Experiential Learning

HON 481 Design for Defense brings students straight into the dynamic world of work on national security challenges, partnering directly with Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and agencies. The initiative to offer this new course and accept credits toward the required curriculum was supported by your input in student surveys. Thank you for participating in your Honors College!

The Honors College at Marshall University is committed to creative, critical inquiry and respect for a multiplicity of thoughts, experiences, and identities. We support our students as scholars who are dedicated to becoming socially conscious, responsible leaders and lifelong learners engaged in the acquisition and application of knowledge for a greater good. In the Honors College, we believe that honors education should support honorable action. While there is much to learn in the context of the traditional classroom, we believe that opportunities to learn while doing things outside the classroom enhances creative and critical inquiry and elevates respect for others. Through experiential learning, students find ways to readily connect and apply their formal education to real world conditions in the communities of which they are a part. Honors students at Marshall University have a variety of different types of experiential learning opportunities. Some of these opportunities are institutionally sponsored and others may develop organically through a student’s needs and their own creativity. The Honors College supports both paths to providing experiential learning for Honors students. We want our students to be actively engaged in their learning and to seek out challenges that allow them essential self-reflection.

As the college continues to develop the framework of our support for Honors experiential learning, new information will be provided here and elsewhere. For now, we will outline future opportunities. Our experiential learning opportunities may be categorized broadly as: Collaborative Learning; International Engagement; and Scholarly & Creative Projects.

Collaborative Learning

The Honors College has opportunities ranging from student-led courses that provide academic credit for learning experientially to ways for students to get engaged in the honors mission at Marshall through living and learning in on-campus housing. And, for those of you who want to get deep into the work of how things get done in the college, there are opportunities to serve on the committee’s that make policy and practice. Get engaged!

Honors College Student-Led, Peer, Faculty, and Community Partner Mentored Courses

The Honors College provides student-organized and led courses that are based in a fundamental need for collaborative work and that contribute to the welfare of particular communities. These are not faculty taught instructional courses–though each has a Faculty Mentor to provide guidance and support. Rather, they are an institutional means for students to earn academic credit for experiential learning in the context of productive work conducted on behalf of the college, its students, and the communities of which we are a part. Students must be advised by the college in order to obtain permission to enroll before registration.

We have developed an experiential learning course providing peer advisor and leadership training so that students can work with college staff to provide various student support services, including advising and a variety of community building events such as field trips and other co-curricular educational opportunities. In general, we expect that this course will be taken by students following HON 200. This course can be repeated for credit. Learn more about HON 300.
This course is more than an academic endeavor; it’s a mission-driven experience where students leverage innovative practices to address real problems, embodying the college’s commitment to impactful experiential learning. Students will form teams, acting as think tanks that apply cutting-edge innovation methodologies—Lean Startup, Design Thinking, and Systems Thinking—to navigate complex issues. The effort to integrate the Azimuth Program of the National Strategic Innovation Network in the Department of Defense into the curriculum of the Honors College at Marshall University represents a pioneering collaboration that transcends traditional academic boundaries, fostering innovation and problem-solving skills with a focus on national security. At least in the 2024-2025 academic year, this course will be listed as HON 481.
The Honors Oracle is an experiential learning course and the product of student-led effort. Students enroll in HON 484 and, through collaborative peer-mentorship, students in this course learn about journalistic writing, develop interpersonal skills through interviewing at least two sources per story and create publishable work that could be suitable for resumes and portfolios. There are up to 12 Honors Oracle staff members. Most students serve as reporters while two serve as editors. Editors earn 2-credits per semester and reporters earn 1-credit per semester. Registration requires contacting the college. This course can be repeated for credit. Learn more about HON 484.
The Honors College Student Association’s activities are led by a Steering Committee of students who enroll in HON 488, which is offered each semester. There are up to 12 Steering Committee members, four of whom serve as officers for an entire academic year. Officers earn 2-credits per semester and committee members earn 1-credit per semester. Registration requires contacting the college. This course can be repeated for credit. Learn more about HON 488.
Certain internships may be contracted for between 1-3 credits under the designation of HON 489. The college also permits students to earn credit in the required honors curriculum for enrollment in a departmental-specific internship course. Either way, the honors student must submit an Honors Internship Contract with the same expectations for the experience in order to receive honors-designated academic credit. The Honors Internship allows students to complete some of their requirements in the Honors College through a rewarding co-curricular experience. Honors students must arrange for a designated On-Site Supervisor and a Faculty Mentor, each of whom plays a role. At the end of the contracted period, the Honors Intern must submit a report and provide a presentation. The On-Site Supervisor must also submit an evaluation of the intern. Learn more about HON 489.
TEDXMarshallU logoFormerly listed as HON 483, the TEDxMarshallU Internship is an opportunity to participate on a student-organized and faculty-mentored organizing/planning team for the TEDxMarshallU event. Students will apply for and be assigned different roles necessary for the successful planning, organizing, promotion, and execution of a TEDxMarshallU event during the academic year. These roles will include, executive producer, event manager, curation coordinator, sponsorships, budgets, and purchasing manager, designer, communications, editorial, and marketing director, and video and production lead. They will also create a personal portfolio of their experiences to pass to the next organizing team and help them see how the internship experience can apply to their personal career development. Student team members must commit to participating for the full academic year with a 1-credit course in the fall and 2-credit course in the spring semester. TEDxMarshallU is now in the course catalog as HON 490.

