Academic Honors and Awards

Honor Societies

National Honor Societies

Alpha Sigma Nu — the honor society of the Jesuit institutions of higher education, is unique among honor societies in that it seeks to identify the most promising students who demonstrate an intelligent appreciation of and commitment to the intellectual, social, moral, and religious ideals of Jesuit higher education through active service to the college and wider community. Students who rank in the top 15 percent of their class may be considered for membership. Each chapter can nominate no more than four percent of a particular class. Selection is based on scholarship, loyalty, and service.

Phi Beta Kappa — founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious national honor society of the liberal arts and sciences. Election to Phi Beta Kappa is recognition of academic achievement and is intended for students who have demonstrated particular breadth in their undergraduate program. Each year, the Holy Cross Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa nominates for membership fourth-year students from the top 10 percent of their class who have demonstrated excellence in the liberal arts, completed one course in mathematics, demonstrated language competence equivalent to the second semester of an intermediate-level language course, and satisfied all common requirements. In addition, the Chapter nominates third-year students who have completed at least 20 semester courses, satisfied the above requirements, and demonstrated an exceptional level of academic achievement.

Disciplinary Honor Societies

Alpha Kappa Delta — the international sociology honor society is an affiliate of the American Sociological Association and awards recognition to high scholarship in sociology.

Delta Phi Alpha — the national German honor society, devoted to recognizing excellence in the study of German, to providing an incentive for higher scholarship, to promoting the study of the German language, literature, and civilization and to emphasizing those aspects of German life and culture which are of universal value and which contribute to the search for peace and truth.

Dobro Slovo — the National Slavic Honor Society recognizes academic excellence in the study of languages, literature, art and culture.

Eta Sigma Phi — the national collegiate honorary society for students of Latin and/or ancient Greek. The society seeks to develop and promote interest in classical studies among the students of colleges and universities; to promote closer fraternal relationships among students who are interested in classical study, including inter-campus relationship; to engage generally in an effort to stimulate interest in classical studies, and in the history, art, and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Holy Cross is home to the Delta Lambda Chapter.

Gamma Kappa Alpha — the national Italian honor society, dedicated to promoting and sustaining excellence in the study of Italian language, literature and culture, honors students who complete the Italian major program with distinction.

Lambda Alpha — the national honor society for anthropology serves to recognize exceptional performance, is affiliated with the American Anthropological Association and awards recognition to high scholarship in anthropology.

Omicron Delta Epsilon — the national society in economics, which selects as members students who have distinguished themselves in the study of economics.

Phi Alpha Theta — the national honor society in history, devoted to the promotion of the study of history by the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and thought among historians.

Phi Sigma Tau — the international honor society in philosophy, which awards distinction to students having high scholarship and personal interest in philosophy.

Pi Delta Phi — the national French honor society, devoted to recognizing outstanding scholarship in French language and literature, to increasing Americans’ knowledge of and appreciation for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world, and to stimulating and encouraging French cultural activities.

Pi Mu Epsilon — the national mathematics honor society that promotes scholarship and interest in mathematics. Members are elected based on their proficiency in mathematics.

Pi Sigma Alpha — the national honor society in political science, which selects students who have distinguished themselves in the study of the discipline.

Psi Chi — the national honor society in psychology affiliated with the American Psychological Association, seeks to honor excellent scholarship and nurture student involvement in psychology.

Sigma Delta Pi — the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, invites Spanish majors who have achieved excellence in Hispanic studies to be inducted into the Holy Cross chapter.

Sigma Phi Omega — the national society seeks to recognize the excellence of those who study gerontology and aging. The society is an affiliate of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and the Gerontological Society of America, and it seeks to promote scholarship, professionalism, and services to older persons.

Sigma Pi Sigma — the national physics honor society, which seeks to recognize outstanding scholarship in physics.

Sigma Tau Delta — the national English honor society, was established at Holy Cross in 1987. Eligible English majors are elected to membership and actively engage in the promotion of English studies.

