Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Commonwealth Honors Academy (CHA)?

CHA is a three week academic, personal, and social development program for outstanding high school students in the summer after their junior year.

What are the benefits of the Commonwealth Honors Academy (CHA)?

  • Three weeks of academic and enrichment experience at Murray State
  • Six hours of tuition-free, transferable university credit**
  • Six additional *tuition-free credit hours during the student’s senior year.**
  • Guaranteed four-year, $2,000-per-year housing scholarship to Murray State University
  • Collaboration with other honor students and outstanding university and secondary faculty in a campus living-learning environment

* Online and/or class fees may still be charged
** Excludes Racer and Thoroughbred Academy classes

What if the student does not plan to attend Murray State University? Can the student still apply?

Absolutely! Students who attend CHA are under no obligation to attend Murray State University. They still will get to participate in every aspect of the Academy, and they can transfer the received college-level credit to the school of their choice.

What qualifications are expected of Commonwealth Honors Academy applicants?

All students applying for the Commonwealth Honors Academy should have a 3.5 GPA (on a 4 point scale) and a 25 Composite ACT score (or the equivalent PSAT, SAT, or another standardized test score). High school juniors throughout Kentucky as well as the Murray State out-of-state service region are invited to apply.

What is the PSAT, or SAT equivalent of a 25 ACT score?

Equivalencies vary, but generally a 25 ACT score is between the 82nd and 85th percentile of all scores. Therefore, students scoring in the 80th percentile or above of a PSAT, or SAT test are encouraged to apply.

What is the deadline for application?

The deadline for applications is March 1 of each year. Please note this is a postmark deadline. If March 1 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the deadline will be the following Monday.

What is the best way to send in applications?

Regular Mail or as an email attachment. Avoid faxing.

What are the differences between the Commonwealth Honors Academy (CHA) and the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP)?

The two programs share many characteristics; indeed, CHA was founded by former GSP administrators and faculty.

  • Both programs are for outstanding high school juniors.
  • Both programs seek to develop a living-learning community.

However, there are several distinct differences:

Commonwealth Honors AcademyGovernor’s Scholars Program

Three-week program on the Murray State campus

Five-week program on several campuses in Kentucky

Available to students from Kentucky and out of state

Only open to Kentucky residents

No more than 120 students

300-350 students per campus

Graduates awarded a four-year, $2,000-per-year housing scholarship to Murray State, if they choose to attend

Graduates offered scholarships of varying amounts at many major universities in Kentucky

Graduates complete and receive credit for six hours of college-level courses (and are eligible to take six additional *tuition free classes during their senior year). Online and/or class fees may still be charged.

No grades or course credit

$195 tuition processing fee*

No cost except for personal expenses.

* Tuition processing fee waived if student receives free or reduced student lunch, or receives an ACT fee waiver.

What is the duration of the Academy?

The Academy lasts for three weeks including weekends. Evening and weekend activities include extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

What courses are offered during the three-week Academy?

Each student will be assigned to an Interdisciplinary Humanities and Fine Arts (IDHFA) course and to one elective in Business, Science, Education, Health Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts, Social Science, Communications, or Engineering.

Must students remain on campus during the entire three week academy?

Yes. This is necessary to meet the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requirements, so that students may be awarded college-level credit for their courses. It is also essential in building the community that is so integral a part of the Commonwealth Honors Academy.

What is the purpose of the theme?

To unify the academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences, so that learning takes place within and beyond the classroom.

How are students notified of acceptance and how long does an accepted student have to accept or reject the offer?

Students will be notified by letter regarding their acceptance by mid April. Any applicant who has not received notification by that date should contact the Honors Office at 270-809-3166.

What costs are a student’s responsibility during the Academy?

Besides the tuition processing fee, students will need money for the laundry machines (quarters). One load of laundry will cost at least $2.00 (washing and drying) and change machines are NOT available in the Residential College where the students will be living. While there is no charge for the student's meals and lodging, students will often want to order take-out later in the evenings (pizza and Chinese are popular choices). Students may wish to bring some spending money for personal expenses. It is up to the parents and students to determine a reasonable amount of money to bring with them. ATM machines are available in the University student center.

Where do the students live?

All students, faculty and staff are housed in one residential college for the entire three weeks. CHA has exclusive use of the building. While the faculty are not required to live in the residential college, most of them do reside on a floor separate from the students. Male and female students live on separate floors, and visitation is not permitted. The first floor lobby (and second floor lobby when available) is reserved for coed interactions.

How are CHA students supervised?

