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Honors Program

About the Honors Program

Unique General Education Courses:

Honors courses fulfill general education requirements but are specifically designed for honors students and differ from "regular" college courses. Examples include:

  • A history class that approaches American history through the lens of popular songs.
  • An economics course in which students create an economic development plan for the city of Lebanon and present it to local leaders.

  • A world politics course in which students put the president of Sudan on trial for genocide in Darfur.
  • A psychology course in which students review, critique, and edit Wikipedia pages on psychology topics.
  • An English course that incorporates computer software and hardware to facilitate an analysis of writing in the digital age.

Honors Thesis:

Students complete the program with an honors thesis, usually in their major field. Students work with a faculty mentor when researching and writing the thesis, and the program culminates with a public presentation of the honors thesis to the campus community.

Opportunities Beyond the Classroom:

  • Honors students are elected to the Honors Council and help develop all aspects of the program, including program requirements, honors courses, and social events.
  • Honors students attend cultural events like the St. Louis Speaker Series or shows at the Fox Theater.
  • Honors students present research at conferences like the Mideast Honors Association Conference.
  • Honors students register for courses prior to other students in their class.
  • Honors students have greater access to speakers and other VIPs that visit the campus.

Program Requirements:

To maintain eligibility and complete the program, all honors students must enroll in at least one honors course per semester, earn at least a C in each honors course, maintain at least an overall GPA of 3.3, and complete at least 16 credit hours in the honors program, including four hours for the honors thesis.

Admission Information:

  • All incoming high school students with at least a 3.75 GPA are eligible to apply for the honors program.
  • Transfer students may apply to the program director to enroll in the honors program; they should submit a letter of recommendation from a faculty or staff member at their previous institution or at McKendree and must have at least a 3.0 college GPA or be a member of a recognized honor society at their previous institution.

Honors Thesis Presentations


Kristen Goersch, "The Effects of the Academic Motivation of College Students on School Policy Violations"

Callie Pohlman, "Behavioral Response of Grizzly Bears from the Visitor Effect at the St. Louis Zoo"

Rebecca Postula, "The Rising Right: An Analysis of the Causes of Right Wing Populism"

Ryan Herrington, "A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Sarbanes-Oxley: Twenty Years Later"


More Honors thesis presentations are available on the website of McKendree's Academic Excellence Celebration.

What People Are Saying


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The McKendree University Honors Program has given me a great opportunity to take a leadership role that has a direct effect on my education. I love the engaging and interesting classes that are reserved for honors students and am proud to be a part of this organization.”

~ Merrilee Gibbs Davolt '16, Honors Council Member.


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The Honors program has been an integral part of my experience at McKendree because it exposed me to issues that that I was ignorant about previously. One of my first courses at McKendree focused on environmental issues from the comprehensive perspectives of business and science. As I continued in the Honors program, I was able to pursue education on topics that interested me, such as human trafficking in America. Four years in the Honors program broadened my worldview and allowed me to learn about issues, such as economics, that I would not have studied as a psychology major. I would not be the thoughtful, well-informed individual that I am today without my time in the Honors program.”

~ Kristin Junge '15, Honors Council Member.


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Participating in the Honors Program at McKendree University was both an honor and a joy. The program is designed to attract students who are willing to go above and beyond the basic requirements of each class and learn in the most fulfilling and creative ways possible. Taking honors courses has allowed me to grasp the interdisciplinary nature of education, work with peers who are similarly enthusiastic about their scholarship, and approach problems from a variety of theoretical frameworks. I would recommend the Honors Program to any Bearcat who wants to get the most out of their McKendree education.”

~ Lindsay Hansard '15, Lincoln Laureate Award Winner.


Successful Outcomes

Many honors program graduates go on to attend prestigious graduate schools. A few recent examples include Kristin Junge at Washington University, Anthony Rhoads at the University of Iowa, Jessica Tieman at the University of Illinois, Daniel LaMaster at Louisiana State University, Whitney Baillie at Syracuse University, and Meagan Musgrave at Carnegie Mellon University.

Our honors program graduates gain employment in a wide variety of fields doing extremely interesting jobs. Some examples include:

Kevin Schaefer (2014), Software Developer, Dupont Pioneer

Allison Poehler (2012), Los Alamos National Laboratory, Department of Energy

Ryan Vincent (2012), Software Engineer, Recursive Labs

Dr. Sara Beth Rubenacker (2006), Gynecologist

Donielle Nichole Jordan (2006), Environmental Scientist, CDM, Inc.

Erin Conner (2008), St. Clair County Prosecutor

Lora Nation (2007), Dentist

Gregory Mennerick (2006), Attorney, Thompson Coburn LLP