Information for Humanities Honors Parents

Welcome Parents of SJSU Humanities Honors students!

You may have heard of the Humanities Honors Program at San José State from friends, or from your sons or daughters, and to assist you in understanding what the program is all about, we have prepared some information. At the heart of the tradition of the Humanities Honors Program is the building of a learning community, and we welcome the parents of our students to feel included. Please explore the information given below, and if you are so inclined please consider some of the ways to get involved.

The Legacy of the Humanities Honors Program

The Humanities Honors Program at SJSU has a legacy of more than half a century. Founded in 1954, the program has a rich history on campus and many, many alumni. It is not unusual for our students to have parents or relatives who have gone through the program. We often hear family stories from students who are second or third generation Humanities Honors candidates and participants. If you have such a story about your family and the Honors Program, please feel free to email and share it with us!

Why Humanities Honors?

First, the Humanites Honors Program satisfies many General Education requirements for all majors! No matter what major a student chooses, 24 units of lower-division GE requirements are completed. The program also fulfills the California Government, U.S. History, and U.S. Constitution requirements.  

Second, the program is designed to be interdisciplinary, meaning that world culture is considered through the lens of different academic disciplines, including music, art history, rhetoric, philosophy, history and political theory, literature, and theatre. By presenting these diverse subjects to students in an integrated manner, the program aims not only to promote excellence and to build knowledge of these subjects, but also to enable students to see connections among disciplines and ideas, something that will stay with them and help them throughout their college careers.

Third, because the program integrates several disciplines and develops reading, writing, and presentation skills, the program allows students to fast track through lower-division GE requirements.

Fourth, this education in the required basics is coupled with an environment in which students can build friendships with classmates and relationships with professors. In each cohort a supportive community develops because students are with the same group of their peers and the same professors for the entirety of their two years in the program.

Fifth, two upper-division student Peer Mentors who recently completed the Honors Program offer guidance during students' first year in Humanities Honors. 

Measurable Results

The Humanities Honors Program develops students' analytical reading capabilities, written and oral communication proficiencies, and research skills, while supporting students' ability to work in all areas with integrity. These goals, and what follows for students should they fulfill them, are measurable. A study done through the Office of Institutional Research at San José State University has shown that Humanities Honors is the most successful First Year Experience (FYE) program for undergraduate retention and graduation. This means that students who successfully complete the Humanities Honors Program are most likely to continue to progress toward graduation in a timely manner.

How are students admitted to the Humanities Honors Program?

Admission to the Honors Program begins when the university provides the Honors Program with a list of eligible students who have been admitted to San José State University. Program faculty email eligible students to invite them to apply to the Program. If a student expresses interest, we begin the process of information gathering, and notification of acceptance. Questions are always welcome, and to meet and get more information in person, the Humanities Honors Program has an informational table at Admitted Spartans Day. If you have specific questions, please email the Humanities Honors Program Coordinator, Professor Cynthia Rostankowski, at

What do students need to do in order to succeed?

Humanities Honors requires substantial reading and students will need to budget time accordingly. We encourage students to get to know fellow classmates and their professors, as building relationships will also help them to succeed. Students who form small study groups typically do better in their coursework, and frequently develop friendships that last beyond the completion of the Humanities Honors Program. Professors are also readily available for questions and discussion during office hours, and students are encouraged to make good use of their availability. Humanities Honors is about opening doors for students, not closing them. If students are having difficulties they are encouraged to seek advice and help. We want students to succeed, and our aim in teaching and advising is to help to make the possibility for success a reality.

Opportunities for Humanities Honors Students at SJSU

Because of their highly developed skills in writing, oral presentations, research, and analysis, many Humanities Honors students become peer mentors, tutors, or writing counselors; become actively involved in student government; or engage in other productive activities at the university. Honors students have also been rewarded for their achievements. There are a number of scholarships Humanities Honors students are eligible for because of participation in the program. 

Honors as a Rite of Passage

By the time they finish the program, students have learned about transformative human achievements in philosophy, literature, social science, and the arts from antiquity to modern day. They have also seen how the accomplishments of each age form a continuum that spans history, and how each culture and movement reflects and reacts to what preceded it. The challenge of Humanities Honors and its accomplishment can enhance a student's life. Students learn with integrity, students make friends, and students are a part of a community through Honors. It is the basis for our belief in our program and in our students.

Can I be involved?

Humanities Honors is always looking for ways to build community, and that certainly includes parents. Every fall, Humanities Honors holds a reunion for alumni that current students and their parents are welcome to attend. The reunion is held during homecoming week. If you are interested in attending, please email us at

Also, as mentioned above, we are eagerly looking for ways to get in touch with alumni, so if you yourself, other members of your family, or close friends have attended the program, please share your stories with us.

How can I support Humanities Honors?

Because San José State University is a public, state-assisted institution, adequate funding is always a special concern for the university, and consequently the Humanities Honors Program as well. If you have the means to make a financial contribution to the program it would be greatly appreciated. Simply go to, and click the “GIVE” button on the right side of the page. You get to specify the amount and the purpose of your gift. To help us, be sure to specify “Humanities Honors Program” in the box at the bottom of the list. Donations are tax-deductible, and we thank you in advance for your generous support!

Whom do I contact with questions or concerns?

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Professor Cynthia Rostankowski, Coordinator of the Humanities Honors Program, at (408) 924-4508 or email her at We look forward to hearing from you!

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