Honors Program Handbook

This handbook is an attempt to clarify some policies and procedures of the College and of the Honors Program. It does not take the place of or supersede the College Catalog.

From the Director
Welcome to the SUNY Oswego Honors Program! Students entering the Honors Program usually have a lot of questions, and this Handbook is an attempt to answer them. One of the first questions students have is: What is the Honors Program? The best place to start answering that question is to understand that every student at SUNY Oswego has General Education requirements: distribution requirements in math, English, the social sciences, the natural sciences, humanities and fine arts, and Western heritage. The only students who don't have Gen Ed requirements are students in the Honors Program. The Honors Program is a curriculum that substitutes for General Education, centering on a core of six courses that cover history, social science, the arts, and natural science.

What makes the Honors core courses different from traditional courses? Two things. First, traditional courses usually present material from one field of study; for example, in an economics class, you'd look at health care only from an economic standpoint. The Honors core courses are multi-disciplinary: they explore ideas from a variety of perspectives. Instead of studying health care from only one point of view, you'll examine it in a variety of ways: social, political, historical, psychological, and economic. This is how people think about things in real life. The second difference between Honors core courses and traditional courses is that Honors courses emphasize ideas rather than information. We want you to become a critical thinker. Critical, as in analytical, not as in criticize. Our goal is to help you learn to think carefully about other people's ideas and your own ideas - think about where they come from, who they effect, how they affect them, who wins, who loses, what assumptions and values they're based on - and to help you learn to discuss them thoroughly and thoughtfully, learn to respect others' ideas, learn to have confidence in your own ideas, and learn to communicate them clearly. In short, the goal of the Honors Program is to help you become a more thoughtful, more independent, consumer of ideas - and information. Our emphasis is on the process of learning to think rather than on having a lot of specific material to memorize.

Another question that students frequently have about the Honors Program is: Why was I picked to be a student in the Honors Program? Every Spring, we invite the top 5% if the entering class (using a formula based on their high school averages, SAT scores, and class standings) to join the Honors Program. About 50% of this group accepts. And if someone wasn't invited but still wants to be in the Program, we'll give them a shot at it. We have students from every discipline - from Anthropology to Zoology - and a large number of 'Undeclared's as well.

So, what does the Honors Program do for you? Honors classes are smaller than many others. You receive individual attention from Honors faculty and the Honors Director. You'll become part of a small, supportive network of students and faculty who work closely with you and who care about you, your ideas, your needs, your goals, and your education. And there are studies that show that Honors graduates have an edge when it comes to applying for a job or for graduate school admission. Bottom line: the rewards are intellectual, emotional, and maybe financial.

I look forward to working with you, both in class and out. My student assistants and I are ready, willing, and able to help you with whatever difficulties or concerns you may face. Please don't hesitate to call (312-2190), e-mail (robert.moore@oswego.edu), or drop in (221 Campus Center). And have a great four years!

Best wishes,

Dr. Robert Moore
Director, College Honors Program

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Adding Courses
Students may add courses for about a week-and-a-half after the semester begins. There are 2 ways to add an open course: on-line (at http://myoswego.oswego.edu) or using a Drop/Add form. (You must use a Drop/Add form to enter a closed course.) Pick up a Drop/Add form at the Honors office -- and check there or on-line for the last date to add a course. The Drop/Add form must be signed by the course instructor and, under some circumstances, by the Honors Director (as your advisor) and by the Chair of the Department offering the course. It is important to discuss adding a course with the Honors office, to prevent mistakes and to keep your record accurate and up-to-date. Note that the last day to add a course is not the same as the last day to drop a course!

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Advanced Placement
Students who have successfully completed Advanced Placement courses, or any other courses for which they have received (or will be receiving) college credit, should be sure that the credit for those courses is transferred to SUNY Oswego. It is your responsibility to pursue this. SUNY Oswego counts all AP and similar credits towards graduation, but not every AP course necessarily fills a requirement for you. For example, if you have 3 AP credits in Psychology, they will count towards the 122 credits you need to graduate. In addition, if you have Psychology as a requirement for your major or are using it for Honors, it will meet these requirements as well. If you do not need it for your major or are not using it for Honors, you just get the three credits towards graduation, like an elective. To find out how this applies to you, see your major advisor.

