It is a dream of many honors deans and directors that their offices might one day be able to coordinate honors curriculum, undergraduate research, internships, and study-abroad under one roof.
That day has already arrived for the Honors College at East Tennessee State University, located in Johnson City, right on the border between Tennessee and Virginia.
Although the bedrock University Honors Scholars program was established in 1993, the advent of the Honors College in 2005 brought with it two more honors options along with the consolidation of all the above functions within the college. Dean Rebecca Ann Pyles reports that graduation rates are high among the more than 400 students enrolled in all honors options–86–88 percent of students graduate in honors.
The University Honors Scholars program enrolls only about 22 students a year. Minimum entrancement requirements include an SAT of 1290 and GPA of 3.5. The UHS program extends across all four years and, like the other two options at the college, requires the completion of an honors thesis.
UHS students complete four year-long seminars, two in the freshmen year and two more as sophomores. The freshman seminars focus on English and philosophy. Students consider alternatives to their own views, often from global perspectives, and then reflect on how their own perspectives might be seen by others.
In the sophomore year, much of the emphasis is on the interrelationships of the sciences and the broader culture. Students not only learn about the most significant scientific concepts but also the ethical responsibilities that accompany many scientific advances.
Sophomores also take a turn toward the creative side. Students study and participate in studio and performing arts, learning the importance of aesthetics to all elements of human culture.
Juniors participate in the unique Honors Appalachian course, where they study the history, arts, economics, and politics of the region.
Senior honors work focuses on research and the completion of the honors thesis.
The Midway Scholars option enrolls transfer students with an associate’s degree or at least 30 hours of credit, and with a minimum GPA of 3.5. Midway Scholars take three honors or honors option courses and must complete a research course and write a thesis.
The Honors in Discipline (HID) option also requires honors or honors option coursework along with a thesis in the major, or “discipline,” of the student. Currently, seventeen departments are involved in the HID program.
All honors students can take advantage of Washington internships coordinated by the honors office, and can participate in international study, also through the honors college.
Honors students at ETSU also have the option of living on the sixth floor of Governors Hall, new in 2007. The hall includes space for more than 500 students who share double rooms with private baths.