Honors Program

Honors Program

The Kirkwood Community College Honors Program offers outstanding students the opportunity to push their academic boundaries, work closely with faculty in their career fields, and make themselves more attractive to selective four-year schools.

Student Benefits

  • Students doing honors projects receive up to four free honors credits paid for by the Kirkwood Foundation
  • Students can enter their projects in the fall and spring honors project competitions. Faculty and administrators judge the competition, and cash prizes totaling $1,000 are awarded to the top contestants
  • Student may apply for the Terry Moran Honors Scholarship. Two winners are awarded each year.
  • At the end of each semester, honor students are given the opportunity to present their work in a five-minute talk before other honors students, faculty and Kirkwood colleagues. This presentation will not be evaluated, but is intended to showcase the students' academic talents
  • PTK students who do honors projects may receive up to $25,000 in scholarship money in addition to a $2,000 scholarship for transferring to Cornell College.

If you're interested in participating in the Honors Program, visit the frequently asked questions section below to view the requirements and see if you qualify.

Registration Deadlines

  • The registration deadline for Honors Projects for the spring 2024 semester is Friday, Feb. 16.
  • The application deadline for the Terry Moran Honors Scholarship is Friday, Feb. 23.
  • Students may take up to four honors credits
  • Students may sign up for one honors credit per faculty member per semester
  • Students may work on more than one honors project per semester with separate faculty members
  • Students may develop several projects with the same faculty member in different semesters
  • Participation in honors projects requires approval from an honors faculty member, the appropriate dean and the honors program chair

Qualified students work with a faculty member to develop a one-credit-hour honors project. The nature of a student's honors project is left open to inspire creativity in both the student and the faculty member, as well as to allow for adaptation to a variety of disciplines.

How to Choose Your Project

Use one of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honors topics. A study guide has been developed by PTK for each topic. Copies may be obtained from the honors program chair. You can also develop a project based on an alternative study topic.

Currently enrolled Kirkwood students who have successfully completed an honors project or who sign up for an honors project in the 2024 spring semester can apply for a scholarship up to $1248 funded by the Terry Moran Endowed Scholarship Fund from the Kirkwood Foundation. Deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 23.

To apply for the scholarship, students must submit a 200-300 word statement describing their educational goals, any special financial circumstances they have overcome and still face, and why they believe they deserve a scholarship to the Honors Program Chair, Dr. Peter Jauhiainen. Please submit statements by emailing peter.jauhiainen@kirkwood.edu

International Phi Theta Kappa

The Honors Program at Kirkwood is associated with the International Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honors Society for two-year colleges. However, students do not need to be PTK members to participate in the Honors Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

PTK honors topics include:

  • 1968: Our Cultural Heritage:1800-1860
  • 1969: The Changing Nature of American Society: A Challenge to Government
  • 1970: A Study of Twentieth-Century Drama
  • 1971: Man, A Part of Nature/Man, Apart of Nature
  • 1972: The State of Our Nation: Toward Responsible Contributory Citizenship
  • 1973: Voices of Human Experience, I
  • 1974: Voices of Human Experience, II
  • 1975: Franklin and Jefferson: Apostles in '76
  • 1976: William Faulkner: The Man, His Land, His Legend
  • 1977: Music: The Listeners Art
  • 1978: Man Alive: Can He Survive?
  • 1979: The Brilliant Future of Man: Problem Solving Time
  • 1980: A Time for Truth: America's Need for Governmental Renaissance
  • 1981: Man in Crisis: A Quest for Values
  • 1982: The Short Story: Mirror of Humanity
  • 1983: Signed by the Masters
  • 1984: America, A World-Class Citizen: Image and Reality
  • 1985: Ethics and Today's Media: An Endangered Alliance
  • 1986: The American Dream: Past, Present, and Future
  • 1987: The U.S. Constitution: Assuring Continuity Through Controversy
  • 1988: The Character and Climate of Leadership: Old Frontiers and New Frontiers
  • 1989: The Americas: Distant Neighbors Building Bridges
  • 1990: Civilization at Risk: Challenge of the '90s
  • 1991: The Paradox of Freedom: A Global Dilemma
  • 1992: 1492-1992: The Dynamics of Discovery
  • 1993: Our Complex World: Balancing Unity and Diversity
  • 1994: Science, Humanity, and Technology: Shaping a New Creation
  • 1995: Rights, Privileges, and Responsibilities: An Indelicate Balance
  • 1996: The Arts: Landscape of Our Time
  • 1997: Family: Myth, Metaphor, and Reality
  • 1998: The Pursuit of Happiness: Conflicting Visions and Values
  • 1999: The New Millennium: The Past as Prologue
  • 2000: In the Midst of Water: Origin and Destiny of Life
  • 2001: Customs, Traditions, and Celebrations: The Human Drive for Community
  • 2002-04: Dimensions and Directions of Health: Choices in the Maze
  • 2004-06: Popular Culture: Shaping and Reflecting Who We Are.
  • 2006-08: Gold, Gods, and Glory: The Global Dynamics of Power
  • 2008-10: The Paradox of Affluence: Choices, Challenges, and Consequences
  • 2010-12: The Democratization of Information: Power, Peril, and Promise.
  • 2012-13: The Culture of Competition
  • 2014-16: Frontiers and the Spirit of Exploration
  • 2016-18: How the World Works: Global Perspectives
  • 2018-20: Transformations: Acknowledging, Assessing and Achieving Change
  • 2020-22 To the Seventh Generation: Inheritance and Legacy
  • 2022-24: The Art and Science of Play
  • Incoming freshman must have a high school GPA of 3.6, an ACT score of 25 or an SAT score of 1170
  • Students with 1-11 earned Kirkwood credits must have a minimum Kirkwood GPA of 3.4 in non-developmental courses and one of the following: a high school GPA of 3.6, an ACT score of 25 or an SAT score of 1170
  • Students with at least 12 earned Kirkwood credits must have a minimum Kirkwood GPA of 3.4 in non-developmental courses. (In special circumstances, this requirement may be waived by the honors program chair)
  • Transfer students from other colleges and universities must have a minimum Kirkwood GPA of 3.4 in non-developmental courses. (In special circumstances, this requirement may be waived by the honors program chair)
  • Students must be enrolled in other Kirkwood courses during the semester of their honors project

After choosing an honors topic, a student must:

  • Write a short paragraph describing the proposed topic.
  • Complete a learning contract with the supervising honor faculty (download the Honors Project Learning Contract).
  • Submit both the paragraph and the learning contract to the honors program faculty chair for approval.
  • Submit the completed learning contract to the department office coordinator.

Students who complete an honors project with a "B" grade or higher may take a free, three-credit course at Mount Mercy under the following conditions:

  • Students must take the course during their second year at Kirkwood
  • Students must have earned at least 24 semester hours at Kirkwood
  • Students have maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.4 at the end of their first year at Kirkwood
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take an honors section course, but may opt for any three-credit regular course at the sophomore or junior levels.
  • Students who pass a Mount Mercy honors section course with a "B" grade of higher will be accepted into the Honors Program if they later decide to transfer to Mount Mercy University


Peter Jauhiainen, Ph.D.
Honors Program Chair
330 Nielsen Hall
319-398-5899 ext. 5709