Schreyer Honors College (SHC)at Penn State

Entry Year 2017-18 Student Handbook


As a Schreyer Scholar, you enjoy access to tremendous opportunities for academic and co-curricular enrichment, leadership and career development, and developing a global perspective. With these opportunities come responsibilities, and the Schreyer Honors College Handbook is your guide to fulfilling those responsibilities through graduation as a Schreyer Scholar. As a companion to the our website and the College’s online Student Records System, this handbook will help you chart your coursework and other academic requirements semester by semester. Periodic consultations with faculty, such as your Honors Advisor and eventually your thesis supervisor, will also be very important. Our staff is eager to assist if you have additional questions. Feel free to email, call, or visit the main office whenever the need arises.

This Handbook has been rewritten for maximum clarity, with an emphasis on requirements and policies and is not a comprehensive listing of honors opportunities — for that, you should turn to our website and to our weekly newsletter.  As with other Penn State academic handbooks, your requirements are determined by your “program year,” which in this case means your entrance year to the Schreyer Honors College (as opposed to your major, or Penn State).

Mission and Vision

In the Schreyer Honors College, we shape people who shape the world.


The mission of the Schreyer Honors College is to promote:

  • Achieving academic excellence with integrity
  • Building a global perspective, and
  • Creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement


To educate men and women who will have an important and ethical influence in the world, affecting academic, professional, civic, social, and business outcomes.

To improve educational practice and to be recognized as a leading force in honors education nationwide.


In the Schreyer Honors College, we value and embrace diversity in all its forms, whether that is diversity in the classroom experience and the curriculum or in terms of the community of which we are a part. The Schreyer Honors College and Penn State community is deep and broad, with students, faculty, and staff who represent different cultural, religious, ethnic, political, and sexual orientations. We all contribute to the diversity of our community and that varied experience is central to providing a world-class education and fulfilling the mission and values of the Schreyer Honors College and Penn State University.

The College believes that achieving academic excellence, building a global perspective, and participating in leadership and civic engagement are impossible without valuing and understanding diversity.

One of the most important experiences you will have as an undergraduate is the opportunity to meet other students whose culture, life experiences, leisure activities, family background, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation are different from your own, and possibly different from that of the majority of students you have known in the past. Encountering this diversity is a tremendous opportunity for personal growth.

Definition of Diversity

Diversity is defined broadly to include population differences in race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, abilities/disabilities, veteran status, international status, language, political persuasion, and regional or geographic origins, as well as different talents, interests, ideas, and creativity.

Maintaining Your Schreyer Scholar Status

University Faculty Senate Policy M-11 governs Schreyer Honors College membership. The provisions below are an implementation of this policy, both overall and with reference to specific situations.

Academic Integrity

Academic Integrity is defined by University Faculty Senate Policy 49-20 as:

The pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest, and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity; respect other students’ dignity, rights, and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts.

Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.

A Schreyer Scholar who either is found to have committed an act of academic dishonesty by an academic college academic integrity committee or who did not contest accusations of academic dishonesty made by an academic college and waived in writing a review or hearing within the academic college may be subject to immediate dismissal from the Schreyer Honors College.

The Schreyer Honors College may revoke the honors medal and the honors diploma if a graduate is later found to have committed an act of academic dishonesty while enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College.

Social and Personal Responsibility

As described in the Penn State Principles:

The University is a community that promotes learning; any behaviors that are inconsistent with that goal are unacceptable. Irresponsible behaviors, including alcohol or drug abuse and the use of violence against people or property, undermine the educational climate by threatening the physical and mental health of members of the community.

A Scholar is expected to maintain a high standard of behavior by adhering to Penn State’s Student Code of Conduct and respecting the rights of others. Any member of the Schreyer Honors College who is found to have committed an act of behavioral misconduct that results in a transcript notation may be subject to immediate dismissal from the Schreyer Honors College.

Grade Point Average

For purposes of determining good standing, a semester may be fall, spring, or summer. Summer enrollment for 12 or more credits between the different summer sessions including Maymester will be considered full-time.

