The Honors Program seeks exceptionally well-qualified and well-motivated students of all religious, economic and cultural backgrounds. We delight in the diversity of talents and experiences that students have brought to our program through the years.
Most Honors Scholars are recruited to the program directly from high school, where they typically rank in the top 5 percent of their classes, with commensurate scores on college admissions exams. Average SAT scores (critical reading plus math) are above 1300, with average ACT scores around 29.) We do not base admissions on numerical scores alone, but also consider such factors as leadership potential, effective writing and speech, and other talents.
Those interested in joining the program are urged to complete their applications for undergraduate admission to St. Mary’s as early as possible. Top applicants will be invited by mail to make a separate application to the Honors Program. To complete their honors applications, candidates will participate in an interview (by long distance if necessary) and write an imaginary letter of recommendation describing themselves from the perspective of a scrupulously honest external observer.
The Honors Council invites more than 100 students each year to apply for approximately 20 positions in the entering class. Final decisions are normally made by the first week of April.
Sophomore admission is an alternative avenue into the Honors Program. Sophomore admission is possible for St. Mary’s students who have achieved at least a 3.85 grade point average in their first year of study. Qualified students are notified of eligibility in the summer following their first year. After successfully completing the application process (including interview and writing sample), new members receive “catch up” advising and are formally admitted to the program in the fall.
There are no honors program scholarships per se. Rather, we offer an “honors guarantee” — a guarantee that every student who enters the program will receive (in the case of the current entering class) a minimum of $22,000 per year in some form of university-administered scholarship or grant support. Students who have already been awarded a university scholarship of $22,000 or more per year do not receive additional financial support by entering the program. However, those with awards below $22,000 are automatically raised to that level of support.
Honors scholars must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 in the first year and 3.25 thereafter to remain in good standing. Successful completion of the program is recognized at graduation, on diplomas and transcripts, and in a special letter of recommendation to graduate and professional schools or prospective employers, underscoring the achievement of having completed the “academic marathon.”