Honors College

Introduction

Today’s top-performing students are tomorrow’s leaders. The Honors College telos—its aim, purpose, end—is to liberally educate the next generation of intellectually gifted Christian leaders, helping them develop the moral and intellectual virtue, the right habits of the heart and of the mind, to become global leaders.

The Honors College is for students who:

  • Enjoy spirited conversation and debate
  • Want to think deeply about important issues
  • Desire to love God with their mind as well as their heart and soul
  • Seek to grow in faith, virtue, and leadership
  • Love to read and write
  • Aspire to stir the hearts and minds of their generation

The Honors College is an opportunity to:

  • Engage life’s big questions in discussion-based, intellectually stimulating colloquies
  • Read classics about leadership, virtue, and faith
  • Grow academically in a close-knit community of engaged, intellectual peers
  • Learn without exams, textbooks, or busywork
  • Complete two majors in four years
  • Enjoy writing-intensive courses with writing support groups
  • Benefit from “high-impact educational practices”
  • Experience an Oxford-style tutorial
  • Study away at Oxford University or in the High Sierra
  • Reserve classes with priority registration
  • Receive a $1,000-per-year Honors scholarship

Mission

The Honors College offers an innovative, enriching, and challenging Christian liberal education, emphasizing good leadership, moral and intellectual virtue, and the Christian tradition, to high-achieving, academically motivated undergraduate students.

Application to the Honors College

Students may apply to the Honors College as incoming first-year students, transfer students, or as second-year APU students.

In addition to completing the application form for admission to the university, a candidate must submit written responses to an essay prompt and three letters of recommendation. Applicants are considered on the basis of academic performance, demonstrated leadership ability, and exemplary character.

Admission to the Honors College is selective. Among those accepted and enrolled in the Honors College, the mean high school GPA is 4.1+ with an SAT score of 1340+ or a composite ACT score of 29+.

Students who receive a Trustees’ Scholarship are automatically accepted to the Honors College. Recipients of a President’sMulti-Ethnic Leadership (MEL), or Haggard International scholarship are encouraged to apply for admission. Transfer and second-year APU students may apply for admission and will be considered if space is available. 

Program Overview

Curriculum

The Honors College curriculum starts with the premise that good leadership requires the cultivation of moral and intellectual virtue—the habits of the heart and mind that enable one to determine what ought to be done and how best to do it. Such habits define one’s character. The content of a leader’s character is shaped, in part, by his or her answers to life’s most important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we headed? Who is God, and what is our relationship with Him? What are our responsibilities to others? What is good? What is true? What is beautiful? 

The classic works read in the Honors College curriculum perceptively address such questions. Their authors are cartographers, unveiling the lay of the land, providing ways to think and talk about life’s big questions.

The small, discussion-based, intellectually stimulating seminars are reading and writing intensive. The courses do not require secondary textbooks or traditional examinations. The selected texts nurture a deep understanding of the Christian faith, foster moral and intellectual virtue, and grapple with life’s most important questions. Wrestling with the ideas and arguments in those texts cultivates cognitive, expressive, and civic capacities (critical inquiry, analytical reasoning, problem solving, close reading, textual interpretation, attentive listening, effective language usage as a speaker and writer, and participating in and leading small groups/teams).

In this vein, the Honors College intends to produce scholarly disciples, equipped and worthy to assume positions of leadership, having grown in wisdom, virtue, faith, and eloquence.

There are ten courses in the Honors curriculum (48 units). Completion of all ten courses leads to an honors humanities major. The honors humanities major is not a stand-alone major. Honors Scholars are required to complete an additional major in another field of study.

The honors humanities major satisfies all requirements in the university’s General Education program. Students pursuing the honors humanities major are generally exempt from all assessment or placement exams associated with General Education. The honors humanities minor only satisfies a portion of the university’s General Education requirements.

