Honors | College of Information Sciences and Technology
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Honors

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The College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) partners with the Schreyer Honors College to offer an honors education to College of IST students. 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.

Students may enter honors study in the College of IST in one of two ways: 1) admission to SHC as an entering first-year student through the SHC application during the fall of a high school student’s senior year or 2) admission to SHC in the spring semester of either the student’s freshman or sophomore year at Penn State through the Gateway application.

The College of IST offers courses (including independent studies and research project courses), a thesis experience, research opportunities, internships, study abroad experiences, graduate opportunities, and advising to students who seek an honors education.

Honors courses range from introductory to advanced levels. Courses are small (12 – 25 students), seminar-style experiences where students debate, create, and actively participate in their learning.

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 writes a plan (with the faculty member) 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 IST and SRA courses, faculty work with students in credit-bearing, individual or joint research project courses and one-on-one independent study courses. These courses are ideal for students who want to explore areas of interest that are not addressed in standard IST or SRA courses.

An honors education at Penn State includes an undergraduate thesis. Honors students work closely with faculty to undertake a study of their own. The thesis provides the developing scholar with an opportunity to explore ideas in a culminating academic experience. Honors work is excellent preparation for graduate and professional degrees. For more information about the thesis, see the SHC thesis webpage.

One of the best ways to prepare for doing a thesis is to participate in research in a faculty member’s research lab. The College of IST’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities page provides information on exhibitions and symposia, grants, travel support, and research opportunity postings. The SHC Research page presents additional research opportunities, including SHC-funded research grants.

All College of IST students are required to have an internship before graduating. IST’s Career Solutions and Corporate Engagement offers many services to students to assist students in obtaining an internship. In addition, the SHC Career Development team provides internship opportunities for Scholars only on its Internships page.

Students interested in Study Abroad experiences work with their assigned Faculty Honors Adviser and the Education Abroad Office to find a program that is right for them. The University Office of Global Programs’ Students Abroad page explains all the options for studying abroad—as well as options for doing research, internships, and more while traveling abroad.

Honors students may take graduate courses by obtaining permission from course instructors. In addition, scholars wishing to begin a master's degree while completing an undergraduate degree may apply for an integrated Undergraduate Graduate (IUG) degree. The College of IST accepts IUG applications from SHC students enrolled in the College of IST. To learn more about the IUG, see the SHC Integrated Undergraduate/Graduate Programs page.

Honors students in the College of IST benefit from the advising services of both a faculty honors adviser and academic advisers in the Advising Center. 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. Having two points of contact helps Scholars create novel opportunities within and outside of the standard curriculum.