit for their Applied Learning Experience. These are HONR 390 - Reflections on Community Service (3) ; HONR 400 - Honors Independent Study (1-4) ; HONR 410 - Honors Internship (3) , and HONR 490 - Senior Honors Project (1-4) .

Honors in the Major

Many UMBC major programs have developed honors tracks for graduating with departmental honors. All members of the Honors College are encouraged to pursue their majors with honors where the opportunity exists. Departmental honors courses may count toward Honors College requirements as well.

Special Opportunities

Living-Learning Community

The Honors College Living-Learning Community offers the opportunity for some first year members of the Honors College to continue their collaborative learning experiences in a relaxed residential setting. Students are able to pursue a range of academic, service, and social activities with like-minded colleagues. At the same time, they develop strong friendships through common goals, classes, conversation, and fun.

Study Abroad

The Honors College encourages its students to take part in study abroad programs. Generally, students who wish to complete international studies during the academic year should be juniors. In past years, Honors College students have studied in the Netherlands, China, Spain, Italy, Guatemala, England, Australia, and New Zealand, among other places, and occasionally the Honors College offers study abroad opportunities during the summer sessions.

Special Sessions Scholarships

The Honors College offers scholarships that are awarded to current students for research and independent study during summer and winter sessions. In addition, the Jay Freyman Scholarships offer financial assistance to Honors College students pursuing an international educational experience.

Application to the Honors College

Admission to the Honors College is highly selective; the college seeks to enroll a maximum of 125 new students each fall semester. For consideration, the applicant must complete the university’s application, as well as submit the Honors College application. In reviewing applications, the Honors College places special emphasis on the written material submitted. For high school applicants, the strength of the high school curriculum, GPA and standardized test scores are also very important. Applicants should have a strong college preparatory curriculum that includes honors, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate coursework and an exceptional standardized test score (SAT or ACT). In recent years, the average SAT score for incoming first year student has been above 1400, and the average weighted high school GPA above 4.2. Transfer students, as well as students currently enrolled at UMBC, may apply for admission to the Honors College by submitting the materials outlined above. Transfer students should have a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.5, but most admitted transfers in recent years have had an entering GPA above 3.7.

Academic Requirements

Honors College students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA each year and complete two honors courses per year. In addition to HONR 100  and a college-level writing course, a minimum of six honors courses with grades of ‘B’ or better are required for the completion of the Honors Certificate. Honors courses must be taken across the undergraduate disciplines. All students who successfully complete the Honors College academic requirements and graduate with a cumulative 3.25 GPA or higher are granted an Honors College Undergraduate Certificate. The certificate is awarded at an Honors College Medallion Ceremony at the time of graduation and is recorded on the student’s academic transcript.





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