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Advisement
All students entering the Honors Program as freshmen are advised by a member of the Honors Program faculty. After freshman year, all Honors Program students are advised by the Honors Program Director or Associate Director to ensure that they meet their Honors requirements. Once students declare a major, they are advised each semester both by the Honors Program Director or Associate Director (for their Honors requirements) and by an advisor in their major (for their major requirements).

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CLEP Tests
CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, a series of tests you can take for about $60 per test, which, if you pass, will give you college credit. Currently, you can test on, and receive credit for, any of the following courses: CSC 101, ECO 101, ECO 200, ENG 235, ENG 236, FRE 101, FRE 102, FRE 201, FRE 202, GER 101, GER 102, GER 201, GER 202, HIS 100, HIS 101, HIS 202, HIS 203, MAT 120, MAT 210, MAT 220, POL 205, PSY 100, PSY 200, PSY 330, SOC 100, SPA 101, SPA 102, SPA 201, and SPA 202. CLEP is an inexpensive way to pick up college credits. CLEP tests are given each month. Before taking the CLEP test, you must fill out an Off-Campus Study Approval form, available from the Honors Program office. For more information about CLEP tests, call the Office of Extended Learning at 2270.

Students seem to be most interested in the language tests. A passing grade will give you 12 credits in French, German, or Spanish, the equivalent of 101, 102, 201, and 202. Because it only goes up to the 202 level, the CLEP test does not exempt you from the Honors language requirement, i.e., language at the 301 level.

To get the full 12 credits, you must take the CLEP test before you enroll in any language course at SUNY Oswego. After you take the CLEP test, you cannot take a language course below the 301 level. If you do, you will lose some of your CLEP credits. For example, if you pass the CLEP test then take Language 202, you will lose 3 of your 12 CLEP credits.

If you are already enrolled in a language course at SUNY Oswego, you may still take the CLEP test, but you must take it before you complete the course. Passing the CLEP test will then give you 9 language credits.

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Computer Literacy
Honors Program students can fulfill their Computer Literacy requirement in one of several ways:

  1. Graphic Design majors must take Art 207.
  2. Students majoring in Broadcasting, Public Relations, or Journalism must take either CSC 101.
  3. Accounting, Business, Finance, Human Resource Management, and Marketing majors must take CSC 101.
  4. Biology and Zoology majors may take either BIO 289 or CSC 101.
  5. Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are exempt from the Computer Literacy requirement.
  6. All other students must take CSC 101 OR may place out of this requirement by passing the Computer literacy Waiver exam, given on the Sunday just before classes begin each semester.

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Core Courses
The Honors Program contains a core of six courses: Honors 140, Honors 141, Honors 200, Honors 201, Honors 300, and Honors 301. These courses form the basis of the student's Honors core GPA. (Honors 150 and 350 are also required, but are not part of the Honors core and do not figure into the Honors GPA.)

The Honors core courses are intended to be taken in sequence. Each is offered only once a year. Over four year, this becomes:

Freshman Year/1st Semester
HON 140 or 141
HON 150 (1 credit)
(ENG 204)

Freshman Year/1st Semester
HON 141 or 140
(ENG 204)

Sophomore Year/1st Semester
HON 200

Sophomore Year/2nd Semester
HON 201

Junior Year/1st Semester
HON 300
HON 350 (1 credit)

Junior Year/2nd Semester
HON 301
(Continue Honors Thesis work)

Senior Year/1st Semester
(Continue Honors Thesis work)

Senior Year/2nd Semester
(Complete Honors Thesis)

There will always be students who cannot take the courses at the appropriate times, such as those student teaching or studying overseas. Students in these situations will need to plan for this and assume they will be doubling up on core courses at some point, either before or after the semester away from campus.

Sometimes, other students are also unable to take a core course at the appropriate time. This happens regularly in the natural sciences and occasionally in other areas, usually because a required course in the major is offered at the same time as the Honors core course. Students in this situation will also have to double up on their Honors core courses in a subsequent semester.

This doubling up should not present a problem or delay a student's graduation if he or she has been taking courses along the way that meet the Honors or major requirements.