With respect to classes, seminars, and other community events and programs, attendance is taken and any missing student is quickly found. Students are well informed of the expectations regarding attendance and what to do if an emergency arises or if they are sick and cannot attend an event, program, or class. In the opening days of the Academy, students will walk the perimeter of the campus and will know exactly where they are permitted to go and not go. Within the residence hall, a trained resident counselor lives on each wing and is responsible for 14-20 students. Students also have a curfew each day when they must be in the building and then on their respective floors. NOTE: Detailed information regarding safety and security is provided on the “Safety and Security Information Form” that all accepted students and their parents will receive in the initial mailing.

What happens to an application when it arrives at the CHA office?

Each application is assigned a file. The application is first screened by the Murray State Honors Program staff to determine if the application is complete and minimum criteria are met. A few days after the application deadline, applications are read and scored by screening committees to determine the rank of applicants. By mid April, rankings will be established and applicants notified of their status. All applicants will then be notified by letter that they are either: accepted, rejected, or placed on an "alternate" list. Accepted students are asked to reply within two weeks to determine if they are going to attend CHA. Alternate students may be notified any time up to and including the first day of the Academy if space becomes available.

What if the student has slightly lower than 25 on the ACT, or a slightly lower GPA than 3.5? Should the student still apply?

Yes, if the difference is negligible. Students who fully meet all the criteria will be given preference in the selection procedure, but students who have a slightly lower GPA or ACT score may still be considered.

How are students assigned to their classes/rooms?

One of the goals of the CHA Administrative Team is to create a community where students from different schools, regions, states, and interests interact with as many different students as possible. In order to achieve that healthy “mix”, students are first assigned to elective classes. Every attempt is made to give the student their first or second choice while maintaining geographic and gender “balance”. After Elective Class, students are then assigned to their Interdisciplinary Humanities and Fine Arts Class (IDHFA), and Seminar. Lastly, room assignments are made with every attempt to achieve a geographic and academic balance. Students from the same high school are never assigned to the same room.

How many students are typically in a class or seminar?

Each class and seminar ranges in size from 14 to 20 students.

How much time is spent in class?

During the week, students take two classes a day, spending about 5-6 hours per day in the classroom or on short field excursions. One day per week (in each of the first two weeks) is devoted to an all-day co-curricular activity, such as a field trip for biological research or a trip to an opera and art museum. On weekends and during the evenings, students attend concerts, lectures, and performances, engage in extracurricular games, service activities, and talent shows, and participate in personal development forums and seminars.

What does the housing/leadership scholarship cover?

The CHA housing/leadership scholarship contributes $2,000 per year, $1,000 per semester, toward the cost of on-campus housing for four years of enrollment at Murray State University. Students are required to maintain at least a 3.0 average at Murray State and are required to purchase one of the meal plans. Students still are required to submit a deposit with their housing application.

What should students do if they are scheduled to take the ACT during the Academy?

If a student has scheduled to take the ACT during the Academy they should:

  • Notify the CHA office at 270-809-3166.
  • Request a change in site (to the Murray State campus) from ACT.
  • Do NOT schedule the written portion of the test.

What forms will be sent to accepted students, and which must be completed and returned?

The following documents will be sent to accepted students in the initial mailing and must be completed and returned if the student desires to be a part of the Academy:

  • Confidential Student Medical form (please send a copy of the insurance card and immunization record)
  • An Authorization To Consent to Treatment of a Minor form (required by the local hospital)
  • Learning Contract/Parental Permission form (to participate in the Academy)
  • Tuition processing fee waiver form (if applicable)
  • Publicity Information and Authorization of Use form
  • Cell Phone Policy/Church Services form
  • T-shirt Size Request form

Three additional documents will be included in the initial mailing. A "What Will I Need? (to bring to campus list), a "Safety and Security Information" sheet, and an information sheet for accepted students who are registered to take the National ACT exam on the opening day of CHA.

Students who are certain they don't want to participate are asked to sign and return the enclosed "Notice of Non-attendance form" as quickly as possible so that alternates may be notified as soon as possible.

Students who accept the offer to attend CHA and return the requested forms will receive another mailing prior to the opening of the Academy. The second mailing will include their specific class assignments, seminar group, room assignment, a schedule for Opening Day as well as directions to campus, and other useful information (e.g., how to send mail to students during the program, how to contact the CHA office, banking information, athletic and recreational facilities, computer access, health services). The second mailing should arrive no later than the third week in May.

What should a student bring?

Casual clothes are usually sufficient for class activities. Students will wish to dress more formally for speakers, concerts, and the final banquet; students also have the opportunity to attend church services during the three weeks of the Academy. Students will not NEED money for meals or admissions. They may, however, wish to bring money for pizza or souvenirs, and quarters for LAUNDRY. Students are not to bring televisions, video games, and/or automobiles.

What should students do if they are scheduled to take the ACT during the Academy?

If a student has scheduled to take the ACT during the Academy they should:

  • Notify the CHA office at 270-809-3166.
  • Request a change in site (to the Murray State campus) from ACT.
  • Do NOT schedule the written portion of the test.