different not more

Honors Program Curriculum

Mind-Expanding Classes—Different, Not More

The Honors Program is meant to enrich your college experience rather than piling on extra work. To that end, we have designed a curriculum that allows you exemptions from certain core classes in exchange for completing levels of Honors coursework.

You also have flexibility in fulfilling upper lever Honors requirements—Honors electives, study abroad, writing a departmental honors paper or honors thesis—all of these qualify for Honors credit.

Honors classes are enhanced by field trips, guest speakers and a variety of hands-on activities and special projects. In keeping with the collaborative nature of the program, students meet as a group to decide on the topics of their senior seminars and suggest faculty they would like to teach them.


Students take two seminar classes, FYS101H in the fall semester and HON102 in the spring.


The fall seminar is co-taught by professors from different disciplines and explores a moral theme: the definition of evil through historical, sociological and philosophical lenses as well as its representation in literature and art. Students will acquire and hone skills in critical thinking, writing and speaking.

Class field trips for the fall seminar have included:

  • The National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.
  • Performances at Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, including a private session with a Holocaust survivor, Washington D.C.
  • Walking tour of war and political memorials, Washington D.C.
  • Performances at Wooly Mammoth Theatre, Washington D.C.
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.


In the spring semester, students may choose one of three different sections of HON102. Each section takes an interdisciplinary approach to the sciences and technology in relation to society. 

Some sample classes:

  • AIDs and Ethics
  • Are Humans Unique?
  • Plagues and Peoples
  • Technologies of Vision/Visions of Technology
  • GIS and Historical Studies
  • Nature’s Medicine Chest

Class field trips for the spring seminar have included: 

  • U.S. Botanic Garden, Washington, D.C.
  • National Museum of Civil War Medicine, Frederick, Md.
  • The National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
  • The National Building Museum, Washington D.C.
  • Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Md.


Students can choose from a menu of classes that focus on global issues and differing cultural perspectives for HON 201, the fall seminar.  They will be encouraged to imagine the world from many points of view and challenged to examine how they think about and interact with the global community. 

Sample classes:

  • Constructing Identity in North Africa
  • Religion and Empire
  • Pharaohs of the Sun: Akenaten to Tutankamun
  • Ethics and Globalization

Class field trips for HON 201 have included:

  • Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C. 
  • Islamic Center, Washington D.C.
  • Dinner at Marrakesh Palace, Washington, D.C.
  • Crime Museum, Washington D.C.


Students will work closely with a faculty advisor of their choice for the spring semester practicum. Each student chooses a social or intellectual problem to address, writes a research paper and works at an off-campus site, gaining experience and connections that may also lead to paid employment or help determine a future career. The broad, overarching theme of this class is social justice, but the sites students at which students have chosen to volunteer are many and varied.

Recent practicum sites have included: 

  • Heartly House 
  • Frederick Memorial Hospital
  • UNESCO Center for Peace
  • Delaplaine Visual Arts Center
  • David Trone Congressional Campaign
  • Legal Aid
  • Catoctin Nature Center
  • Civil War Medicine Museum
  • Lincoln Elementary School
  • Advanced Biofuels
  • Days End Farm
  • Monocacy National Battlefield 

Sample research papers:

  • “Power Shifting and Getting in Gear: The Youth Movement Toward a Sustainable Future” Site: Energy Action Coalition
  • “19th Century Health Care” Site: National Museum of Civil War Medicine 
  • “Environmental Justice Through the Eyes of the Deep Ecologist” Site: Catoctin Zoo 
  • “Slavery and Social Injustice”
  • “Acid Victims: A Spotlight on Social Injustices Faced by Women in South Asian Countries” Site: Frederick Memorial Hospital

Students choose upper-level honors electives from a wide array of options. Students may also elect to study abroad; sites chosen by Honors students include France, Spain, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Israel, Korea and New Zealand. Study abroad counts as one honors elective. Students who successfully complete a departmental honors paper also receive credit for one honors elective.

Sample Honors electives:

  • African Political Autobiography
  • Images of Women (team-taught by an archaeologist and a historian)
  • Law and Cyberspace (team-taught by a lawyer and a computer scientist)
  • Dante and Giotto (team-taught by a literary critic and an art historian)
  • Censorship in America (team-taught by a political scientist and a journalist)
  • Frederick – Colony to Suburb
  • Revisioning Motherhood in Modern Western Culture
  • The Chesapeake Bay
  • Philosophy of Music
  • American Landscapes: Environmental Literature in the US
  • Exploring Utopia
  • Orientalism and Egyptomania

Class field trips for upper-level electives have included:  

  • Dinner at Mediterranean Grill, Frederick, Md.
  • Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.
  • Maryland State Police Computer Forensics Lab, Columbia, Md.
  • Special Beginnings Birthing Center, Arnold, Md.
  • National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The senior seminar is a high point of the honors program. Students choose a topic of broad interest and select a faculty member to teach the course. Sample seminar classes:

  • Beauty and Culture
  • Investigating Serial Killers
  • Heroes and Monsters
  • The Politics of Music
  • Science Fiction: Text and Context
  • Shakespeare’s Tempest and its Ramifications
  • Doing and Undoing Gender
  • America in the Sixties

Honors 470 field trips have included:

  • Performance of "American Idiot" at the Hippodrome in Baltimore
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.