The Pennoni Honors College

About the College

The mission of Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College is to deepen and enrich the University experience for ambitious students from all majors. The Honors College is comprised of six units: the Honors Program, the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, the Office of Undergraduate Research (includes STAR Program), the Drexel Fellowships Office, the Center for Cultural Outreach, and The Drexel InterView. With the exception of the Honors Program, whose members are selected, all Pennoni Honors College academic units and their programs are open to and serve the entire University student population. In addition, the Honors College administers a program for exceptional high-school students, the Visiting Scholars Program.

The Pennoni Honors College is named after Annette and Drexel graduate C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni, CEO of Pennoni Associates, and two-time interim president of the University. Honors students endeavor to emulate the Pennonis’ qualities of strong leadership, integrity, and commitment to Drexel.

About the Programs

The Pennoni Honors College houses many of of Drexel University's innovative and student-centered programs, centers, and offices, including:

Honors Program

Students selected for admission to the Honors Program have shown academic achievement and varied intellectual interests based on multiple indicators of intellectual strength, accomplishment, and motivation. Selection is based on a written statement, high school and perhaps college GPA, activities, awards and honors, and SAT/ACT scores. Honors students must maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher once accepted, make satisfactory progress toward their degree, participate in Honors courses, and demonstrate conduct befitting an Honors student.

Application Process For Incoming First-Year Students

Entering freshmen not directly invited to the Program may apply between March 1 and June 1 of their senior year of high school. The Honors Program has a separate application available on the College's Incoming Students web page.

Priority Applicants are those students who apply between January 1 – Feb 28. Priority applicants will be notified of an admission decision by April 1. 

Regular Applicants are those students who apply between March 1 - June 1. These applicants will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Applicants will be notified within 5 to 6 weeks of application receipt.

Please note that following the March 1st deadline, seats will be limited and admission will be extremely competitive

Application Process for Current Drexel Students

Current Drexel students may apply through the end of their sophomore year (4-year programs) or pre-junior year (5-year programs). Applications must be submitted to the Program by the last day of the term to be considered for admission the following term.  The application for current Drexel students is available on the College's Current Students web page.

Application Process for Transfer Students

Transfer students may apply to the Honors Program prior to the start of Junior year. Additionally, up to nine (9) Honors credits from any college or university may be considered by the Drexel Honors Program for transfer (these credits are solely for the use and purpose of fulfilling the Honors Program requirements, not your major requirements).

Applications from incoming students must be received by September 1. The application for transfer students is available at the College's Transfer Students web page.

Academic Opportunities

The Honors Program offers a number of academic opportunities for its students. These opportunities are designed to be intensive and challenging. They are taught by faculty members who understand and accommodate Honors students’ abilities and aspirations. They carry Honors credit.

These opportunities include:

Honors Colloquia: These interdisciplinary courses introduce students to topics not typically covered elsewhere. The courses are small, discussion-based, and seminar-style. Past Honors Colloquia topics include: Theory of Special Relativity; The Graphic Novel; Torture and Terrorism; Poker, Probability, and Decision; The History of Evolutionary Thought; and many others on topics such as writing and journalism, history and politics, geography and travel, as well as music, dance, and film.

  • Honors-Section Courses: These courses fulfill traditional major requirements but offer Honors credit. While the subject remains the same, the classes are taught to smaller groups, consisting entirely of Honors students, and on an advanced level that encourages discussion and practical application. Honors-section courses include, among other subjects, physics, business, general psychology, chemistry, and biology.
  • Honors Options: With permission from their instructors and approval from the Honors Program, Honors students may elect to enhance non-honors courses to yield honors credit. The student and faculty member agree on the specific requirements at the beginning of the term and jointly submit a proposal to the Honors Program for approval.
  • Independent Study: Honors students frequently come across topics in their general coursework that they would like to investigate in greater detail. To accommodate this, the Honors College encourages students to study and research a topic of their choosing with guidance from a faculty member.

In addition, students may earn Honors credits from the Great Works Symposium or Honors Travel-Integrated courses, described under the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, below.

Co-Curricular Opportunities                                                                                                    

The Honors Program organizes an array of social and cultural activities, events, and trips each term. Students have the opportunity to attend special events and receive a limited number of free tickets to a variety of concerts, exhibits, locally featured Broadway shows, as well as other professional theater and dance performances. Often a select group of Honors students are invited to a private lunch or dinner with a campus guest, who may be an entrepreneur, politician, writer, director or other notable figure. 

