Honors College


Stephens Hall 302
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. The Honors College involves students and faculty from across the university in a community of scholars who together explore questions within and beyond their disciplines. The Honors College serves, therefore, as the center and symbol of the university’s commitment to academic excellence in the education of its undergraduates. The “Living and 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 achievement.

Approximately 800 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. In this way, students’ perspectives are expanded as they explore areas not closely related to their disciplines and are encouraged to work in their majors with greater intensity than would be possible within traditional curricular programs. Thus, the Honors College provides an 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 Honors Students Experience

  • Smaller class sizes (20 or fewer students per honors class)
  • Enriched curriculum with a more stimulating environment
  • Access to special campus facilities including Honors College housing, 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, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Rector of the Honors College

Dr. Abram Fox, Honors College Coordinator

Dr. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Honors College Faculty Director 

Ms. Rhiannon Napoli, Honors College Director of Co-curricular Programs and Constituent Relationships

Ms. Phyllis Brown, Honors College Executive Administration Assistant

New freshman and transfer 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 scores; 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 instead of their high school grades and SATs. Applicants from other honors programs will be given special consideration for admission.

Current Towson University students may apply to the Honors College if they have been enrolled at Towson University for no more than four terms (60 units) 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.

Students that joined the Honors College prior to fall 2016 should refer to the Honors College website or the undergraduate catalog for the year in which they were admitted to the Honors College for the specifics of their curriculum. If you have any questions regarding which curriculum you should fulfill, please contact your Honors advisor.

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 transferrable credits completed (not including AP credits).

Students transferring into the Honors College with:

  • 30 or fewer credits:  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 31-59 credits: 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 example 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 21 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
Honros Seminar - required
One Honors equivalent course or 200-level Honors seminars (HONR label, PHIL 212, POSC 212 or a different topic for ENGL 290) recommended; one course in either category required
Second Year6-9
Two-three Honors College course courses, including one at the 300 level
Note that a maximum of 6 units of Honors Equivalent courses may count toward Honors College requirements - see Definitions below.
Upper Division
Third Year3-6
HONR seminars - 300 level
Fourth Year3-6
Honors Electives

Definitions of Courses

Honors English

Students who enter with less than 30 credits 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 Equivalent Courses

Honors Equivalent 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 Equivalent courses toward completion of the Honors College curriculum. Students may take additional Honors Equivalent courses as wanted for other university curriculum credit, such as University Core requirements. Honors Equivalent 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 Elective 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, critical and creative thinking, etc. 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). These seminars may be repeated for a maximum of 6 units of credit 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.  Consult your major or minor adviser for more information. These seminars may satisfy major or minor requirements, such as major, minor or Core requirements. Courses include 300-level seminars with the HONR code (may be repeated several times with a different topic), KNES 354 and ENGL 332

Honors Elective Credit

Students must complete 6 units of Honors Electives.  Eligible course options, whether taken under department codes or the HONR code include: 

  • Independent Study
  • Study Abroad 
  • 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. A maximum of 6 units total of Electives 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 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 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 Electives if they complete an approved study abroad project and public presentation. 

Credit for Honors Electives, 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 Electives, which do not include 300-level 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-Vazquez (Foreign Languages), Jack Fruchtman Jr. (Political Science), Barry Gittlen (Philosophy & Religious Studies), Beth Haller (Mass Communication), William Kleinsasser (Music), Michael Korzi (Political Science), Cristina Magaldi (Music), Jonathan Mattanah (Psychology), Alison McCartney (Political Science), Steven Phillips (History), Erik Scully (Biological Sciences)

Associate Professors: Lillian Carter (Health Science), Michael Elliott (Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice), Erin Fehskens (English), Alhena Gadotti (History), Cynthia Ghent (Biological Sciences), Seth Gitter (Economics), Patrick Herbert (Health Science), Adam Jabbur (English), Ryan King-White (Kinesiology), Michael Masatsugu (History), Sonali Raje (Chemistry ), Jessica Shiller (Instructional Leadership & Professional Development), John Sivey (Chemistry ), Jonathan Vincent (English), Niya Werts (Health Science)

Assistant Professors: Salvatore Pappalardo (English), Bethany Willis Hepp (Family Studies & Community Development)

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