Honors College

7800 York Rd., Suite 134
Phone: 410-704-4677
Fax: 410-704-4916
Email: honors@towson.edu

The Honors College at Towson University is designed to provide unique and challenging opportunities for the most highly qualified and motivated students seeking intellectual and personal growth. Its hallmark is that the Honors College brings students and faculty together across TU in a community of scholars who explore questions and issues within, between, and beyond their disciplines. The Honors College serves, therefore, as the center and symbol of TU’s commitment to academic excellence in the education of its undergraduates. The Honors College residential learning community was specifically designed to create an intellectual community where students live together on campus and share ideas, integrate residential living with classroom activity, and nurture an environment conducive to academic inquiry and achievement.

Approximately 700 students from all degree granting colleges and major departments participate in the Honors College. Professors from a variety of disciplines are selected to lead small Honors College classes that encourage interdisciplinarity, multiple pedagogies, student involvement, creativity, open discussion, and independent critical thinking. Through these active-learning experiences, students’ perspectives are expanded as they explore new areas of academic inquiry. Through lower-level classes and Experiential and Advanced Learning opportunities, students are also encouraged to work in their majors with greater intensity than is generally the case within traditional curricular programs. Thus, the Honors College provides a rich intellectual environment in which students develop their skills, cultivate their talents, and achieve excellence in academics, research, service, and individual development, leading to professional success and personal fulfillment.

Terry A. Cooney, Rector

What TU Honors College Students Experience

  • Smaller class sizes (20 or fewer students per honors class)
  • Enriched curriculum with a more active-learning environment
  • Access to special campus facilities including Honors College housing and an Honors College computer lab and student study
  • Individualized academic and professional advising with designated Honors College faculty and staff
  • Renewable Honors College Merit Scholarships and eligibility for Honors College Study Abroad scholarships
  • Recognition of Honors College course work on transcripts, on diploma, and at graduation
  • Priority scheduling for course registration

Honors College Staff

  • Dr. Terry Cooney, Rector of the Honors College
  • Dr. Abram Fox, Honors College Coordinator
  • Dr. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Honors College Faculty Director 

All new freshman, new transfer, and continuing TU students must complete an Honors College application to be considered for admission to the Honors College. Most Honors students apply in high school and are admitted for their freshman year, but transfer and current Towson University students may also apply to the Honors College. High school and transfer applicants with fewer than 30 credits are evaluated based on their high school academic record; SAT or ACT scores, if submitted; participation in leadership, extracurricular and community service activities; and a well-written application essay.

Transfer students with 30 credits or more of graded, college-level courses must have at least a 3.50 GPA to apply and will be evaluated on the basis of their collegiate record. Applicants from other honors programs will be given special consideration for admission.

Current Towson University students may apply to the Honors College if they will have no more than 60 earned credits at the time of entry to Honors and have a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher.

The Honors College curriculum comprises four distinct categories — Foundations, Lower-Level Honors Coursework, Upper-Level Honors Seminars, and Experiential and Advanced Learning.

Incoming First-Year Students (minimum 24 units)

Curriculum Requirements for first-year students admitted to the Honors College fall 2016 and later.

Foundations Courses
One of the following is required: 3
Students who have credit for ENGL 102 in any form (AP credit, course taken at TU, course taken elsewhere and transferred to TU) cannot take ENGL 190 for credit. Therefore they must take ENGL 290 to fulfill this requirement
Lower-Level Honors Courses
Select two from the following: 6
Honors versions of 100-200-level courses (e.g. PSYC 102)
200-level Honors Seminars
Other designated Honors courses not meeting other requirements (e.g., HONR 370 courses not counted toward areas III and IV), but not experiential learning (e.g. internships)
Upper-Level Honors Seminar Courses
Select two from the following: 6
300-level Honors Seminars (e.g. HONR 370)
Experiential and Advanced Learning Courses
Select a minimum of 6 units from the following:6
Departmental honors thesis, directed readings, independent study, and approved capstone courses
With prior approval, upper-level service learning courses
300-level Honors seminars
All Experiential Learning Course options (except 300-level Honors Seminars) must be approved by the Honors College before enrollment for the term in which they are taken.
Students will be expected to present the results of Honors Elective work (except 300-level Honors Seminars) at least once at a Celebration of Scholarship and Learning or other event approved by the Honors College.
Total Units24

Incoming Transfer Students

Curriculum Requirements for transfer students admitted to the Honors College fall 2016 and later.

