Honors Program

Join our group of scholars, a small, tight-knit community of students eager to learn, with a strong work ethic and keen interest in being pushed intellectually.

Start off the program with wide-ranging, interdisciplinary discussions in the Honors core courses. Later, each student will have the opportunity to work with a faculty member to develop a research project or scholarly activity. The balance between interdisciplinary discussions and creating a project in your field of study is invaluable preparation for academic work beyond an undergraduate degree.

Academic Benefits

  • Engaging and scholarly academic culture
  • Intellectual and ethical development
  • Appreciation of different perspectives
  • Small class sizes
  • Enhanced critical thinking skills
  • Research with faculty guidance
  • Increased breadth, depth and coherence of study
  • Opportunities for community service
  • Outside of the classroom, enjoy Honors trips, service opportunities, and fun social activities

You will also have access to the historic Adler House, our Honors Program hang-out spot. You'll feel right at home during study sessions and social events throughout the semester!

Download and share the Honors Brochure (pdf). For more information about each program, including application deadlines and forms, click on the links below. 

Honors Foundation Honors Research Experience

Frequently Asked Questions


How many students will be in the Honors Program?
Approximately 40 students accepted to the Honors program each fall.

Can AP credit be used to satisfy Honors requirements?
Sorry, but no. The interdisciplinary nature of the Honors core means that high school Advanced Placement courses cannot be used to waive courses in the Honors curriculum. However, many of our students have taken AP courses in high school which may meet some general education requirements.

Well, in that case, do I have to take more courses to graduate with Honors?
Nope. We designed the curriculum to complement any major. Honors courses fulfill some of SAU general education requirements and integrate into your degree program without increasing the number of required courses for graduation. It is, of course, important to work with your advisor to make sure everything fits the way it should.

Does Honors make sense for my major?
The Honors Program curriculum is designed to complement every major field of study. It will help you to prepare for graduate school, medical school, and beyond.

Can students of any major be in the Honors Program?
Absolutely! The variety of majors in the Honors Program is part of what makes it such a unique experience; students learn about other disciplines and the work each student is doing in his or her field.

Can a student enter Honors in their second or third semester?

What if I am planning to study abroad?
We strongly encourage our Honors students to take advantage of all academic opportunities including Study Abroad. There will be a lot of flexibility within Honors during the sophomore and junior year for study abroad. There may even be study abroad opportunities geared toward Honors students.

Suppose I try it and find it isn't for me. Can I withdraw?
Yes, of course. We hope that you will never regret your decision to participate in Honors, but if you change your mind, let us know and we will drop you from the program and cancel your Honors scholarship (if applicable).

Is there going to be any fun?
Absolutely! The Honors Program is committed to providing Honors students a rich curriculum of Honors-level courses, outstanding Honors faculty, and a challenging academic environment. Many opportunities are available to students to build lifelong friendships, develop long-term mentoring relationships with faculty, and collect memorable learning experiences. Exciting social activities will be scheduled each semester and you can make your own fun.

Application and Requirements

How do I apply to the Honors program?
You must first apply and be accepted to St. Ambrose University. Applying to the Honors Program is completed online and includes your academic record; significant extracurricular, community, and service activities; accomplishments, awards and talents; involvement in academic research; a 500-word essay; and a letter of recommendation attesting to academic eligibility.

Does a student need a 3.5 GPA/25 ACT for acceptance into the program? What GPA is required to stay in the Honors Program?
Not necessarily. Three admission criteria are considered: essay, GPA, and ACT.

Students must maintain a 3.25 average in order to remain in Honors Foundation and a 3.5 average in order to remain in Honors Research Experience.

What else makes an ideal candidate for the Honors Program?
Students who are intellectually curious, desire leadership skills, and value service are ideal candidates for the Honors Program. Such candidates enjoy reading, writing, and conversing about how a text or an argument, contributes to our understanding of the world in which we live.

About Honors Courses

Are these the same as the honors courses I took in high school?
No. Most high school honors courses are enriched or accelerated courses in a particular discipline, e.g. Honors English, Honors Math, or Honors History. Our Honors courses are interdisciplinary on special topics. This is one of the real strengths of our curriculum: it provides an opportunity to explore topics from myriad viewpoints and brings together students and faculty from diverse disciplines to investigate some of the big questions at the center of who and what we are. 

Are Honors courses much harder than regular college courses? And as an incoming freshman, will the Honors courses be too much for me to handle?
That depends on what you mean by "harder." The small size of Honors classes promotes a supportive atmosphere and encourages ongoing and significant discussion between students and their instructors. Honors classes are also consistently interesting. Students often find that the time they spend on their Honors courses seems to pass more quickly than when they are preparing for other classes.

The structure of the Honors Program is set up for gradual exposure to more difficult material. Though these classes will be challenging, they won't be too overwhelming and you will be in them with other Honors freshmen. Students in these classes often form study groups which are extremely helpful (and fun!). Also, your professors are available and willing to help.

Do Honors courses count toward general education requirements?
The type of general education requirements that are fulfilled will vary from year to year.

Will I feel separated from the rest of campus if some of my classes are only with Honors Program students?
Actually, you will find that you'll get to know a lot more people from around the campus by being in the Honors Program. This is because the friends that you make within the Program are from so many different majors, groups, and organizations. When you get acquainted, you will also get to know their groups of friends who aren't in the Program. You'll meet people from a variety of different groups because most Honors students are involved in many other campus activities besides the Honors Program. Because of this, you will not feel secluded at all.

Benefits of Honors

What is special about Honors education at St. Ambrose University?
The Honors Program offers a dedicated faculty, interdisciplinary courses, service, and unique scholarly projects. Honors classes are very small (representing a wide range of disciplines) and are based on active learning and critical engagement. This means that you learn by asking questions, writing, and interacting with your fellow classmates and faculty facilitators. Honors courses teach you to ask good questions and to find your own answers, instead of depending on authorities to tell you what is correct.

What are the top three benefits of a student participating in the honors program?
Research opportunities; preparation for graduate, medical, or law school; and the development of life-long friendships.

What exactly does it mean to graduate from the Honors Program?
Your involvement in the Honors Program indicates to a potential employer or graduate school that you were one of a very select group of university applicants who were academically strong enough to be considered for the program. While participation in the Honors Program does not guarantee success in the job market or graduate school, research shows that University honors graduates have an established track record of excellence and success.

But further, your involvement in Honors education demonstrates that you aren't content to just do the minimum, but you're willing to go the extra mile to develop your abilities and take full advantage of available opportunities.

Learning Communities

How do I apply to live in the Academic Community housing? Is it required?
It's not required. If you indicate that Academic Community housing is your preference upon being accepted to the Honors Program, your Honors application will serve as your application for housing.

Can Honors students still be in a Learning Community?
Absolutely! Students can be in both the Honors and Learning Community if their schedule allows.

What does it mean that there is a theme? How many themes are there each year?
Each year two themes will be chosen for the freshmen Honors courses, and each theme will be approached from four different disciplines throughout the year.


Marianne Fenn, PhD & Tanya Randle, PhD

Honors Program
2104 Main St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

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