  1. All students admitted to the Schreyer Honors College must attain both semester and cumulative grade point averages (GPAs) of at least 3.40 while maintaining full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 credits) in the fall and spring semesters to remain in good academic standing.
  2. Failure to attain a GPA of at least 3.40 in one full-time semester places a student in warning status for the following semester and removes them from good academic standing in the College. Students on Academic Warning will continue to receive honors scholarships, including the Academic Excellence Scholarship, but will not be not eligible for grants and may not represent the College in mentoring or recruitment activities.
    1. Scholars who begin the semester as full-time students but late-drop below 12 credits and fail to attain at least 3.40 with their remaining credits will be put on warning status.
  3. Scholars may be put into warning status after a part-time semester if their semester GPA puts their cumulative GPA under 3.40.
  4. Scholars on warning status must maintain both a semester and cumulative GPA of at least 3.40 at the conclusion of their next full-time semester. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the Schreyer Honors College, the removal of the Academic Excellence Scholarship and any other honors scholarships being received, and the termination of all other benefits and privileges of the College. This dismissal is independent of the student’s continued status as a Penn State student.
  5. Scholars on warning status may register for fewer than 12 credits (i.e. part-time status) for the following semester, but will not be removed from warning status regardless of that semester’s or cumulative GPA. Only a semester of 12 or more graded credits can return a Scholar to good standing.
    1. Scholars on warning who begin the semester as full-time students but late-drop below 12 credits and fail to attain at least 3.40 with their remaining credits will be dismissed.
Important: You must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.40 or higher to graduate with honors.

Honors Credit Requirements

Your honors course and credit requirements are determined by:

  1. Your point of entry (first-year, sophomore, junior), and
  2. Your current year or block (first-year/sophomore, junior/senior)

In the information below, consult only the section corresponding to your entrance year. You can verify your entrance year in the Student Records System right below your name, campus, and major. In your SRS Honors Audit, requirements are based on entrance year. If you believe your entrance year (“gate”) is in error, please contact the Academic Affairs Office.

Note that this section only refers to honors course and credit requirements, not GPA, forms, and thesis requirements which apply to all Scholars and which are outlined elsewhere in this Handbook. More information about how to meet honors credit requirements is included in the next section.

First-Year-Entering Scholars Starting at University Park
  • Enroll in and pass Rhetoric and Civic Life I and II (ENGL or CAS 137 in the fall, 138 in the spring) by the end of the first year. An extension to the end of the second year may be granted in exceptional circumstances.
  • Complete at least 21 honors credits (including 6 from RCL I and II) by the end of the sophomore year.
  • Complete at least 14 honors credits between the start of junior year and graduation.
First-Year-Entering Scholars Starting at Other Campuses
  • Enroll in and pass ENGL 30 by the end of the first year.
  • Complete at least 18 honors credits (including 3 from ENGL 30) by the end of sophomore year.
  • Complete at least 14 honors credits between the start of junior year and graduation.
Sophomore-Entering Scholars (All Campuses)
  • Complete at least 9 honors credits during your sophomore year.
  • Complete at least 14 honors credits between the start of your junior year and graduation.
Junior-Entering Scholars (All Campuses)
  • Complete at least 14 honors credits between the start of your junior year and graduation.
Special Notes
  1. Students who enter the Schreyer Honors College in the spring of sophomore year via the Paterno Fellows Program may count honors credits taken in the previous (fall) semester toward their 9-credit sophomore requirement. For all other students, honors credits taken prior to formal entrance to the Schreyer Honors College may not be counted toward honors requirements except for ENGL or CAS 137, which if taken in the previous summer will count toward all honors requirements.
  2. The summer between sophomore and junior years may be counted toward either the sophomore or the junior/senior credit requirements as needed.
  3. For first-year-entering Scholars graduating in three years, the total honors credit requirement may be reduced to 26, defined as 12 credits in the first year and 14 in the last two years. For Scholars graduating in 3.5 years, the usual requirements apply.
  4. For sophomore-entering Scholars graduating in three years, the total honors credit requirement may be reduced to 14. For Scholars graduating in 3.5 years, the usual requirements apply.
  5. All junior-entering Scholars must meet the 14-credit honors requirement, regardless of graduation timetable. No additional honors credits are required of students taking more than 4 years.
  6. Scholars pursuing their degree on a part-time basis must consult with the Academic Affairs Office about customized honors credit requirements.
Note on Semester Standing in the College

