Honors Program

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These are the most frequently asked questions about the Honors Program at USD. View the Complete List of Honors FAQ's for more information on applying, housing, curriculum, and graduation requirements, etc.


Why should I join the Honors Program at the University of South Dakota?
With an Honors Program that is "the best-kept secret in the country"...the University boasts winners "almost every year for big scholarships like the Goldwater and Truman, competing with big, Ivy League, private colleges that charge quadruple the amount for the same education."

     --The Princeton Review quoting USD students whose survey responses contributed USD's ranking as one of the nation's 377 best colleges and universities for 2012-2013

The Honors Program is made up of 350 of the most engaged students on USD's campus. Our students are overwhelmingly successful at achieving a full, varied, enriching college experience. They hold more than one-fourth of all campus leadership positions, study abroad at a higher-than-average rate, and compete successfully for nationally competitive scholarships and graduate school placements.

The courses you take in the Honors Program are not about cramming more facts and figures into your head. We teach you skills that will give you a competitive advantage in your chosen career as well as a foundation for a life of learning - in whatever way you ultimately choose to define that.


What are the requirements for applying to the Honors Program?
The Honors Program recommends applicants have an ACT score of 27 or higher (or an SAT score of 1220 or higher) and a high school cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher. If students do not quite meet one or both of the guidelines but are interested in joining the Honors Program, application is still encouraged - the Honors Program staff reviews each application individually and takes into account the rigor of high school classes, leadership positions, overall involvement in school, work and community, and similar factors.


How do I apply to the Honors Program?
There are three ways you can apply to the Honors Program:

  1. Most students simply answer yes to the "Would you like this application to be used as your application for the University Honors Program?" question on USD's General Scholarship Application. We take the needed information (high school GPA, ACT/SAT score, etc.) right from that form.
  2. You can apply using our Online Application Form.
  3. You can also print, complete, and mail a paper copy of our application.


Can transfer students join the Honors Program?
Yes, transfer students with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher and who show evidence of success in academically rigorous classes may join the Honors Program on the Thesis Scholar track. Thesis Scholar students complete two UHON 390 seminars and write an Honors thesis.


Is it possible to be a student-athlete and also participate in the Honors Program?
Absolutely! If you are a student-athlete and are interested in the Honors Program, do not hesitate to join. If the Honors Program is the right fit, you will not find it any more difficult to balance Honors courses with athletic practice, travel and conditioning than your other courses. The Honors Program regularly has student-athletes in its ranks and has a good record of graduating athletes in every sport.


What are the Honors Floors?
The Honors Floors are two floors in one of USD's residence halls (Beede Hall in the North Complex) that are reserved for honors students. The Honors Program was the first department on campus to start such a living-learning community, and it remains a great success and a model for other living-learning floors.

Students who live on the Honors Floors almost universally report a stronger sense of community and friendship; the Honors Floor communities are made up of involved, highly motivated students who care about their education and know how to balance it with a fun, social, engaging atmosphere.

In fact, the biggest regret we generally hear from honors students is from those who chose not to live on the Honors Floors their freshman year; for that reason, all incoming honors students who choose to live on campus are pre-assigned to the Honors Floors.


Can I live on the Honors Floors with a non-Honors student?
Yes - honors students can request to room with a non-honors student on the Honors Floor. The roommate request should be made as early as possible to have the best chance of being accommodated. Details about roommate requests are included in the online housing application. Follow the directions carefully!


What are Honors students like?
Honors students have personalities and interests as diverse as the rest of the student body at USD; students from all majors and academic backgrounds call the Honors Program home. It's difficult to describe "the common honors student," but honors students tend to be genuinely interested in ideas and learning, as well as having a rich social life. Not only does the cohort of students in the Honors Program have the highest average GPA on campus, they are also the most involved. Over 27% of all leadership positions in recognized student organizations at USD are held by students in the Honors Program, and the last four student body presidents have been honors students as have several editors of the Volante (USD's student newspaper). Yet honors students make up only about 7% of the total undergraduate population - our students are very well-represented. Honors students are also athletes, ROTC cadets, musicians, actors, travelers, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, and much more.


Are Honors courses more difficult?
USD's Honors Program is not set up in such a way than an Honors course means more facts to memorize and more tests to take. Honors students generally agree that their Honors courses are not more difficult, just different. Smaller classes allow for more active student participation and involvement in class discussions. Honors classes focus on specific skills like critical thinking and persuasive communication. You learn to think for yourself by developing opinions and reactions to other people's work. There are very few, if any, occupations where developing a well-informed and strongly communicated opinion will not contribute to professional success.

Students' grades in their Honors courses are almost always the same or higher than the grades they earn in their non-Honors coursework. It is rare for a grade earned in an Honors class to lower a student's GPA.


I have AP/dual enrollment credits. Will these be accepted by the Honors Program?
The Honors Program will accept AP credit for corresponding college-level classes with a score of 3 or better on the AP test. Dual enrollment and other transfer credit will be evaluated by USD's Office of the Registrar to determine equivalent courses at the university for which credit can be granted. For Honors-specific classes, AP/dual credit is accepted for UHON 110 - Honors English. An AP score of 3 or higher on the AP Language and Composition test (NOT Literature and Composition) or college credit for English 101 - Composition will satisfy the UHON 110 requirement. We do suggest that you are very honest with yourself about the quality of your composition instruction and your comfort with reading and writing before you accept the credit. It is sometimes in a student's best interest to take UHON 110 even if he or she has the credit already.

The other Honors courses in the Honors Core Curriculum (any class that begins with "UHON") must be taken at USD.

A complete list of college credit (AP, dual enrollment, IB, CLEP, etc.) accepted at South Dakota Board of Regents Institutions can be found on the SDBOR Website.


What if I decide not to continue in the Honors Program?
You may decide to leave the Honors Program at any time. The classes you take as part of the Honors Core Curriculum will count toward the General Education Core Curriculum requirements - you won't have to repeat or re-take any of the core classes you have already completed as part of the Honors Program.