UMass Boston Creates New Honors College

Colleen Locke | January 27, 2014
Students in UMass Boston's existing Honors Program are automatically enrolled in the new Honors College.

Students in UMass Boston's existing Honors Program are automatically enrolled in the new Honors College.
Image by: John Gillooly

The Honors College serves students who want to push themselves--who want to enter unfamiliar intellectual terrain.

University of Massachusetts Boston students will have an opportunity to achieve an extra academic distinction after the UMass Board of Trustees recently approved the establishment of an Honors College.

“The college signifies that UMass Boston takes very seriously its commitment to offering all students an academically challenging, ambitious, and rigorous curriculum,” said Professor of English Rajini Srikanth, founding dean of the Honors College

The Honors College has grown out of the University Honors Program, which has been on the campus for approximately 20 years.

"The Honors College is an integral part of our 25-year strategic plan, demonstrating our commitment to fostering student success. It’s also yet another example of our rapidly growing reputation for academic excellence,” said Chancellor J. Keith Motley.

According to Srikanth, the Honors College has three components that set it apart: personalized advising, a senior project, and small classes with an interdisciplinary curriculum.

“It serves students who want to push themselves, who want to enter unfamiliar intellectual terrain, who want to be able to demonstrate their capacity to think across intellectual boundaries,” Srikanth said.

Srikanth says one of the other principal objectives of the Honors College curriculum is to give students an understanding of themselves as global citizens. Classes will be kept to no more than 20 students, so students will be comfortable engaging in active discussion with one another, learning both how to listen to their classmates and articulate their perspectives.

The required senior project demonstrates a student’s extended study on a particular problem or issue, which they will present and defend to a panel of faculty members and fellow students. Along the way, students will communicate with honors advisors about their intellectual ambitions and interests, and address any obstacles to achieving career goals.

“It shows the Commonwealth, it shows the country, it shows the rest of the world that we are cultivating students who have complex analytical skills, who appreciate connections among different fields of knowledge, who are going to be trained to look at complex problems in really creative and innovative ways, and who appreciate how research isn’t just about working in a lab,” Srikanth said. (Hear more from Srikanth here.)

The 400 students currently enrolled in the Honors Program will be automatically enrolled in the Honors College, which has the same admissions requirements. Students will continue to be admitted at various stages of their academic careers and will still receive degrees from the colleges in which they have majors; the Honors College does not have its own majors.

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