Semester standing based on credits is used in most Penn State offices, but the Schreyer Honors College looks at number of semesters of full-time enrollment. All entering students to Penn State, except for transfer students, are considered first-year students for our purposes; in their third semester they are considered sophomores, in their fifth semester they are considered juniors, and in their seventh semester they are considered seniors. This method of counting is typically an advantage to Scholars, when it comes to scholarship eligibility and honors credit waivers for advanced-level courses (see below). If you have questions about your semester standing, please contact the Academic Affairs Office.

Schreyer Plan

One of the pillars of the honors academic experience is honors advising, which has its own section later in this Handbook. The more interaction you have with your honors advisor, the better. The College does not mandate any particular degree of interaction beyond the Schreyer Plan, an annual document in which you list the courses you propose to take over the next year (fall and spring), and discuss your progress in meeting personal goals about career, internationalization, and leadership/civic engagement. This document must be reviewed by your honors advisor, who either approves it or sends it back with observations. The Schreyer Plan is available in the Student Records System.

For continuing Scholars, the Plan for the following year is due before priority registration for Fall, while for new Scholars it is due early in the Fall semester. Exact dates are listed on the Important Dates page of our website. You are responsible for timely filing of the Schreyer Plan even if you are away from campus on a Penn State program. If you are on a leave of absence, you must file the Plan by the next deadline when you return.

Failure to submit the Schreyer Plan will result in dismissal from the Schreyer Honors College.

How to Satisfy Honors Credit Requirements

There are five ways to satisfy your honors credit requirements:

  • Honors Courses
  • Honors Option Courses
  • Honors Independent Study or Research
  • Advanced- or Graduate-Level Courses
  • International Study or Research

Honors Courses

The honors course is central to the honors experience. It is intended to provide a rigorous examination of the subject matter, while demonstrating how knowledge in the field is discovered, developed, evaluated, argued, tested, compared, and applied. Honors courses are typically capped at 20 to 25 students and are taught by faculty approved by the College. First-year and sophomore students should expect to fulfill most or all of their honors requirements via honors courses, with limited exceptions by major and campus.

Any course that carries the Honors attribute in LionPath is an honors course, whether or not it carries the traditional suffix (T, H, U, or M).

While most honors courses are stand-alone honors versions of courses in the regular Penn State catalog (for instance, Honors Calculus I), others are uniquely honors offerings.

Identifying Honors Courses

The LionPath Schedule Builder includes a “Search by Course Attribute” feature that permits searches by course attribute (for instance, a General Education category) and a section attribute (Honors). The course search feature on the public LionPath site does not currently permit multiple criteria searches.

Grade Requirement

A grade of C or higher is required for an honors course to meet honors credit requirements (as opposed to major or University requirements).

Honors Option

The honors option is a contract between a Schreyer Scholar and the instructor of a non-honors course, with the approval of the honors advisor, to make that course an honors-quality experience for the student. Because the honors option is, in effect, an honors course, the College maintains oversight over who can offer it. The following course instructors are automatically approved for supervising honors options (titles available via the Penn State Directory):

  • Assistant professor, associate professor, or professor
  • Assistant research professor, associate research professor, or research professor
  • "Named" professorships (titles as above, prefaced by any other name or description)
  • Anyone not otherwise listed here, but appearing as members of the Graduate Faculty

The following course instructors may supervise honors options only if they are reviewed and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, or if they have received prior permanent approval by the College:

  • Lecturer (all levels and prefixes) or instructor (all levels and prefixes)
  • Assistant teaching professor, associate teaching professor, or teaching professor
  • Assistant clinical professor, associate clinical professor, or clinical professor
  • Visiting assistant professor, visiting associate professor, or visiting professor