Program Outcomes

Ideal graduates from the Honors College will be:

  • Disciples steeped in the rich Christian moral and intellectual tradition and dedicated to loving God and neighbor.
  • Scholars primed for admittance to the very best professional and graduate schools and prepared to embark on a lifelong quest for truth, beauty, and goodness.
  • Citizens devoted to civic virtue, civic engagement, and civic leadership.
  • Leaders equipped and worthy.

To further its effort to produce such graduates, the Honors College has established the following student learning outcomes. Completion of this program will enable students to:

  1. Critically analyze primary classic texts and the ideas and arguments therein that contribute to or challenge the Christian faith.
  2. Appraise important and influential Christian and non-Christian efforts to address central human questions.
  3. Compare and contrast the contributions of various authors from different eras and cultures to our understanding of good leadership and moral/intellectual virtue.
  4. Write lucid, concise, cogent, and in-depth analyses of texts, ideas, and arguments.
  5. Present clear, well-organized, engaging, persuasive, and substantive oral contributions in group settings.
  6. Contribute competently and constructively in small-group/team settings.

The Honors College offers four ways of participating in the curriculum:

Pathway One: Honors Humanities Minor

Pathway Two: Honors Humanities Major

Pathway Three: Honors Humanities Major for Advanced Degrees

Pathway Four: National Merit Scholars and Trustees’ Scholarship Recipients

Career Opportunities

The honors humanities major and minor are not designed as preparation for a specific career, but rather as preparation for life. Nonetheless, the ability to combine the major/minor with a second major while graduating in four years creates many career opportunities. The program provides a competitive edge for those seeking a great graduate school, and produces top candidates for employers who seek deep thinkers and articulate communicators with strong moral character. It also cultivates key skills useful in every field of endeavor: critical thinking, teamwork, oral communication, and written communication.

HON 101, Leadership, 6 Units

A study of classic texts on leadership, including the Old Testament, that tackle key leadership questions- Who is a good leader? What does a good leader do? Is leadership an art or a science? How does one prepare for leadership? What ought to be the aim of good leaders? What is practical wisdom, and how does one obtain it? Are leaders constrained by any boundaries or obligations? Is virtue essential to good leadership? Is vice ever necessary? How should one lead in a situation that is less than the best? What can we learn from exemplary leaders? Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisite: To enroll in the course, must be a student admitted to the Honors Program and be considered a member in "active" status.

HON 240, Core I, 6 Units

A study of select classic works, including the New Testament, that have shaped our spiritual and intellectual heritage and continue to influence us today. We join the authors in grappling with life's most important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we headed? Who is God and what is our relationship with him? What are our responsibilities to others? What is good? What is true? What is beautiful? Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisite: HON 101 or dean's approval.

HON 260, Core II, 6 Units

The second in a four course study of select classic works by thinkers who have shaped our spiritual and intellectual heritage and who continue to influence us today. We join them in grappling with life's most important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we headed? Who is God and what is our relationship with him? What are our responsibilities to others? What is good? What is true? What is beautiful? Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisite: HON 240 or dean's approval

HON 280, Core III, 6 Units

The third in a four course study of select classic works by thinkers who have shaped our spiritual and intellectual heritage and continue to influence us today. We join the authors in grappling with life's most important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we headed? Who is God and what is our relationship with him? What are our responsibilities to others? What is good? What is true? What is beautiful? Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisite: HON 260 or dean's approval

HON 300, Core IV, 6 Units

The fourth in a four course study of select classic works by thinkers who have shaped our spiritual and intellectual heritage and continue to influence us today. We join the authors in grappling with life's most important questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we headed? Who is God and what is our relationship with him? What are our responsibilities to others? What is good? What is true? What is beautiful? Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisite: HON 280 or dean's approval

HON 340, Nature, 6 Units

A philosophical and historical review of the rise of modern natural and social science, the kinds of questions science answers, how it answers them, and the limits and potential of scientific inquiry. The course highlights major revolutions in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, psychology, and sociology as well as ensuing debates about the relationship between religion and science.

