Quick Look

The Honors Program is an intellectual and creative community that provides a four-year, interdisciplinary, collaborative learning experience for academically motivated incoming students from all communities. The Honors Program supplements study in a student’s chosen major with a challenging liberal arts curriculum composed of interdisciplinary seminars, collaborative research projects, and faculty-directed independent study.

Each year, Emerson invites 50 applicants of exceptional ability and promise to join the Honors Program. Students are selected based on their past academic achievements, creative accomplishments, and demonstrated leadership in academic or community spaces. 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 to one of our global partnership programs (e.g., Global BFA or Global BA programs) are not eligible for Honors Program consideration. Each fall, approximately 50 first-year applicants enroll in the Honors Program. Beginning in Fall 2023, each Honors Program Scholar is also awarded a $30,000 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 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.

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

  • Strong analytical and writing skills, as demonstrated by the supplemental essay
  • Excellent academic performance in a challenging high school curriculum
  • Commitment to community and service
  • Creative accomplishments
  • Demonstrated leadership

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 to 600 word Honors Program essay by November 15 (for Early Decision I and Early Action candidates), January 16 (for Early Decision II candidates) or February 1 (for Regular Admission candidates). This essay is in addition to the Common Application and Application Supplements 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.

Contact the Office of Admission at 617-824-8600 or admission [at] emerson.edu (admission[at]emerson[dot]edu) to learn more about applying.

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. A select number of sophomore applicants are admitted into the Honors Program each fall. Rising sophomore students chosen for the Honors Program are recognized for their intellectual and creative 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 Trustees Scholarship, which is renewable annually up to a maximum of six semesters, as long as the student remains in the Honors Program and is enrolled as a full-time Emerson student. Students needing to attend fewer than six semesters to complete their degree will only receive the scholarship for those semesters. The scholarship can only be applied to undergraduate level courses in fall and spring semesters, not winter or summer term. The Trustees Scholarship supersedes any previous scholarship offer that may have been made by the institution.

Application Requirements

All materials must be submitted to the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts via the online application system by May 1. The application system will be available beginning April 1.

This includes:

  • Completed Application Form, available via the online application system
  • 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 essay 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. Applicants will select the names of their professors directly via the online application, and faculty will be notified to upload their letter. (One letter should be from your first-year IN seminar instructor, the second from either a professor in one of your liberal arts classes or a professor in one of your major courses.) 
  • Unofficial transcripts of courses taken at Emerson College and elsewhere

Contact Honors Program Director Jon Honea at jon_honea [at] emerson.edu (jon_honea[at]emerson[dot]edu) or Associate Director in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts Nicole Martignetti at Nicole_Martignetti [at] emerson.edu (nicole_martignetti[at]emerson[dot]edu) to learn more about applying.

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 peers from across all years of the Honors Program. Through social events and community service projects, you become an integral part of the Honors Program’s “community of learners.”