If you’re interested in applying for one of the defined roles, you can apply below. If you have any questions, you can reach out to Brian Kinghorn, who will serve as the Faculty Mentor for the team. Dr. Kinghorn will forward names of selected team members to the college prior to Honors Advising and Priority Registration so that these students can be permitted to enroll. Learn more about HON 490.

Apply for a TEDxMarshallU Intern Position

Living and Learning Communities

The “houses” provided to students by the Office of Housing and Residence Life offer opportunities for student residents to create purposeful links between academic, residential, and social components of their college experience while living together in a community with shared interests.

The Honors House provides opportunities for student residents to create purposeful links between academic, residential, and social components of their college experience.This is learning while living together as a community of students with shared interest in academic excellence. Honors House living can be found in the First Year Residence Halls (for first-year students) as well as Willis Hall. This Honors House is open to all students accepted into the Honors College at Marshall University and available on a first come, first served basis until capacity is reached. For questions regarding housing please go to Housing and Residence Life (HRL). In addition to living in the Honors House, Honors students can apply to the HRL to serve as Resident Assistants (RAs) in the House! Residents of Honors House can also get involved in different student leadership programs coordinated through the HRL.
Diversity Living and Learning CommunityMarshall University recognizes that each student’s educational experience is richer when it occurs in an environment that celebrates diversity. The Honors College joins the initiative to create a unique opportunity for students interested in learning more about the benefits of diversity and inclusion, with an emphasis on providing leadership to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and in the community through our first diversity themed living/learning community (DLLC) at Marshall University. Successful applicants will receive total annual Marshall University funded scholarships stackable up to $5,000 (WV residents); $8,500 (Metro residents); $11,000 (Non-Residents). The DLLC scholarship is renewable each year, for up to four years. Students do not need to be in the Honors College. Renewal criteria include obtaining a cumulative Marshall GPA of at least 2.5 and fulfilling all requirements of DLLC participation.  For the second year and beyond, students may choose to live in residence halls of their choice (i.e., will not be required to live together in the DLLC), but they must continue to engage in specified activities as a Diversity Learning Community (DLC) participant. Additionally, as they progress at Marshall, they will have the opportunity to mentor first-year students who live in the DLLC.

Honors College Policy Making

If you really want to get under the hood of the Honors College, these are for you! Get engaged and have a real impact on the policy and practices of the college.

All students who are admitted to the Honors College are members of the Honors College Student Association (HCSA). The association is a recognized student organization at Marshall University. The HCSA works to create fellowship among its members that extends beyond the classroom. By planning and providing educational events, social activities, and community projects, the association supports the college’s mission. All Honors College students and their friends are invited to participate in events and activities planned by the associations Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is in charge of organizing at least one academic event, social event and service event for Honors College students each semester.
The Honors College Curriculum and Policies Committee (HCCAP) helps guide policy decisions in the college and reviews proposals for upper-division seminars. The HCCAP includes two Honors student representatives who serve one-year terms. This is a unique opportunity for Honors undergraduate students to impact how things are done at Marshall. Students interested in this unique insight into how curriculum and policy decisions are made at Marshall should reach out to the college and let us know why you would want to serve as a student representative.

