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Academic Requirements

Students in the Honors Program are expected to maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.20.

To complete the Honors Program, students must take at least 24 credit hours of honors level courses. Students fulfill this requirement by taking a combination of specially designated honors courses, contract courses, and a course in which they complete the required honors thesis. Students may also use a maximum of two Writing Intensive (WI) courses beyond the all-college requirements toward the completion of the honors program.

Designated Honors Courses:
Specially designated honors courses are offered in a variety of General Education categories, including GE-2 (Prejudice and Discrimination), GE-3 (Contrasting Cultures), GE-4 (Fine Arts), GE-5 (History and the History of Ideas), and GE-7 (Science, Technology and Culture). In addition, a few majors now offer honors sections of their courses. Some of the courses offered through the General Education program and in the majors are unique to the Honors Program and others are special honors sections of courses offered to the general student population.

A series of seminar-style classes, reserved exclusively for Honors students and limited to 15-20 students each, is the core of the program. All of the classes are taught by some of the most experienced and dedicated faculty at SUNY Cortland.

The first part of the sequence is "The Artist in Modern Society." Also known as the Freshman Honors Seminar, this course introduces students to forms of creativity and artistic expression in the Western tradition.

Other examples of courses in the sequence include:

  • Modern Western Thought - an exploration of major figures in the development of contemporary ideas
  • Science, Technology, and Culture - a class devoted to understanding the scientific concepts and technological changes that have shaped modern life
  • Social Problems and Issues in Sport - an exploration of ways in which issues in sport correspond to issues in society
  • Introduction to Western Literature - a study of the greatest literary works of Western culture, from Homer to Shakespeare
  • Cultural Geography - an introduction to the variety of possibilities in human culture
  • Politics and Multiculturalism - a study of the relationship between politics and culture

Every course in the sequence fulfills a requirement in SUNY Cortland's General Education Program.

Contract courses:
Contract courses are regular courses that students take for honors credit. The student establishes a contract with the faculty member teaching the course that spells out the additional work that the student will do for honors credit. Contract courses may be taken in the major or outside of the major, but no more than two contract courses may be counted towards the 24 hours needed to complete the honors program. Guidelines for taking contract courses are available in the Honors Program office.

Writing Intensive Courses:
Writing Intensive (WI) courses are specially designated courses that emphasize the development of writing skills. All students at Cortland must complete two WI courses in order to graduate. Honors Program students may count an additional two WI courses (but no more than two) towards the 24 hours needed to complete the honors program.

Honors Thesis:
The honors thesis is a requirement for completing the honors program. Guidelines for completing the thesis are available in the Honors Program office. Students must complete the thesis for credit by taking an independent study in their major or a course in their major in which the thesis can be completed as a course assignment. For example, many majors offer senior research seminars to their students. These seminars make excellent vehicles for completing the honors thesis.