The Sister Nora Harrington Nurse Scholar Program was initiated in 1999 and named after the founder of the Elms College Nursing Program. It is designed to provide a stimulating environment and enriching experiences for academically talented and exceptionally motivated students by enhancing professional development, nurturing the development of future nurse leaders and preparing gifted students for graduate studies. The program reflects the Elms College mission by encouraging lifelong learning and providing opportunities for service and growth of students “rooted in faith, educated in mind, compassionate in heart, responsive to civic and social obligations, capable of adjusting to change without compromising principle and able to respond creatively to the demands of their chosen career.”


The purpose of this program is to provide those students with demonstrated academic ability enhanced opportunities to explore and develop their knowledge, attitudes and skills (KAS) in nursing leadership and scholarship. Students’ educational experiences in the Honors Program allow for increased professional growth, satisfaction and achievement, and a stimulating academic experience.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the Sister Nora Harrington Nurse Scholar Program, the student will have:

  • Participated in experiences that promote leadership capabilities.
  • Produced an honors project demonstrating scholarship in the art and science of nursing.
  • Developed knowledge, attitudes and skills that serve as a foundation for advanced practice and graduate studies.

Selection of Candidates / Application Process

After completion of the first semester in junior year, nursing students who meet the criteria listed below for the Honors Program will receive information about the program and will be invited to apply. The honors program coordinator, with input from nursing faculty members, will make selections. Selection will be based on the following criteria:

  • Top 10% of nursing majors in the sophomore class upon completion of the sophomore year.
  • Submission of a completed application to the honors program coordinator. The application must include:
    • A one page resume that lists all pertinent activities and affiliations in which the student is currently active or has been active during the past 3 years, including positions held, honors, awards, extracurricular activities,  volunteer activities, etc.
    • A written essay highlighting long-term student goals, including why the student wants to participate in the honors program.
    • A completed faculty endorsement form.

Maintaining Honor Status

To remain in the honors program, a student must meet all program requirements, maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5, and a B+ or higher in all nursing (NUR) courses. If the GPA falls below 3.5, the student will have one academic semester to regain the required GPA. A student who fails to achieve the minimum GPA will no longer be eligible to continue in the honors program. If a student receives a grade of B or lower in a nursing course, he/she may petition the honors program coordinator to have honors status continued. Students’ academic and clinical status will be reviewed each semester by the Honors Program Faculty.

Honors Recognition

Honors students will be recognized for their scholastic achievement. Students who complete the program will receive a certificate upon graduation from Elms College. This is presented to each nursing honors student at the Nursing Pinning Ceremony. In addition, honors students’ permanent transcripts will bear the designation of Sister Nora Harrington Nurse Scholar.

Structure of Program

The Nursing Honors Program seeks to promote the intellectual curiosity of the Nursing Division’s most capable students, to develop a cohort of nurse scholars, and to cultivate the creativity of the next generation of nurse scholars, researchers, and leaders by fostering an environment to support intellectual pursuits, and, in some cases, linking scholars with faculty and community nursing leaders who are experts in their respective fields. The program is designed to provide students with an opportunity for advanced, independent and in-depth study of a clinical nursing problem or professional issue in nursing or health care under the guidance of nursing faculty.

Honors Course Work: Honors students will participate in three one-credit honors seminars.

NUR 3901: Honors Seminar I (spring semester junior year)

This is the first seminar in the Nursing Honors Curriculum. The students will explore issues affecting the nursing profession and health care. The focus is on exploration of the concepts of scholarship, leadership, and reflective practice with an emphasis on the QSEN competencies. The use of scholarly inquiry and nursing research will be emphasized as tools that will be used throughout the program. Students will begin to: 1) cultivate the skills of critical thinking; 2) explore various aspects of professional nursing practice; 3) identify a practice or professional issue that is of interest for an honors project.

NUR 4900: Honors Seminar II (fall semester senior year)

The central part of this seminar is the development and start of the honors project. Students will work with their seminar faculty in designing their honors projects and finalizing their written proposals.

NUR 4901: Honors Seminar III (spring semester senior year)

During this seminar, students will complete their honors project and submit an abstract of their work to the Beta Zeta at Large Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International to present their projects at the chapter’s Scholarship Day. In addition, a written report and poster will be completed. The poster will be presented at the completion of the semester.

Honors Project

The Honors Program provides an opportunity for students to engage in an independent scholarly project that focuses on research, clinical practice, or a professional nursing issue. Successful completion of an Honors Project is a requirement for all honors students. Students may work with preceptors to design and implement their honors project. This work will be planned with input from the honors program coordinator.