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The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program

Students in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program enroll in honor courses, enjoy faculty mentoring, and complete a major research project. In addition, they participate in exciting extracurricular events - outstanding speakers, cultural outings to top NYC destinations, and leadership workshops.

For more information please contact: 

Director
Cynthia Wachtell
wachtell@yu.edu
646.592.4157
215 Lexington Ave, Room 616

About

The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program was founded in 1999 with the goal of enhancing the college experience of high-achieving students.

Built on the premise that outstanding scholars should be brought together, challenged and encouraged to excel, the program nurtures students as it helps them to grow both intellectually and personally. There are both academic and extracurricular components to the Honors Program.

The academic program stresses writing and critical analysis, research and individual mentoring. Students select honors courses from offerings in the humanities, Jewish studies, natural sciences and social sciences, as well as interdisciplinary seminars. In their final three semesters, honor students each complete a senior project under the individual guidance of a faculty mentor.

Students completing the honors program will have the Honors distinction noted on their transcripts and their diplomas.

Stern College honors students also participate in a rich variety of extracurricular events. Each semester the honors programs calendar includes a speakers series, leadership workshops and an exciting array of outings to operas, plays, museums and other cultural destinations. From Elijah or Swan Lake at Lincoln Center; to Jane Austen's Life and Legacy at the Morgan Library and Museum; to walking tours of Grand Central Terminal, Art Deco Manhattan, and Central Park, the program draws on New York City's vast resources. The honors program pays for all events.

Program Director

Dr. Cynthia Wachtell is the founding director of the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Stern College. She earned her PhD in the history of American civilization and an AM in English at Harvard University. She jointly earned an MA and a BA, summa cum laude, from Yale University in American studies.

Her academic field of expertise is American literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to teaching at Yeshiva University, she has taught at Harvard University, the New School for Social Research and Fordham University.

She is the author of War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914 (2010) and editor of The Backwash of War: An Extraordinary American Nurse in World War I (2019) for which she wrote the first biography of Ellen N. La Motte.  She also has published numerous articles in books,  journals, and and other publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Huffington Post.

For more information about the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program, please contact Dr. Wachtell at wachtell@yu.edu and visit the program's pages on the Office of Admissions site, where you can also apply.

Program Information

To be eligible for honors courses, a student must have Deans List status or, in the case of first-year students, have a minimum high school average of 90 and a minimum SAT score of 1200.  In general, honors courses are more rigorous and/or advanced than regular courses and have the following characteristics:

  • Involve a critical investigation of primary sources
  • Make use of and/or demonstrate current methods of field inquiry
  • Entail a heavy writing component (not merely summary thinking)
  • Stress analysis and original thinking
  • Require students to revise and re-write essays and/or other major assignments
  • Emphasize library and lab work
  • Deal with and/or encompass relevant theoretical issues
  • Require students to engage in independent research work

To see the current semester's honors course offerings, please visit www.yu.edu/schedules:

  1. Select the current semester 
  2. Select Beren and "All" subjects
  3. Do a keyword search (Ctrl+F) for "Honors"
  4. You should now see the current semester's honors course offerings.

Sample Semester

  • ARTS 1635H - The New York Skyscraper
  • ARTS 1975H - Topics: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • BIBL 1087H - Biblical Exegetes I
  • BIBL 3307H - Job
  • BIOL 3521H - Molecular Biology    
  • CHEM 1046H - General Chemistry II
  • COMP 4930H - Topics: Natural Language Processing
  • ENGL 1200H - Freshman Honors Seminar
  • ENGL 2924H - Topics: Female Friendship
  • JHIS 4934H - Topics: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • JHIS 4935H - Topics: History of Halakhah
  • JPHI 4933H - Tps: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts
  • JUDS 1591H - Topics in Jewish Civil Law
  • JUDS 1846H - Advanced Talmud II
  • JUDS 1848H - Advanced Talmud
  • JUDS 4932H - Topics: Compar American & Talmudic Law
  • POLI 2198H - Topics: Compar Am. & Talmudic Law
  • POLI 2494H - Topics: Zionist Political Thought
  • PSYC 3128H - Seminar in Moral Psychology
  • PSYC 3815H - Cognitive Neuroscience

Honors Courses

Students must complete a minimum of five honors courses. These courses may be used toward general liberal arts or major requirements. Examples of recent offerings include Introduction to Quantum Mechanics; Philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik; The New York Skyscraper; History of Halakha; Modern Poetry; and Mind, Language, Consciousness. Summer travel courses have included Marine Biology (New York/Maine); Art History in Florence; Literary London; Global Health (New York/India); and Archeological Fieldwork in Israel.

