"Oxbridge may be the best honors
program in the United States."
|-- George Dehne, nationally known higher education consultant to 300 colleges and universities.
For over twenty-five years, the William Jewell College Oxbridge Honors Program has been preparing students with the knowledge, vision, and flexibility to succeed in the highly-competitive and rapidly evolving environments of academics, professions, business, and service.
As the only honors program in the U.S. offering majors with a full curriculum of tutorial-based instruction and a full year of study in Oxford or Cambridge, the Oxbridge Honors Program is a highly personalized, reading-writing intensive approach to education that combines the best of the British—intense and deep study, with great independence—and the American—broad background and close mentorship—approaches to higher education.
Created on the educational model found in Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the Oxbridge Honors Program features tutorial (rather than classroom) instruction and comprehensive examinations over the major field of study. For this reason, and because all students in the program study for their full junior year in Oxford or Cambridge, the program is called Oxbridge.
Classes in one’s Oxbridge major are taken in one-on-one or small group settings, with a master teacher or tutor coordinating intensive reading and writing assignments. Tutorials are designed for each area of specialization with a balance between standards of the discipline and individual students’ interests. Tutorial study:
- Instills responsibility for one’s own learning
- Develops critical reading and superior writing skills
- Cultivates the ability to think on one’s feet and defend one’s ideas
- Provides an opportunity for much greater depth and intensity of study than in regular courses
Following the British practice, students “sit” for comprehensive exams in their major during their senior year. Depending on the major, the student will write five or six three-hour essay exams. The comprehensive exams:
- Emphasize the value of long-term, rather than immediate, goals
- Encourage the integration of new knowledge with old
- Demonstrate mastery of a field of knowledge, rather than a particular class, preparing students for intellectual study beyond the college setting
More demanding than a traditional college major, all six Oxbridge majors provide rigorous training in sophisticated interpretation, analytical thinking, critical evaluation, and strong writing and oral presentation. Students in the Oxbridge Honors Program must major in one of these six majors.
Literature and Theory. Involves the study of great writers and works of literature of a wide variety of types (including novels, drama, poetry) and from the British and American traditions, and critical analysis of those traditions.
History. Focuses on American and European history and the methods of the study of history.
History of Ideas. A study of ethics and values through classic texts, preparing students for careers wherever strong analytical and critical skills are called for, including academics, law, public policy, journalism, ministry….
Institutions and Policy. An interdisciplinary study of Political Science, Economics, and Ethics. Excellent preparation for law, business, public policy, government.
Molecular Biology. The study of biology at the molecular and genetic level, with a strong emphasis on research throughout the four years of study. Excellent training for research and medical school.
Music. Focused in study of music theory and history and music literature and analysis, with private lessons and public recitals.
In addition to their Oxbridge majors, many Oxbridge students pursue further study in non-Oxbridge majors or minors. E.g., Oxbridge major in Molecular Biology and minor in non-Oxbridge music; Oxbridge major in Institutions and Policy and non-Oxbridge majors also in Political Science and Mathematics. Oxbridge major in History of Ideas and non-Oxbridge Philosophy.
Study in England
Built into the Oxbridge program is a full year of study during the junior year in either Oxford or Cambridge. Five programs are in place by which students can study at the finest educational institutions in the world, while taking part in university life and English and European culture.
Having studied for two years under the tutorial system, Oxbridge students are uniquely prepared to take advantage of the educational opportunities of these two great universities.
The Oxbridge Student
The Oxbridge Honors program is highly selective enrolling only 18 to 22 students in each new class each fall. While students in the Program are admitted on the basis of a wide variety of considerations, recent Oxbridge students have typically presented certain qualifications:
- mean ACT scores of 30 (composite), 33 (reading) and 33 (science, for Oxbridge molecular biology majors)
- a class rank in the top 10% (approximately half were graduated in the top 4% of their high school class)
Successful Oxbridge students are:
- Academic Achievers: They write well and read difficult materials with understanding, take criticism well and use it to improve performance.
- Intellectual Activists: They love learning, are curious, vigorous learners and thinkers, interested in ideas and active in discussion. They really enjoy studying, and don’t see it primarily as a responsibility to be carried out in order to earn good grades.
- Independent Workers: They take initiative to ask questions, research ideas, and raise issues. They do not need constant reminders and external pressures to accomplish goals. They take responsibility for their assignments and deadlines.
The Oxbridge Graduate
Oxbridge graduates point to the emphasis on writing, as well as the discipline of working independently, as excellent preparation for both graduate school and for professional life. Our graduates speak of learning to see multiple perspectives of an issue, of developing critical judgment by which to evaluate and synthesize multiple perspectives, and of the ability to think on one’s feet as important benefits of their Oxbridge training.
After graduation, Oxbridge students distinguish themselves
- with prestigious fellowships and awards,
- admission at the most celebrated graduate schools, including
- Cambridge University, England
- Oxford University, England
- Harvard University
- Princeton University
- Yale University
- University of London
- University of Chicago
- Duke University
- New York University
- and in highly successful careers of all sorts including academics, law, politics, public service, government, journalism, business, foreign service, ministry, medicine, and research.
