Honors Program Overview
For more than 50 years, Honors has provided academically gifted, highly motivated undergraduate students with an accelerated and enhanced intellectual experience. The program challenges students to develop intellectual curiosity and rigor, independent reasoning and creativity, superior communication skills, leadership potential, and a system for ethical decision-making.
The benefits of participating in Honors include: (1) access to small, challenging classes on unusual topics that are reserved exclusively for Honors students, (2) cultural enrichment that includes theatrical performances, distinguished speakers, and travel, and (3) close camaraderie with one's peers, developed through Honors housing and regular social events.
Participation often affords students additional resume-enhancing opportunities including research, study abroad, internships, scholarships, and faculty mentoring. Honors students stand out as having completed work at the most challenging level that an institution provides.
Many All-College Honors students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships. Others have received Rotary Club scholarships, Gilman fellowships, Jacob K. Javits fellowships, Andrew M. Mellon fellowships, and Harry S. Truman fellowships. Two graduates have won the Pulitzer Prize.
Honors graduates have achieved high acceptance rates into competitive graduate programs including the nation’s premiere medical and law schools. Recent graduates have pursued advanced degrees at top universities such as Harvard, U Penn, Boston University, Georgetown, Yale, Cornell, Purdue, Duke, Northwestern, University of Michigan, Brown and Notre Dame.
The Canisius College All-College Honors program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, and the Northeast Regional Honors Council.
The Life of an Honors Student
In the Classroom
Students who enroll in the All-College Honors Program are immediately welcomed into one of the most tight-knit communities on the Canisius campus. With a student population that comprises 10 percent of the College, this selective group of academic high-achievers has access to exclusive learning experiences. Honors courses feature smaller class sizes that are capped at twenty students to foster deeper relationships and to ensure more individualized attention between students and professors. A staple of the Honors Program, its classes are usually structured in a seminar-style setting to encourage participation and create thought-provoking, meaningful discussion in the classroom.
Travel and Learn – New Orleans, LA
In addition to stimulating classes, the All-College Honors Program offers students immersive learning opportunities to explore the world around them. In the fall semester of 2018, ten students from Dr. Bruce Dierenfield’s Honors course—“Plantations, Ghettos, Prisons: The Black Experience in America”—traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a three-day excursion. This new course was created to help students understand the enduring stain of racism through the lens of history. Students toured several former slave plantations, visited the nation’s largest maximum-security prison at Angola, enjoyed a swamp boat tour of a Louisiana bayou, and sampled jambalaya and other Deep South cuisine at authentic eateries.
Travel and Learn – Boston, MA
In the spring semester of 2019, the Honors Student Association (HSA) arranged for fifteen Honors students to travel to Boston, Massachusetts, for a three-day immersive excursion. Trip members volunteered at the Greater Boston Food Bank, rode an amphibious duck boat that went in-and-out of the Boston waterfront, visited historic landmarks like Faneuil Hall and Fenway Park, walked the iconic 2.5-mile Freedom Trail, and enjoyed delicious seafood at the famous Quincy Market.
Travel and Learn: Costa Rica
In the summer of 2019, eleven pre-health students from the All-College Honors program participated in the annual medical immersion trip to Costa Rica. Working with Dr. Allyson Backstrom and local doctors, they helped set up popup clinics and also conducted public health home visits to serve Nicaraguan refugees and native Costa Ricans. The students were Sarah Batt ’21, Hailey Brenner ’22, Thomas Chameli ’20, Brian Cornell ’21, Alyssa Deacon ’21, Erin Guntrum ’21, Brett Hull ’22, Christopher Larussa ’22, Alex Sidare ’22, Ian Szeglowski ’22 and Leanne Walker ’20. Read the full story here.
Each year, the All-College Honors Program sponsors an end-of-the-year banquet held at downtown Buffalo’s historic “Hotel at the Lafayette.” The event is a perfect way to celebrate the achievements of Honors students over the course of the academic year. The Honors director annually distributes awards for outstanding academic accomplishment and service to the program. This past spring, the banquet featured live entertainment from the CrescenDONT’s, a Canisius a cappella singing group, a keynote address by Honors alumnus and Canisius High School director of Ignatian formation Paul Cumbo, mouth-watering food catered by the Pearl Street Grill, and various gift cards and prizes raffled off for all attendees. A grand time was had by all.