Honors students are expected to maintain a 3.6 cumulative GPA.

Senior Project

At the end of her junior year, each honor student designs a project that involves intensive work under the supervision of a faculty mentor. During her senior year, each student then completes her senior project, which represents the culmination of her academic career at Stern.

Mentors

During her second year on campus, each student is matched with a faculty mentor in her field of interest. The mentor provides ongoing guidance for the honors student throughout her time at Stern and serves as the faculty supervisor for the student's senior project.

Extracurriculars

Honors students travel to concerts, ballets, plays and such “only in New York” destinations as the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Science, New York City Opera, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the historic Lower East Side and the United Nations. Also, each semester, scholars and opinion-makers from a broad array of fields—including politics, science, the arts and commerce—address the honors students in small, intimate settings. Finally, honors students enjoy leadership workshops on topics ranging from time management to financial literacy. 

News & Events

Spring 2022 Events

Honors students are invited to participate in a range of trips to cultural attractions around New York City each semester. These outings include visits to museums, plays, operas, concerts and trips to such ''only in New York'' places as the United Nations and the historic Lower East Side.

 

Sunday, February 13 – 6:15 - 9:15 - New York City Ballet

We will meet at Lincoln Center, where the New York City Ballet will perform four audience favorites, featuring George Balanchine's one-act retelling of Swan Lake. In this beloved ballet classic, Balanchine expertly depicts the rapture, heartache, and woe of two doomed lovers and the evil that thwarts their romance. Among the other work we will enjoy is Andantino, a charming pas de deux choreographed by Jerome Robbins to the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.

Monday, February 21 – 7:00 - 8:15 – Defining the Field of Happiness Studies

Tal Ben-Shahar, a world-renowned author and speaker in the field of positive psychology, will join Yeshiva University's President Ari Berman for a discussion titled, "Mapping the Road to Redemption: Defining the Field of Happiness Studies."  This event is sponsored by Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf.

Wednesday, March 2 – 6:15 - 8:15 – John Greally & Dinner

The evening will begin with a casual group dinner.  Then Dr. John Greally – director of the Center for Epigenomics and professor and chief of computational genetics at Einstein and a clinical geneticist at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore – will discuss how genomics can be used to understand human diseases, with a focus on the under-served communities of the Bronx. 

Monday, March 14  6:30 - 7:45  Carlina Rivera

Councilmember Carlina Rivera has represented the 2nd Council District  stretching from the Lower East Side to East 35th Street  on the New York City Council since 2017.  She will join us to discuss the inner workings of the Council, her role as chair of the Committee on Hospitals, specific legislation she has introduced and passed, and her inspiring road to public service.

Thursday, March 24 – 6:15 - 9:30 – Harmony

A musical presented in English by the National Yiddish Theatre FolksbieneHarmony is based on the true story of the Comedian Harmonists. This group of six young men in 1920s Germany “took the world by storm” with their music and comedy, until the inclusion of Jewish singers in the act put them in the path of a much bigger storm brewing.  For a sneak preview, have a look at this fantastic video from a past production of the musical.

Tuesday, March 29  7:00 - 8:15 – Alumnae Panel

The S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program was founded in 1999, and there are now over 625 program alumnae!  For this event we will hear from a panel of accomplished Honors Program alumnae, who span a range of professional fields and years of graduation.  They will discuss their careers, reflect on how they balance personal and professional goals, and offer advice for making the most of your time at SCW.

