The UMass Lowell Honors Program began its life in 1995. Instrumental in its creation were: Eric Sheldon, Eugene Mellican, Robert Kunzendorf, and Jacqueline Moloney. Over the years, there have been eight directors: Eric Sheldon, Ph.D., Eugene Mellican, Ph.D., Stephen Pennell, Ph.D., Noelle McAfee, Ph.D., Alice Waters, Ph.D., Doreen Arcus, Ph.D., Julie Nash, Ph.D., and James Canning, Ph.D. There have been two associate directors: Eugene Mellican, Ph.D. and Robert Kunzendorf, Ph.D. There have been many Honors Coordinators including, Elizabeth Donaghey, Veronica Gadbois, Kristen Rhyner, and Brooke Crossman.
On Feb. 27, 2014, recognizing the strength of the Honors Program and its contributions to UMass Lowell's rising stature, the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees voted to elevate the program to an Honors College. James Canning, Ph.D. became the first dean of the UMass Lowell Honors College on June 1, 2014. In the fall of 2014, Elizabeth Donaghey was appointed the Director of the Honors College.