Honors Program

The Honors Program offers a rich opportunity for advanced PPL majors to pursue their own writing project. The purpose of the Program is to introduce you to writing and scholarship that goes beyond the typical undergraduate experience. PPL majors seeking to join the Honors Program must normally have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the PPL major and completed two upper-level courses (300 or above) in any area within the PPL major. It’s also a good idea to have taken an advanced philosophy course.

There are two separate methods for achieving Honors. Each method produces the same result of achieving Honors. The first method entails working in coordination with a small group of Honors students under the direction of an Honors Director. The second approach entails working entails working solo with a faculty advisor.

The Pell Honors Program

In this program students write a peer- and jury-reviewed article that they then defend at a public conference. Students are exposed to graduate-level and professional standards of writing and speaking by developing their own philosophical writing in the context of working closely with faculty and the other participants in the program.

The program is named for alumnus Owen C. Pell, '80, whose vision and generous contributions help make it possible.

Each fall, the Philosophy Department offers a workshop for between six and ten senior Philosophy or PPL majors who are writing honors theses. These students register for PHIL 471 or PPL 471 Pell Honors Seminar I with the program Director. The workshop is run by a Director who is a member of the Philosophy Department faculty. Each student has an additional faculty member as an expert advisor. These advisors meet with the student several times over the semester to discuss the student’s thesis. The Director solicits applications and makes selections for the program in the preceding spring. Applicants must have an overall GPA of at least 3.5, and submit a thesis proposal and a transcript. The workshop normally meets weekly and provides a forum for instruction regarding the process of writing the thesis, and for feedback on the students’ work. The students present their theses to a jury at a public conference at the end of the semester. In addition, the Director may organize social and academic activities that further enhance the participants’ experience and development. The Director, in consultation with the conference jury, determines what level of Honors the student’s work qualifies for, if any. If you have questions about the Pell Program, please ask any PPL advisor.

In previous years, students from the Pell Honors Program have been admitted to some of the top law schools, Philosophy Ph.D. programs, and other graduate programs in the country.

The law schools include:  Harvard Law School, NYU Law School, William and Mary Law School (with a nearly full scholarship), and the UCLA Law School (with a nearly full scholarship); University of Connecticut Law School (with scholarship); Quinnipiac University Law School (with full scholarship); Hofstra University Law School (with full scholarship); University of Maryland Law School; American University Law School; and SUNY Buffalo Law School (with scholarship).

Philosophy Ph.D. programs include: University of Pittsburgh (with full funding); University of Wisconsin, Madison (with full funding); University of Texas, Austin; CUNY Graduate Center (with full funding); Michigan State University (with full funding); and St. Andrews-Stirling (one of the best in the United Kingdom). Other graduate programs include the Harvard Divinity School.

Pell Honors Program

Independent Study with a Faculty Member Directed Toward Honors

Students interested in the Honors Program must locate an advisor from among the faculty of the PPL Committee or other faculty member approved by the PPL Director. An Honors Committee is then formed comprising this advisor and at least one other member of the faculty (normally two other members), chosen by the student and the advisor. The requirements for the Honors Program are the successful completion of an honors thesis including an oral examination on the theses conducted by the student’s Honors Committee. Students writing an honors thesis register for PPL 498 and 499 (Honors Thesis) for a minimum of four and maximum of eight credits. These courses may not be used to satisfy the requirements for the degree.  A student whose thesis is judged to be of honors quality will receive special recognition at graduation. Otherwise, the student will receive course credit for an Independent Study.