The Mercyhurst University Honors Program offers students an enriched intellectual experience, both in and out of the classroom. The program confers the prestige of graduating with Mercyhurst Honors on those who satisfy the requirements of this designation. Students are expected to be intellectual and creative resources for the wider college and regional communities using their talents and skills to bring classmates and neighbors into the cultural community where they thrive.
The Mercyhurst University Honors Program director invites qualified high school seniors to apply to participate in the Honors Preparation Year (HPY) during their freshman year at Mercyhurst. Selection of students for the Mercyhurst University Honors Program occurs in the spring of the HPY. Students already studying at the university and students transferring from other institutions are welcome to discuss participation with the director, Susan Johnson.
The Mercyhurst University Honors Program offers the Mercyhurst Honors students several attractive features. They include:
A large and interesting selection of courses. Each year the Mercyhurst University Honors Program offers 12 to 15 courses arranged in response to Honors student and faculty scholarly interests. All courses offered in the Honors Program meet Core requirements. Honors courses are limited to 18 students and average 16.
Superb faculty. At Mercyhurst University we take great pride in our excellent teaching faculty. From among these outstanding teachers the Honors Faculty are selected each year.
A community of scholars. A sense of belonging to an intellectual community is soon cultivated through interaction in Honors courses, social events organized by the student Honors Council, and the opportunity to live in Honors housing.
The Mercyhurst University Honors Program privileges. Early course registration and special living arrangements are available to The Mercyhurst University Honors Program students.
Flexibility. In order to meet graduation requirements MUHP students may “honorize” certain courses. Informational meetings are generally held once a term or as needed. Credit is given for activities and extracurricular activities that The Mercyhurst University Honors Program students may have pursued regardless of their honors status.
Graduation distinction. The Mercyhurst University Honors Program courses are clearly marked on all Honors students’ transcripts and diplomas are specially sealed.
The Mercyhurst University Honors Program serves as a model of and laboratory for excellence in Mercy education through exploring new course offerings and innovative pedagogies. Inspired by the example of the Sisters of Mercy and consistent with the mission of the University, the Honors Program endeavors to create a learning environment both in- and outside of the classroom that engages the whole student, for the value of an education is more than developing the skills necessary for the workplace but is more profoundly about contributing to building stronger communities and cross-cultural understanding. Accordingly, grounded in the multi-disciplinary tradition of the liberal arts, the Mercyhurst University Honors Program fosters creative, independent, and critical thinking; facilitates a community of scholars among students; supports opportunities to connect theoretical ideas to real world applications; and nurtures students' understanding of the value of service. These aims are supported by the program's pillars of student-directed research, service to the community, leadership development, interdisciplinary learning, and intercultural awareness.
Experience in and the ability to create independent research; be deeply knowledgeable about major discipline, advance a recognizable perspective, thesis, or hypothesis, communicate essential details of discipline to non-specialists, and think critically and creatively about the significance of their research for the advancement of their discipline and the real world. In this respect, the curricular design of the program demonstrates:
An emphasis on independent research (scholarship)
Engagement activities demonstrate an intentional integration of independent research
A significant independent research opportunity is built into the curriculum
The ability to actively contribute to discussions and projects in courses and take ownership of his/her education; actively contributing to the on- and off-campus community. In this respect, the curricular design of the program demonstrates:
An emphasis on the theory and practice of leadership
The extracurricular activities demonstrate an intentional integration of the practice of leadership
A significant leadership opportunity in research, creative, or service activity is built into the curriculum
The ability to be conversant in subjects outside of her/his major discipline and to make connections between other disciplines and his/her own. In this respect, the program's curricular design demonstrates:
An intentional structure that integrates diverse knowledge, methods, perspectives, and/or skills
Engagement activities demonstrate an intentional structure that exposes students to diverse knowledge, methods, perspectives, and/or skills
Knowledge about cultures other than his/her own as well as ethnic and economic diversity on campus and in the local community. In this respect, the program's curricular design demonstrates:
A pervasive emphasis on intercultural knowledge and competence
Engagement activities demonstrate an intentional enhancement of global learning
A search for knowledge not as an end in itself but as the means to making a positive contribution to the world: he/she understands and can articulate the value of service and empathy. In this respect, the curricular design demonstrates:
A pervasive emphasis on service
Extra-curricular activities demonstrate an intentional understanding of the value of service and empathy
Apply discipline-based and/or cross-discipline-based knowledge to design a problem-solving strategy. Conceive, plans, and execute a high-quality research аnd/оr creative capstone project in the appropriate disciplinary or multi-disciplinary context. Demonstrate the ability to select evidence to investigate a point of view or form a conclusion. Demonstrate the ability to explore issues fully and deeply
Make substantial contributions to course discussion and/or group work. Demonstrate ownership of his/her educational process. Facilitate the discussion of a topic individually and/or as a member of a group
Integrate diverse knowledge, perspectives, and/or skills from different disciplines or research traditions into arguments and/or strategies. Design and produce a research and/or creative project in the appropriate interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary context
Express and evaluate his/her own cultural awareness. Synthesize and internalize intercultural experiences from the perspectives of own and other world-views. Articulate an understanding of cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication. Actively explore and answer complex questions about other cultures
Articulate a personal view of the value of serving others. Explain how service experiences have expanded their understanding and increased their sensitivity to issues like injustice, responsibility, community, and empathy
“I graduated with my MA in Counseling: Art Therapy from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, now Adler University in 2009. I thought the Honors Program helped most with graduate school, I felt well prepared and while I won't say it was easy, I did not notice a drastic change in workload or expectations that some of my peers did. It felt like a natural progression. I thought I received pretty good benefits, such as having my thesis published in a professional journal, and I did really enjoy the Honors Program. I'm glad I did it!”
