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Honors Program

Find your community and achieve excellence.

Honors students pursue innovative research projects and join other ambitious students in classes taught by PennWest’s most distinguished faculty. They have opportunities to make the most of their PennWest education and to position themselves to excel after graduation, in graduate or professional school or beginning a successful career.

Honors students will complete 24 honors credits (as part of the required credits all students need for graduation) of student-centered, research/ creative intensive coursework with small class sizes and full-time faculty. These courses begin with honors versions of first year writing and public speaking classes and conclude with a thesis project, completed under the mentorship of honors faculty. In between, students have the opportunity to take a wide range of honors sections of general education courses.

Honors Program benefits:

  • Honors scholarships.
  • Challenging honors coursework.
  • Leadership and public service opportunities.
  • Priority registration.
  • Safe, supportive housing in honors residence halls on all three campuses.
  • Study abroad and honors travel opportunities.
  • Faculty-led research opportunities.

How to join the Honors Program:

High school seniors applying for admission to PennWest will be offered a seat in the Honors Program if they meet one of the following set of criteria:

  • 3.9 GPA and no/any test score (test optional for 2024)
  • OR 3.75 GPA and 1100 SAT/22 ACT
  • OR 3.5 GPA and 1200 SAT/25 ACT

Current PennWest or transfer students interested in Honors Program admission consideration must have earned a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.25 and complete the honors application for consideration.

All Honors Program applications and materials are reviewed by the directors and honors faculty. We are looking for ambitious, curious students who are looking to enrich their university experience.

Read more about the Honors Program Policies.

Honors Program Scholarships

Only incoming high school graduates admitted to the Honors Program are eligible for consideration for additional scholarships. These awards are in addition to the one-time $1,000 Honors Award Scholarship.

Academic Scholarships (all three campuses)

  • In addition, a limited number of academic scholarships of up to $1,000 per year are available to Honors Program students. They are renewable for four years as long as you maintain a minimum GPA of 3.50.

‍These scholarship funds are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis for students who complete the Honors Scholarship Application prior to the March 1 priority deadline.

Honors Admission and Scholarship Application Deadlines

The application priority deadline for Honors Program admission and scholarship consideration is March 1. By April 1, most if not all of the Honors scholarships will have been awarded.  However, exceptional late-arriving applications could result in an Honors scholarship offer if an earlier recipient chooses not to accept their award. 

Honors Program Application Checklist

Please review the following checklist before starting your application:

1. I have applied, or intend to apply, to live on the Honors Living-Learning Floor or building at the California, Clarion, or Edinboro campus. (This is optional. You are not required to live in the honors residences.)

2. I am a current PennWest or transfer student with a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.5.

3. I have included the following materials for consideration:

  • A 500-word essay developing my ideas about one of the topics listed below.

    Pick one creative work - a book, film, play, graphic novel, TV show, painting, song - any piece of artistic expression that changed your life. Did it alter how you see the world or other people? Help you understand yourself better? Make you want to follow in that artist's footsteps? Something else? Explore its effect on you.

    What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
  • A copy of my updated resumé that contains my extracurricular activities, community service and leadership experience.

    Note for Resumé Uploads: Please name your file "Full Name - Honors Application." If you need to resubmit a file, please add the version number to the end of the file name (ex. v2, v3, etc.). If you try to resubmit the file with the same name, it will not submit.

By filling out this application, you are applying for admission consideration to the Honors Program.

The Honors Program strives to provide a select group of high-achieving new students as well as current students and transfers, with a safe, supportive community in which to excel academically, socially and professionally.

Contact Us

Honors Program Faculty and Staff


California: Dr. M. G. Aune, Director

Clarion:  Dr. Rod Raehsler, Associate Director

Edinboro: Dr. Lenore Barbian, Associate Director

Support Staff

California: Kim Orslene, Administrative Assistant

Edinboro: Brianna Ramey, Secretary

General Inquiries


California: honors-cal@pennwest.edu

Clarion:  honors-cla@pennwest.edu

Edinboro: honors-edn@pennwest.edu

California: 724-938-4535

Clarion:     814-393-2343

Edinboro:  814-732-2981

Apply or learn more today