Prerequisites: HON 101 and HON 240 or dean's approval

HON 360, Democracy, 3 Units

A study of the principles and practices of self-government in America. Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisites: HON 101 and HON 240 or dean's approval

HON 380, Wisdom, 3 Units

A study of Old Testament wisdom literature and its teachings about moral character as well as a comparative investigation of the Apocrypha and Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek wisdom texts. Taught by a faculty tutor in an integrative, interdisciplinary fashion.

Prerequisites: HON 101 and HON 240 or dean's approval

HON 440, Oxbridge Tutorial I, 3 Units

This tutorial is the first half of a year-long course devoted to exploring a single seminal text or the collected work of a single author. Students engage in self-directed research, learning on their own and thinking for themselves. Tutorial sessions are an opportunity for students to show the benefits of their independent work, especially their ability to read, comprehend, and interpret seminal texts and then analyze, appraise, and critique the ideas and arguments therein. In their papers and in conversations, students also demonstrate their ability to share their learning orally and in writing. This course may be repeated with dean's permission.

Prerequisite: HON 300 or dean's approval

HON 450, Oxbridge Tutorial, 6 Units

This tutorial is an entire semester devoted to exploring a single seminal text or the collected work of a single author. Students engage in a self-directed research, learning on their own and thinking for themselves. Tutorial sessions are an opportunity for students to show the benefits of their independent work, especially their ability to read, comprehend, and interpret seminal texts and then analyze, appraise, and critique the ideas and arguments therein. In their papers and in conversations, students also demonstrate their ability to share their learning orally and in writing. This course may be repeated with dean's permission.

Prerequisite: HON 300 or dean's approval

HON 460, Oxbridge Tutorial II, 3 Units

This tutorial is the second half of a year-long course devoted to exploring a single seminal text or the collected work of a single author. Students engage in self-directed research, learning on their own and thinking for themselves. Tutorial sessions are an opportunity for students to show the benefits of their independent work, especially their ability to read, comprehend, and interpret seminal texts and then analyze, appraise, and critique the ideas and arguments therein. In their papers and in conversations, students also demonstrate their ability to share their learning orally and in writing. This course may be repeated with dean's permission.

Prerequisite: HON 440 or dean's approval

HON 499, Honors Thesis, 3 Units

This course provides honors students an opportunity to design, research, and write an honors thesis. The Senior Honors Thesis is the culmination of the Honors College experience, emphasizing critical thinking, writing and independent, creative work. Since thesis constitutes three to six semester hours of the baccalaureate degree program, it should reflect a significant time commitment, be of high quality and demonstrate personal intellectual growth. The thesis topic may relate to the student's major, or be selected from a topic within the humanities. The standards of scholarship of the selected discipline apply, and the written portion of the thesis should conform to the style and format of the discipline. The thesis course provides experience in writing a longer research paper, and prepares you for further work at the graduate and professional level.

Prerequisite: Honors program, Junior or Senior Standing

Faculty

Dean

David L. Weeks, Ph.D.

Professors

Christopher Flannery, Ph.D.

Diana Pavlac Glyer, Ph.D.

Associate Professors

Marcia Berry, Ph.D.

Gary Black Jr., Ph.D.

Barbara Harrington, Ph.D.

Faculty Fellows

Joseph Bentz, Ph.D., Professor, Department of English

Adam Green, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy

Emily Griesinger, Ph.D., Professor, Department of English

Bradley Hale, Ph.D., Director, Humanities Program; Associate Professor, Department of History and Political Science

Skyla Herod, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Biology and Chemistry

Donald Isaak, Ph.D., Executive Director, Office of Research and Grants; Professor, Department of Mathematics and Physics

Paul Kaak, Ph.D., Executive Director, Office of Faith Integration; Professor, Department of Leadership and Organizational Psychology

Joshua Morris, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biology and Chemistry

Daniel Palm, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Department of History and Political Science

Bradley McCoy, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Mathematics and Physics

Matthew J. Smith, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of English

Ethan Schrum, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of History and Political Science

Caleb Spencer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of English