Emily McGuirk, MA, Honors Program Graduate 2007
“The Honors Program at Mercyhurst University was an enriching experience that encouraged me to broaden my boundaries and explore areas of study outside my major. I believe the additional requirements of the program helped me to be more successful in my job search after graduation and prepared me to be a well-rounded employee. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities afforded to me as a result of my participation in the program.”
Eric Schmalzried, BS, ACSM-HFS, WSI, LGI, Honors Program Graduate 2010
All applicants to Mercyhurst University who feel they would benefit from the Honors Program are encouraged to apply. We look at a number of factors when we consider students for the Honors Program.
A candidate should have a record demonstrating at least two of the criteria appearing in the bulleted list below. Successful candidates are usually able to demonstrate three or more.
High-school GPA of at least 3.5 or 90%
1700 SAT (verbal/math/writing)
Successful participation in AP or IB courses
Class ranking in the top 10%
Recommendation from the Director of International Admissions (for international applicants)
We also look favorably upon a record of active participation in extracurricular activities. In addition to an introductory statement, all applicants must submit a two page (approximate) writing sample as part of their application. This writing sample should be different than the essay submitted as part as the application to the school
Applications to the Honors Program may be sent in any time after application to the university. Review of Honors Program applications will begin March 1. Applicants should be aware that the number of openings to begin the Honors Preparation Year in the Fall term is limited; therefore, interested candidates are encouraged to apply early
Professor Johnson specializes in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders of children and youth, and function-based interventions in natural environments. Her scholarly interests include instructional design and development of pedagogical best practices for students with severe disabilities, in addition to, analyzing the link between delinquency and disability in the juvenile justice system. Susan D. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Special Education in the Hefenmeier School of Education & Behavioral Sciences at Mercyhurst University. Her primary teaching areas are in high and low incidences disabilities, and behavior theories and practices. She received her master’s degree in special education from St. Bonaventure University and a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from SUNY Fredonia. Previous to teaching at Mercyhurst, Professor Johnson spent 15 years working as a public school and private agency speech/language therapist and special education teacher. She has been at Mercyhurst since 2010.
Nick Plonski, Graduate Assistant
Nicholas Plonski was born in Erie, PA and graduated from Cathedral Preparatory High School where he had all AP and Honors classes. He was involved in Key Club, theater, Campus Ministry/Eucharistic Minister and rally crew. He played four years of high school soccer as a Defender/Midfielder. Nick graduated from Mercyhurst University in 2014 with a B.A. in Business Management. He made the Dean's List twice and played three years for the Men's soccer team. One of the years he played at the North East campus earning the WNYAC All-Conference award. He also played a year for the Erie Admirals NPSL semi-professional team of Erie. This past year he completed a Marketing Internship with the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership that helped to establish skills beyond the classroom. Nick had an article published in the Erie Magazine December/January 2014 issue during his internship and he also created a business proposal for bringing an alternative education program to Erie. He is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration at Mercyhurst University and is the Graduate Assistant of the Honors Program. Nicholas is the son of Robert and Lillian (Betza) Plonski of Erie and he has a brother David and sister Emily also of Erie
To be considered for admission to the Honors Preparation Year in the Fall, all applications must be submitted by June 1. For questions regarding the application process please contact Elizabeth Bross in the admissions department.
The application is for incoming students only. Current and transfer students please contact director, Susan Johnson.