Why Honors?

There are many reasons for bright, high-achieving students to become members of The Honors College at the University at Albany.

An Enriched Academic Experience

The Honors College combines the best of a small-college, liberal-arts experience with features that can only be found at a major research university. Students in The Honors College are part of the intellectual hub of the University. As active participants in a community of developing scholars they can take advantage of academic and research opportunities from across UAlbany while being part of the small, select honors community.

Honors Courses. At the center of honors students' academic experience in their first two years are their honors courses. Each semester, The Honors College offers a wide array of challenging courses designed to introduce students to a range of concepts and perspectives from many disciplines. Honors courses are small, with 25 or fewer Honors students in each course, and are taught by some of UAlbany's best teaching professors, which makes for an exciting, stimulating environment in each course. Professors in The Honors College are selected from departments and schools across UAlbany. All have demonstrated a commitment to undergraduate teaching and are actively involved with undergraduates.

Honors courses are also designed to develop strong critical-thinking, research, and writing skills through active-learning approaches such as in-depth discussions, field experiences, debates, simulations, and small-group projects. Students work hard and support each other in formal and informal study groups - a sense of mutual encouragement prevails over competition. A list of past and current honors courses is on our curriculum page.

Advanced Registration. All honors students register for courses before other students at UAlbany - both their honors courses and their other courses. This gives honors students great latitude in designing an overall curriculum and a set of courses each semester that meets their academic goals.

Research Opportunities. Research is an important part of the experience of each developing scholar in The Honors College. Beginning as early as their first year, honors students are encouraged to participate in research with a professor, postdoctoral fellow, or advanced graduate student. During their senior year, all students in The Honors College complete a scholarly thesis consisting of original research or creative work.

Some students choose to engage in research with professors in their fields of interest; other honors students conduct their own research under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Honors students are given ample opportunity to share their research at local, regional, and national conferences or have it published in academic journals, making them more attractive applicants to highly competitive graduate schools, professional schools, and jobs. Participating in research enhances each student's chance for being admitted to a graduate or professional school or being offered a job of his or her choice. You can see the range of scholarship in which the honors student engage by seeing the titles of their senior honors theses. Most of the theses are available to read and you will be able to learn a lot from them.

Scholarship Opportunities. Professors and staff members in The Honors College work with honors students to strengthen their profiles as candidates for some of the nation's most prestigious awards, including the Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman scholarships. Honors students are eligible for funds from the Losee Scholarship Fund that provides funding for academic activities outside the classroom, such as attending professional conferences and studying abroad.

The Honors Community

An environment of engagement, learning, and discovery extends beyond the classroom in the honors community. The students, faculty, and staff of The Honors College are part of a small and dynamic community that is intellectual, ambitious, and involved. Receptions, roundtable discussions, lectures, and informal lunches and dinners give students, professors, and staff members in The Honors College opportunities to connect academically and socially.

Honors Events and Workshops. Many honors events and workshops occur throughout the semester. Professors come to the honors residence halls and present their current research. Honors students give presentations on campus and community groups and encourage other honors students to join these groups. Seniors give talks on their honors theses. The Honors College staff also offers workshops and seminars to support honors students' intellectual and professional growth. Some past sessions have focused on nationally competitive scholarships and preparing for writing an honors thesis.

Honors College staff and students also organize formal and informal social events and parties. There is almost always something going on. In the past, these events have included dessert receptions, performing-arts events, movie nights, card nights, coffeehouse nights, and tours of the University Museum.

Honors Housing. Students in The Honors College can choose to live in honors housing, and about 90% of freshmen and sophomores in The Honors College live in honors housing. Living together facilitates honors students' ability to study together, attend the social and educational events that The Honors College sponsors, and form friendships with other honors students. Professors give lectures in the honors residence halls, have meals with students, and attend social and educational events with students. Many evening and weekend honors activities take place in the honors residence halls.

Some of the best on-campus housing is reserved for students in The Honors College. All honors students have the option of living in honors housing during each year at UAlbany. (Living in honors housing is not required or expected any year, but honors housing is available every year.) During their first and second years, honors students can choose to live in adjoining residence halls on State Quad, Steinmetz and Melville. Both halls have been renovated recently and offer many areas for studying and socializing, as well as all-suite living. During their third and fourth years, honors students can choose to live in honors buildings in Empire Commons. Each building in Empire Commons contains several townhouses, each of which have single rooms, kitchens, and living rooms. (Honors housing options are based on a student's year at UAlbany, not on class standing (which is determined by credits completed).

Honors residence halls generally are quieter than other residence halls and provide an environment that is more conducive for group and individual study. They also provide an atmosphere where honors students can get to know, and often become good friends with, other honors students. Since honors students take many of the same courses, it is easy for informal and formal study groups to form in the honors residence halls.

What's great about Honors Housing is the fact that I know my classmates are so close by. It's comforting to know that the people in my classes are right down the hall or only a flight of stairs down from me. When big projects approach, or tests are near, there are many people that I can go to for help because they're all right here living with me! (Amanda Boyd, Class of 2010)

By living in the honors housing part of the dorms, I find that it is much easier to concentrate and to become motivated. Furthermore, you can all relate to each other because you have similar classes and responsibilities. (Allyson Impallomeni, Class of 2011)

Commuting Students

Commuting first- and second-year honors students have an on-campus home in Steinmetz and Melville Halls. Commuting honors students can gain access to Steinmetz and Melville Halls where most of the other honors students live. There are lounge areas, study areas, and lockers available to commuting students - and they can meet students from their honors courses.

Honors Recognition

Honors students are recognized for their accomplishments with a special designation on their transcript. This notifies potential employers and graduate schools that they have completed a rigorous and demanding undergraduate program.

The Capital Region

Living and learning in the capital of New York gives students many opportunities to serve as interns in government, law, health, finance, education, human-service, business, and many other fields. Students conducting research at the University at Albany also enjoy easy access to the New York State Library, containing over three million items, and to the New York State Archives, containing more than twenty-five thousand cubic feet of records. In addition, honors students have access to the collections in many other museums, libraries, historical societies, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. The richness and diversity in the Capital Region also offers many opportunities for service learning, volunteering, and participating in cultural and social activities.