Honors Program

College Scholars Catherine O’Keefe and Eric Spioch graduated in 2013; currently, Catherine is a research technician at the Burke Rehabilitation Center (NY) and Eric is programs intern at the Project on Middle East Democracy (DC). content


Stretch yourself for the honors program

If you are exceptionally motivated to learn, to lead, and to get involved in the academic community, you may be invited into the Honors Program.

At a college recognized for changing lives, the McDaniel Honors Program challenges students to develop their intellectual potential as leaders for change in their local and global communities. In particular, our program focuses on honing students’:

  • appreciation for challenges of change
  • leadership
  • integrity
  • project development

Instituted by the faculty in 1986, the McDaniel Honors Program offers academic enrichment to exceptionally motivated and enthusiastic students who join a community of scholars dedicated to academic rigor in the study of the liberal arts while living in an environment conducive to the exchange of ideas. The program opens doors to challenging courses in diverse disciplines. Honors students pursue academic careers that demonstrate their intellectual curiosity, integrity, and commitment to leadership in the McDaniel community.

Put simply, the McDaniel Honors Program sharpens the focus of the liberal arts experience. Detailed information about the Honors Program can be found in the Honors Program Handbook and the College Catalog.

Dr. Bryn Upton, Director


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Honors Curriculum

Honors seminars are discussion-based and allow students from diverse disciplines to dive into advanced topics. The Honors Program is designed to complement any major or student-designed program. Because honors electives fulfill one or more general education requirements, completing the honors curriculum does not require additional coursework, but rather offers a flexible, customized path through the liberal arts experience.

Students who complete the following program requirements receive the designation of College Scholar.

  • Overall GPA of 3.5 or better
  • Demonstrate intellectual and moral character befitting a member of the Honors Program
    HON 1200 Honors A to Z (2 credits; fall of 1st year)
  • HON 2201 Great Works (4 credits; spring of 1st year)
  • HON 2265 Honors Applied (2 credits; fall or spring of 2nd year)
  • HON 3200 Journal Club (2 credits, fall or spring of 3rd year)
  • Three honors modules, selecting from among the following:
    • Honors electives (4 credit courses that also fulfill general education requirements; may sometimes fulfill a major or minor requirement as well; must meet one or more of the four student learning outcomes)
    • Honors-enriched experiences (maximum of 2 allowed; may range from 1-4 credits; at least one should be in the major field of study)
    • Study abroad (each semester abroad counts as one honors module)
  • HON 4491 Senior Honors Colloquium (2 credits; spring of senior year)
  • Completion of a College Scholars Project (4 credits; senior year, met by pursuing departmental honors or proposing a distinct project)
Picture of the inside of the Honor Program housing.  departments

Honors Perks

At McDaniel College, everything is in place to help honors students customize their education to match interests and fuel ambitions.


Honors housing

Honors students can select to live in Daniel McLea Hall with other members of the honors program. This suite-style living space is air-conditioned and was renovated in 2013. Forlines house is a popular option for additional honors housing. Living in honors housing is not required, but it is a great way to meet like-minded peers and continue conversations begun in the classroom.

Priority registration

Honors students register for classes in the first group of their respective class years, helping to relieve some of the stress that can come with the demands of balancing a complex schedule.

Unique courses

Faculty members design unique and challenging courses just for our honors students. These courses are small, discussion-based and allow students to dive into complex subjects in diverse fields without the need to take introductory courses first. Because these courses meet general education requirements that students need anyway, they fit easily into the McDaniel experience. Students help to determine the line-up of courses and have recently taken courses such as:

  • Nanotechnology
  • The Hero’s Journey
  • The Arab World
  • The Zombie Apocalypse
  • Logic, Knowledge, and Interaction
  • Serving LGBT Communities
  • The Nature of Science
  • Childhood in America

An honors-only study space

Between classes honors students relax in a space they dubbed the “Room of Requirement” and enjoy popcorn, hot cocoa, board games, or just a quiet space to study.

The honors-only study lounge.

Extended library loan

Honors students can check out materials from Hoover Library for three months at a time, sidestepping pesky overdue notices.

Unique study abroad opportunities

The McDaniel Honors Program is a member of the Principia Consortium, allowing students to study abroad with other honors students from across the country at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. These students complete an honors course on the Scottish Enlightenment and have access to any of the other courses offered at the University, including a course on Bagpipes and an Anatomy course that allows students to work with a cadaver.

Special trips and events

From the statehouse in Annapolis to embassy row, think tanks, and cultural centers in nearby Washington, D.C., students rub shoulders and exchange ideas with policy makers and performing artists through annual honors program trips thanks to the connections created by networked professors. In addition, the program hosts an annual honors lecture bringing renowned researchers to our campus. Our students plan and participate in service events such as Night of Nets, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and Relay for Life and bring their creative flair to picnics, banquets, and receptions.

A fire dancer lit up red square in the center of campus for one senior banquet. Photo credit: Mara Seibert (’13)
A fire dancer lit up red square in the center of campus for one senior banquet. Photo credit: Mara Seibert '13

Access to the honors alumni network

Honors students join a network of over 400 honors alumni who provide mentorship to current students and help connect them to post-graduate opportunities.