Sunday, April 3 – 2:45 - 5:00 – Historic Jewish Lower East Side Walking Tour

Guides from the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy will introduce us to Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side. Along the way, we will tour the historic Bialystoker Synagogue, learn about the Henry Street Settlement and the Forward Building, and marvel at Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, a gothic structure that once housed America's largest Russian Jewish Orthodox Congregation. 

Thursday, April 18 – 6:15 - 9:00 – Senior Project Presentations & Dinner

Senior Projects are due at 5:00, and an hour later we will join this year’s seniors to celebrate their accomplishment.  Our evening will begin with a festive dinner.  Then we will learn all about the seniors’ discoveries, when each briefly presents her research findings. It will be fast-paced and lots of fun

Fall 2021 Events

Honors students are invited to participate in a range of trips to cultural attractions around New York City each semester. These outings include visits to museums, plays, operas, concerts and trips to such ''only in New York'' places as the United Nations and the historic Lower East Side.

Monday, August 30 & Tuesday, August 31 – (multiple timeslots) – Bryant Park Tour

Led by an accomplished architectural historian, these tours will introduce us to Bryant Park – which is an easy walk from campus.  We will learn about the park’s fascinating history, along with that of the neighboring New York Public Library and other noteworthy buildings nearby.  We will meet on the library’s famous steps on 5th Avenue & 41st Street, in between the beloved lions. (There will be four tours times: Monday, August 30th from 4:45 - 6:00 and 6:15 - 7:30 and & Tuesday, August 31 from 4:45 - 6:00 and 6:15 -7:30.) 

Wednesday, October 6 – 6:15 - 8:15 – Danny Danon Dialogue & Dinner  

The evening will start with a group dinner.  Then as part of YU’s Global Leaders Dialogue Series, Ambassador Danny Danon, who has held senior positions in Israel’s government and has served as Israel’s representative to the UN, will discuss Israel, public leadership, and the current geopolitical moment with a surprise guest, who is also a political leader.  

Thursday, October 21 – 6:15 - 9:00 – “Come From Away”  

Broadway will reopen its doors this fall, and we will be there to help celebrate when we see the Tony & Olivier Award-winning hit musical “Come From Away.”  The uplifting true story traces what happens when the residents of a small town in Newfoundland opened their homes to thousands of stranded strangers. 

Tuesday, October 26 – 7:00 - 8:15 – Financial Literacy 

Deborah Rosenbloom, JD/MPA, vice president of programs and new initiatives for Jewish Women International will lead this very “valuable” workshop focusing on women and money, budgeting, establishing credit, managing debt, negotiation skills, family budgeting, and long-term asset building.  

Tuesday, November 16 – 7:00 - 8:15 – Florian Krammer 

A professor of vaccinology at the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, Dr. Florian Krammer is a renowned scientist whose lab has been at the forefront of Covid-19 research. He will join us to discuss his work, which includes developing an effective and inexpensive COVID-19 vaccine for low-income countries, and he will share his insights into the current state of the pandemic and steps to prevent future pandemics.  

Thursday, November 18 – Evening performance –Twyla Now  

We will visit City Center where stars from three of New York’s premiere dance companies—Alvin Ailey American Dance, American Ballet, and New York City Ballet—will perform two world premieres created by the world’s most iconic living choreographer, Twyla Tharp. 

Wednesday, December 1 – 6:15 - 8:15 – David Charbonneau & Dinner 

We will enjoy a fun group dinner, featuring Hannukah favorites.  Then we will transcend gravity when David Charbonneau, a prominent professor of astronomy at Harvard University, transports us to outer space. His talk, “The Terrestrial Planets of Other Stars,” will introduce us to his fascinating work developing novel techniques for detecting exoplanets.

Monday, December 6 – 7:00 - 8:15 – Landing Your Dream Internship, Job, or Graduate School Acceptance 

This leadership session will offer actionable tips to land the internship, job, or graduate school acceptance of your dreamsBeth Hendler-Grunt, founder of Next Great Step, will share the firm’s step-by-step approach for creating a clear search strategy with a focus on understanding your skills and how best to present them. She will also address how to network effectively and answer your most challenging interview questions.

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