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Honors Programs

Humanities Honors Program

Humanities Honors Program 

What is the purpose of a humanities-centered education? 

The Humanities Honors Program offers a rigorous curriculum in literature, philosophy, religion, history, art, politics, music, and more. Through it, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the human experience and a better understanding of your place in it. You’ll develop your character by wrestling with age-old questions that encourage humility, patience, hard work, and listening to diverse perspectives. Your curriculum will also sharpen your reading, writing, thinking, and speaking skills that apply to your major field of study, future vocation, church life, and the world around you. 

How does it relate to my major?

While this specialized program will expedite your fulfillment of PLNU’s humanities foundational exploration credits, the stimulating course content will present a cross-disciplinary approach that draws new insights and explores the rich connections between overlapping fields of study. The benefits of this approach — growth in wisdom, skill development, and development of personal character — will prepare you to thrive in your chosen major field of study and upper-level courses, and to continue making prudent vocational and life choices beyond graduation.

What is distinctive about the Humanities Honors Program PLNU?

Grounded in Christian thought and the Wesleyan tradition, PLNU’s Humanities Honors Program is interdisciplinary and uniquely designed for experiential learning, preparing you to live out your faith and curiosity as a better engaged neighbor, citizen, and servant in your community and beyond. With access to exclusive events, service opportunities, and a short-term trip to a foreign country, you’ll put your knowledge into practice to not only graduate with distinction, but to better understand your role and impact in the world.

“Studying the humanities invites us to experience the depths of human despair and the pinnacles of human joy. By investigating the timeless questions of humanity, we participate in a journey of constant discovery and adaptation. Additionally, the humanities shape what we choose to see. In my field of political science, the topics I choose for analysis are determined by my understanding of the human experience. Studying the humanities puts me in proximity to people who are often unseen and enriches my understanding of the Gospel.”

Hannah Kurowski, Class of 2016

Program Model

  • Study with a cohort of similarly dedicated students.

  • Replace 36 units of GE courses during your first and second years of undergrad.

  • Study abroad and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, food, and history of a foreign culture.

  • Take the Honors Integrative Seminar at the completion of your program.

  • Participate in unique extracurricular activities like cultural outings to plays and museums, community service and outreach opportunities, and special guest lectures.

Program Prerequisites

  • Must be admitted to PLNU

  • Must be an incoming first-year student

  • Must intend to major in the humanities, social sciences, or undecided

  • Must be academically qualified to receive a PLNU Merit Scholarship (visit for additional information)

Program Requirements

  • Must maintain a minimum session and cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Must maintain a high standard of personal conduct

For more information about these courses, including sequencing, course numbers, and credit hours per course, please consult the Undergraduate Catalog.

Apply to the Humanities Honors Program

To apply to the Humanities Honors Program, you must first submit your general PLNU application.

Apply Now

Core Humanities Courses Unique to the Humanities Honors Program

Introduction to Christian Scholarship

This program serves as the introduction to the Humanities Honors Program. In it, you will be challenged to think of yourself as a Christian scholar — someone gifted and called to love God with your entire heart, your entire mind, and your entire life. You will also learn about the chief purpose and aims of a Christian liberal arts education, and how your education at PLNU can serve to prepare you for lifelong service to Christ.

Foundations of the Humanities I, II & II

This is a series of three courses that will introduce you to key questions regarding the ultimate nature of reality, truth, and what it means to be human through the lens of historic Christian faith. In a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary way, these courses grapple with a variety of great theological, political, philosophical, and literary works, along with important movements and works of music and art, around three historical epochs: Ancient and Medieval, Renaissance and Enlightenment, and the Modern Era.

Humanities Honors Abroad

You will be given the opportunity to experience firsthand much of what you have studied in a travel course. The trip will be led by PLNU faculty and include visits to historically and culturally significant sites. Developing strong multicultural skills, while bearing witness to Christ in an increasingly global world, will be the chief concerns of this course.

Humanities Honors Integrative Seminar

As the culminating course of the Humanities Honors Program, this seminar ties together the various experiences and coursework you have had during your first two years of study, as you explore the key themes from these courses in relation to your personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth as a Christian scholar. You will be challenged to identify and explore possible areas of research interest for development in the Honors Scholars Program or within your chosen major.

Traditional Foundational Exploration Courses Adapted for Honors Students

Rhetoric: Critical Communication

Taught during the first semester of study, this course aims to help you hone your written and oral communications skills, while giving you the tools to better understand and critically assess various written, oral, and visual media.

Introduction to Philosophy

In this course, you will study many of the key themes and topics of the Western tradition, ranging from the Ancient Greeks up to the Modern Era. You will be challenged to grapple with core questions regarding the nature of truth, reality, and the human condition; ethics and morality; wisdom and knowledge; language and meaning; and much more.

Old Testament History and Religion & New Testament History and Religion

This sequence of courses will introduce you to the history of ancient Israel and the early development of Christianity as a context for understanding the nature of God’s revelation in the Old and New Testaments. By taking these courses, you will come to a better understanding of both the literary diversity and theological unity of the two-testament Christian Bible as the primary source of authority for Christian faith and practice.

