Quick Look

The Honors Program is an intellectual and creative community that provides a four-year, interdisciplinary, collaborative learning experience for incoming students of exceptional ability. The Honors Program supplements major study with a challenging liberal arts curriculum composed of interdisciplinary seminars, collaborative research projects, and faculty-directed independent study.

Each year, Emerson invites 50 of its most outstanding applicants to join the Honors Program. Students are selected based on their superior academic achievements, significant creative accomplishments, and demonstrated leadership. To be considered for the Honors Program, students must apply as they enter Emerson College as first-year students or as rising sophomores.

Eligibility & Requirements for First-Year Students


Admission to the Honors Program is competitive and only first-year students applying for September Admission are eligible. Students applying for one of our global partnership programs (e.g., Global BFA in Film Art and Global BA in International and Political Communication) are not eligible for Honors Program consideration. Each fall, approximately 50 outstanding first-year applicants enroll in the Honors Program. Beginning in Fall 2020, each Honors Program Scholar is also awarded a $26,000 Trustees Scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years at the College.

All eligible first-year students, regardless of major, are invited to apply to the Honors Program. Your Honors Program application decision has no bearing, however, on your admission decision to the College. Students can be accepted to the College without being invited to the Honors Program.

First-year admission into the Honors Program is determined by the Honors Program Director and the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Honors Program candidates are characterized by an intense desire to learn, to challenge their intellectual capacity, to gain international perspective, and to experience firsthand the fields of communication and the arts.

The Honors Program selection process is competitive and only those first-year students applying for September Admission are eligible. Selection is based on outstanding personal and academic qualities, such as:

  • Advanced analytical and writing skills, as demonstrated by the supplemental essay
  • Excellent academic performance in a challenging curriculum
  • Superior standardized test results (typically over a 1350 combined SAT Critical Reading and Math; over a 28 composite ACT; or 100 Internet-based TOEFL.) 
  • Commitment to community and service
  • Significant creative accomplishments
  • Demonstrated leadership
  • For those who apply test optional: An impressive academic record, Honors Program essay, and résumé of accomplishments will be considered for students.

To remain in the Honors Program, students must maintain a 3.3 (B+) cumulative quality point average and a 3.0 (B) average in Honors courses. 

Application Requirements

To be considered for the Honors Program, incoming first-year students must complete the following:

  • Complete all general requirements for undergraduate admission by the appropriate deadlines
  • Complete and submit a 400–600 word Honors Program essay by November 15 (for Early Decision and Early Action candidates) or February 1 (for Regular Admission candidates). This essay is in addition to the Common Application and Application Supplement required by the Office of Undergraduate Admission. The essay may either be uploaded with the Common Application at the time of submission or may be uploaded within the Admission Portal after submitting your Undergraduate application.

Eligibility & Deadlines for Second-Year Students


Selection into the Honors Program for rising sophomores is determined by the Honors Program Director. Because the program adheres to strict enrollment numbers, the number of open spaces is very limited, and the selection process is extremely competitive and rigorous. A select number of outstanding sophomore applicants are invited to join the Honors Program each fall. Rising sophomore students chosen for the Honors Program are recognized for their superlative intellectual achievements at Emerson.

Students are notified of their admission to the Honors Program by early to mid-June. Sophomore admits will take the Sophomore Honors Seminars during the Fall and Spring of their sophomore year (HS 201/2). Though students admitted into the program as rising sophomores will not take the First-Year Honors Seminars (HS101 and HS102/103), they must fulfill their Literary Perspective and US Diversity general education requirements.

Each rising sophomore student admitted to the Honors Program is awarded a Trustee’s Scholarship renewable during each of a student’s three years at the college, provided that the student maintains a cumulative GPA of 3.3 (B+) in all courses and a GPA of 3.0 (B) in Honors courses. 

Application Requirements

All materials must be submitted electronically to the Institute for Liberal Arts & Interdisciplinary Studies, by May 1.

This includes:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Letter of application (1-2 pages, double-spaced) stating your reasons for applying, detailing what you can contribute to the Honors Program’s community of scholars, and why you want to write an honors thesis. 
  • A short paper (2-3 pages, double-spaced) addressing the topic of the Honors Admission essay found on application form.
  • An academic writing sample from a class at Emerson (critical or expository essay).
  • Two letters of recommendation from Emerson faculty members (one of these letters should be from your first year IN seminar instructor, the second from either a professor in one of your liberal arts courses or from your first-year writing course).
  • Unofficial transcripts of courses taken at Emerson College and elsewhere

Send your materials to the following email address: Rising_.idaw3dovrat5xguw [at] u.box.com

Simply put the above address in the to: field of your email, and your application materials will be uploaded to Box. You will receive an automated email from Box that lets you know your materials have been received.

Honors Essay Topic

Please respond to the following in 400–600 words: We often use metaphors to help us understand our world and persuade others. Write about a metaphor that you think is powerful, and explore its potential to be helpful and/or harmful in your thinking.


Our Honors Program allows you to take advantage of individual advising, special lectures, interdisciplinary fulfillment of Emerson’s general education requirements, collaborative research projects, and special extracurricular activities. You will also receive mentoring and interact with upperclass colleagues. Through social events and community service projects, you become an integral part of the Honors Program’s “community of learners.”

Beginning in Fall 2020, each Honors Program Scholar is also awarded a $26,000 Trustees Scholarship, which is renewable for up to four years at the College.

Contact the Office of Admission at 617-824-8600 or admission [at] emerson.edu (subject: Honors%20Program)  to learn more about applying.