International Engagement

Study Abroad Experiences

The Honors College encourages students to consider studying abroad as a way of encouraging creative, critical inquiry and respect for a multiplicity of thoughts, experiences, and identities. Study abroad aids students in becoming socially conscious, responsible leaders and lifelong learners who are actively engaged in the acquisition and application of knowledge for a greater good.

The Office of Study Abroad (OSA) at Marshall University can provide students with information on sponsored international experiences for which they can receive academic credit at Marshall University. Students can find information regarding scholarships that may support their experience on the OSA website as well as through the Honors College in the Office of National Scholarships.

In recognition of the value of study abroad experience, the Honors College will waive up to 6 of the required General Honors credit hours for study abroad experiences for which the student receives academic credit through Marshall. To receive a waiver of 3 honors credits, students must earn a minimum of 3 transfer credits and the study abroad experience must have a duration of at least 3 weeks. A total of 6 credits of waived honors credit can be awarded for a semester abroad with full time enrollment of 12 credits or more. Students must request the waiver by submitting the Study Abroad Honors Credit Waiver Petition form available on the Student Forms page. In order to receive a waiver of General Honors credits, students must submit the form to describe enhanced academic experiences that they expect to have before they leave and another after they return to provide justification for why these credits deserve an honors credit waiver after they return.

NOTE: No more than 6 hours TOTAL (for any reason, for any student) can be waived from requirements in the Honors Curriculum.

The college is currently working to develop and support opportunities for Honors students to learn through the experience of international study and travel while earning honors credits transferable to their student record at Marshall. We are exploring opportunities and details are coming!

Scholarly & Creative Projects

Departmental Honors

The Honors College supports the creation of Departmental Honors in all majors interested in developing especially robust scholarly and creative experiential learning opportunities in their programs. The illustration below is a significantly more challenging pathway to completion of the required capstone that entails creation of committee to oversee a thesis project. The experience is available to both Honors and non-honors students based on the criteria stated by the department. As of today, there are two majors in the College of Liberal Arts that have developed Departmental Honors in consultation with the Honors College. The Honors College is prepared to accept these defined Departmental Honors credits toward completion of the Honors Curriculum for Honors students in good standing with the college who are in these majors. The college would be willing to do so for other major programs who develop similar opportunities for their students.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology has offered Departmental Honors to its students since 2011. Eligible students in anthropology and sociology are encouraged to consider graduating with Departmental Honors. To graduate with honors in either Anthropology or Sociology a student must enroll in two subsequent 3 credit courses for a total of 6 credits over one year; a 3 credit ANT or SOC 485 Independent Study (taken alongside Senior Seminar I) and ANT or SOC 493 Senior Seminar II (Capstone) will be the ordinary sequence, but if necessary the courses can be taken in the reversed order.The prerequisites for obtaining permission to pursue Departmental Honors option are: the student must be a declared Anthropology or Sociology major in Junior or Senior standing, have a GPA in all concluded major program classes of a minimum of 3.5, and have a written agreement with a faculty member, who will act as the advisor.

In the first term, the student will prepare a study plan and literature review for an independent research project; at the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade.The prerequisites for pursuing the second term of the honors option include: an “A” in the first term, a GPA in all concluded major program classes of a minimum of 3.5, and written permission by the advisor. In the second semester, the student will conduct the proposed research project and report her/his findings (the report will ordinarily be a written thesis, but can be supplemented by presentations in other media–an exhibition, a film, etc.). At the end of the term, this work must be presented to a committee of at least three faculty members who will together determine the grade. The grade “A” for the work in the second term will be recognized on the students’ official transcript as “Graduating with Honors” in either Anthropology or Sociology.


More Departmental Honors opportunities can be expected if other major programs work to develop them for their students. Interested faculty can reach out to the college with proposals and students can help by showing their support for development of Departmental Honors in the departments of their majors. The Honors College would be very happy to help.