Graduating with Honors


This spring, 11 MCLA students expect to graduate with All-College Honors. They, along with two other students who graduated with honors in the fall, are part of a growing program that students find very rewarding.

To graduate from MCLA's Honors Program, a student must take a minimum 18 credit hours of honors courses, at least half of which must be at the 300 level or above. To remain in good standing with the honors program, a student must have at least a 3.2 GPA and take one honors course per academic year. 

Presently, about 120 students participate in the program, which is directed by Dr. Matthew Silliman, a philosophy professor, and Dr. Susan Edgerton, a professor of education.

"Any type of student may participate," Silliman said. "Succeeding in the program is generally accompanied by active curiosity, a passion for learning and the desire for intellectual engagement."

Three of this year's honors graduates expect to have the additional distinction of being Commonwealth Scholars. They completed a year-long interdisciplinary research and writing thesis project, which culminates in a public oral presentation and defense.

Jacob Wheeler '12 of Norton, Mass. (above, right), wrote an honors Commonwealth thesis.

"This was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had the pleasure to partake in.  It prepared me for graduate school like no other undergraduate program could have," Wheeler said.  "It is not for everyone, but the honors program here at MCLA was an essential component to my success."

As he started out in the program, Wheeler discovered what he found to be the true value of honors classes: "They are challenging; challenges bring out the best in me. I never feel so respected than when I am asked to do something very difficult.  The program respects the intelligence and diligence of its students and pushes them to achieve what they might not have otherwise."

Alexandra Nichipor '12 of Ayer, Mass. (left), said she took classes in a wide variety of subjects that she otherwise would have passed by.

"The honors program has expanded my knowledge in disciplines outside my chosen field. This will be very useful in employment and graduate school," she said. "Certainly graduating with All-College Honors will give me a super resume boost, but it also has given me even more important things: friends who share my interests and confidence in myself as a scholar."

"The type of work required in honors classes is not any quantifiable amount of work more than a normal class; rather, it is a qualitatively more difficult, more engaged, more rigorous style of learning," explained Shelby Giaccarini '12, Fitchburg, Mass. (right), who also wrote an honors Commonwealth thesis.

"My favorite part of being in the honors program is the experience of being in a classroom full of like-minded, serious students," Giaccarini said. "We all want to be there, we're all eager to learn, and that's a really exciting dynamic that you typically don't find in normal courses."

Brett Hinchliffe '12, of Norton, Mass. (left), decided to participate in the honors program because he wanted to take courses that were "both challenging and interesting."

"Completing the honors program would require me to take an abundance of these courses, many of which I hoped would involve areas outside my major so that I might enrich my learning experience beyond the lower level core curriculum classes," he explained. "The honors program has been a wonderful experience, which expanded my education far beyond the typical college experience."