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Austin E. Knowlton Honors Program

Acquire the skills to make a difference in the world

How to apply to the honors program:

  1. Write a 1-2 page essay about a book you've read that has had some sort of impact on you.
  2. Register for an in-person or virtual interview date. **
  3. Engage in a group discussion about the program.

** Your essay is needed at the time of registration.

The Austin E. Knowlton Honors Program is an exclusive academic opportunity for high-achieving students.

Students admitted into the honors program have the opportunity to explore the basis of peculiar beliefs, facilitate change using a variety of perspectives, investigate how cultural differences shape worldviews and solve problems in new and unique ways.

If you are an intellectually curious, highly motivated student, the Austin E. Knowlton Honors Program is a great way to start your college career. You will take part in seriously fun and invigorating discussions, read thought-provoking texts, and advance your reading and writing skills in ways that will impact any major you choose.

Have questions about the program? Email Kassidy Belcher and Rob Williams at

Why should you consider the honors program?

  • Fulfills graduation requirements like the First-Year Inquiry course (FYI) that is required of all first-year students.
  • Aids with development of communication and critical thinking skills.
  • Offers an exceptional foundation for an undergraduate education, graduate school programs, and future careers.
  • Involves a special sense of community with like-minded students.
  • Provides a transformative experience dedicated to helping you change the world.

Any incoming first-year student interested in honors submits a writing sample and engages in a group conversation with a professor. The interviews are friendly and relaxed, last about half an hour and involve discussion on what you like to read, write and think about. Find out how to apply below.

What do current and former students have to say?

"My writing skills grew exponentially during my time in the honors program. The professors truly cared about my personal and academic growth!"

Sylvia Hughes, Class of 2026

"Honors got me into shape for college, thanks to Dr. Sarah McDowell. Not only did I get good at doing research and writing papers, but I got a full, in-depth course about huge topics like how to live my life. I heavily recommend the experience!"

John Flannery, Class of 2024

"The honors program exposed me to higher levels of thinking that most freshman or undergraduate students may get to experience. As a first-year student, I got to read high-level theories from Foucault in the queer theories class for FYH. Through this experience, I gained a broader perspective of how human sexuality and gender affect everyone."

Andy Frieden, Class of 2025

"As part of Augustana's First-Year Honors Program, I did research, made connections, and went on field trips to get hands-on experience with the material we had covered in class. Through the program, I met great mentors and made so many memories!"

Adi Walker, Class of 2026

About Austin E. Knowlton

A lifelong resident of Ohio, Austin E. “Dutch” Knowlton was a successful businessman, avid sportsman and philanthropist. He established the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation. One of the primary purposes of the foundation is to advance higher education. Augustana College is one institution to benefit from the generosity of this philanthropist.