The following course instructors may not supervise honors options:

  • Part-time lecturers or instructors
  • Post-doctoral scholars
  • Graduate students, unless they are otherwise covered in a category above (for example, lecturer or instructor approved by the College)

Not all courses are appropriate for the honors option: if the course cannot be imagined as an honors course, for instance because it is largely or solely about the acquisition of a skill (for example, first-semester foreign language), it should not be honors optioned. Conversely, if you would not seek out an honors course in a given area, you should not seek an honors option in it. While most honors options are proposed for upper-division courses in a Scholar’s major, other scenarios (lower-division courses, courses outside the major) may be appropriate depending on the circumstances and degree of genuine interest.

While the honors option should make for a more demanding experience for the student, it should not be based solely on additional work, but rather on enriched work, some of which may substitute for regular course requirements. The honors option proposal form in the Student Records System requires specific information regarding course expectations and timelines, including grade consequences for failure to complete honors option work.

Honors options must be proposed by the end of the second week of the semester—exact dates are listed by semester on our website under “Important Dates.” Once an honors option has the required approvals and is processed by the College's Academic Affairs Office, it will appear on the transcript with an honors attribute, and will count towards honors requirements. Starting in Fall 2017, approved honors options may only be withdrawn through the end of the eighth week of the semester.

Because the College strictly enforces instructor requirements (see above), and because the instructor’s decision to permit an honors option is always voluntary, you should avoid relying upon a given honors option to meet final-semester honors credit requirements.

Honors Independent Study or Research

These credits fall into three main categories:

  1. Independent study, along the lines of a course but individualized to the student's interest under the supervision of a faculty member.
  2. Independent research toward the thesis.
  3. Independent research not toward the thesis.

To schedule Honors Independent Study or Research, you must:

  1. Secure an eligible faculty member to supervise your work. See the previous section about honors options for information about eligible faculty.
  2. Register for academic credit using course numbers for Research (294H or 494H), Independent Study (296H or 496H), or other (department-specific) course numbers.
  3. If the department does not offer the course with an “H” suffix, you must submit the Honors Independent Study/Research form to request honors credit for the course. The form is due at the end of the regular drop/add period of the semester in which the course is scheduled and must be filed online in the Student Records System.
Important Note

The Schreyer Honors College permits a maximum of 6 honors independent research credits to be applied towards the 14-credit upper-division honors credit requirement. Some departments set a 3-credit maximum. If you have more than 6 credits of apparent thesis work in the upper division, and are relying upon those credits to reach the 14-credit requirement, the Academic Affairs Office may ask for documentation of compliance with our maximum. Credits taken prior to junior year are exempt from this maximum, even if they are for work that leads to the thesis.

Advanced-Level Courses

While the honors experience is about depth rather than acceleration, the College recognizes the value of advanced coursework by granting a credit-for-credit waiver of honors credit requirements for:

  1. First-year and sophomore students taking graded 400-level courses
  2. Junior and senior students taking graded 500-level (graduate) courses

This is a waiver, rather than honors credit noted on the transcript. 400-level honors courses or options will be noted as such on the transcript.

The following conditions apply to the honors credit waiver for advanced-level courses:

  1. As for other honors requirements, the College looks at chronological rather than credit-based semester standing.
  2. For Scholars who take graded 400-level courses abroad offered through Penn State, a maximum of 6 credits may be applied toward the lower-division honors credit requirement. For non-Penn State programs whose grades appear as ungraded transfer credit on the Penn State transcript, only the credit waiver is offered (see below).
  3. For students graduating in three years (see [------] above) only 400-level courses taken in the first year may receive the honors credits waiver.
  4. For students in the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Program (see [----] below), only those 500-level courses that appear on the final undergraduate transcript may receive the honors credit waiver.

