Honors Program

The Honors Program provides an interdisciplinary curriculum of inquiry. Students across the liberal arts spectrum are challenged to develop wide-ranging perspectives. Through literature, writing and research, they develop the habits of mind that lead to excellence in scholarship. The program provides many venues in which exceptional students can meet, share ideas and stretch their intellectual boundaries.

Opportunities include honors classes, an independent research project, and co-curricular activities and events. Explore these pages to see how you can challenge yourself! The program is designed to:

  • Foster the critical thinking skills, cross-disciplinary curiosity and analytical and creative rigor expected in honors courses in all disciplines
  • Enrich the experiences of entering and lower-division honors students through intellectually challenging coursework
  • Encourage upper-level students to undertake Junior and Senior Honors research projects
  • Provide opportunities for students at all levels to interact with an academically energetic cohort, both inside and outside the classroom, during four years of Honors study

What does being an Honors student do for me?

You may have the option to live in our honors learning community. First-year Honors students can live together in Meta Glass. Upperclass Honors students live in Carson.

You’ll have extra opportunities for hands-on, advanced research with faculty, including our Honors Summer Research Program, which is eight weeks of in-depth research on a topic of your choice during the summers after your sophomore and/or junior years.

You’ll complete an Honors thesis, demonstrating your challenging academic work and setting you apart from other undergraduate students.

If you complete the requirements and maintain a 3.4 GPA throughout your time at Sweet Briar, you’ll graduate with honors from Sweet Briar, and we have no doubt that you will do just that!

How do I join?

Incoming students with excellent high school GPAs and SAT/ACT scores are invited to participate in the program upon admission to the college. Other first-year and transfer students may apply after the start of their first semester and no later than the last day of classes of the second semester of their first year at Sweet Briar. Students applying to the program after completing at least one semester at Sweet Briar must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 at the time of application and must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher to retain eligibility.

The student’s application must include the following and be submitted to honors@sbc.edu:

  • the application cover page
  • a letter of recommendation from a full-time faculty member emailed to honors@sbc.edu
  • a letter of recommendation from her academic adviser emailed to honors@sbc.edu
  • an unofficial copy of her SBC transcript, including any transfer credits
  • a 250-500 word statement of interest in pursuing an honors course of study

The Student Advancement Committee will consider the strength of the recommendations, the student’s statement of interest, her academic program and her course load. The Committee will make a determination regarding evidence that supports the student’s likelihood of success in the Honors Program.

Honors Degree Requirements

The path to an Honors Degree consists of five to six classes (13-16 credits) taken by all honors students concurrently and over all four years. Students must achieve a 3.4 overall GPA and take the following courses:

  1. CORE 130H Women in the World (3 credits, required grade: B or better). This course will bring honors students back together in the sophomore year for another shared experience.
  2. HNRS 399 Honors Summer Research Project or HNRS 470 Junior Research (3 credits, required grade: P/B or better). Students will prepare for their senior research through either the Honors Summer Research Program or Junior Research. Both will be supervised by an advisor in the student’s major.
  3. HNRS 471 Honors Thesis Proposal (1 credit, required grade: P). This course will be taken in the fall 3-week session of a student’s senior year. Taken with all other students intending to graduate with an Honors Degree, this course will encourage collaboration, critique, and cross-disciplinary discussions as students prepare to begin their intensive senior research.
  4. HNRS 472 Senior Honors Research (3-6 credits, required grade: B+ or better). A student’s senior research may take place over one or two semesters (depending on discipline), following the guidelines currently established by participating majors and supervised by an advisor in the student’s major as well as two additional thesis committee members.

Any student may submit a petition to the Student Advancement Committee at honors@sbc.edu, requesting honors credit for alternate course work, including honors variants, in order to meet the course requirements for the Honors Degree.



How do I sign up for an Honors variant course?

For CORE 110 and CORE 130, adding the Honors variant of the course is exactly like adding any other course to your schedule. From the “find a course” page on my.sbc.edu, identify the CRN of the course you want to add (Honors variant courses will have an “h” appended to the end of the course number) and then add that course to your schedule as you would for any other course.


For creating a new Honors Variant (e.g. not CORE 110 or CORE 130, you will need to fill out the Honors Variant Contract, which can be found here.

I signed up for an Honors Variant, but now I want to take the regular version. What do I do?

That’s not a problem! Honors variant courses can be dropped or withdrawn from just like any other course.  Remember that if you want to add or drop a course after the deadline for that term, you can fill out a Dean’s Office Petition which can be found on my.sbc.edu. If you still want to continue in the Honors Program, all you need to do is select another class to take as an Honors variant and act as a substitute for the variant you did not complete. 

I’m in the Honors Program, but I want to drop it. What do I have to do?

We’ll be sad to see you go. Just inform the Honors Director (honors@sbc.edu) and we can take care of the rest. No paperwork is necessary.

How do I sign up for HNRS 470?
HNRS 470 is a semester-long research experience sponsored by a Sweet Briar faculty member. This course is usually administered as an independent study. After identifying a project and sponsor, you can fill out the Independent Study form located on my.sbc.edu and then turn it into the registrar. Don’t forget to check the box next to “HNRS 470” and to indicate 3 credit hours.
How do I sign up for HNRS 399 (HSRP)?

HRSP requires an application process. You can read more about it here.

I want to do an HSRP project or an HNRS 470 project outside of my major. Is that ok?

Absolutely! While we encourage you to research something in the field of your declared or intended major, it is not required.

How do I sign up for my Senior Honors thesis?

Your Senior Honors Thesis is a year-long research experience sponsored by a Sweet Briar faculty member. This course is usually administered as an independent study. After identifying a project and sponsor, you can propose your thesis to the Student Advancement Committee. If accepted, you just need to fill out the Independent Study form located on my.sbc.edu and then turn it into the registrar. More details about the Senior Honors Thesis can be found here.

I want to do a Senior Honors thesis outside of my major. Is that ok?
Unfortunately, no. Your Senior Honors thesis must be a research project in the field of your major.
I wasn’t able to complete one of the Honors Degree requirements. What do I do?

Don’t panic! Just contact the Honors Director (honors@sbc.edu) and we will come up with a reasonable alternative or substitution.