Honors Program in General Education
The Honors Program is designed for students with a particularly strong academic record. It is intended to provide such students with classroom and extracurricular experiences that foster a spirit of inquiry and discovery. Participants in the Honors Program have the opportunity to take special honors courses. These courses, limited in enrollment to a maximum of 15 students, are not necessarily more demanding than regular classes in terms of the amount of work required. Rather, they are structured to allow for spirited discussion and interaction. Honors courses are taught by faculty members selected for their ability to stimulate and challenge inquisitive students to achieve the highest levels of intellectual activity.
The Honors Program encourages participation by students from all of the different schools and colleges in the university. Honors courses count toward the university’s general education requirements, which must be met by all Widener students. Thus, it is even possible for students with very demanding majors to participate in the program. In addition to the intellectual stimulation that participation in the program can provide, involvement in the program can have a positive impact on an individual’s career. Employers and graduate schools view participation in an honors program very favorably in evaluating applicants.
A Certificate of Honors in General Education is awarded at graduation to students who successfully complete a minimum of five honors courses. The usual course distribution is Freshman Honors English, one honors colloquium, and at least three other honors courses. Students are encouraged to take as many additional honors courses as they wish. A Certificate of Advanced Honors in General Education is awarded at graduation to students who successfully complete an additional honors colloquium or an honors independent study in some field of general education.
To continue in the Honors Program, each participant must attend a minimum of eight outside-of-class academically or culturally enriching events during each academic year. Two of these eight events must be during Honors Week in the spring semester, and one event must be service related. Each participant must also have an overall grade-point average of 3.25 at the time of graduation.
Incoming freshman students are invited to participate in the Honors Program based on their high school records and SAT scores. After the first and second semesters of the freshman year, other interested students displaying excellence in college work are invited to join the program.
Not all freshman students wish to declare an academic major immediately upon entering Widener. Therefore, Widener provides a program known as Exploratory Studies, designed to meet the particular needs of students wishing to explore several academic major options. Any entering freshman student who has not made a decision about a college major may elect to be an Exploratory Studies (ES) student.
Selection of an academic major generally occurs by the end of the freshman year, although some students continue their ES status into the sophomore year. Exploratory Studies students are cautioned that if the selection of an academic major is prolonged beyond the freshman year, summer and additional semester work may be required to meet graduation requirements, depending upon the field of study ultimately selected. Exploratory Studies students matriculate fully. Students take courses with students from all other academic divisions, and ES students have successfully pursued admission to every major program on campus. Each ES student is advised by an academic advisor; students are also encouraged to work with the staff in Career Services.
Prospective students are encouraged to discuss this program with their Widener admissions counselor or to contact the director of Exploratory Studies.
The Association of American Law Schools has emphasized that no single major or individual group of courses provides a secret key to preparation for law school. Students should major in a field that is intellectually challenging and that will develop:
- comprehension and expression in words.
- critical understanding of the human institutions and values with which the law deals.
- creative power and thinking.
Widener maintains membership in the Northeastern Association of Pre-Law Advisors. Faculty members on Widener’s Pre-Law Advisory Committee can provide special counseling in course selection and in the law school application process. Students are urged to contact the chair of the Pre-Law Advisory Committee or other members of this committee for more information. Students who graduate from Widener in the top 50 percent of their graduating class and score in the 50th percentile or better on the LSAT are guaranteed a seat in the Widener University School of Law.
Common majors for pre-law include accounting, English, political science, history, management, criminal justice, and sociology. The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences has approved a “Minor in Legal Studies and Analysis” to assist students in preparing for the study of law.
Health Professions (Formerly Pre-medical) Preparation
Widener fully subscribes to the position established by the Association of American Medical Colleges that individuals from diverse educational backgrounds are needed by the medical profession. Students may major in any field, provided that they acquire a strong foundation in the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics), highly developed communication skills, and solid background in the social sciences and humanities that medical schools uniformly seek in their applicants. Biochemistry, biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and psychology are examples of majors that have been pursued by Widener students who have competed successfully to enter medical school.
Students should contact the chair of the Health Professions Committee for more information.
The health professions advisor actively assists students from the beginning of the first year of study to provide maximal opportunity for each student to attain an academic and extracurricular record worthy of admission to medical school. Students who are interested in preparing for professional careers in the physician assistant field, optometry, podiatric medicine, occupational therapy, physical therapy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or chiropractics are also personally guided by the health professions advisor. A library of pertinent references is readily available in the advisor’s office, and special efforts are made to enable each student to explore all the options which are available so that fully informed decisions can be made.
Students may also avail themselves of the following extracurricular opportunities as their interests dictate:
- part-time volunteer experiences at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
- field trips to nearby medical schools.
- mock admissions interviews in the senior year.
Accelerated programs that enable students to earn the bachelor of science in biology and the DMD, the doctor of optometry, the doctor of podiatric medicine, or the doctor of osteopathy exist between Widener University and the Kornberg School of Dentistry at Temple University, Salus University, the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, respectively. Details about the accelerated programs are available in the section devoted to the sciences.
The Institute for Physical Therapy Education and College of Arts and Sciences also offer bachelor of science and doctor of physical therapy dual-degree programs. Qualified pre-physical therapy students may earn both Widener degrees in six years by pursuing this option. Details are available in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education section and in the College of Arts and Sciences section under the degree programs for fine arts, social science, and science.
The open major enables Widener students to design their own interdisciplinary program. It was created to encourage students to participate in many of the diverse disciplines offered at Widener. A student must be in good standing to qualify for participation in an open major program. Interested students should consult their academic advisors who will help them form an advisory committee of three members of the faculty. This process should be instituted at the normal time for declaring a major. Once the student and committee have designed a program, it is submitted to the Faculty Committee on Open Majors. This faculty committee will approve and review the progress of each program once a year and (upon the recommendation of the student’s advisory committee) will be responsible for recommending to the faculty the granting of the appropriate degree for which the student qualifies.
There are a number of possibilities within this framework in such fields as international affairs, multinational enterprises, urban affairs, management, and others.
Because of the nature of such programs, the advising relationship between the student and the faculty is important.