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The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program

The mission of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program is to enhance education throughout Yeshiva College by providing an exceptionally broad, deep, rigorous education for our most talented students.

To fulfill those aims, we emphasize research, intensive writing, and sophisticated thinking: critical, analytic, quantitative, scientific, interdisciplinary, and creative.

Students who take honors courses commit themselves to hard work, a challenging search for understanding, and intellectual excellence.

Students who pursue the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program will experience especially rewarding interactions with faculty members through honors courses, individual mentoring, advanced work, and senior honors theses.

Upon graduation, honors students should feel confident that they can fulfill their potential through advanced training, lifelong learning, and leadership within their various communities.

For questions or further information on the Schottenstein Honors Program:

Dr. Eliezer Schnall, Director

Sara Schwartz, Senior Academic Advisor, Pre Health and YC Honors

Program Information

The mission of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program is to enhance the education of Yeshiva College undergraduates by encouraging talented students to undertake an exceptionally broad, deep, and challenging course of study. To fulfill this aim, the Honors Program emphasizes research, intensive writing, and sophisticated thinking. Students commit themselves to rigorous challenge, a search for understanding, and intellectual excellence. Those admitted to the Program will experience especially rewarding interactions with faculty members through unique coursework, individual mentoring, advanced study, and senior theses. 

Students apply simultaneously to the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and for academic merit scholarships. (Students may also apply for need-based assistance.) To retain their scholarships, students must remain in good standing, which entails maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or higher; taking at least two honors courses in each academic year, for a total of six courses; and demonstrating progress toward an honors thesis, by enrolling in thesis preparation and writing courses (beyond the six required honors courses) no later than their final year of residence. Simultaneously, each student must maintain a comparable level of excellence in Torah studies. Overall, students must spend at least three full years and complete at least 94 credits in residence.

The culmination of the Honors Program is the thesis, in which a student, over the course of multiple semesters, develops an independent research project closely supervised by one or more faculty mentors. It is not uncommon for students to present the fruits of their research at both academic conferences and in published form in respected scholarly journals. Recommendations written for an honors student from administrators and faculty members are virtually guaranteed to be exceptionally strong, and the students' diplomas specifically confirm their graduation both from the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and Yeshiva College. 

Faculty Honors Committee

The Honors Committee ensures the day-to-day success and determines the long-term direction of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program.

  • Prof. Irina Catrina
  • Prof. Maria Zaitseva
  • Prof. David Lavinsky
  • Prof. Matthew Incantalupo
  • Prof. Shalom Carmy

Student Honors Council

This council serves as the main liaison between Honors Program students and the Program Director.

  • President: (Judah) Ariel Retter
  • Vice President: Abraham Horowitz
  • PR Representative: Jonathan Felman
  • Events Coordinator: Ezra Cooper Events


Spring 2024 Honors Program Courses

The curricular component of the Honors Program is distributed between the general education and the major: six required honors courses, typically in Core Curriculum areas, and the completion of a thesis, typically in the major field of study. Of the six required courses, two are completed in the students' first year of residence: a first-year-only, honors section of a Core Curriculum class in the fall term and Honors First-Year Writing (FYWH) in the spring. For the remaining four courses, students may choose from the variety of Honors sections of Core Curriculum courses, including HEB, JHI and BIB, offered every term. Students qualified to enroll in graduate-level courses may count these, too. 

Non-Honors students interested in taking an Honors course should complete the requisite Permission for Honors Course form and obtain the signature of the course instructor and approval of the director of the Honors Program. Forms should then be submitted to the Yeshiva College Dean's Office for the director's approval. Students will be informed by e-mail of the status of their request in a timely manner. NOTE: Successful completion of this process does not guarantee enrollment in a course that is already closed. 



● Students should generally enroll in at least one honors course per semester so as to fulfill the required 6 honors courses.

● Graduate courses, such as those at Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, count as honors courses.

● It is not recommended to take more than two honors courses per semester.

● Students intending to graduate in June 2024: Should already have registered for Thesis Proposal in Fall 2023 and should submit the Proposal by the end of the current semester. You should register for Thesis coursework credits for Spring 2024 (HON 4981H).

● Students intending to graduate in January 2025: Must register for the 1 credit Thesis Proposal course for Spring 2024 (HON 4977H).

  • Students intending to graduate in June 2025: Should be on the lookout during the Spring for thesis topics/advisers as they take classes.

Honors classes, Spring 2024

ART 1630H 361 AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE 3 T 645-930 Glassman, Paul INTC; HONOR; WRIN

This is an introductory course that compares buildings from various eras and cultures and examines their systems. Covers early colonial settlements to postmodern practices, resulting in a basis for an architectural vocabulary and a greater consciousness of the built environment in the United States.



