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Castle Scholars Honors Program

Castle Scholars Honors Program Overview

The Castle Scholars Honors Program seeks to cultivate a community of scholars who are not only intellectually accomplished but also socially responsible, compassionate, and driven to make a positive impact on the world. By integrating academic excellence, community engagement, and interdisciplinary inquiry, Manhattanville aspires to empower our honors students to become leaders and change-makers in their chosen fields and beyond.

Admission to the Castle Scholars Honors Program is highly selective and is typically limited to incoming first-year students with exceptional academic records (a high school GPA of 3.9 or better). Special scholarship funding is available for honors students.

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About the Castle Scholars Honors Program

The Manhattanville University Castle Scholars Honors Program provides motivated students in any major field with the opportunity to participate in challenging and stimulating interdisciplinary seminars that encourage personal and academic growth. All Castle Scholars courses are taught by our dedicated, full-time faculty, offering students opportunities to enhance the already transformative potential of Manhattanville University undergraduate academics. Students in the honors program have meaningful intellectual exchanges with both students and faculty, enriching their university experience, immersing them in a vibrant academic community, and empowering them to design, implement, and achieve their most ambitious goals. Castle Scholars are well prepared for success in graduate and professional schools and the professional world. 

Castle Scholars in good standing are accorded the following privileges, among other social, academic, and professional opportunities:

  • Honors scholarship (renewable annually)
  • Priority registration within each class year to ensure optimal course selection
  • Permission to register for course overload (up to 21 credits per semester) with no financial penalty
  • Access to the private Honors Commons student lounge and reserved study area in the Manhattanville University Library
  • Participation in Castle Scholars-sponsored social events and field trips
  • Mentoring by the Castle Scholars Director and Honors Program faculty
  • Opportunities to apply for special funding for research projects
  • Recognition at university-wide awards ceremonies



Recognition and Awards

Incoming First Year Castle Scholars Honors Program students receive a renewable annual scholarship of $2,000.

Upon completion of your undergraduate degree and all program requirements, you will receive special recognition during the university graduation and awards ceremonies. Graduates receive ceremonial honor cords, a personalized certificate of program completion, and acknowledgement of their status as Castle Scholars on all university transcripts and printed graduation materials.


Students starting the program in Fall 2022 or later must meet the following requirements: 

  • An Honors First Year Seminar (students who join the program after their first year must substitute an additional 3000-level CSCH seminar for this requirement)
  • Three 3000-level CSCH seminars, taken in sophomore, junior, and/or senior year (With permission of the program Director, students may substitute one Design-Thinking course for a 3000-level CSCH seminar)

Students starting the program prior to Fall 2022 must meet the following requirements:

  • An Honors First Year Seminar (students who join the program after their first year must substitute an additional 3000-level CSCH seminar for this requirement)
  • Two 3000-level CSCH seminars

In addition, all Castle Scholars must:

  • Earn a grade of B or better in Honors courses to receive honors credit
  • Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher
  • Remain in good standing in both academic and non-academic activities
  • Be positive role models for academic integrity
  • Meet certain cumulative credit milestones by the end of each academic year: complete 3 CSCH credits by the end of freshman year, 6 by the end of sophomore year, and 9 by the end of junior year
  • Complete all required CSCH credits by end of senior year

Review the most up-to-date information about Castle Scholars and the university honors program requirements.

Honors Program Eligibility and Acceptance Rate

Admission to the Castle Scholars Honors Program is competitive and selective. While students in any major may apply, admission is limited to students with exceptional academic records. 

If you are a first-year student with a high school GPA of 3.9 or higher you will automatically be invited to join the program. Upon completion of all application materials you will receive formal notification of your acceptance. In order to be formally admitted to the program, all Castle Scholars Honors Program application materials must be completed.

Current Manhattanville students interested in joining the Castle Scholars Honors Program must do no later than the second semester of sophomore year. To be eligible, students must have at least a 3.7 cumulative GPA and the written recommendation of their academic advisor. To qualify for admission, students must consult with the Castle Scholars Honors Program Director, Dr. Lisa Rafanelli.


Program Admission and Aid

First Year Castle Scholars receive an annual Honors Award of $2,000 (on top of any other aid or merit-based awards). This scholarship is renewable for a total of eight semesters as long as you remain in the program and fulfill the program requirements. 

Explore Manhattanville University admissions, and find more financial aid and scholarship information.


