Pell Honors Program

Pell Honors Program

Open to students from all academic majors, the Pell Honors Program seeks to provide students with a lively community of highly motivated peers and faculty mentors drawn from many departments and disciplines, united by a passion for and dedication to academic excellence, artistic creativity and intellectual curiosity.

Established in 2001 and named in honor of Claiborne Pell, who represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate from 1961-1997, the Pell Honors Program aims to realize Pell’s vision of a liberal arts education as the route to informed and engaged citizenship.

Through the Pell Honors Program, students develop their analytical and communication skills by entering into respectful but critical debates on such topics as politics, international affairs, human nature, ethics, religion and society and culture. They also explore in an academic setting the University’s mercy tradition, which seeks to create a world that is harmonious, just and merciful. Pell Honors graduates leave the program ready to take on the many challenges of a 21st-century global world.

Students must maintain a minimum 3.30 cumulative GPA to remain in the Pell Honors Program. To promote a learning and living community, students in the program are housed together during their first year at the University, with the option to live in Pell Honors housing for their second year.

Mission Statement

The Pell Honors Program seeks to utilize a liberal arts education in the mercy tradition as a route to engaged and informed citizenship. Through rigorous academics, an experiential learning requirement, and a variety of co-curricular activities, this community of learners prepares its graduates to improve their world and meet the challenges of today’s global society.


  • Opportunity to take rigorous classes with outstanding faculty that focus on critical issues, compelling ideas, foundational questions and significant texts (with an emphasis on primary sources).
  • Completion of an experiential learning requirement such as a study abroad program, academic internship or sponsored research with a faculty mentor.
  • Access to mentoring and advice in applying for distinguished fellowships such as the Fulbright U.S. Student program and other prestigious scholarship programs.
  • Opportunity to attend cultural events, special guest lectures, field trips and social activities sponsored by the honors program and the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.
  • Option to waive up to nine overload credits for Pell Honors students in good academic standing (after the fall semester of the first year).
  • Access to priority registration for courses within the class year.
  • Living in honors program housing and participating in Pell Honors living/learning community activities in the first year (with the option for Pell Honors housing in the second year).


Admission to the Pell Honors Program is highly competitive and by invitation only based on academic merit. Strong preference will be given to those prospective students who apply to the University by the Nov. 1 early decision and early action I deadline. 


The Pell Honors Program consists of four main components: Specially designed honors sections of core courses, Pell Honors special topics courses, co-curricular activities and an experiential learning requirement.

  • First year: Students complete Pell Honors sections of UNV101: University Seminar I and UNV102: University Seminar II. They also take Pell Honors sections in two of the following disciplines: political science, history, economics, sociology and anthropology or psychology. Pell Honors sections carry the letter P in the course code (ex: HIS114-P1).
  • Second year: Students complete a Pell Honors special topics course in each semester. The offerings vary each semester.
  • Third and fourth years: Students complete the experiential learning requirement, which can take the form of a study abroad program, an academic internship, sponsored research with a faculty mentor or professional fieldwork (nursing, education and social work majors only). 

Throughout their four-year experience, Pell Honors students participate in activities that may include workshops, lectures, reading groups, discussions and field trips.

Clarissa Verleur '17

Originally from New Jersey, Clarissa Verleur '17 was drawn to Salve Regina because it was a small university that offered academic programs in communications and literature. The Pell Honors Program also appealed to her.

 I went to Newport for one of the admitted student days, and I watched a presentation on the Pell Honors Program. I felt like it really spoke to the things that I wanted to get out of my college education. It was one of the main reasons I chose Salve. 

Rhiannon Morrissey '16

When she first came to Salve Regina, Rhiannon Morrissey ’16, who majored in biology with minors in chemistry and history, had no idea just how much the University would influence her future career path. Now, as she pursues a Ph.D. at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Morrissey still attributes everything she’s gained since from her time at Salve Regina.

 Salve is such a special school to begin with, and I think that Salve formed so much of who I am. The Pell Honors Program was one of the big parts of my experience, and I couldn’t be happier that I took part in the program. 

Mary Brown '16

Mary Brown '16 grew up in a small town in Maine, but her experiences at Salve Regina led her on a remarkable journey that has taken her across the world. As a member of the Pell Honors Program, Brown was required to pursue a study abroad program, academic internship, sponsored research or professional fieldwork as an upperclassman. During her junior year, she studied in Florence, Italy.

 I traveled around and experienced Italian culture through an anthropologic lens. It was super monumental to my whole life. It ended up being very impactful for my trajectory.