A study of selected chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy, with a focus on classical and modern exegesis, including the book’s ancient Near Eastern context.

BIO 1378H 361 Advanced Biochemistry 3 TR 645-8 Catrina, Irina Prerequisite: CHE 1376R (=CHE 1378H)

In BIO/CHE-1378H students will use previously learned biochemistry principles to study metabolic pathways and synthesis and metabolism of biomolecules. Students will learn how metabolic fuel is stored and accessed. Students will also learn about the synthesis and metabolism of biomolecules, such as RNA, DNA, and proteins and how cells perform and control gene expression. Students should be familiar with the molecular properties for biological macromolecules (nucleic acids, proteins, and carbohydrates) and lipids, understand the relationship between structure and function of biomolecules and demonstrate knowledge of enzyme catalysis and reactions that make up metabolic pathways.

COM 4580H 231 Cybersecurity 3 MW 03:00PM-04:15PM Wymore, Benjamin Prerequisites: COM 2545 and 3610

This course gives an in-depth survey of the ever-changing front lines of the battle to secure computer-based information, along with a chance to experiment with offensive and defensive security techniques in a laboratory situation.


Herman Melville and Walt Whitman were both born in 1819 and died within a year of each other (1891/1892). They developed within the artistic battles in New York City embodied in the Young America movement, a now forgotten footnote to the work of two great writers. The two never met nor did they read each other’s works. Yet, while one worked in poetry and the other predominantly in prose (Melville was also an accomplished poet), they posit opposing philosophies of what it is to be an American. Whitman was the great dissolver of all differences; Melville was the creator of the social reality; whereas Whitman saw the poet’s role as subsuming all objective reality and recasting it as a unified poetic vision, Melville saw the literary act to be rescuing the real from the onset of poetic/personal subjectivity.


JTP 1468H 231 MAHARAL 3 MW 3-415 Carmy, Shalom STRAUS

We will begin with באר הגולה dealing with questions about Torah she’b’al Peh and will include general survey of traditional aggada interpretation. Next major topic is נתיבות עולם section on prayer. Rest of term will deal primarily with Maharal’s approach to Tanakh and to Aggada, reading a combination of short texts and consecutive chapters from the major works. Our focus will be on textual analysis.


PHI 1800H 621 PHILOSOPHY OF ART 3 F 10-123 Soloveichik, Meir and JOHNSON, DAVID INTC; STRAUS

Utilizing both classical and modern philosophical texts, as well as works of theology and biblical exegesis, this course will address the nature of beauty, the possible moral dangers inherent in art, the nature and meaning of music, the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, the nature and meaning of literature and drama, the way in which a work of art can embody a philosophical thesis, and more. The class will also examine the work of modern Jewish thinkers that engaged in deep study of philosophical texts and then, in their own work, contrasted the Hebraic approach to art and the image with that of several different philosophical schools.

POL 2100H 261 The American Presidency 3 MW 06:45PM-08:00PM Incantalupo, Matthew and TROY, TEVI HBSI; STRAUS

The U.S. president is commonly referred to as the most powerful person in the world and there’s some truth to that. But the president governs in a system of deliberately separated and shared powers. The checks that are imposed on presidents are serious and frequently prevent them from getting what they want. And yet, some presidents clearly succeed more than others. What explains such variation? In other words, why do some presidents succeed while others fail? To answer this question, we will examine the process by which a president is nominated and elected, and explore theories that have sought to explain presidential power and success.


This course will examine the processes involved in food production, distribution, and consumption. It will use sociological frameworks for understanding how the social structural forces at play are influencing how we eat and how the food industry influences our lives. This course includes discussion related specifically to the food industry in the US, but also covers a variety of global issues.


Students Admitted to the Program

To remain in good standing, students must:

  • Take 6 Honors Courses, typically 1 per semester
  • Maintain GPA 3.5 or Higher
  • Complete Honors Thesis
  • Complete at least 94 on-campus credits

Current Yeshiva College Students Applying for Admissions

Students currently attending Yeshiva College who wish to apply to enter the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program must fill out an application form.

