FAQ Honors Program

Frequently Asked Questions for the Humanities Honors Program

Why Humanities Honors?

No matter where you choose to go on your educational path at San José State and beyond, no matter what career you pursue after you graduate, studying Humanities will benefit you. Becoming an individual who has cultural awareness, is well read, is proficient in writing and verbal skills, and who demonstrates the ability to work at learning with integrity is of great benefit to all of your future endeavors. There is a reason why the Humanities Honors Program has been around for more than half a century and has such high rates of success in retaining and graduating students. The Humanities Honors Program can provide a student with a solid foundation of cultural awareness and understanding, and makes the first experiences of university life supportive and nurturing.

Is Humanities Honors fun?

Imagine a cool spring evening at San José State University. In your dorm room, you and your roommate sit, diligently doing homework. Suddenly, something sweeps down from the sky and hovers outside of your window. Creatures like you've never seen before emerge from an oddly shaped ship. One steps forward and asks you to explain what it means to be human. How would you go about explaining our humanity to otherworldly visitors? Would you read to them from a text like Shakespeare's Hamlet or the Epic of Gilgamesh? Or would you show these space visitors an image of a work of art like Michelangelo's David, or play them some music instead, such as a piece by Beethoven or Nirvana? It is safe to say that any work you study in Humanities Honors would be worthy of demonstrating our humanistic accomplishments. Why not start by checking out our Reading List and ponder away?

What is the Humanities Honors Program?

The Humanities Honors Program is a lower division (first- and second-year) General Education (GE) program for all majors designed to explore the insights and understandings arrived at by world cultures. It develops analytical and expressive skills that enable students to succeed at San José State as well as in life. This integrated program allows students to fast track their way through the lower division GE requirements.

What does it mean to fast track through GE?

One six-unit class each semester for four semesters satisfies 24 units of general education requirements along with the U.S. History & Constitution and California Government requirements.

What sorts of material will I be studying?

The Humanities Honors curriculum focuses on primary texts and artifacts from all the periods being studied (pre-history to the present). In delving into and analyzing these primary sources, students will learn how cultures transform and influence one another throughout history and have brought about the cultures of the world today.

Is it more work than other courses?

Actually, no. It is important to remember that Humanities Honors courses are six units together (lecture and seminar.) While there are readings and assignments for a six-unit class, the real advantage is in the continuity of preparing for classes, doing assignments, and taking exams. For example, you will take one set of finals each semester on the course material instead of several different final exams in various fields. Humanities Honors course work is challenging, but the entire program has been framed to promote student success in learning. We encourage questions and discussion with the aim of creating faculty-student commitment to master the course content and skills for success with integrity.

How much work is Humanities Honors exactly?

National data indicate that for each unit of course work a university student takes, the student should expect to put in 2 hours of work outside of class per week. This means that for students in Humanities Honors they should expect to put in 12 hours of homework each week and budget their time accordingly. The work for this course should be considered half of a student's semester schedule for a full-time 12-unit load.

Can I Apply?

Typically, the program is open to entering first-year students from all majors who meet the qualifications, which are:

(1.) 3.0 overall high school GPA and 

(2.) 575+ score on the SAT EBRW section, or 24+ ACT verbal section, or 3+ score on AP English exam or 4+ score on an IB English exam, or 150+ score on the English Placement Test (EPT).

Please note: students who have any questions about the requirements, or who wish to be considered for inclusion in the program must contact Dr. Cynthia Rostankowski, the Coordinator for the Humanities Honors and Advanced Honors Programs, at humanities-honors-program@sjsu.edu. Once you have contacted us and indicated your interest, we can proceed with your application process.

What are the benefits of the way Humanities Honors is taught?

Humanities Honors is taught by a team of professors, which means more than simply a group of professors who give separate lectures to the same group of students. The professors in Honors lead a learning community and lecture not only to the students, but also to each other. The collaboration creates a bond among professors, which notably enhances student learning. In working together, professors are able to address lecture topics from many scholarly perspectives. In addition, because so much of Humanities Honors is cooperative, creating small student groups for studying together and preparing for presentations and exams yields possibilities for making good friends over the four semesters.

When does the Humanities Honors Program meet?

Humanities 1A for Fall 2018 will meet on Tues/Thurs 9:00-10:15 A.M. (lecture) and 10:30-11:45 A.M. (seminar) and will continue to meet at these days and times for all two years. You will be given priority registration in the succeeding 3 semesters as long as you are in the Program to make sure you will be able to schedule the rest of your classes around your Honors courses.

What if I have more questions later?

For more information and other concerns please contact Dr. Cynthia Rostankowski by email at humanities-honors-program@sjsu.edu or by phone at 408-924-4508.