Theta Alpha Kappa — the national honor society in religious studies and theology embraces three areas of primary concern to students of religion: God, humanity, and community. Its aims are to further the study of religion and theology at the graduate and undergraduate level; encourage excellence in research, learning, teaching and publication; and to foster the exchange of ideas among scholars.

Annual Awards

Fourth-Year Competition

The George J. Allen, Ph.D., ’65 Psychology Award is given to a fourth-year psychology major who best exemplifies the integration of empirical scientific research and community service.

The American Institute of Chemists Foundation Award goes to an outstanding, fourth-year chemistry major for a demonstrated record of ability, leadership, and professional promise.

The Pedro Arrupe Medal for Outstanding Service is awarded to a graduating senior whose faith in the gospel is made visible through his or her work for justice, both at Holy Cross and beyond.

The Karen Gottschang Turner Asian Studies Award is presented to a fourth-year Asian Studies major or minor who has submitted the most outstanding piece of scholarly or artistic work as judged by a committee of Asian Studies faculty. The award also recognizes distinctive academic achievement in the Asian Studies curriculum and contribution to the Asian Studies Program.

The Beethoven Prize is awarded to a fourth-year student for the best historical or analytical essay on music or an original composition.

The Nellie M. Bransfield Award is given to a fourth-year outstanding actor/actress.

The Joseph C. Cahill Prize is awarded to a graduating chemistry major for excellence in chemistry.

The Frank D. Comerford Award is given to a fourth-year student for superior ability in public speaking.

The Philip A. Conniff, S.J., Prize is awarded by the Classics department to a fourth-year Classics major for excellence in the study of the Latin language.

The Caren G. Dubnoff Political Science Award is given to a fourth-year political science major for outstanding academic achievement in political science.

The Economics and Accounting Achievement Award honors the student who has contributed most significantly in scholarship, enthusiasm and/or service to the Economics department.

The Father Flatley Medal is awarded to a fourth-year student who displays the greatest degree of talent for (and love of) Philosophy.

The Rev. John W. Flavin, S.J., Award is given to a fourth-year biology major who has shown excellence in scientific achievement, humanitarian service, or contribution to the vitality of the Biology department and the College.

The Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Award — First established in 1993 in recognition of academic excellence in Women’s Studies, the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Award today honors a student who has achieved excellence in academic work from the perspective of critical feminist and/or gender theory and who has demonstrated engagement with issues of pressing concern to women and LGBTQIA+ persons.

The Dr. Marianthi Georgoudi Memorial Award is given to the outstanding graduating psychology major as judged by the faculty of the Psychology department. This award is in memory of Dr. Georgoudi, who had been a member of the Holy Cross Psychology department.

The George H. Hampsch Award is for outstanding contribution to the Cause of Peace. This award is in memory of Dr. Hampsch, who had been a member of the Philosophy department.

The Rev. William F. Hartigan Medal is awarded for the best essay on a subject of religion.

The Rev. Robert F. Healey, S.J., Greek Prize is awarded by the Classics department to a fourth-year Classics major who has attained a high degree of proficiency in the study of Ancient Greek.

The Thomas P. Imse Alpha Kappa Award is given to a fourth-year sociology major who is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. This award is in recognition of scholarly excellence and demonstrated commitment to learning for the service of humankind.

The Robert Edmond Jones Award is awarded by the Theatre Department for achievement in the areas of design and technical theatre.

The Edward V. Killeen, Jr., Prize is awarded for general excellence in chemistry throughout the pre-medical course.

The Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean Studies Award is presented to a fourth-year Latin American and Latino Studies concentrator who has demonstrated academic excellence in the program through the quality and diversity of their coursework at Holy Cross and abroad. The award also recognizes outstanding participation in cultural and other promotional programs on- and off-campus and significant engagement in service to the Latino community.

The John C. Lawlor Medal is awarded to the outstanding student and athlete throughout the college course.

