Undergraduate Honors Program

The College of Information Sciences and Technology partners with the Schreyer Honors College to offer honors courses, a thesis experience, research opportunities, internships, study abroad experiences, graduate opportunities, and advising to students who seek an honors education. Our goal is to produce critical thinkers who push the boundaries of what we know, and thoughtful researchers who undertake meaningful and rigorous studies of the impact of information technologies on individuals, organizations, and society.

To learn more, contact Carleen Maitland, College of IST Schreyer Honors College coordinator.

Applying to Schreyer Honors College

Students may enter honors study in the College of IST in one of two ways:

For current students to be eligible for admission, they must meet the following minimum qualifications:

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 3.70
  • An application semester GPA of 3.50 or higher for current sophomores and 3.70 or higher for current first-year students
  • At least one full-time semester completed at Penn State
  • At least four full-time semesters of study remaining before graduation

Academic Experience

Honors students in the College of IST benefit from the advising services of both a faculty honors adviser and academic advisers in IST's Office of Undergraduate Academic Advising.

Faculty honors advisers are tasked with all things honors-related. Academic advisers work with honors students regarding all other issues relating to academic progress at Penn State.

Honors courses offered regularly range from introductory (IST 110H) to advanced (IST 445H and IST 489H) levels. Check the Schedule of Courses each semester to find these and other less regular honors offerings. Use the Additional Search Criteria to specify College of IST and Honors Courses.

Honors Option courses are individually negotiated, honors versions of standard courses. For a course in which a student wants to do deeper work, the student requests that the faculty member oversee an Honors Option and works with the faculty member to write a plan for modified course assignments that will enrich and enhance the learning in the course. This type of course allows students to customize their honors experience.

In addition to standard College of IST courses, faculty work with students in credit-bearing, individual or joint research project courses and one-on-one independent study courses. These courses are numbered with a “94” at the end for research or a “96” at the end for independent study.

Research project courses in the College of IST (294/494) are intended for students who are carrying out research activities in a faculty lab setting or as work on an independent honors thesis. If you are interested in adding one of these courses, please review the Undergraduate Research page and visit with a faculty member to discuss research opportunities. When you and the faculty member agree on what your research tasks will be, return to the Undergraduate Research page to sign up for the appropriate research credits.

Students in the Schreyer Honors College who want to complete both research and honors thesis work for credit outside of the College of IST should contact the appropriate honors adviser in that department for the procedure to register for research credits.

Honors students doing honors-level research work can submit an online form through the Schreyer Honors College website to add an “H” to these credits. These honors credits count toward SHC's academic requirements for honors credits.

Independent study courses—CYBER/DS/ETI/HCDD/IST/SRA 296 for first- and second-year students and CYBER/DS/ETI/HCDD/IST/SRA 496 for junior and senior students—are intended for students who want to explore an area of interest that is not addressed in formal courses. A student must request that a faculty member work with them and discuss this option with their academic adviser before moving forward. To learn more, visit the Independent Study page.

Honors students doing honors-level work can submit an online form through the Schreyer Honors College website to add an “H” to these credits. These honors credits count toward SHC academic requirements for honors credits.

The undergraduate thesis provides the developing scholar with an opportunity to explore ideas in a culminating academic experience. Each semester of a student’s undergraduate program presents an opportunity to make progress toward the thesis—whether that progress is exploring ideas, narrowing a specific topic, or actually completing chapters of the thesis. For more information about the thesis, see the College of IST’s thesis guide and the SHC thesis webpage.

One of the best ways to prepare for completing a thesis is to participate in research in a faculty member’s research lab. Students can discover research opportunities with IST faculty, and should explore exhibitions and symposia, grants, travel support, and research opportunity postings through Penn State’s Office of Undergraduate Education and the Schreyer Honors College.

Students interested in research should work with their faculty adviser to identify and contact faculty members who are doing research that aligns with the student’s interest. By asking to observe weekly research meetings, offering to provide free services for the experience of being in a research lab, or proposing a topic related to the faculty member’s research, students can dive deeper into their research interests.

Honors students may take graduate courses by obtaining permission from course instructors. Graduate courses count toward the Scholar’s requirement for honors credit. Scholars can also apply for an Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate (IUG) degree, which allows the student to pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time.

IST’s Office and Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement offers many services to students to help them secure an internship. In addition, the SHC Career Development team provides internship opportunities for Scholars only on its Career Development page.

Students interested in studying abroad can work with their assigned Faculty Honors Adviser and the Office of Global Programs to find an opportunity that is right for them.


Carleen Maitland

E390 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802

(814) 863-0640