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Honors Program

The Commonwealth Honors Program fulfills Salem State's commitment to provide a stimulating academic environment that offers a high quality education at an affordable cost. It's designed to offer a more challenging curriculum to students whose abilities and previous performance are demonstrably higher than the norm. All majors are eligible to participate in honors. The program enables motivated and talented students to work with our most accomplished and enthusiastic faculty, and includes program benefits such as scholarships, events and more. Learn how to apply today.

Honors Curriculum 

The Honors Program at Salem State University meets the needs of students seeking a curriculum that is unusually rich and challenging. Students fulfill the university's core requirements in writing, literature, history, and speech through designated Honors Program courses; courses that stand out not because they are more difficult and time-consuming, but because they are stimulating and challenging. Additional honors-level courses are offered in biology, English, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, nursing, geology, geography, and business. In honors courses, a premium is placed on interaction and discussion, with the expectation that students will learn from one another as well as from their faculty. Junior and senior participants take part in honors seminars, and all complete a senior honors project.

Honors Program students at Salem State are representative of nearly every major. Although selected for their academic achievement, the over 200 current members of the program display leadership on campus as well. Honors Program students have served as officers of student government, editor of the student newspaper, manager of the radio station, and as officers in most campus student organizations. They are heavily represented among varsity teams, and in choral groups, theatre productions, and service activities. Salem State Honors Program students annually participate in the Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Conference as well as regional and national conferences.

Small Class Sizes

Honors courses are qualitatively different in design and content, and smaller class size allows for greater interaction. A seminar format is used in most honors courses, giving students the opportunity for independent research, class presentations, and the chance to learn from one another. Field trips and visiting scholar sessions add to a rich academic experience. Students are encouraged to think independently and creatively, while completing a senior honors project, typically a capstone experience that stands as an education high-water mark.

Commonwealth Honors Status

In 2004, under the leadership of Professor Rod Kessler, the Salem State Honors Program was granted membership in the Commonwealth Honors Program by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. Current and past coordinators have played an active role in this integrated network of honors programs throughout the Massachusetts public college and university system. 

Institutional Memberships

Salem State University is a long-standing member of both the National and Northeast Collegiate Honors Councils. Salem State coordinators and students have attended and participated in recent national and regional meetings in Orlando, Florida; Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Morristown, New Jersey; Brooklyn, New York; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and Rhode Island.

Faculty Coordinators

The professors who teach honors courses at Salem State University are among the most experienced and enthusiastic faculty on campus. The current program was launched in 1983 with psychology professor Patricia Markunas as its first coordinator. She was followed by sociology professor Patricia Ould, English professor Rod Kessler, education professor Michelle Pierce, and psychology professor Joanna Gonsalves. In July 2016, Professor Scott Nowka (English), replaced Professor Gonsalves and the position title was changed from program coordinator to program chair.

Learn More

Spring 2018 General Education Honors Advising Sheet


Contact Us

Honors Program Chair


Faculty Fellow


Administrative Assistant


Student Office Manager

Virginia Martinez

Mailing Address

Commonwealth Honors Program
Salem State University
352 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA 01970

Efrosine Yeannakopoulos Center for the Commonwealth Honors Program, Suite 112, Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons 

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