Incoming students are invited to join the Honors Program based on previous academic rigor, extra-curricular activities and volunteer experiences. Eligible students are automatically admitted to the program and notified in their Wheaton College acceptance letter.
We believe all students develop passions and goals at their own pace. Current students are also eligible to join the Honors Program based on their first-year achievements at Wheaton.
Why Wheaton honors?
- Rigorous and diverse curriculum
- Honors First-Year Experience course
- Scholarship and fellowship opportunities
- Designated program advisors
- Supportive community
- Social events
- Honors Thesis Parade
- Honors Convocation celebration
Honors and scholars pathways
During your first semester, you’ll participate in an Honors First-Year Experience (FYE) course to help you acclimate to the rigor of honors-level work. The FYE encourages you to explore a topic across various academic disciplines with a team of honors students and faculty. Next, you’ll choose the honors pathway that best aligns with your personal and professional goals.
Wheaton College offers three distinct Honors and Scholars pathways. Each program is rooted in the liberal arts tradition to promote a higher level of critical thinking across diverse disciplines.
Eliza Wheaton Scholars
In honor of the college’s namesake, The Eliza Wheaton Scholars pathway empowers students to examine real-world situations through different perspectives. Eliza Wheaton Scholars take courses across the arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences. This breadth of experience gives them career-ready skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Most importantly, these scholars develop empathy for different perspectives – a skill that will set them apart in the global workforce.
Taylor and Lane Social Justice Scholars
The Taylor and Lane Social Justice Scholars program is named in memory of Alice Elizabeth Taylor and Nadine Widgeon Lane, the first two Black women formally admitted to Wheaton College in 1946. This pathway is for students in any major who are interested in social change.
Wheaton College provides a series of courses and experiences to discuss questions of social justice, inclusion, equity and diversity. The core anchor course, Imagining a Just World, allows students across all disciplines to engage in thought-provoking discussion. Additional courses, immersive experiences, a capstone project, and reflection all prepare students to work competently, sensitively and effectively toward social justice.
The Global Honors Program
The Global Honors program reflects Wheaton College’s commitment to global citizenship. Global Honors students discover and experience cultures outside of the United States, learn a second language and reflect on their place in the world. Through a combination of coursework, study abroad or global project, capstone project or creative work, and reflection, students examine their experiences within a global context.
As an honors student, you’ll also have the opportunity to earn the distinguished Latin Honors accreditation upon graduation. At Wheaton, we believe that Latin Honors reflect not only students’ high academic achievement but also a commitment to carry out Wheaton College’s liberal arts values into their personal lives and professional careers.
To receive this designation, you must:
- Fulfill the requirements of your selected Honors Program pathway: Eliza Wheaton Scholars, Taylor and Lane Social Justice Scholars, or Global Honors
- Complete at least one course in each of the three liberal arts divisions (Arts & Humanities, Social Science, and Science and Mathematics)
- Earn the minimum G.P.A.
Wheaton has a remarkable record of helping high-achieving students compete for and win prestigious undergraduate and postgraduate awards and fellowships. From Rhodes Scholarships to Fulbright and Watson Fellowships, the list of Wheaton award winners is long and impressive. Since 2000, Wheaton students have won more than 250 of these awards.
The May Fellows Program is a student-led group that brings together intellectually gifted, high-achieving students to thrive academically and connect socially with other students, staff and faculty. The group is named after Elizabeth S. May, former dean of the college and the first woman appointed to serve on the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Wheaton is one of 286 colleges in the United States to host a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), America’s foremost academic honor society. Wheaton’s chapter elects academically outstanding juniors and seniors who, upon their induction, become lifelong members of this society. They may participate in the activities of the Wheaton chapter, the nearest alumni association and the national organization.
An honors thesis is an opportunity to work closely with a faculty member in your department on an advanced project that involves original research similar to graduate-level work. This is unlike a typical undergraduate research paper that involves summarizing work done by another. At Wheaton, an honors thesis involves making an argument, presenting evidence and drawing and defending conclusions that are distinctively your own.
Students who undertake an honors thesis often find it to be the most exciting, fulfilling and rewarding experience of their undergraduate career. These scholars graduate with departmental honors in addition to other earned distinctions.
Traditions and recognition
Wheaton College prides itself on tradition. We celebrate our scholars with two unique events upon completion of their program requirements.
The Honors Convocation is a special ceremony to honor students who have distinguished themselves as scholars and global citizens. An annual celebration is held by the college’s president, provost and dean of students to present departmental awards and special designations and scholarships.
Students graduating with departmental honors are required to complete a research project in their field of study. To commemorate their work, the college celebrates these scholars during the annual Honors Thesis Parade. A long-standing tradition that dates back to 1998, the parade is led by faculty who are dressed in academic regalia while playing instruments ranging from bugles to drums.