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Dropping Courses
Students may drop courses for about two weeks after the semester begins. There are 2 ways to drop a course: on-line (at http://myoswego.oswego.edu) or using a Drop/Add form. Pick up a Drop/Add form at the Honors Program office -- and check there or on-line for the last date to drop a course. The Drop/Add form must be signed by the course instructor. It is important to discuss dropping a course with the Honors office, to prevent mistakes and to keep your record accurate and up-to-date. Note that the last day to drop a course is not the same as the last day to add a course!

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English Requirement
Students in the Honors Program are required to pass English 204 (Writing about Literature). This course is more advanced than basic composition: it is intended to help students develop their critical thinking skills; it uses writing to help students think critically about literature and uses literature as a focus for developing students' writing skills.

English 204 may not be taken Pass-Fail and may not be taken off-campus.

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General Education
Most students at SUNY Oswego have General Education requirements to fulfill, such as three courses in the social sciences and two math courses. Students in the Honors Program do not have to meet General Education requirements. Honors Program requirements substitute for General Education requirements.

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GPA Requirements
To graduate from the Honors Program, students must have a 3.0 GPA overall (B), a 3.3 GPA in their major (B+), and a 3.3 (B+) in the Honors Core (Honors 140, 141, 200, 201, 300, and 301). Students’ overall GPAs will be examined at the end of the first semester of their sophomore year. Students with an overall GPA below 3.0 will have until the end of the second semester of their sophomore year to raise their overall GPA to 3.0 or above. A student whose overall GPA remains below 3.0, for two consecutive semesters, at the end of their sophomore year, may be dropped from the Honors Program.

In addition to the GPA requirements, in order to graduate from the Honors Program, students must pass Honors 150 (or be waived out of it by the Honors Director) and Honors 350. Successful completion of the Honors Program requirements is noted at graduation and is recorded on the student’s transcript.

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Honors 150: Introduction to Honors
Honors 150 is a 1-credit freshman seminar that introduces Honors Program students to critical thinking, to inter-disciplinary thinking, and to the Honors Program itself. Honors 150 does not contribute to a student's Honors Core GPA. This course may not be taken Pass-Fail.

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Honors 350: Beginning the Honors Thesis
Honors 350 (formerly Honors 400) is a 1-credit course that helps students begin work on their Honors thesis. The course is normally taken during the first semester of a student's junior year. Students who anticipate being overseas at that time should make prior, alternate arrangements with the Honors Director. Honors 350 does not contribute to a student's Honors Core GPA, but students must pass Honors 350 in order to graduate from the Honors Program. Honors 350 has two purposes: (1) to help students create a quality honors thesis, and (2) to help students complete this thesis on time; that is, before their scheduled graduation. To this end, students in this seminar select a thesis topic, choose two thesis advisors, and develop a thesis proposal with their advisors - including a statement of the thesis topic, a hypothesis, a description of the major tasks needed to complete the thesis, a review of the resources the thesis will draw upon, and a timetable for the thesis project. In other words, students in Honors 350 actively begin serious work on their Honors thesis. To help students with these tasks, they meet regularly with other Honors students who are working on their thesis projects and with the Director of the Honors Program to discuss thesis requirements, mutual problems, and possible solutions.

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Human Diversity
Students who graduate from SUNY Oswego must take two Human Diversity courses, in different areas. Students in the Honors Program may take any two approved Human Diversity courses, appropriate to the year they entered SUNY Oswego, found in the General Education section of the course newspaper. Human Diversity courses may also meet requirements in the student's major. Human Diversity courses may not be taken Pass-Fail.

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International Study
See Overseas Study.

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Language Requirement
Students in the Honors Program are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language. They may do this in one of several ways:

  1. By continuing the same language from middle school and/or high school through the 202 level; or
  2. By completing a new language through the 102 level; or
  3. Earning 12 credits on the CLEP test.

The course used to satisfy the language requirement may not be taken Pass-Fail.

In addition, candidates for a degree in a natural science (Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Meteorology, or Physics) may meet the Honors Program foreign language requirement by passing both German 125 (German for Reading) and 126 (German for Research). These courses may not be taken Pass-Fail.