Criteria for admission:

  • A 3.7 GPA while at the college
  • Competent writing: the grade of A or A- in two courses in Composition or Literature
  • At least two strong recommendations from your college instructors.
  • In addition, it is advantageous to have achieved at least a 1400 on the SATs or a 32 on the ACTs.
  • Interest in completing the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program

Criteria for All Types of Honors Courses

As one goal of virtually all honors courses, regardless of field, the Honors Committee welcomes especially articulate communication and self-expression in person and in writing. In addition, all Honors Courses are designed to meet the following criteria:

  • Sophisticated, challenging thinking: critical, analytic, quantitative, scientific, interdisciplinary, and/or creative. 
  • Active employment of current discourse, methods, techniques, and theories in the relevant field or fields of inquiry. 
  • Critical investigation of primary as well as secondary sources. 
  • Independent learning with opportunities to exercise intellectual initiative. 
  • Pursuit of one or more research projects. 
  • Experiences that take advantage of the rich cultural, intellectual, institutional, and environmental resources of the New York area. 
  • Synthesis of discourse, knowledge, methods, theories and/or modes of thinking from two or more disciplines. 
  • Intensive writing and revision which facilitate growth as a thinker and as a writer, with publishable writing as an ultimate goal. 
  • Substantive participation by students in relevant professional activities such as a conference. 

The Senior Honors Thesis is the capstone project at the end of every Honors scholar’s Yeshiva College career. It is an opportunity to find mentorship from a favorite professor, investigate a pet interest with one-to-one guidance, and improve upon an academic resume. Thesis students will push their writing and analytical skills to their limits as they explore a question that matters to them in a meaningful, satisfying, and hopefully exciting way.  

A well-written and original thesis of high quality may substantially improve your chances for admission to the top graduate and professional programs around the country and abroad. Students who have completed theses have been successful in winning high academic honors: 50% of the valedictorians of Yeshiva College are graduates of the program, and honors students have garnered a disproportionate number of the graduation awards each year. They also have become very competitive in applying for the most prestigious fellowships: the winners of Rhodes, Goldwater, NSF Graduate Fellowships, and most of Wexner Fellowships have all been graduates of the program. Theses have been published as scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, chapters of books, or even books in their own right in the humanities and/or Jewish Studies.

The process of writing a thesis involves the following steps (described below)

The Thesis Writing Process
Steps Timeframe
Finding a Mentor Spring semester 3rd year
Drafting the Proposal Summer after your third year
Submitting the Proposal September 4th year
From Proposal to Thesis October-April 4th year
Thesis Submission May 4th year

This calendar is tentative and the specific circumstances of a student (field of research, post graduate plans), etc might require to move forward or backwards those deadlines, so please read the document carefully. 

For more information, please contact the Honors Program at

Finding a Mentor

Writing a thesis should grow organically out of your regular academic program.  Specifically, while you are taking classes or working in a lab, keep mental notes about ideas you would want to explore further or people whose work interests you. As you think, consider who might mentor you through the process. To find a mentor, you can:

  1. Choose your mentor first, and find out what he or she is working on. Ask the potential mentor if you can join his or her research team by contributing to one aspect of his or her project. Working with the mentor, you can find a topic for your project that fits within the mentor’s research.
  2. Choose a topic, and then find a mentor willing to work with you. Consider the topics that interest you and will help you further your intellectual, academic, and career goals. Then find a professor who has both the expertise and the inclination to help you conduct the research that interests you.

It is quite acceptable to tell a professor that you are interested in doing research in his/her field of expertise, but that you do not have a specific project in mind. This will give him/her the opportunity to suggest several research possibilities for you to consider. You can begin researching who might be a suitable mentor here, via our faculty webpages.

The Honors Program can help you with ideas for professors whose interests match yours. If no appropriate professor is on the YC faculty, the Honors Program can help you find a professor at another college.

Drafting the Proposal: Getting Your Feet Wet

In its written form, the honors thesis proposal is the crucial first step for every student who aspires to complete this final requirement of the honors program. It sets forth in a concrete way the student’s commitment to write a thesis, the topic to be studied, and the faculty member who will serve as mentor. There is no “one form fits all” in the case of the honors thesis proposal nor is there a set length. However, every thesis proposal must have the following several elements:

  • Cover Sheet. This sheet should be filled out and signed by both the student and the mentor. The faculty mentor must indicate his/her approval of the proposal. You can find that document here
  • A Working Title. While the title may be modified as time moves on, in its initial form, it should clearly indicate the topic and scope of the thesis.
  • The Thesis Statement. The thesis statement should discuss what it is the student wishes to accomplish in the thesis and/or the question(s) he wishes to answer. Depth of discussion is not the objective here, i.e. the proposal should, in summary fashion, go over previous scholarship, provide a sense of the methodology to be pursued, e.g. a thesis in the social sciences might employ a questionnaire if statistical analysis is the goal, and clarify how the thesis will contribute to the current state of research in any field of academic/intellectual endeavor.
  • Bibliography. Finally, the proposal should have a bibliography of primary and secondary sources appended which indicates that the student has investigated published books and articles relevant to the thesis topic. This bibliography should follow the citation format of the particular academic field of the thesis and thesis writers should familiarize themselves with such prior to submitting their proposal.

