Skip to main content

Honors Program Noted for Rigor, Distinctive Nature

Sofia Rivkin-Haas '09

Sofia Rivkin Haas '09 departs her English exam before Don Hedrick of Kansas State. She plans to teach English this summer in Vietnam on a Fulbright fellowship. photo by Ed Hille/Philadelphia Inquirer


Swarthmore's Honors Program, noted for its academic rigor and unique position in American higher education, is the subject of a recent front page story in the Philadelphia Inquirer*. An excerpt:

"Swarthmore's program is the only one of its kind in the United States that makes such extensive use of outside examiners, experts say. From as far away as the University of Geneva in Switzerland and as close as the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, the eclectic group of examiners come to Swarthmore for the week and meet one-on-one with the students whose written exams they have already evaluated. They then determine whether the students will receive honors, high honors, highest honors - or in a couple of cases no honors.

'I'm not aware of anything quite like that,' said Robert Spurrier, secretary of the National Collegiate Honors Council and director of the honors college at Oklahoma State University."

In addition to seniors who just completed the process, the article also cites faculty, examiners, and alumni who graduated with honors. Some of the latter have returned to serve as examiners themselves; others have encouraged their children, such as Sofia Rivkin-Haas '09 (above), to participate in the program. 

* Snyder, Susan. "Outside experts test Swarthmore's elite." Philadelphia Inquirer. 29 May, 2009, A01.