A good rule of thumb is that one year of high school language equals one semester of college language. So, for example, four years of high school French puts a student somewhere at the 200 level at SUNY Oswego.

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Majors and Minors
Students in the Honors Program may major or minor in any program available at the College. (Note that admission to some majors is limited and by application only: Accounting, Business, Management, Marketing, Broadcasting, Communications, Childhood Education, Adolescent Education, and Psychology.)

Students at SUNY Oswego may declare up to two majors and one minor or one major and two minors. (You are not required to have a minor.) You must declare a major by the end of your sophomore year.

Once you declare a major, you will be advised each semester both by the Honors Program Director (for your Honors requirements) and by an advisor in your major (for your major requirements).

You declare a major or a minor, add a second major, or change majors or minors with a Declaration of Major Form, obtainable from the Honors Program office.

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Mathematics Requirement
Students in the Honors Program may satisfy their math requirement in one of three ways. First, students in a major that has a math requirement satisfy the Honors math requirement by passing the approved math course for their major. So, students majoring in Accounting, Business, Finance, Human Resource Management, Management Information Systems, Operations Analysis, Marketing, or Technology Management must take MAT 208. Students majoring or concentrating in Applied Mathematics, Applied Mathematical Economics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Decision Science, Economics, Engineering, Geology, International Trade, Mathematics, Meteorology, Physics, or Zoology must take MAT 210. Students majoring or concentrating in Biology must take either MAT 179 or MAT 210. Students majoring in Childhood Education must take MAT 106 and 206.

Second, all other students may take either MAT 203 or MAT 210. Courses used to satisfy the Honors Program math requirement may not be taken Pass-Fail.

Third, students may satisfy the Honors Program math requirement with Advanced Placement credit in Calculus (or by having received college credit for Calculus before they enter Oswego as freshmen).

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Minors
See Majors and Minors.

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Natural Science Requirement
Students in the Honors Program are required to take two 4-credit laboratory courses in the natural sciences: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Physics, or Zoology. These courses may not be taken Pass-Fail.

Childhood Education majors with a Science concentration may use their concentration core requirements to fulfill the Honors Program science requirements. These courses may not be taken Pass-Fail.

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Overseas Study
Honors Program students who wish to study overseas are encouraged to do so (although it is not required in any way). The College provides a number of overseas study programs, both under its own auspices and in conjunction with other SUNY schools. For information, please contact the International Education Office, Swetman Hall.

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Pass-Fail
Students who are juniors or seniors and have a 2.0 minimum cumulative GPA, may take a course Pass-Fail. A student who earns a D- or better in a Pass-Fail course will receive a P on his or her transcript, instead of the letter grade. This P is not figured into the GPA.

To take a course Pass-Fail, students should pick up a Pass-Fail form from the Honors Program office. This form must be submitted to the Registrar's Office during the add period -- about the first week-and-a-half of the semester.

Students may take only one Pass-Fail course per semester and no more than four Pass-Fail courses during their entire college career.

Students may not take Pass-Fail courses in their major, minor, or concentration; or courses used to satisfy cognate requirements in the major, minor, or concentration; or courses that satisfy Honors Program requirements (although prerequisites for Honors requirements may be taken Pass-Fail if the above conditions are met).

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Presidential Scholarships
Many students in the Honors Program are recipients of a Presidential Scholarship. However, many Presidential Scholars - and their parents - are unclear about the conditions governing these scholarships. Please be aware of the following:

  1. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or above to retain the Presidential Scholarship. This GPA is calculated at the end of each academic year, not at the end of each semester. So, if a student's overall GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of the Fall semester, he or she has the Spring semester to bring it back up.
  2. If a student's overall GPA falls below 3.0 at the end of the academic year, he or she will lose the Presidential Scholarship for the following year. If the student brings his or her overall GPA back above 3.0 at the end of that second year, the scholarship is not automatically reinstated; the student must apply to have it reinstated. Contact Dr. Joseph Grant, Vice President for Development, whose office administers the Presidential Scholarships. Please note that Presidential Scholarship reinstatement is not guaranteed, even with a 3.0 overall GPA, but is contingent on available funding.
  3. If a student leaves SUNY Oswego for whatever reason, either voluntarily or as a result of academic disqualification, and then returns, the Presidential Scholarship is not automatically reinstated. Again, the student must apply to have it reinstated, by contacting Dr. Grant. And again please note that Presidential Scholarship reinstatement is not guaranteed, even with a 3.0 overall GPA, but is contingent on available funding. (If a student is academically disqualified, takes courses at another college, and is then reinstated to Oswego, he or she must re-establish an overall GPA of at least 3.0 at Oswego before being considered for Presidential Scholarship reinstatement.)