The Honors College requirements for transfer students depend on the total number of transferable credits completed (not including AP credits).

Students transferring into the Honors College with:

  • 29 or fewer units:  Requirements are the same as for first-year entering students, including Honors English, the Towson Seminar (*if it has not already been completed or waived), 6 units of lower-level Honors course work, 6 units of upper-level Honors Seminars, and 6 units from Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning courses, all taken at Towson University.
  • *If the Towson Seminar has been completed or waived at the time of admission, the student must take an additional lower-level or upper-level Honors course to meet the expectation of 24 units in Honors.
  • With 30-59 units: Students who have taken ENGL 102 or who have received transfer credit for ENGL 102 will be exempt from the requirement of ENGL 190 or ENGL 290. Students who have taken TSEM 102 or have a transfer waiver for TSEM will be exempt from the TSEM 190 requirement but must take an additional lower-level or upper-level Honors seminar.

All other requirements remain the same as for Incoming First-year students. The total program requirement is thus 24 units. 

Courses Fulfilling the Honors College Requirements

Courses taken to fulfill requirements for the Honors College may not be taken on a pass grading option. To graduate as a University Honors Scholar, students must be in the Honors College at the time of graduation.

Sample Four-Year Schedule

Lower Division
First Year6-9
Honors English - required
Honors Seminar - required
Second Year6-9
Honors Enhanced Courses
Two-three Honors College course courses, including at least one at the 300 level
Upper Division
Honors Enhanced Courses
Third Year3-6
HONR seminars - 300 level
Fourth Year3-6
Honors Advanced and Experiential Learning

Definitions of Courses

Honors English

Students who enter with less than 30 units must take an Honors English course. The two options are ENGL 190 and ENGL 290. Most students will take ENGL 190 in their freshman year. Students who have already taken freshman English or who have AP credit for ENGL 102 must take ENGL 290. Topics for ENGL 290 change each term. Students should consult the list of courses available on the Honors College webpage for information about topics. ENGL 290 may be taken a second time with a different topic for Honors seminar credit (see below).

Honors Enhanced Courses

Honors Enhanced courses are more challenging versions of the regular class in that discipline. These courses are designed to be smaller, more discussion-based, more focused on critical thinking and more writing intensive than non-Honors sections of the same course. Students may count a maximum of two Honors Enhanced courses at the 100 or 200 level toward completion of the Honors College curriculum. Students may take additional Honors Enhanced courses as wanted for other university curriculum credit, such as University Core requirements. Honors Enhanced courses may count toward credit in the connected major or minor. See the Course catalog for that major or minor for more information.

Honors Seminars

Most Honors seminars start with the HONR code. Exceptions include ENGL 290, POSC 212, PHIL 212 and KNES 354. Seminars at the 200 level often also count for Core credit.  See the Core Curriculum list for updated information. Seminars at the 300 level are intended for juniors and seniors, though advanced second-term sophomores may also enroll.  Seminars at the 300 level may also be used to fulfill Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning credit (see below).

200 level
Lower-level Honors College seminars allow for in-depth study of fundamental issues, ideas, topics or problems. These interdisciplinary seminars are on a wide range of original topics that are based on the instructors’ areas of interest. Emphasis for these seminars is on developing and strengthening skills important to success in Honors and undergraduate education, including oral and written communication skills, reading skills, and critical and creative thinking. These seminars may be repeated for credit if topics change. Courses include 200-level seminars with the HONR code, PHIL 212, POSC 212 and ENGL 290 (which can only be taken twice with different topics, whether for seminar credit, Honors English credit, or some combination thereof). Each seminar may be repeated for a maximum of 6 units toward Honors College requirements if topics change.

