Honors Program


The Honors Program allows high-achieving students to receive an enhanced version of the educational experience that Saint Joseph’s College offers to its students. Honors students take special versions of the Inner Core courses in history, theology, philosophy, and ecology. That means that they satisfy the requirements of the Honors Program and many of the college-wide Core Curriculum requirements at the same time. It also means that students participate in the Honors Program regardless of whatever major they choose.

In addition, Honors students take a senior capstone course which allows them to tie together their previous coursework and pursue a project that relates to their interests and/or major.

Honors Program Trip to Ireland- group photo at Baggot SteetApart from their coursework, students in the Honors Program also get opportunities to experience cultural events in the greater Portland area, such as attending concerts and plays and visiting museums. In the past, Honors students have taken trips outside of Maine to places like Boston, Quebec City, and New York.

Students in the Honors Program are selected based on academic ability, record, and potential for success, and the courses in the program are offered only to Honors students. This allows them to explore topics in greater depth, work more closely with faculty, and develop friendships with students who have a similar academic profile and interests.

If you are interested in joining the program, contact either the director, Marion Young, at myoung@sjcme.edu or your admissions counselor.


What are the benefits of the Honors Program?

The Honors Program offers participants a variety of unique opportunities both in and out of the classroom. In addition to the academic benefits noted above, the Honors Program offers access to a variety of cultural events, including concerts, plays, and special museum exhibits in the Greater Portland area. Honors students also have the opportunity to venture a little farther from campus to participate in overnight trips to places like Harvard University and Quebec City. The Honors Program even sponsors social and recreational activities, which offer participants fun, well-deserved, and memorable breaks from their collegiate responsibilities. Honors students are also duly recognized for their efforts. At graduation, they are awarded distinctive emblems which signify their accomplishments. 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, and an average SAT score of around 1200. 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 in baseball, basketball, cross-country, field hockey, football, golf, lacrosse, skiing, softball, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, and volleyball. 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?

Only one: the Capstone course, usually taken during senior year. Apart from that one, the Honors Program consists of special versions of some of the Core Curriculum courses required of all students at the College. It is not the intention of the Honors Program to additionally burden (and therefore penalize) our students simply because of their academic strengths. Therefore, Honors courses are differentiated from regular courses primarily by the type -rather than the quantity -of work required.

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. The minimum requirements for invitation into the Honors Program will vary somewhat from year to year, depending on the overall profile of our incoming class. Typically, however, applicants with high school GPA’s of 3.6 or better and minimum SAT scores of 1160 will receive an invitation to join the Honors Program. These invitations are usually mailed out each year around April 1.

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?

Honors students will be expected to maintain certain minimum standards to remain in the Honors Program. However, because the various disciplines vary somewhat with regard to curricular demands, external assessments, and departmental expectations, GPAs can fluctuate according to one’s chosen field of study. To be fair, expectations for Honors students apply only to their performance in their Honors courses. 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?

In the past, certain merit-based scholarships were contingent upon participation in the Honors Program. However, this is no longer the case. While many of our Honors students do receive merit-based scholarships, 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. However, it may occupy a position that could otherwise be offered to someone else.

What if I have further questions or want more information?

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


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

Honors Program Trip to Ireland- group photoHonors students enjoy excursions to educational and cultural activities globally every two years and receive credit hours for the trips and its accompanying coursework.

Former Program Director, Dr. Callaway, believes experiencing a different part of the world is beneficial to students, many of whom have not travelled abroad, noting that travel can serve as a catalyst for a more reflective life.

Read more about the trip

Journee Levasseur“The Honors Program has given me more opportunities to learn about cultures within our community as well as outside of our community through outings to local restaurants and concerts. This Ireland trip not only showed me Irish culture but also connected me further with Saint Joseph’s College by showing me the roots of where it all started. I was able to pay for this trip/class with my Connections grant as well, making it just that much better!” — Journee Levasseur ’18, Biology/Pre-Med