Honors Graduation                                                                                                        

Graduating students are recognized for their achievements in the Honors Program at the Honors Graduation Ceremony held each June. Students are acknowledged with Honors cords, medals, certificates, and awards for graduating with “Honors” or “Honors with Distinction” from the Pennoni Honors College. Graduation with Distinction, the highest honors awarded by the College, recognizes our most accomplished students.

Students graduating with ‘Honors’ or ‘Honors with Distinction’ will have the achievement noted on their official university transcript. These students are also acknowledged during the formal Drexel University Commencement Ceremony and in the official Commencement Program. 

 Requirements for Graduating with Honors:

o   Cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher

o   16 Honors credits minimum

Requirements for Graduating with Distinction:

o   Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher

o   32 Honors credit minimum

o   Honors worthy completion of a senior project, design, seminar, or capstone in the students major

The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Dedicated to furthering interdisciplinary study at Drexel, the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry offers three types of interdisciplinary programs and assists in the development of interdisciplinary courses both within the Honors College and with other Colleges at Drexel.

The three academic programs administered by the Center are the Great Works Symposium, the Custom-Designed Major, and Honors-based travel-integrated courses. 

The Great Works Symposium is a year-long, 4-term sequence of courses focused on a particular broad societal issue. Each course in the sequence approaches the issue from a different perspective. Each course typically has at least three instructors, representing three different academic disciplines, and typically there is a series of about ten guest lecturers, recognized experts on the topic, also representing a wide variety of disciplines and points of view. Each course is broader in its content than what could be covered by any one academic discipline or any single textbook, but each has a concrete center of focus. Each topic is broad and important enough that it is relevant to the education of any student.  Each year’s topic is chosen for its relevance to contemporary social, political, and economic concerns. Topics of past Great Works Symposia include, among others, Health and Society, The City, Democracy, and Energy. Students may take as few as one of the fours courses or all of them. Although it carries Honors credit, the Symposium is open to all Drexel students. 

The Custom-Designed Major enables students to pursue an individualized course of study at Drexel University not readily available through an existing major, or a combination of existing majors and/or minors.  The program is designed for highly motivated students whose interdisciplinary curiosity and career ambitions cannot be satisfied by a traditional major.  Students are assigned a faculty mentor and receive extensive guidance in pursuing their individualized course of study. 

Travel-Integrated courses are typically offered during term breaks in conjunction with the Honors Program. They are based on specific topics related to the travel destination, normally involve from 8-12 days of travel, require the completion of a paper or report, and typically carry 1 academic credit. 

The Office of Undergraduate Research

The Office of Undergraduate Research seeks, creates, and develops opportunities for Drexel undergraduate students to conduct faculty-mentored research beyond normal course requirements.  The Office administers three main programs:

STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) is a special program for a limited number of academically talented first-year students enabling them to conduct paid mentored research during the summer following their freshman year. Approximately half of each year’s cadre of STAR Scholars is selected prior to their entrance to college; the remainder are chosen by application following their first term in college. Students enrolled in any department within the university are eligible to participate. In order to be considered for participation, students must achieve a 3.6 cumulative GPA and meet eligibility requirements for admission to the Pennoni Honors College. The summer research project lasts ten weeks, carries a stipend of $4000, and includes housing. The STAR program proves a means for students to explore a major course of study early in their undergraduate career, gain valuable research or creative experience as well as practical skills, and benefit from a close mentoring relationship with faculty.

The Discover database of faculty-sponsored research and creative opportunities allows students seeking research opportunities a chance to connect with faculty seeking research experience. The site also records student research activity, thus presenting a record and a picture of undergraduate research activity at Drexel. The site also allows faculty to research projects within the University, enabling inter-disciplinary and collaborative work.

The Office of Undergraduate Research also offers, upon application, financial assistance for travel to academic conferences for students who have had posters or papers accepted for presentation. The office also takes groups of students to conferences administered by organizations dedicated undergraduate research, such as the Colonial Academic Alliance for Undergraduate Research Conference, the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard University and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. 