Leadership opportunities

Honors students present their research at regional and national conferences. On campus, honors students are leaders among leaders and are well-represented in every group from team captains to the first-year council to the student government association. Within the honors program students have an active voice and can run for positions on the student executive board. These positions include:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Historian
  • Housing Manager
  • Events Coordinator
  • Public Relations Coordinator
  • Community Service Coordinator
  • First-Year Representative

Mentorship by the program directors

The honors directors serve as additional advisors for honors students, meeting with them to put opportunities in their pathways and help them make the most of their McDaniel experience.

Official recognition as a "College Scholar"

Upon completing the program students are officially named College Scholars and this honors is noted on their transcripts. Students wear special cords at graduation and are recognized at the spring awards ceremony and at commencement.

In the News

McDaniel Honors students are active in the community. You can read about some of their recent events and learn more about the challenges that excite them in these features.

Prominent math education expert to present lecture



McDaniel senior named Maryland top honors student



Honors students serve LGBT communities through their projects



New digital currency captures research interests of student and professor



Story featuring Emma Wingerd and her thoughts about her trip to France with the Green Terror Basketball team



Junior political science major’s career explorations not limited to earth



Students fly to Morocco for conference on the Muslim world



Honors course prompts students to explore perspectives on leadership



Four student projects receive Griswold-Zepp awards.



Service learning connects students to ideas of religious movement leaders



Honors class launches website investigating romantic



McDaniel to host statewide honors students


Gaming comes full circle

On Einstein, politics and relativity



Finding Jung in Wagner’s ‘Ring’



In search of common ground



Three seniors recognized for history research at regional conference



High honors presented at Commencement



Probing particle physics



Real-life lessons in the liberal arts empower alumnae’s passion



‘Best of Fest’ promotes solutions to pressing conservation issues.



Jeff Groff ’01 named 2013 Honors alumnus



Admission to the McDaniel Honors Program

Admission to the McDaniel Honors Program is highly selective and designed to identify students who applications demonstrate intellectual curiosity, an intrinsic motivation to learn, and potential as leaders in the McDaniel community. Students may enter the program as first-year students, as rising sophomores, or upon transferring to McDaniel College.

Prospective students

Students who apply by January 1st and who are in the top 10% of the applicant pool are invited to apply to the Honors Program based on a combination of their core high school GPA, SAT verbal and math scores, writing samples, honors classes, AP classes, class ranks, and any other areas of significant achievement. Any student may request that his or her application be reviewed for consideration for an invitation to apply to the Honors Program. As a point of reference, recent applicants have had an average SAT math+verbal score of 1350 and an average GPA of 3.85; in addition, these students completed many honors, AP, and IB courses (when available), and pursued an average of 4 years of foreign language in high school.

Rising sophomores

Interested students who have demonstrated their potential as honors students in their first semesters at McDaniel College may apply to join the program at the start of their sophomore year. These students should alert their advisor of their interest in applying to the program early in the spring of their first year. The faculty advisory committee for the Honors Program reviews these applications and makes final decisions regarding admittance. Typically 2-4 students are invited to join the program each year. These students must complete the same requirements as honors students selected during the admissions process.

Transfer students

Transfer students who have achieved a GPA of at least 3.75 are invited to apply to the program on an individual basis. McDaniel College has articulation agreements with the honors programs at Carroll Community College, Frederick Community College, and Louisburg College in South Carolina. Students transferring to the McDaniel Honors Program complete a modified set of program requirements, as agreed upon with the Director.

Students with questions about applying to the McDaniel Honors Program should contact Admissions at 800-638-5005 or use this form to request more information.

Picture of a happy graduate at commencement.  departments

Honors Alumni

What do honors students do after they graduate? Here’s a sampling:

  • Assistant Professor of Development Biology in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park
  • Pursuing a Juris Doctorate at American University
  • Curator at the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester, CT
  • Investigative Specialist with the FBI pursuing a graduate degree focused on furthering a career in the United States Intelligence Community
  • Pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at the University of Florida
  • Ed .M. Candidate, Higher Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Associate Research Scientist at Yale
  • Teen and Children's Services Librarian for the County of Los Angeles Public Library
  • Assistant Professor at Duke University in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology and an Investigator in the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy
  • Professional Ballroom, Latin, and Swing Dancer
  • Breast Surgeon at St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ
  • In the 3rd year of a pediatric Endocrinology fellowship at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City
  • Stage Managing (and occasionally acting) at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster, PA
  • Coordinator for Wellness Communications at the University of Maryland in the Division of Student Affairs
  • Working as an assistant teacher at an orphanage in Guatemala
  • Attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to pursue an MFA
  • Research assistant with Baltimore law firm
  • Study in Morocco on a State Department Critical Languages Scholarship
  • Primary school teacher in Accra, Ghana
  • Software engineer for a defense contractor
  • Research assistant at a virology lab at Fort Detrick
  • Folklife intern at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum with plans to pursue a graduate degree and career in Museum Studies