Curious scholars. Exceptional leaders. The USD Honors Program provides highly motivated and engaged students with opportunities to connect with faculty, participate in undergraduate research and make the most of their education in and out of the classroom.
What is Honors all about?
The Honors Program at USD is open to students of all majors and academic backgrounds. Honors is about developing you into a person who’s passionate about contributing to society and preparing for a rapidly changing world. By fostering enriched educational opportunities for academically talented and highly motivated students, USD's Honors Program offers an engaging, stimulating and rewarding experience.
Our students are some of the most active and engaged on campus. In the Honors Program you'll find a welcoming community of lifelong learners who get involved and design their education to fit their interests.
See What Sets Us Apart
exceptional students make up the close, supportive community in Honors.
92% of 2019 Honors graduates had jobs or were accepted into post-graduate programs by graduation.
honors students have won nationally-competitive scholarships over the past 10 years.
The Honors curriculum is designed to work with every major and has multiple paths to completion without adding time to graduation. Honors courses are specifically designed for our students, but they also meet the same academic requirements as equivalent general education courses.
This design lets you have the full USD undergraduate experience while taking smaller, discussion-based classes with students who are similarly motivated and come from all majors across campus. We teach you to explore complex issues, develop your own opinions and persuasively share your conclusions in writing and discussion. These are skills that will give you a competitive advantage for your plans after graduation.
Here's a glimpse into the academic experiences in our curriculum.
Honors seminars are the most popular classes we offer. These are unique, interdisciplinary courses designed just for Honors students and taught by faculty from across campus. Recent topics have included things like "Evil Lurks among Us: The Moral Dimension of Horror," "The Causes and Consequences of Epidemics and Pandemics" and "How We Came to Know What We Know: The History and Philosophy of Science."
An Honors thesis is the capstone project for all students who plan to graduate from the Honors Program at USD. The thesis can take many forms – from a scientific experiment or literary analysis to a business plan or an original novel, play, or musical composition – and allows students to explore a topic they are passionate about. Honors students have a thesis advisor, a faculty member who works closely with them throughout their thesis process, and a thesis committee made up of a small number of faculty members and others who do work related to the thesis topic. This support network helps guide students through their thesis process to a successful defense and completion of the project.
Students who write a thesis related to their academic and career goals regularly get into top graduate and professional programs, win fellowships and find themselves especially prepared for graduate work. Employers are also actively seeking students with the skills demonstrated by conceiving, planning and completing a thesis project. And some students use the thesis as an opportunity to fulfill life-long creative dreams of recording an album, writing a novel or composing a music score. Whatever you choose, you will be prepared to make all the important decisions with plenty of support from faculty and the Honors Program director.
You'll also complete Enriched Honors Experiences (EHEs), which embody the idea that important learning takes place outside the classroom and that this learning enhances what students learn in their coursework. There are a variety of EHEs to choose from, ranging from serving as a leader in a student organization to participating in undergraduate research.
Unique Honors Opportunities
All first-year Honors students have exclusive access to a residence hall floor where you’ll live with other students who are both serious about academics and about getting involved at USD. In addition to a greater sense of community, fostered by our awesome Honors Resident Assistants, students in the Honors Living Learning Community have higher GPAs and a higher retention rate than the campus average. The Honors Floor is located in Beede Hall in the North Complex.Learn More
The Honors Program offers a variety of cultural, educational and social trips to regional attractions for a free or reduced cost to our students. Recent trips have included:
- The Sioux City International Film Festival, Sioux City, Iowa
- Stampede Hockey Game, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Opera and Symphony concerts, Omaha, Nebraska
- Upper Midwest Honors Conference, Menomonie, Wisconsin
- Plus many more sponsored programs in the immediate area!
The Honors Program is committed to preparing students for life after college. Recent professional development opportunities have included:
- Networking with prominent USD alumni
- Academic & career readiness workshops
- Weekly newsletter with scholarships, internships, and job opportunities
- Honors Leadership Program: a 5-week program dedicated to building upon the strengths of our students. This event is partnered with Student Services, the Emerging Leaders Institute and the Multicultural Leadership Institute.
Faculty & Staff
Nationally Competitive Scholarships