Fellowships Office

The Drexel Fellowships Office fosters students’ broad vision and intellectual ambition by encouraging and supporting applications to a wide range of nationally competitive, highly prestigious student awards such as Fulbright, Gates-Cambridge, Rhodes, Goldwater, Truman, and others. These awards and others like them support high-achieving students from all fields of study with financial support and recognition at the highest level. 

Through intensive one-on-one advising and writing support, as well as outreach and education, the Office works with students across the University, at all degree levels and in all Colleges, throughout these rigorous application processes. Numerous Drexel faculty from across campus volunteer their time to offer additional assistance to fellowship-seeking students. Through the process of applying, students clarify their goals and articulate a vision for their future path that can later be used to help craft strong graduate school and job applications. 

Students who are interested in applying for highly competitive awards should begin the process early in their academic career by discussing their interest with faculty mentors and with the Fellowships Office staff.  

The Center for Cultural Outreach

The Center for Cultural Outreach produces or assists with several publications, ranging from broad on-line journals that reach an international audience to publications specifically serving the Drexel community. The Center’s name reflects its mission of creating innovating publishing initiatives and developing new forms of cultural engagement for students, as well as connection with audiences beyond Drexel. The Center’s publications include: 

The Smart Set is Drexel University's online arts & culture journal, which has won national and international acclaim for its essays, reporting, and criticism. The journal is regularly linked by such high-profile publications as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Economist, and Arts & Letters Daily. Enjoying readership all over the world, The Smart Set logged around two million page-views in 2009. Besides a stable of award-winning professional writers and some of Drexel's top faculty as contributors, The Smart Set also hires talented students to help with editing, writing, photography, and design.

Table Matters is an online journal exploring the intersection of food and culture. It is published in affiliation with Drexel’s Culinary Arts program. It offers students and faculty opportunities to write and edit content on a topic that has grown in popularity and importance in recent years. 

The Honor Roll is a quarterly newsletter for Honors students, alumni, parents, and friends of the Honors College. It features stories on new developments in the Honors College, noteworthy events and projects, and students’ achievements.

The Center partners with the Philadelphia Daily News to increase and improve arts coverage in the city of Philadelphia. Students and affiliated writers produce articles on arts and culture, which each week are published in the features section of the newspaper. This project is funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Center manages Drexel’s esteemed Cultural Passport program, designed to encourage students to take full advantage of Philadelphia’s myriad cultural institutions. The Cultural Passport provides free or reduced admission to more than 30 of the city’s best cultural, historical, and performing arts institutions during a student’s first year. Students are provided a Cultural Passport early in the fall and may use it for one calendar year. Passports are provided to all freshmen, 1st year graduate students, law students and medical students as well as to all transfer students. Once a student has been given one free admission to a particular institution, the hope is that they will choose to return using the discounted rates for college students that are posted in the Passport.

The Drexel InterView

The Drexel InterView is a lively and award-winning television series hosted by Drexel Distinguished Professor of English, Paula Marantz Cohen. The show features conversations with nationally known talents in the arts, culture, science, and society. Now in its ninth season, the show currently airs on over 345 Public Broadcasting Stations, American Public Television, community access stations, and university and college stations across the United States and in Canada. Guests have included Nora Ephron, David Denby, Christopher Hitchens, Molly Ivens, Robert Venturi, E.O. Wilson, John Waters, Gail Shister, and many others. The Drexel InterView has also produced institution-based interviews/tours of The Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel, the Barnes Museum, and the Museum of American Jewish History. 

Visiting Scholars Program

The Visiting Scholars program allows exceptional high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to register for college courses—on a space-available basis—at Drexel University’s University City Campus. Students attend regular University courses with upper-class Drexel students, and must meet the same requirements as other Drexel students in the class. Visiting scholars receive full college credit and a Drexel University transcript.

Visiting scholars may register for one course per term (up to four courses per year). Students may choose from day or evening courses offered through the College of Arts & Sciences, the Goodwin College, or the LeBow College of Business. Because visiting scholars are placed in University courses with college students, registration takes place after all current Drexel students have been registered for courses. Therefore, visiting scholars cannot be guaranteed enrollment into any course, and no exceptions can be made for closed courses. Enrollment into a particular course is dependent upon available space and the approval of the instructor. Additionally, in order to be enrolled in any course, visiting scholars must meet all stated course pre-requisites.

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