International Study or Research

International programs offered through the Schreyer Honors College carry honors credit, and Penn State programs taught by honors-appropriate faculty may offer the honors option. In recognition of the value of international experiences towards our mission of “building a global perspective,” the College grants a waiver of honors course requirements for other credit-bearing international programs according to the following schedule:

  • One Semester (Fall or Spring)

    3 credits (4 credits if primarily in a language other than English)

  • Full Academic Year

    6 credits (8 credits if primarily in a language other than English)

  • Summer or Other Short-Term Trips

    1 credit for 10 days to 4 weeks abroad

    2 credits for more than 4 weeks abroad

Credit waivers do not carry an honors notation and are only relevant if needed to fulfill honors credit requirements. To receive a waiver, use the Petitions tab of the Student Records System.

Important Note

You may not receive both honors credit and the waiver for a single international experience.

Withdrawal, Dismissal, and Appeal


Students may voluntarily withdraw from the Schreyer Honors College by writing to the Dean and completing an exit survey. Withdrawal will result in the removal of all Schreyer Honors College notations from your transcript, but honors notations for individual sources will remain.


As noted above, in the Grade Point Average section of Maintaining Your Schreyer Scholar Status, students who do not successfully exit warning status in their next full-time semester will be dismissed from the College. Likewise, failure to file the Schreyer Plan or required elements of the thesis process (see Graduation Requirements, below), failure to meet honors credit requirements, or violations of academic integrity or personal and social responsibility, are grounds for dismissal. Dismissal will result in the removal of all Schreyer Honors College notations from your transcript, but honors notations for individual sources will remain.

Dismissed or withdrawn students may not re-enter the College via the Gateway or other pathways.


You have the right to appeal dismissal via a letter to the Dean of the College, submitted via the Student Records System Petition form, during the 10 days following notification of dismissal. The 3.40 cumulative GPA requirement for graduation with honors is not subject to appeal, and no appeals are possible after graduation.

Financial Aid

Please note that Scholars holding an Academic Excellence Scholarship and any other scholarship awarded through the Schreyer Honors College will lose that funding upon withdrawal or dismissal from the College.

The Honors Thesis and Graduation as a Schreyer Scholar

In this section, “graduation” refers to graduation as a Schreyer Scholar, with the honors diploma notation. The Schreyer Honors College does not have a role in overall graduation from the University, which is based on meeting University, academic college, and major requirements.

While Scholars may graduate in warning status for a prior semester under 3.40, under no circumstances may Scholars graduate with a cumulative GPA under 3.40. No appeal of this requirement is possible.

This section is not a comprehensive discussion of the various procedures associated with graduation from Penn State as a Schreyer Scholar — see our website for more information.

Honors Thesis

The Honors Thesis is the culmination of your experience as a Schreyer Scholar. Over the last few years the College has developed several resources to improve the thesis experience, including three special guides (thesis process, formatting, and submission), department- and college-specific guides, and improved information for faculty participating in the process. Note that many topics discussed in the three guides are in effect requirements, insofar as they must be fulfilled in order to satisfy the procedural requirements listed below: for instance, a thesis that is improperly formatted will not be accepted.

Because Scholars may graduate in spring, summer, or fall, all four requirements below have deadlines corresponding to each semester.

Requirement #1: Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal, submitted via the Student Records System, is a summary of the proposed project, including area of honors, purpose and objectives, sources and methods, how you intend to earn honors credit, and most importantly, who your thesis supervisor and thesis honors advisor will be. The thesis proposal must be submitted approximately one year prior to intended graduation (as set manually by the student in the Student Records System); exact deadlines by semester are listed on the Important Dates page of our website. Failure to submit the thesis proposal by the deadline is cause for dismissal. Even if you are away from campus, you should make plans to fulfill the thesis proposal requirement by the deadline.

All Scholars, including those in the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) Program completing a thesis at the master’s level, must complete the thesis proposal.

The thesis supervisor and thesis honors advisor (and reader, when applicable) must approve the thesis proposal; if they do not, the student must make changes until it is approved.

Requirement #2: Mid-Year Check-In

Starting with Spring 2018 graduates, students must complete a Mid-Year Check-In on the Student Records System. This form provides information about thesis progress so far, any significant changes to the project, and the extent of contact between student and thesis supervisor. The check-in is reviewed by the thesis supervisor and thesis honors advisor (and reader, if applicable), who indicate agreement or disagreement; while agreement is not required, the College will follow up in cases of disagreement. Exact dates for the check-in will be listed on the Important Dates page of our website.