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Scholarships
The Honors Program has a small amount of scholarship money for students entering their sophomore, junior, or senior years. Application deadline is April 15. Every effort will be made to inform recipients before the end of that academic year, and the money (or grant) will be awarded for the following academic year. For applications, contact the SUCO Foundation, King Alumni Hall.

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Science Requirement
See Natural Science Requirement.

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Social Science Requirement
Students in the Honors Program satisfy their social science requirement by passing HON 200 and by passing any approved social science course found in the Social and Behavioral Sciences section of the General Education Knowledge Foundations. (Please remember that some majors have their own social science requirements. Consult the Undergraduate Catalog to see if your major has a social science requirement.) These courses may not be taken Pass-Fail.

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Thesis
To graduate from the Honors Program, students must complete an Honors Thesis during their junior and senior years. The Honors Thesis allows students to explore a topic of interest more fully than they could in a classroom setting. Further, it gives them an opportunity to strengthen their analytical abilities, their research or creative techniques, and their writing skills. Students will normally employ an approach to their Honors Thesis that is appropriate to their particular field of study. For example, students in the sciences could do projects based on laboratory research; students in the humanities could do library research; students in the social sciences might conduct survey research or an experiment; students in the fine and performing arts can submit creative works; students in business could do a case study. But no particular approach is required; the method of study is to be determined by the student and his or her thesis advisors. The purpose of the Honors Thesis is to encourage students to think more fully about ideas they have been exposed to and to explore their own ideas in some depth. The Honors Thesis is not meant to be Masters or Doctoral level; it is meant to be of the highest undergraduate quality in its writing, methodology, accuracy, clarity, and presentation. The topic must be one that can be successfully pursued in four semesters as part of a normal undergraduate course load, typically one semester to decide on a topic, get advisors, and prepare a work outline; one semester to do library background work; one semester to do the research or project; and one semester to write and revise the thesis. Students are required to take Honors 350, Beginning the Honors Thesis, during the first semester of their junior year. At that time, the student will discuss a topic with a potential thesis advisor, prepare a thesis proposal and timetable, and secure a second thesis advisor. The thesis is intended to be a collaboration between the student and the two thesis advisors. These advisors work closely with the student at every step of the process, from the inception of the thesis through to its completion, guiding, reading, and ultimately approving the thesis. Once the thesis is completed to their satisfaction, these faculty will then sign and date a Thesis Signature Page (obtainable from the Honors Program Office). This signed page, and one copy of the thesis, are to be filed with the Honors Director, who reviews the thesis to ensure that it meets all Honors Thesis requirements and, if it does, will then sign the completed copy. For graduation purposes, the signed thesis constitutes the only official documentation that the student has completed the thesis requirement. Additional information about the Honors Thesis can be found here.

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Withdrawing from Honors
Students may withdraw from the Honors Program any time after they have completed at least one semester in the Program. Withdrawing students should discuss their decision with the Honors Director or Associate Director and must then complete a Withdrawal from Honors form, obtained from the Honors Program office. This has three purposes. First, it formally and officially withdraws the student from the Honors Program. Second, it allows the Program and the Registrar's Office to keep track of the student’s status. Third, it allows the Program to inform the student’s major advisor which General Education requirements the student has fulfilled through his or her Honors courses. Note that withdrawal from the Program does not withdraw a student from any classes. Students must withdraw from classes through the Registrar’s Office in Culkin Hall.

Students who leave the Honors Program but do not complete the necessary paperwork put their subsequent advisement and fulfillment of their graduation requirements in jeopardy. Therefore, it is imperative that students withdrawing from the Honors Program complete a Withdrawal from Honors form.

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Copyright (2008) SUNY Oswego College Honors Program.