Recognition and Responsibility for Excellence - It is an honor when strong academic students choose Virginia State University for their college experience. The Honors Program provides superior learning opportunities that will challenge young scholars to reach new levels of academic excellence. The VSU Honors Program is designed to meet the unique educational needs of the University’s most academically talented and highly motivated undergraduate students. Special opportunities are offered that enable students to acquire the skills and attitudes for intellectual development, cultural enrichment, and leadership development.
Participants in the Honors Program have access to Honors designated areas for study circles, seminars, colloquia, tutorials, guest/faculty lecturers, and social activities. The Honors Program also maintains a computer lab, reading/seminar room, multi-media study/meeting room, and lounge. The administrative offices of the Honors Program director and staff are located next to these facilities.
Upon admission to matriculate at VSU because of a demonstrated record of outstanding academic achievement in high school, first-year students are invited to become participants in the Honors Program as Presidential Scholars (with a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA and an 1170 SAT (new test) or 24 ACT score) and Provost Scholars (with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 1080 SAT (new test) or 21 ACT score). These scholars are eligible for $10,000 and $6,500 scholarships, respectively. These scholarships are comprised of a tuition award of $5,000 and $1,500 respectively, a $2,000 room and board award, and a $3,000 Service Award (which requires students to complete an Honors designated work assignment). Both the Presidential and Provost Scholarships are renewable for 3 years, providing the student maintains at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA, completes a minimum of 30 semester hours per year, and participates in required Honors Program activities.
In addition to the above scholars, continuing VSU students are invited to apply for membership in the program after they have completed at least 12 credits at VSU with a 3.4+ GPA. Once they have earned at least 24 credits with a 3.4 GPA, but no more than 65 credits overall (including transfer credits), they can be inducted into the program. Transfer students are encouraged to apply for membership, but like continuing students, they must not have more than 65 credits at the time they apply for membership. Scholarship opportunities for these students are available through the Office of Financial Aid upon application.
Honors Residence Hall
As the Honors Program is an intentional learning community that is both experience-based and residence-based, Quad 1A, a co-ed Honors residence hall, is available for Honors scholars’ use. This residential learning environment is a joint effort between the Honors Program and the Office of Residence Life to create a model living-learning center. This living-learning experience is designed to acclimate students to collegiate Honors education, focusing on developing skills to enhance students’ academic success and to reinforce a variety of essential life skills. Students residing in this Honors community have access to a common space for meetings and discussions, study lounges, and a computer lab.
An important aspect of developing in Honors is the opportunity to enroll in Honors courses. These courses emphasize the development of analytical, critical, and creative thinking skills, as well as excellence in written and oral communication. Additionally, the courses also promote discussion over lecture, focus on depth over acceleration, and offer students the opportunity to become more responsible learners. Honors faculty are highly qualified experts in their own fields and are genuinely concerned about teaching and student success in learning. They create in their classrooms an atmosphere conducive to student’s interchange and collaborative learning where the conversation is encouraged both inside and outside the classroom.
Honors Course Requirements
Honors courses are typically sections of General Education courses with an Honors designation. During the first two years of enrollment, Honors students are required to enroll in designated Honors courses, depending on requirements in their major.
In continuing Honors education in upper-level courses, Honors Contract courses are advised for major courses or related courses. An Honors contract is a mechanism for giving Honors depth and worth to a regular course. Honors Program students must confer with the Honors Program director before initiating an Honors Contract with an instructor. Terms of the contract and departmental approval must be completed within the first two weeks of each semester.
Honors Program Scholarly Participation
The Virginia State University Honors Program is an active member of several regional and national Honors organizations. These affiliations give Honors Program students the opportunity to participate in programs and conferences with other Honors students from across the country. They include the following:
- National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC);
- National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP);
- Southern Regional Honors Council (SRHC); and
- Virginias Collegiate Honors Council (VCHC).
Honors Program Students and Leadership Involvement
The VSU Honors Program seeks to develop leaders while at the University, and future leaders for the country and the world. VSU Honors students have the opportunity to hone their leadership skills as Honors Mentors and student leaders of the Honors Program. Each year, several students serve as Assistant Student Directors, and one student is designated as the Honors Program Student Director.
VSU Honors Program students regularly participate in several leadership programs including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Annual Leadership Institute and the Annual Emerging Leaders Workshop. Both forums represent excellent opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills in the company of other recognized student leaders from across the country.
Since its inception in 2014, the HBCU All-Star Program of the White House Initiative on HBCUs has selected a VSU Honors Program student every year to represent VSU.
Honors Program Community Service
All students in the Honors Program are encouraged to engage in service-learning and community service opportunities. Students in the Honors Program serve with a number of community-based organizations across the TriCities and Central Virginia. The Honors Program even offers opportunities to be involved in service in communities in other parts of the country during holiday breaks. The Honors Program has also organized a service-learning course that has taken students to Morocco after spring graduation.
Many Honors students develop a passion for service and the opportunities for citizen leadership development as a result of their Honors Program participation.