Honors Seminar Program

Honors Seminar Program


Hollins offers a selective faculty-designed honors program that complements the university’s curriculum and provides a multidisciplinary and research-based experience for inquisitive students.


  • It’s offered to students early in their academic career, including their first year.
  • Student interest and curiosity drive the content of the seminars.
  • In the first year, the program provides resources and support for teams of students to design, execute, and present their own collaborative research projects.
  • In the second year, students develop individual projects.
  • Two faculty members mentor each class of honors program students during the two years of the program.

Two ways to Apply

  • Indicate your interest in applying for the program on the Common Application or Hollins application, OR
  • Fill out the application form.
  • Submit application by January 1.

Participation in the Hollins Honors Seminar Program is limited and selective. Application review is based on a holistic process designed to gain a sense of the student’s motivation and aptitude for challenging, independent, and creative academic work.


  • Access to university-supported research funds
  • The distinction Honors Seminar Program on your transcript
  • Faculty mentors
  • Professional development by presenting at the annual Hollins Student Conference

Recent Hollins Honors Seminar Program Projects

  • History of women’s mental illness as represented in late 19th-century literature
  • Historical and cultural origins of the pigments lapis lazuli and Mayan blue
  • Ways in which to mobilize young women and girls to identify as feminists
  • Effects of coal mining on Appalachian communities

Courses in Honors seminar Program:

HNRS 101: Ideas (2) Diefenderfer, Leedom
In this first of four seminars, students will be asked to identify an interdisciplinary idea that provides a stimulating topic for academic inquiry and to form collaborative groups. Students will then modify and advance the idea to produce a research proposal and plan of action that will come to fruition in HNRS 102. The seminar encourages creative inquiry by asking students to not only develop but also challenge ideas. Students will examine a variety of research tools and methodologies, and will explore different modes for presenting research results. The seminar will also introduce techniques and technologies for effective collaboration. Open to first-year students. Registration by application only. Offered Term 1.

HNRS 102:  Inquiry (2) Diefenderfer, Leedom
In this second of four seminars, student groups will execute the research projects proposed at the end of HNRS 101. As groups engage in the process of investigation and discovery – producing results or encountering obstacles – the seminar will provide a forum for progress reports, critique, and problem solving. Groups will be provided additional instruction in research processes, collaborative methods, and interdisciplinary connections as needs occur. The results of all projects will be presented in the annual Student Conference, held in late spring. Open to first-year students. Registration by application only. Prerequisite: HNRS 101. Offered Term 2.

HNRS 201: Independent Investigation I (2) Derringer, Fallon
This seminar, the third of the Honors Program sequence of four seminars, concentrates on the development and completion of individual, cross-disciplinary research projects. In the first part of the term, students will reflect on the process and outcome of their previous collaborative research projects and explore new ideas for individual year-long projects. A research proposal with a list of resources and a detailed plan of action will be completed by mid-term, and the seminar as a whole will critique the proposals and subsequent progress reports. Prerequisite: HNRS 102 and permission. Registration by application only. Offered Term 1.

HNRS 202: Independent Investigation II (2) Derringer, Fallon
In this final seminar of the Honors Program sequence, students will continue the work of their research plans developed in the previous term in HNRS 201, and bring the projects to conclusion. Each student will investigate venues for the presentation of the results and participate in at least one academic conference. Prerequisite: HNRS 201 and permission. Registration by application only. Offered Term 2.

Who Directs the Program

Rebecca Beach
Dean of Academic Services

Caren Diefenderfer
Professor of Mathematics

Joe Leedom
Ruth Alden Doan Endowed Chair in History and Professor of History

Dan Derringer*
Associate Professor of Chemistry

Jean Fallon*
Professor of French

*Directors for students in the second year of the program.