The Leonard Award is given for proficiency in oratory, debating or like competition. This award is given to the student who is selected as the Valedictorian of the graduating class.

The Heather C. Lochmuller ’98 Award was established in 1999 in memory of Heather. It is awarded to a fourth-year chemistry major for outstanding service to the Chemistry department.

The Rev. John J. MacDonnell, S.J. Computer Science Award is awarded for proficiency in computer science.

The Gertrude McBrien Mathematics Prize is awarded for proficiency in mathematics.

The George B. Moran Award goes to a fourth-year student who has given evidence of scholarship and leadership in College activities.

The Nugent Gold Medal is awarded for general excellence in physics.

The John L. Philip Memorial American Sign Language Award is given to a graduating student who has demonstrated an interest in, and motivation to learn, American Sign Language (ASL) and to bring that learning to life. This student has integrated his/her classroom knowledge of ASL and Deaf culture with respect for, and interaction with, members of the Deaf Community.

The John Paul Reardon Medal and Award was established in 1985 by John Paul Reardon, a former faculty member, in memory of the late Rev. J. Gerard Mears, S.J. The medal and award are given annually to a graduating student for excellence in studio art.

The Susan Rodgers Anthropology Award honors the one anthropology student who has demonstrated superior achievement in the discipline while an undergraduate at Holy Cross.

The George Bernard Shaw Award is given for the best essay in dramatic literature or film.

The Study Abroad Independent Project Prize is given for initiative, seriousness of purpose, and excellence in a Study Abroad Independent Project.

The George Vidulich-Andrew Vanhook Award is given for an excellent research thesis and presentation in chemistry.

The Vannicelli Washington Semester Program Award is given for the best thesis in the Washington Semester Program.

The Varsity Club Norton Prize is given to an outstanding student athlete.

The Shirley Verrett French Prize in Memory of the Rev. Lionel P. Honoré, S.J. is awarded to the top French major in the graduating class as determined by the French faculty.

The Vin Forde Memorial Award is awarded annually by the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the values of Vin Forde: dedication to the academic study of religion alongside a manifest commitment to both the Catholic and civic communities, represented in the individual’s service to the College, Church, and broader community.

The Edward F. Wall, Jr., Prize is awarded annually to a fourth-year student whose research essay in any field of history is judged by the Department of History to be exemplary. The prize is in memory of Edward F. Wall, Jr., a former Chair of the department and Class Dean, who was a member of the faculty for 34 years.

The Carter G. Woodson Prize is given to a fourth-year student for outstanding scholarly or artistic achievement in African American Studies.

Third- and Fourth-Year Competition

The Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry is given for excellence in analytical chemistry.

Third-Year Competition

The Markham Memorial Scholarship Award is given to a third-year student majoring in philosophy who demonstrates the highest aptitude for philosophical inquiry and whose commitment to his or her studies best exemplifies the belief that “critical examination of fundamental religious and philosophical questions is integral to a liberal arts education.”

The John D. O’Connell Prize for Accounting Excellence was established in 1994, to honor the distinguished services of the College’s senior accounting professor. Given to a third-year accounting major for academic achievement, service and leadership. The awardee, selected by the accounting faculty, is honored for continuing the traditions associated with Professor O’Connell — pursuit of academic excellence, demonstrated leadership in service to the community and demonstrated interest in and commitment to the profession of public accounting.

The Rev. John F. Redican Medal is given for general excellence to a third-year student who has made a unique contribution to the College’s intellectual life.

Third-, Second-, and First-Year Competition

The Undergraduate Award for Achievement in Organic Chemistry is for excellence in organic chemistry.

Second-Year Competition

The Teresa A. Churilla Second-Year Book Award in Biology is given in memory of Teresa A. Churilla, a Biology major, to a second-year student of biology who best exemplifies the ideals of intellectual curiosity, academic excellence, and scientific promise that characterized Teresa.

