Honors Program, Academics | Earlham College
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Honors Program

Mission   |   Admission   |   Curricular Overview   |   Incentives   |   Graduate Pathways   |   Faculty


The Honors Program connects traditionally high-performing students with experiences best suited to their inclinations and abilities, so that they can fully realize their human potential and become who the world needs them to be.

This process begins with the end in mind. Whether an Honors student intends to become a doctor, researcher, teacher, entrepreneur or politician, the Honors Program can connect them with an opportunity – such as the Rhodes, Fulbright, or Watson fellowships, or undergraduate prizes like the Hult, or competitive or prestigious internships or civic awards – which will help them achieve that end.

For that reason, our Honors Program overtly prepares its students to demonstrate their success according to four criteria that broadly reflect the priorities of these awards and fellowships. These are:

  • Motivation — using their talents to the full,
  • Leadership — demonstrating their abilities as leaders and collaborators,
  • Excellence — achieving academic and technical excellence, and
  • Humanity — improving the conditions of their fellow human beings. 

Our program helps students discover and develop their talents using two unique Honors experiences:

The Honors Seminars are designed to help students discover, and learn about, complex social problems that speak to their interests and values, and to develop the technical and interpersonal skills they will need in order to address these problems.

The Honors Pathway is an enhanced system of advising that connects students with opportunities in Earlham’s curriculum and co-curriculum, along with internships, fellowships, projects and alumni networks, as part of a coordinated plan for students' learning.


Earlham admits approximately 10% of each incoming class to its Honors cohort. Two-thirds of each Honors cohort is invited to join the Honors Program during the Summer before they first attend Earlham. Other students apply to, and are invited to join, the Honors Program during their first semester at Earlham. Our Honors Students are academically extraordinary.

Curricular Overview

Honors programming consists of three courses and a mentored project that follows the following sequence:

Honors 150 and Honors 151 are the heart of the First-Year Honors experience. In these courses, Honors students learn to communicate effectively, and work collaboratively, as they investigate complex global issues. These range from humanitarian crises, to international politics, to developments in the arts, humanities, business, and technology.

Honors 250 is an interdisciplinary research seminar that builds on the investigation, communication and collaboration skills that students learn in Honors 150 and 151. Honors 250 students analyze a specific real-world problem or situation using a combination of qualitative, quantitative, analytical and abstract reasoning techniques.

Honors 350 is a junior-year capstone. In collaboration with a mentor, teams of Honors students collaborate to develop a project that promises to improve the lives of their fellow human beings, and which demonstrates Honors students extraordinary motivational, leadership and technical skills.

Honors 483 is a one- or two-credit, optional Teaching Assistantship tethered to Honors 150, 151, 250 or 350. Honors students mentor or advise junior students in coordination with the course’s instructor or the Honors 350 project mentor.


The Honors Program also offers regular programming and gatherings for the entire cohort of Honors students, including annual trips to the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference. It also promotes Honors student participation in three other types of events:

  • Meetings that inform students of post-baccalaureate fellowships, and how to apply for them.
  • Gatherings of Alumni – especially those gatherings designed to encourage students to form mentoring or professional relationships with notable alumni.
  • Programming hosted by the Centers for Global Health, Environmental Leaderships, Social Justice, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, that introduce students to the undergraduate and post-graduate opportunities these centers make available.

In addition,

  • Honors students will be specifically invited to participate in opportunities that involve networking with distinguished alumni and the Board of Trustees (including off-campus travel for alumni events).
  • Credits awarded through the Honors program contribute to Honors students’ General Education requirements.

Graduate Pathways

Honors Program students, like all academically excellent Earlham students, are eligible for preferred placement in graduate programs, internships and careers with Earlham's partner institutions.

For example, pre-health students with a grade-point average of 3.4-plus are guaranteed seats in graduate school health and medical programs. Our Environmental Sustainability is a channel partner with the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington with the possibility of reducing the graduate degree requirements by six credit hours.


Nelson Bingham
Professor Emeritus of Psychology; Special Adviser to the College

Nate Eastman
Associate Professor of English; Teaching and Learning Consultant; Convener of Honors Program

Stephen Heiny
Research Professor of Classics

Rajaram Krishnan
Professor of Economics

Kevin Miles
Professor of Philosophy

Chris Smith
Associate Professor of Biology

Emmett Smith
Assistant Professor of Biology

Meg Streepey-Smith
Professor of Geology

Maggie Thomas
Associate Professor of Experimental Social Psychology and Faculty Director of EPIC Programs

Lori Watson
Professor of Chemistry

For more information, please contact Honors Program Convener Nate Eastman at eastmna@earlham.edu.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.