Christianity in Global Perspective

In this course, you will study the rich depths and history of the Christian faith even as you are challenged to see Christianity as a truly global movement with a wide variety and diversity of cultural expressions. You will also be confronted with some of your own cultural biases while being encouraged to find practical ways to deepen your commitment to and participation in Christ’s church.

Politics of Race, Class, and Gender

Partnering with the course, Christianity in Global Perspective, this course introduces and gives you tools to analyze the construction of the social categories of race, class, and gender through the lens of Christian faith. You will learn to assess how these structures have shaped the experiences of people in the United States and globally, and you will be challenged to consider how you, as a Christian, can better serve Christ in light of these realities.


Is the Humanities Honors Program open to science majors?

The Humanities Honors Program is specifically designed for students who major in the humanities or social sciences. With its emphasis on human traditions of self-awareness and creativity — and due to the curricular requirements of biology, chemistry, math, and related fields of study — the Humanities Honors Program does not accommodate science majors.

Does the Humanities Honors Program provide scholarship opportunities?

The Humanities Honors Program funds a variety of extra-curricular activities, including tickets to museums, plays, and symphonies, guest lectures, retreats, and the study abroad trip. However, all academic scholarships are provided by the Office of Admissions. Please visit Student Financial Services or contact your admissions counselor to find out more.

Will participating in the Humanities Honors Program delay my progress towards graduation?

Participating in the Humanities Honors Program is an expedient way of progressing towards graduation. The cross-disciplinary nature of classes means students can complete the humanities portion of the university's foundational exploration requirements — and begin their major fields of study — ahead of most other students. With the time and units saved, honors students have the opportunity to take additional electives or pursue a minor field of study.

Can I be a student-athlete and participate in the Humanities Honors Program?

Student-athletes are welcomed in the Humanities Honors Program! Honors courses and events are generally scheduled outside of team practices and competitions. In case of a conflict, however, the honors director can approve an absence.

What's the difference between the Humanities Honors Program and the Honors Scholar Program?

The Humanities Honors Program is a two-year foundational exploration program for first- and second-year students that specializes in humanistic traditions of history, literature, fine art, music, philosophy, and religion. The program prepares students for major fields of study while sharpening their abilities in critical thinking, reading, writing, and speech.

The Honors Scholar Program is a two-year research and thesis-writing program for third- and fourth-year students of any major. Guided by a thesis committee composed of faculty of the students’ choosing and the program director, the Honors Scholar Program is an ideal preparation for graduate study or professional education.

Honors Scholars Program

Honors Scholars Program 

To prepare for the completion of your project and your participation in the conference, you will be coached through the various stages of conducting a research project and transforming your work into a scholarly presentation. Throughout the fall, you will practice presenting before a group and participate in a peer evaluation process.

In April, all Honors Scholars will present their findings at the Honors Conference — to which all faculty, parents, and prospective honors students are invited. In addition, student scholars will be recognized at graduation. Their transcripts will indicate the honors project course, and on their diplomas, it will be written, “Graduation with Honors.”                 

"The Honors Scholars Program at PLNU helped launch me into my post-graduation Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology by giving me the opportunity to carry out original research and to present at both a national conference and a regional conference."

Daniel Flint, Class of 2017 

Reasons to Consider Being a PLNU Honors Scholar

  • Explore a topic of interest more deeply than is possible in a regular course.
  • Get to know and work more closely with a faculty member of your choosing.
  • Get to know and work with the very best of your fellow students at PLNU.
  • Be ahead of the game when you start graduate school and/or professional work.
  • Build a resume that stands out for grad school and/or post-graduate work.
  • Learn to present a polished presentation at a professional conference.
  • Make professional connections.
  • Learn to communicate your interests and work with people from different backgrounds.
  • Present on your work and be honored at a conference and banquet.
  • Receive special recognition at graduation.

"Participating in the Honors Scholars Program was one of the most significant accomplishments of my undergraduate career. With the help of my mentor and research partner, my academic research project was accepted for presentation at three different professional conference. The program gave me the experience I needed to become a competitive applicant for graduate school. I strongly recommend it!"

Liana Chou, Class of 2017

Contact Us

If you are interested in applying or if you have additional questions about the Honors Scholars Program, please contact Dr. Mark Mann, director of the Honors Scholars Program and Associate Professor of Theology.

Honors Thesis Award

The Samuel and Susanna Wesley Honors Thesis Award was established for a student or students who successfully complete an honors thesis with highest marks in the Honors Scholars Program.

In the 18th century, the Wesley children were raised in an atmosphere of scholarship, wide reading, theological conviction, and pious conversation. In this spirit, the honors thesis award celebrates a selected topic in an academic discipline that is linked to a Wesleyan understanding of encountering a graced world.

Criteria for the Award:

  • Any senior from any major enrolled in the Honors Scholars Program.
  • Successful completion of the honors thesis.
  • Selection of thesis by the faculty coordinator and participating faculty and students in the PLNU Honors Scholars Program. This selection is coordinated with the director of the Wesleyan Center.
  • The honors thesis will follow the general guidelines determined by the university, by the academic department in consultation with the faculty, and with the committee directing the Honors Scholars Program.
  • More than one award may be granted in an academic year.