The College Scholars Honors Program

The College Scholars Honors Program was established in 1986 to offer particularly promising undergraduates in the College of Arts & Science opportunities for intellectual community and close contact with faculty through seminars and research. The program is designed to develop students’ skills in critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity. This is achieved by promoting two educational aims: breadth by taking honors seminars in several different categories to satisfy AXLE requirements, and depth by doing independent research. Students who are accepted as College Scholars, and who complete the program by earning 15 honors points, graduate with the distinction of “Honors in the College of Arts & Science” on their diploma. This is separate from Latin and departmental honors programs, which can be earned regardless of status in the College Scholars Honors Program.

The College Scholars Honors Program consists of:

Honors Seminars
To foster breadth in coursework, a suite of Honors Seminars is offered each semester. These seminars are open only to College Scholars, and are taught by faculty selected for their particular mastery of a field and for their commitment to undergraduate teaching. All honors seminars fulfill requirements in the Achieving eXcellence in Liberal Education curriculum (AXLE) and satisfy a writing requirement (W). In YES, these courses can be found under the heading, “HONS.” Each semester six or seven seminars are offered, and they are limited to 16 students to facilitate discussion and interaction. Honors Seminars focus on particular topics but are open to students from any discipline and do not have prerequisites. Examples of upcoming and recent Honors Seminars can be found on the tabs above.

To develop depth of knowledge, College Scholars have a range of options for participating in independent research. These include enrichment projects in an existing course, independent study for credit, or departmental honors research. A research experience is required to complete the College Scholars Program.

Receptions, Activities, & Networking 
A number of receptions and gatherings are held each semester for College Scholars. “Meet the Professors” receptions are held near registration each semester for Scholars to meet the instructors of the following semester’s honors seminars. Other social gatherings provide occasions for informal interaction to encourage learning from each other, and there is a peer mentoring network available. We also work with campus partners to further develop healthy habits, career goals, post-graduation opportunities, and opportunities to engage with alumni of the College Scholars Program.

Honors Points
Students earn honors points by taking Honors Seminars, other approved courses, and completing research projects. By earning 15 honors points, students will have the designation “Honors in the College of Arts and Science” on their diploma at graduation. Details on the point system can be found on the Honors Points tab above. A maximum of 13 points can be earned by taking Honors Seminars, and at least 2 points must be earned with research.


Eligibility, Application, & Selection (Fall 2017 Applications are now closed)

All first-year Vanderbilt students in the College of Arts & Science are invited to apply at the end of fall semester. Only first-year students in the College of Arts & Science are eligible, and transfer students are not allowed to apply.

The application consists of:

1) a brief form of personal information,
2) two short essays of 1-2 pages each, and
3) your grades from the fall semester at Vanderbilt.

Applications are due before grades are posted, so you will not submit them. Rather, they will be pulled by the University Registrar from your academic record once they are available. You will also have the opportunity to rate your top three preferred Honors Seminars for spring 2018, but this does not constitute registration for the courses or admission into the program.

Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. Please note that this is an earlier deadline than in previous years.** Please note that fall 2017 applications are now closed.

Applications are reviewed over winter break and approximately 30 students are selected for admission to the program based on their academic records from the fall semester, their creative and reflective essays, and their promise for continued academic success at Vanderbilt. Please see the Application 2017 (Link deactivated because applications are closed) tab above for the online application and more details (login required).

Fall Scholars
Thirty incoming first-year students of exceptional promise are admitted to the College Scholars Honors Program at the beginning of the fall semester by the Dean of the College. These students are nominated by the Admissions Committee during the the honors scholarship selection process when they apply to Vanderbilt. These students do not need to reapply to the program in December.



Questions about the College Scholars Honors Program can be directed to Associate Dean Morgan in the Arts & Science Dean’s office. He can be reached at or 615-322-2844. Please note that Dean Morgan will be doing field work in Antarctica over winter break, and will not have internet access from November 30, 2017 until the beginning of the spring 2018 semester.