Mission and Values

Honors Program Trip to Ireland- group photo at Baggot Steet

The honors program is a vibrant learning community within the life of Saint Joseph’s College. It offers high achieving, intellectually curious students an enhanced academic experience with corresponding extra-curricular activities, all of which reflect and engage the college’s core values and mission in the Mercy Tradition in an intentional way.

Because any meaningful community depends upon bonds built over time, the honors seminar is at the heart of the program, as it consistently brings together a small group of students and dedicated faculty members from the beginning to the end of the students’ experience at the college. Specifically, each year, with their cohort peers, students in the program take a special honors seminar that provides them a unique path to fulfill core-curriculum requirements for all students at the college. These exclusive honors seminars are based on the multi-faceted value of sustainability that animates the college’s core curriculum. And because Saint Joseph’s College is a Catholic college, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, each honors seminar inflects its approach to sustainability according to the Mercy Tradition’s commitment to humility, justice, and compassion in solidarity with the marginalized.

  • Sustainability of Knowledge (the Freshman experience), aims to help students think well about how to think and become independent life-long learners with a compassionate orientation to the good of others.
  • Sustainability of Self (the Sophomore experience) fosters the idea that care for others is not possible without care for oneself, and so students have the opportunity in this seminar to undertake an artistic, creative, ethical or spiritual exploration.
  • Sustainability of Community and Planet (the Junior experience) builds on these previous seminars by presenting students with certain challenges to good stewardship in a complex, globally interconnected 21st century world.
  • Honors Capstone (the Senior experience) gives students the opportunity to bring their time at the college and in the program to a meaningful conclusion by allowing them to design a final project (typically but not necessarily a major research essay) that integrates their personal, academic, and professional interests with the college’s core values and mission.

Extra-curricular activities—fun on-campus events, local & regional excursions, opportunities for service—are also an integral part of the honors experience. These extra-curricular activities frequently stem from the work students do in their seminars. The content for a given Sustainability of Self seminar might, for instance, prompt a trip, open to all honors students, to the Portland Museum of Art; or students in the Sustainability of Communities and Planet seminar may want to host a special lecture series related to themes they are studying together in class. Such activities, and others like them, not only further the program’s commitment to building a genuine community within the college; they also give honors students an opportunity to reflect back to the college and to the local community what Saint Joseph’s College is all about.

Each honors cohort consists of small group of students (about 20 students) and selection into the program is determined by the Honors Director in collaboration with Office of Admissions. The Honors Program, in short, allows students to explore important, practical topics in great depth, work closely with dedicated faculty members, and develop friendships with students who have similar academic profiles and interest.

If you are interested in joining the program, contact either the director, Jeffrey Morgan (jmorgan@sjcme.edu) or your admissions counselor.


What are the benefits of the Honors Program?

In addition to the benefits mentioned in the overview above, Honors Students receive distinctive emblems which signify their accomplishments at Graduation. Additionally, the Honors distinction will appear on their transcripts and their diplomas.

What kinds of students are in the Honors Program?

The common denominator among Honors students is a record of past academic success. For example, a recent incoming cohort had collectively achieved a high school GPA of 3.8. Beyond this, however, students in the Honors Program are diverse in their interests, hobbies, and areas of study. For example, the program includes members who earned their high school varsity letters.

  • They have been actively involved in theatre, music, student government, service groups, and international clubs.
  • Several of them have been members of their church youth groups or parish councils.
  • One was a black belt in karate, one an Eagle Scout, one a member of the Jr. Rescue First Response squad, and one a newspaper correspondent.
  • One served as a translator in Nicaragua for a medical missionary team.
  • And another has hiked over 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail.

Does the program require me to take additional classes?

The Capstone course is the only additional course required and is taken during senior year.

Can I play a sport and still be in the program?

Absolutely! We want the program to supplement, rather than dominate, your total experience at Saint Joseph’s. That means that Honors students are welcome and encouraged to take part in many extracurricular activities, including athletics.

Is the Honors Program compatible with my intended field of study?

The Honors Program is compatible with every major, with the exception of some of the pre-professional programs. Concentrations such as pre-pharmacy and pre-optometry involve contractual arrangements with other colleges, so that students who begin their studies at Saint Joseph's finish elsewhere. Because these requirements preclude students from finishing their four year sequence of Honors courses at Saint Joseph's, students who enroll in these programs will not be considered for the Honors Program.

How does one get into the Honors Program?

In consultation with the Director of the Honors Program, the Admissions Office will consider all students applying to Saint Joseph's College for admission into the Honors Program. In order to ensure the smaller class sizes necessary for the type of instruction we offer, space is limited. Applicants with a GPA of 3.8 or better will be considered.

If I don't get invited into the Honors Program initially, is it possible to get into the program later?

Yes. In addition to invitation, it is also possible to be admitted into the Honors Program by special appeal. Appeals should be addressed (in writing) to the Director of the Honors Program, and are typically made after a student has completed at least one semester of course work at SJC. The Honors committee will consider each appeal on an individual basis, placing particular emphasis on the student's college-level performance and faculty recommendations.

Is there a minimum GPA required to remain in the Honors Program?

All Honors students are expected to earn a final grade of at least a B- in their Honors courses.

What if my GPA drops below the minimum standard?

If a student earns less than a B- in any of their Honors courses, they will be placed "on probation" (and officially notified of their status). If a student commits a second infraction of this standard, they will automatically forfeit their place in the Honors Program. Their subsequent readmission would then require a special appeal to the Directors.

How does my status in the Honors Program affect my financial aid?

These scholarships are not directly associated with the Honors Program. Therefore, students may be added to, or removed from, the Honors Program regardless of their financial aid packages.

What if I am invited to join, but am not sure I'll be attending Saint Joseph's this fall?

If there's at least a good possibility that a student will enroll at Saint Joseph's, that student is encouraged to reserve their place in the Honors Program as soon as possible, since fewer spaces remain available as the admissions process progresses. Consenting to the program does not necessarily "lock" a student into attending Saint Joseph's.

What if I have further questions or want more information?

Incoming freshmen can direct their questions to the Admissions Office at 207-893-7746 or admissions@sjcme.edu. Additional inquiries can be addressed to Jeffrey Morgan (jmorgan@sjcme.edu), Director of the Honors Program.

Student stories

Honors Program Trip to Ireland- group photo

Honors Program Trip to Ireland Filled With History, Adventure, and Spiritual Discovery

Read more about the trip