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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston’s transition from an Honors Program to an Honors College

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This past summer the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted in favor of its Boston campus’ Honors Program becoming the UMass Boston Honors College. All that remains to be done before the transition can fully begin is for the Department of Education to approve the status of the new Honors College.
The Honors Program at UMass Boston currently hosts approximately 350 students and is working on enrolling larger numbers of accepted Honors Program freshmen. Within the last two years of the program’s operation there has been a 15 percent increase in enrollment of freshmen.
According to the current program’s mission statement, “Honors students benefit from specially arranged, small, interdisciplinary classes led by committed professors who are often teaching the fields of their own research. Students in the Honors Program receive extra advising and help in planning their university careers, and Honors course work strengthens a transcript.”
Since most honors colleges are located at comprehensive interdisciplinary universities, they also tend to be part of a more populated undergraduate student body, which produces a greater number of honors participants. Honors colleges that are within a comprehensive university are have the advantage to develop and facilitate cross-disciplinary studies. By having honors colleges commonly located within universities that pride themselves on their research and scholarship mission, honors students should have increased opportunities to participate in this mission.
According to Honors Program Director Rajini Srikanth, “The transition from a program to a college will include various new opportunities for current honors students as well as prospective ones. 
“New courses will be added to the curriculum and more professors are requesting to teach their ideal courses through the honors curriculum. And new course curriculums may enable more research opportunities for students to work alongside their professors.
“Knowing that we are becoming an Honors College,” Srikanth said, “there is a stature that a college carries about it. A student participating in the college would have a dual degree and the Honors College is the college that confers upon you an additional status.”
Srikanth believes that “Every student who graduates from the Honors Program should have a solid appreciation for how important it is that the humanities and the sciences and the arts have an appreciation and respect to communicate together. That knowledge cannot be compartmentalized. That to be a truly effective citizen, one should understand the ways that all curriculums interact and through the opportunities we provide, here in the program, students will learn that.”
She added, “I’m constantly amazed by my students and if any honors students have suggestions in ways to grow, we would love to hear them.”
Kelly Danckert, an English major involved with program said, “The Honors Program has definitely made my experience at UMass Boston much more enjoyable – the seminars are thought provoking and challenging, the advisors are always willing to go above and beyond, and the students in the program have become some of my closest friends.
“I think the program offers a wide variety of opportunities that everyone can take advantage of.”