300/400 level
Upper-level Honors courses are designed to deepen knowledge about a particular intellectual issue and demonstrate the interconnectedness of academic disciplines. The approach is interdisciplinary, but some specific discipline content is used to further greater understanding of a broader issue. Many of these seminars incorporate problem-solving components and independent writing or research projects as part of a culminating activity. Like the lower-level seminars, these courses have original topics that are based on the instructor’s area of interest. These seminars may satisfy major or minor requirements, if approved by that department.  Consult your major or minor adviser for more information. Courses include 300-level seminars with the HONR code (may be repeated several times with a different topic), KNES 354 and ENGL 332

Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning Credit

Students must complete 6 units of Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning.  Eligible course options, whether taken under department codes or the HONR code, must be approved in advance by the Honors College Faculty Director and require advance paperwork.  They include: 

  • Independent Study
  • Study Abroad (not Study Away)
  • Internships
  • Service-learning
  • Directed Readings
  • Thesis
  • 300-level HONR seminars

For all of these options except 300-level seminars, students must follow Honors College guidelines, submit required paperwork before starting these courses, and get the approval of the Honors College Faculty Director by the end of the first week of classes for the term in which the course is taken. A maximum of 3 units toward Honors College requirements may be given for each learning experience in a single term, with more possible for Fall or Spring term Study Abroad (see below). A maximum of 6 units total of Advanced and Experiential Learning may be used toward Honors College requirements. More information and syllabus templates for Honors Independent Study, Internships, Service-learning, Directed Readings, and Thesis are available on the Honors College website. The Honors College strongly encourages these experiential learning options, and students should contact the Faculty Director the term before beginning these experiential learning courses to discuss options and ensure that they are eligible for Honors College credit. 

Students interested in Study Abroad must submit the forms for Study Abroad available on the Honors College website and contact the Faculty Director prior to their departure. Participants in short-term Study Abroad courses may receive 3 units toward their Honors Electives if they complete an approved study abroad and away project and a public presentation. Honors College students participating in full-term (Fall or Spring) study abroad course work may receive 6 units toward their Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning requirements if they complete an approved study abroad project and public presentation. Study Away programs within the United Stats do not count for Honors College credit.

Credit for Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning, with the exception of 300-level seminars, is not automatic. Experiential learning courses which are taken under a department code and are approved by the Honors College Faculty Director may also count for credit in the student's major or minor with the approval of that department. See the Course Descriptions listing of specific courses for more information. All experiential learning courses require a significant writing component and a public presentation which must be completed before Honors College credit can be granted. Contact the Faculty Director for scheduled Honors College presentation dates, which vary each term. 

Students interested in Honors Experiential and Advanced Learning, which do not include 300-level Honors seminars, should consult the Honors College website for more detailed, updated information on and deadlines for setting up this type of course work for Honors College credit. 


Professors: Peter Baker Jr. (English), Bethany Brand (Psychology), Carol Caronna (Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice), Isabel Castro-Vázquez (Languages, Literatures & Cultures), Michael Elliott (Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice), Erin Fehskens (English), Alhena Gadotti (History), Seth Gitter (Economics), William Kleinsasser (Music), Michael Korzi (Political Science), Jonathan Mattanah (Psychology), Alison McCartney (Political Science), Jessica Shiller (Instructional Leadership & Professional Development), John Sivey (Chemistry )

Associate Professors: Cynthia Ghent (Biological Sciences), Adam Jabbur (English), Ryan King-White (Kinesiology), Michael Masatsugu (History), Salvatore Pappalardo (English), Sonali Raje (Chemistry ), Jonathan Vincent (English), Bethany Willis Hepp (Family Studies & Community Development)

Lecturers: Howard Baetjer Jr. (Economics), Sharon Becker (English), James McFalls Jr. (Music), Carol Pippen (English), Andrew Reiner (English), Molly Ruhlman (Political Science), Benjamin Warner (English), Erin Witte (Communication Studies)