The College Honors Program at Salem College offers academically talented students a community that pushes conventional scholarly boundaries in an effort to promote excellence. Honors Scholars interact with peers, prominent scholars, writers, business people, and community leaders in an effort to advance their critical thinking skills and their knowledge of the increasingly diverse world in which we live.

As a student in the College Honors Program, you will join a select group of young scholars who share your desire not only to succeed but also to excel. The College Honors curriculum is comprised of an ever-changing group of eclectic but rigorous classes developed to challenge, motivate, and excite students who desire to explore and understand the kinds of knowledge assumed to be necessary for educated reading, thinking, and learning to take place. 

Each year, a group of highly qualified incoming students is invited to join the College Honors Program. That group joins the upper-class Honors Scholars in an academic experience that will encourage connections between disciplines, between theory and practice, and between the individual and the wider community. 

At the conclusion of each semester, the director of the College Honors Program invites newly qualified students to take a place in the program. This flexibility enables students to begin the College Honors Program as incoming first-year students or as rising sophomores and juniors. 

The power of the College Honors Program is centered in its diversity of courses and its diversity of majors that students hold in the program. A biology major is likely to find herself sitting in an Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar on the films of Alfred Hitchcock with history, English, math, and religion majors, while a religion major might sit beside science and math majors in an Environmental Chemistry seminar. 

The culmination of the College Honors Program is an Honors Symposium that is held each year before graduation. Graduating Honors Scholars present the results of their honors thesis to the Salem community, friends, and family. This formal event is an exciting way to highlight the scholarly investigations that Honors Scholars have undertaken during their time in the program. 

Honors Scholars Who Graduate with College Honors

Honors Scholars who have graduated with College Honors have gone on to be some of Salem’s most successful alumnae. Several students have attended law school, some are in graduate or medical schools, and others are working in the public or private sector. Graduation with College Honors sets each student apart from others who compete for the same programs or positions. Graduate admission committees and potential employers understand that a student who completes the College Honors Program has been willing and able to take on some of the most rigorous courses Salem College offers. Such a distinction underscores the student’s work ethic, her tenacity, and her desire to learn.

What Students Say

Niya Fonville (law student at the University of Miami)
“Participation in the Salem Honors Program provides the opportunity to get an in-depth look at topics that are particularly interesting but may not fit within the standard curriculum. It gives professors the chance to explore their special interests. The fact that they are passionate about the topic carries over into the actual presentation of the material. I would argue that I experienced some of the most meaningful and intellectually stimulating classroom discourse in my honors courses and the honors independent studies allowed me to explore one of my own special interests while receiving academic credit.”

Heidi Schneble (graduate student in International Affairs and U.S. Foreign Policy at American University)  
“Challenging. Stimulating. Cultural. The Salem College Honors Program challenged me through high academic expectations but also by helping me find interests outside of my major. From French film and literature to the 1950s or the culture at the turn of the twentieth century, I developed a base of knowledge and interests that have continued into my career and graduate studies.”

Tristan Brooks (graduating senior)
“I have really enjoyed the option to 'honorize' a class, or work with my professors and add extra work to the required class work so that I could complete an honors option. Salem is small enough to afford students a rare opportunity, which is to work with professors who are not only friendly, inviting, and approachable, but who are also willing to work with you in and outside of classroom so that you may further your academic experience.   

As a medical school hopeful, I am aware of the intense competition for admission. Beginning as a freshman at Salem, I was encouraged to employ every venue available to set myself apart from other qualified applicants. For this reason, I chose to complete the College Honors Program.  When I do apply to medical school, to graduate school, or even for a job, I know my work in the College Honors Program will set me apart from other dedicated people with the same passion as mine.”

Bethany Long (first-year student)
“The College Honors Program demanded that I think more deeply than any prior course work could. This was a truly mind-altering experience.”

Jessie Coulter (graduating senior)

“The Honors Program is where it's at for inquisitive and motivated women. Working on an Honors Independent Study is a fabulous way to answer that little question that's always been in the back of your mind, such as, `Is there a common thread in the work of all those female writers I love?’ or `Who came up with that ideology and how does it affect me?’ or `How do music and math relate to each other?’ Completing honors work makes a student feel like she can handle almost anything that comes her way.”

The Faculty

Teaching College Honors courses brings great joy and intellectual fulfillment to the faculty who work in the program. These courses enable faculty to teach in areas in which their interest is greatest. In the College Honors Program, you will find a professor of modern languages teaching a course on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, an English professor teaching a seminar about the effects Darwin’s theory of evolution had on Victorian writers, and a music professor leading students to investigate how myth, poetry, and music reflect the values of a specific era. The following are some of the more recent offerings from the College Honors Program:

  • Images of Women in French Literature and Film
  • Black Women Writers of the 19th Century: “The Women’s Era”
  • Myth, Music and Cultural Values
  • The History of Emotion
  • The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Art, Music and Literature of the Harlem Renaissance
  • Hiroshima: The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Women at War: Allied and Axis, 1939-1945
  • Baroque Art, Music and Literature: The Age of Extravagance