Requirement #3: Thesis Format Review

Between two and four weeks prior to the final submission deadline (depending on the semester), you must upload the title page and a representative sample of the body of the thesis for formatting review by the College. This important step guarantees a smooth final submission process, and failure to meet the format review deadline is cause for dismissal. Further information about the format review will be distributed to Scholars at the start of their graduation semester.

Requirement #4: Thesis Submission and Signatures

By the thesis submission deadline listed on the Important Dates page for your graduation semester, you must upload a final and complete version of your thesis, and submit the required signatures or approved proxies.

All of these requirements in turn require adherence to both Schreyer and local (department and academic college) requirements. For instance, in departments that require specific preparatory courses for thesis writers, you will not obtain thesis signatures unless you take those courses (or negotiate a waiver or substitution). For a more complete discussion of thesis requirements beyond the four procedural ones listed above, see the Thesis Project Guide.

Deferring Graduation for Thesis Completion

If you anticipate that you will not be able to submit your thesis by the posted deadline for your intended graduation semester, your options are to graduate without honors or to defer graduation until the next semester (including summer). Because neither of these options is attractive, you should plan carefully with your thesis supervisor and thesis honors advisors to make sure your thesis timeline is realistic, with plenty of time to accommodate unanticipated difficulties either in your project or in the availability of your thesis personnel. If you are unable to submit by the deadline and choose to defer graduation, this may be done without incurring any significant University charges. Here are the steps:

  1. Contact your academic college to have your name removed from the current graduation list.
  2. Update your intended semester of graduation on the student dashboard in the Student Records System.
  3. Activate your intent to graduate (for the purposes of graduation only) at the beginning of your new semester of graduation.

Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Program (IUG)

This section references only those aspects of the IUG relevant to graduation as a Schreyer Scholar. For complete information about the IUG, please see our website.

If you are pursuing or considering an IUG, keep the following rules in mind regarding graduation as a Schreyer Scholar:

  • A maximum of 12 500-level credits may be applied towards the 14-credit upper-division (junior/senior) honors credit requirement. Only those 500-level classes appearing on the final undergraduate transcript, as a result of approved semester reports, may be applied. 700- and 800-level courses (in the School of International Affairs and Architectural Engineering, respectively) are treated as 500-level for the purposes of this rule. 600-level courses may not appear on the undergraduate transcript.
  • In IUGs where the master's thesis is approved to satisfy the undergraduate honors thesis requirement, it must follow all of the steps in the previous section: thesis proposal, mid-year check-in, format review, and final submission.
  • For IUGs requiring a special petition based on Schreyer Scholar status (any undergraduate/combination not specifically approved by the University Faculty Senate), you must maintain your Schreyer Scholar status through graduation. The Graduate School reserves the right to remove any student from a petition-based IUG who withdraws or is dismissed from the Schreyer Honors College.

Academic Excellence Scholarship

The Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES) is awarded to all incoming first-year Scholars.

  1. As long as you remain in good academic standing in the Schreyer Honors College and meet the requirements outlined for each year, the AES is renewed for a total of eight semesters. Scholars in good academic standing, who start and remain in required five-year programs (Architecture, Architectural Engineering, and Landscape Architecture) are eligible to receive the AES for ten semesters.
  2. The AES is awarded for full-time study. Your AES will be withheld any semester you are not enrolled as a full-time student (under 12 credits). If you find it necessary to drop below a full-time credit load during the semester, you should inform the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  3. Scholars who take a leave of absence to pursue full-time study abroad through a non-Penn State-related program may choose to draw their AES during the term of their absence; however, this will use up a semester of eligibility. If you have questions about the usage of your AES, send an email to the College's Business Manager. Inquiries about any special circumstances may be brought to the Schreyer Honors College’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
  4. The AES is not available to Scholars who choose to extend their studies via an IUG program. Once the eight semester limit has been reached, there are no opportunities for further funding.

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