Oxbridge Senior Tutor & Instructor of the Introductory Seminar
Dr. Kenneth D. Alpern (Philosophy)
Oxbridge Literature and Theory
Dr. Laurie C. Accardi (Adjunct in English)
Dr. Jennifer Cotter (English)
Dr. Sara L. Morrison (English)
Dr. Mark J. Walters (English) – Coordinator & Advisor
Dr. Thomas Howell (History)
Dr. Elaine A. Reynolds (History) – Coordinator & Advisor
Prof. Christopher Wilkins (History)
Dr. Jane Foster Woodruff (Modern Languages & History)
Oxbridge History of Ideas
Dr. Kenneth D. Alpern (Philosophy) – Acting Coordinator & Advisor
Dr. Milton P. Horne (Religion)
Dr. Randall C. Morris (Philosophy)
Dr. James Pearson (Philosophy)
Dr. Elizabeth A. Sperry (Philosophy) – Coordinator & Advisor (on leave 2011-2012)
Oxbridge Institutions and Policy
Dr. Gary T. Armstrong (Political Science)
Dr. Michael T. Cook (Economics) – Coordinator & Advisor
Dr. Rein Staal (Political Science)
Prof. Shawn Stogsdill (Adjunct in Political Science - Law)
Oxbridge Molecular Biology
Dr. Tara J. Allen (Biology) – Coordinator & Advisor
Dr. Scott Falke (Biology)
Dr. Amy Kerzmann (Biology)
Dr. Jill Morris (Biology)
Dr. Lori Wetmore (Chemistry)
Dr. Ian Coleman (Music) – Coordinator & Advisor (on leave 2011-2012)
Dr. Calvin C. Permenter, Jr. (Music)
Dr. Ronald K. Witzke (Music) – Acting Coordinator & Advisor
Frequently Asked Questions
Oxbridge How are Oxbridge majors different from traditional majors in similar subjects?
The primary difference is the tutorial method of study. In addition, the Oxbridge curriculum promotes study in greater depth. Whereas students in a classroom English or History major might take survey courses, using an anthology or textbook as their source of readings, Oxbridge students read selected topics from primary sources. The tutorial, with its emphasis on classic works and cutting edge scholarship, leads naturally to detailed consideration of a single topic rather than coverage of many.
Are all my courses in tutorials?
Oxbridge concerns your major field of study. The Core Curriculum and electives are in regular classroom type courses outside of Oxbridge. Also, though an Oxbridge major is more demanding than an ordinary major, some Oxbridge students pursue further study in non-Oxbridge majors or minors. Some majors within Oxbridge also designate certain non-tutorial courses as “foundations” for the more focused and intensive tutorials
Can I design my own major or tutorials?
No. The Oxbridge majors are shaped by the comprehensive examinations; the tutorials are designed by faculty who are experts in the field. However, students have some flexibility in emphasis and tutorials, especially during their year of study in England (this does not apply to molecular biology students).
How are comprehensive examinations different from finals?
In the British educational tradition on which the Oxbridge Honors program is based, students are assessed entirely on their performance on examinations at the end of the course of study. American education is based on continuous assessment through assignments, papers, and final examinations over the content of individual courses. William Jewell’s Oxbridge system is a compromise between the two. Students receive half their credit, and half the grade, for their work in the Oxbridge tutorials immediately upon completion of the tutorial, based on their work during the semester of study. The other half is granted upon satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examinations. Several tutorials, as well, as independent reading projects, prepare students for each comprehensive paper. The comprehensives are an opportunity for students to integrate their learning and demonstrate their mastery of a field of knowledge, rather than recite back what they have learned a single semester of study.
Do I have to choose a major right away?
No. Under the open year policy, first-year students are accepted into the Program as Oxbridge open students for an exploratory and trial year; students who enter the Program at the beginning of the sophomore year are open students for the fall semester and become majors for the spring semester. Toward the end of the open year, or for sophomore-entry students, toward the end of the fall semester, students will apply for admission to one of the Oxbridge majors. To be eligible to apply to a major, typically a student will have done well in a tutorial offered by that major.
What will my first year in Oxbridge be like?
In fall, you will take the Oxbridge Introductory Seminar, a special course exclusively for Oxbridgers designed to help students make the transition from high school to high-level honors work and from regular classes to tutorials. You may also take a foundation course for your intended Oxbridge major. Then, in the spring semester, you’ll take your first tutorial. By the end of the year, you will be years ahead of where you were when you started.
Is Oxbridge the only way to study in England?
No. Honors programs in Cambridge and Oxford, as well as many other study abroad opportunities, are open to all William Jewell students. Visit the Office of International Studies for further information.
Will I be able to participate in other typical college activities?
Yes. Oxbridge students live and take most of their classes with the rest of the student body. While it is true that an Oxbridge major requires more time and greater focus, Oxbridge students regularly engage in a wide range of college activities, including music, theatre, debate, sports, leadership programs, student newspaper, and the full range of college activities.
How to Apply
Oxbridge In addition to the materials outlined by the Office of Admission for application to William Jewell College, Oxbridge applications should include the following:
- Two recommendations from academic sources—people who know your academic work and can attest to your achievement and promise, and
- The Oxbridge Essay Using 250-500 words please comment on the following:
- Which would you argue is more important for a strong democracy: science or humanities-based education? Be sure your response defines what is meant by both notions and offers at least one concrete example.
You must be admitted to William Jewell before we can consider your application for the Oxbridge Honors Program. Upon Jewell acceptance, the Oxbridge Committee will review your application and select candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview with a panel of Oxbridge faculty.