Submitting the Proposal and Other Paperwork: Conscientiousness Rewarded

Once your proposal is finished you will need to submit it to the Honors Program, along with any other relevant paperwork. Upon submission of the proposal, you will need the following paperwork:

  • Proposal cover page
  • Finished proposal with expected bibliography

Once your proposal has been reviewed and accepted, the Honors director will sign you up for the remaining thesis credits. While HON 4978H must be worth 1 credit, you may choose how many HON 4980H is worth. You will usually take HON 4980H in your penultimate semester and 4981H in your final semester. These two courses should add up to a total of 4 credits. You may decide on the credit value for each class once your proposal is accepted.

This means that if you sign up HON 4980H for 2 credits in your penultimate semester, you will sign up HON 4981H for 2 credits in the final semester. If, on the other hand, you sign up HON 4980H for 1 credit in the penultimate semester, you will need to sign up HON 4981H for 3 credits in the final semester. Note that in some cases, it is possible to assign all 4 credits to HON 4981H in the final semester.

From Proposal to Thesis: Writing the Thesis

During the thesis writing process, you should meet regularly with your mentor. While there is no formal requirement, in general, a schedule of more regular meetings leads to steadier progress on the thesis. The mentor should help you to determine deadlines for individual pieces of the project. He or she should also guide you through the general aspects of thesis writing like time management, organization, introduction and conclusion writing, research documentation, revision and editing, and oral presentation.

Please note while you write what past graders have said about the thesis. When asked about the qualities of a successful thesis, they answered that a thesis should be an original, compelling, sustained argument, written effectively, lucidly, correctly and interestingly.

Thesis Submission: The Home Stretch

Theses must begin with a cover page and follow formatting guidelines available here A signed publication consent form must accompany your submission. 

Once we receive your thesis, the evaluation process starts. Your thesis will have two different readers, each one of which will submit a review, and a grade for the work. One of them will be your thesis mentor, while the other will be designated by the program in consultation with you and your mentor. They might suggest some minor modifications. The final grade will be assigned by the program and it is arrived at by averaging the grades submitted by the readers. In the very unusual case of a discrepancy between the grades proposed by the two readers by more than a full letter grade, the program might request the opinion of a third reader.

There is a graduation dinner/luncheon to celebrate the achievement of the graduating honors students. It takes place at the end of the year usually the day before commencement so that parents and family members can attend, and students have the opportunity to give a short presentation of the highlights of their research.

The final version of the thesis is bound and kept in the honors library and also is stored electronically in the Yeshiva University Library. Since the electronic version is accessible from outside the University, students have to give a consent for this publication.

Students may see past theses in the YU Library for reference.

Important FAQs

  • Does the thesis have to be on a topic related to my major?
    For many students, the answer is yes. But, it is not unusual for a student to choose a topic from an academic field in which he is minoring, or one connected to some other interest of his, for example Jewish studies.
  • May I choose a mentor who is not a member of the YU faculty?
    Although most students find a mentor within the YU community, over the years some have chosen to work with someone from, for example, Columbia, NYU, Bar- Ilan University, and the University of Pittsburgh. You will need to identify who your external mentor is and get approval from the honors program before beginning your thesis research and writing. The honors program will be in regular contact with the external mentor to make sure that the process goes smoothly and that we share the same expectations from the thesis.
  • May a collection of short stories, a novella, a portfolio of artwork, or the making of a film, for example, fulfill the requirements for completion of an honors thesis?
    Several recent thesis writers have submitted works of fiction, a photographic essay, or musical piece as part of the thesis, always under the mentorship of a faculty member, and as part of an academic project. We encourage these types of submissions, and can help explain the specific requirements.
  • May I begin my thesis work before the beginning of my fourth year on campus?
    By all means, we strongly encourage it. At the beginning of your third year on campus, you should start to think about possible topics and mentors.
  • By when must a thesis be submitted?
    Students should submit the thesis during the last week of classes, prior to reading week, in the semester in which they plan to graduate.
  • May I finish writing the thesis during the summer?
    If you are in no hurry to get your diploma in May, then you may continue your writing over the summer. If you wish to receive a September diploma, then your thesis should be completed and submitted by mid-August.

All forms below are PDFs.

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