Jul 21, 2024  
2024-2025 Undergraduate Academic Updates 
2024-2025 Undergraduate Academic Updates

Commonwealth Honors Program

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The Commonwealth Honors Program 

The Commonwealth Honors Program at Salem State University is designed to offer to those students whose abilities and previous performance are demonstrably higher than the norm, a curriculum option that will be more challenging than the general university curriculum.  Courses in the Honors Program are qualitatively different in their design and content from the standard university requirements, and smaller class sizes allow greater individual interaction with faculty members. A seminar format is used in most Honors Program courses, giving students the opportunity for independent research and class presentation. Special field trips and sessions taught by visiting scholars contribute to a particularly rich academic experience for students enrolled in the Honors Program.

Each semester students in the Honors Program take part of their academic program in Honors Program courses which take the place of university-wide required courses. Thus, even students in credit-intensive programs such as nursing, and business administration can participate in the Honors Program and still stay in sequence in courses required by their majors.  

Eligibility Criteria 

Students who show strong motivation and academic ability are encouraged to apply to the honors program on their admission application. We are a test-optional program, though test scores are required for some prestigious scholarships. Incoming freshman must achieve a scaled high school GPA of 3.7 or higher. In addition, student applicants must submit an essay for review by the Honors Program Area Chair.

Currently enrolled students and transfer applicants should have an overall university GPA of 3.50 or better and fewer than 48 college credits (inclusive of the semester of honors application). Transfer students who have completed honors courses at other colleges are encouraged to apply and may do so with college credit totals up to 60 credits (inclusive of the semester of honors application). Currently enrolled students and transfer applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they can meet the Honors Program requirements within their selected course of study.

The Program guarantees admission to all students who graduate from Commonwealth Honors Programs within Massachusetts community colleges and are accepted for transfer.

Students who do not meet eligibility qualifications but who wish to be considered for inclusion in the Honors Program may write a letter presenting their reasons for inclusion, accompanied by two letters of recommendation from high school teachers, counselors, or principal, or two college professors. These letters should be sent to the Honors Program Chair, Salem State University, 352 Lafayette St., Salem, MA 01970.

Retention in the Program 

To remain in good standing in the Honors Program, a student must maintain a 3.2+ cumulative GPA each semester, complete the required program courses, and take at least one honors elective each semester until elective credit requirements have been met. Students who do not maintain these standards will be dismissed from the Honors Program. In addition any student may withdraw from the Program prior to the first week of the following semester.

Graduation from the Program

To be designated a Commonwealth Honors Scholar upon graduation, students must complete the required Honors Program courses listed below and (at least) 15 credits of Honors Program electives with a B- or better, complete and publically present an Honors Thesis, and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 or better through graduation.


All courses with an “H” suffix after the course number are Honors Program courses and as such are open only to those students who are in good standing in the Program, unless indicated otherwise in the course description. For specific descriptions of the courses mentioned below, please see the appropriate department’s course offerings. 

Required Curriculum


 : All students entering the program must have an honors freshman writing experience, but those students who have satisfied the W-I requirment (through English Advanced Placement exams, IB exams, high SAT scores, or other means) must enroll in ENL 225H , which satisfies the W-II requirement. 3
 : Generally taken junior year 1.5
 : Generally taken senior year 1.5
Honors Thesis Coursework: To be completed with IDS603H, a departmental directed study, or equivalent credit-bearing alternative  3-6

Honors Program Electives (not to include credit received for thesis coursework): Any two honors courses plus one each from the following categories: Scientific Investigation, Global Studies, and Exploration of Ideas.


Total                                                                                                                                                                                                                             24

Elective Categories

Scientific Inquiry (at least one course must be taken)

(These courses cannot be taken by students majoring in Biology or Nursing to fulfill the Biology requirements of those programs).  


substitutes for

  in any curriculum.



substitutes for SOC 201/

  in any curriculum.


Global Studies (at least one course must be taken)

GPH 105H Foundations of Global Studies:People, Places and Environment (Honors)   3
HST 109H Honors World History   3
HST 110H 3
HST 111H Freshman Honors History II   3
MUS 113H Honors Intro to World Music   3

WLC 190H Honors Seminar in World Cultures  


Study abroad or travel course with Honors Essay submitted to HPAC


Exploration of Ideas (at least one course must be taken)

ENL 245H Literature and the Humanities    3
ENL 600H Honors Seminar  (various topics) 3
PHL 350H Topics in Ethics  (various topics)
Fulfills the requirements for Ethics including, PHL 203 Business Ethics  for Business Administration majors in the Honors Program.
PHL 600H Honors Seminar: Philosophy   3

General Electives

BUS 170H Introduction to Business: Honors   3
NUR 601H Honors Nursing Research I   3
NUR 602H Honors: Nursing Research II   3
SPC 102H Public Speaking-Honors   3
Transfer Honors Credits 3 - 9

Students following the Transitional General Education model may also elect to follow the Honors curricula requirements here within.

Honors Program students may take up to 22 credits each semester. Under extraordinary circumstances, a higher course load may be approved by the student’s major department and by the Registrar’s Office.

The curriculum development of Honors Program elective courses is by no means completed, and students and advisors will be notified about progress in this area. 

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