Transfer Student Eligibility

If you are a transfer student from another institution with up to 60 university credits, you may be eligible for admission to the Castle Scholars Honors Program if you have been enrolled in Honors courses at other institutions and meet minimum GPA requirements. You should consult with the Castle Scholars Honors Program Director, Dr. Lisa Rafanelli, regarding approval of transfer courses toward completion of the program.

Find transfer admissions information, or contact the Castle Scholars Honors Program Director to learn more.

No matter your major or what you want to accomplish at Manhattanville, the Castle Scholars Honors Program provides access to dedicated faculty who can help direct your research, harness the University’s regional resources to help others, or boost your academic achievements in preparation for graduate study or for entering your professional life.


Honors Seminars

Honors seminars are the core of the Castle Scholars Honors program. Manhattanville’s most engaging and dedicated faculty offer innovative, interdisciplinary seminars that are limited to 15 students, a format that ensures in-depth discussion and exploration of the subject matter.

Many seminars incorporate experiential learning through trips to New York City and other sites in the tri-state region. These honors classes provide high-achieving students with the opportunity to explore areas within and outside of their intended major, and all fulfill at least one of Manhattanville’s General Education requirements.


Funding for Undergraduate Research Projects

Students in the Castle Scholars Honors Program may apply for dedicated funding for self-directed or collaborative research and creative projects. Recent student projects funded by the honors program include:

  • Authenticity in literature – David Nielsen, English 
  • Testing Leptospira biflexa susceptibility to salt and osmotic stress – Polin Petkova, Biology
  • Effects of green tea on preventing Pseudomonas aeruginosa – Mariah Bigaud, Biology
  • ​Anti-biofilm activity of pomegranate extract against the bacteria Staphylococcus epidermidis – Charlene Caoili, Biology
  • DEET effectively repels the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, in a novel ex vivo bioassay – Philip Meade, Biology
  • Native and European interaction during the Pequot War – Denise Martinchek, History
  • Democratic Transitions in Myanmar – Alexis Moore, History, International Studies, and Asian Studies
  • Break the First Impression? – Shuzi Meng, Psychology

Manhattanville is a proud member of both the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Northeast Regional Honors Council. Membership in these prestigious organizations affords Manhattanville students the opportunity to attend and present research at annual honors conferences, and to compete for highly selective scholarship opportunities. Faculty, staff, and students are part of an international community of educational leaders devoted to the advancement of honors education


Manhattanville is also home to honors societies in many disciplines, including:

Many Castle Scholars students may join or be elected to additional discipline-based honor societies. This offers even more opportunities for mentoring, networking, exploring fields of interest, and furthering professional development.

 Explore all of Manhattanville’s clubs and organizations.


What is an honors program in a university? Are classes in honors programs harder?

A university honors program is distinct from an honors society in a discipline. It is an academic track designed for highly motivated and academically accomplished students. It typically offers a more challenging and enriching curriculum that goes beyond the major field of study, and often often includes interdisciplinary seminars, research projects, and service opportunities.

Honors classes are designed to be rigorous, and to offer students the opportunity to delve deeper into specialized subjects matter,and to think holistically and critically about complex, real-world issues.


Is joining the honors program worth it? How is it beneficial?

Joining a university honors program can be highly beneficial. Academically, it offers a rigorous and stimulating environment, fostering intellectual growth through interdisciplinary coursework and research opportunities. It often comes with special resources such as priority class registration, funding for research projects, dedicated study spaces, and even scholarships.

On the professional front, it provides ample opportunities for networking, leadership, and career development. Overall, if you're seeking an enriched, academically challenging university experience with possible financial incentives, an honors program is worth considering.


Does completing a university honors program matter in my career?

Employers and graduate school admissions committees are eager to recruit graduates of honors programs. Graduates are understood to be exceptionally driven, hard-working, and focused. Honors students graduate with advanced skills in research, as well as written and oral communication, all of which set you apart on your professional journey. 




The Castle Scholars Program is affiliated with the National Collegiate Honors Council and the Northeast Regional Honors Council. 


National Collegiate Honors Council


NRHC badge

Founded in 1966, the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is a unique educational organization designed to support and promote undergraduate honors education. NCHC has nearly 900 member institutions and several hundred individual members, impacting over 330,000 honors students. NCHC provides its members with resources, training opportunities and collaborative events to build and sustain honors programs and their curriculum. Students also have access to honors scholarships and exclusive events through NCHC and its members.

The Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) is an organization of students, faculty, and administrators dedicated to the encouragement and support of undergraduate honors learning. The NRHC provides members with opportunities for the exchange of information, ideas, and assistance through its annual conference, its newsletter, and its scholarships.  Currently almost 200 different colleges and universities are members.





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