The Mrs. Kate C. Power Award is given to the highest-ranking student in the second-year class.

First- and Second-Year Competition

The Joseph J. O’Connor Purse is for excellent debating by a first-year or second-year student throughout the debating season.

First-Year Competition

The Annual CRC Press Freshman Chemistry Achievement Award goes to an outstanding student in the first-year chemistry sequence.

The Ernest A. Golia ’34, M.D., Book Award is given to a first-year student who is a non-Classics major for excellence in any course offered by the department.

Competition for All Students

The Academy of American Poets Prize is given for the best poem or group of poems submitted to the English department.

The Elias Atamian Family Book Award is given to a student who has excelled in Middle Eastern Studies.

The Bourgeois French Prize is awarded for the best essay on a subject relating to the culture and history of the French and their descendants in the United States.

The Crompton Gold Medal is awarded for the best scientific essay or research paper submitted during the school year.

The John J. Crowley Memorial Prize is awarded for the best essay on a religious, literary, historical, economic or scientific subject.

The Patrick F. Crowley Memorial Award is given for proficiency in oratory and debating.

The John J. Cummings, Jr./BAI Award is for the best essay or research paper submitted during the academic year on a subject relating to financial institutions.

The James Fallon Debating Purse was founded in 1901 by Rev. John J. Fallon, of the class of 1880, for year-long excellence in debating skills.

The Thomas A. Fulham Environmental Studies Prize is given to a student in recognition of his or her work in safeguarding our physical environment.

The Edna Dwyer Grzebien Prize is awarded for excellence and commitment in the study of modern languages.

The Walter Gordon Howe Award is for excellence in percussion performance.

The Monsignor Kavanagh Medal & Award are given for the best original essay on some phase of Catholic art or Christian archeology.

The William E. Leahy Award is given in memory of William E. Leahy, of the class of 1907, for leadership as a debater.

The Leonard J. McCarthy, S.J., Memorial Prize is awarded for the best essay in the criticism of English or American Literature.

The Purple Prize is awarded for the best poem submitted to The Purple.

The James H. Reilly Memorial Purse is given to the student who has contributed the best poem or short story to The Purple.

The Freeman M. Saltus Prize is awarded for excellence in writing essays on labor or economics.

The Strain Gold Medal is given for the best essay submitted during the academic year on a subject taken from the field of philosophy.

The Maurizio Vannicelli Prize in Italian Studies is awarded for the best essay on a theme of Italian literature or culture.

National Scholarships and Fellowships

The Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies advises students applying for various prestigious awards to support post-graduate study (Beinecke, Fulbright, Goldwater, Javits, Marshall, National Science Foundation, Rhodes, Rotary, St. Andrews Society, and Truman Scholarship, among others).

Students should begin preparing for these competitions early in their undergraduate careers. Individuals should seek faculty assistance during the first three years to develop the necessary projects, ideas, credentials, and research initiatives that will serve as the foundations of finished proposals. Individuals who are interested should also meet periodically with the Director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies, who will help them determine which awards would be suitable for their interests and talents and help them develop their proposals and personal statements.

In most cases, students submit preliminary applications to the Committee on Graduate Studies, and members of the Committee review dossiers and conduct personal interviews to select candidates for institutional recommendations. For those independent applications that do not require institutional endorsement, the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies is happy to provide assistance. Faculty members are encouraged to recommend students to the attention of this Committee.

Some of the awards are directed to students in specific majors. For example, the Goldwater Scholarship is for second- and third-year students of math and science who are nominated by the faculty in the departments of biology, chemistry, physics and math. The Truman Fellowship is for those interested in pursuing studies leading to public service. Students apply for this award in their second year and should consult with the Director of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies in their second year. The Beinecke Scholarship, also applied for in the third year, is for students planning graduate study in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. Many fellowships require application in the first semester of senior year. Materials concerning these and other awards are available from the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies and on the Graduate Studies web page.