Jul 24, 2024  
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Honors Program

Click on the following links for information:

Scott Breuninger, Director
414 E. Clark Street
Old Main 120
Vermillion, SD  57069
(605) 677-5223 (Phone)
(605) 677- 3137 (Fax)



Susan Hackemer, Associate Director
Drew Espeseth, Program Coordinator
Glenda Ofstehage, Program Assistant
Sarah Wittmuss, Advisor/Instructor 

The idea of the Honors Program is as old as the tried-and-true curriculum of the liberal arts and as new as the latest research in the various disciplines. In fact, it is designed to be a combination of both, to provide talented students with a solid academic foundation, then to set their minds free in special seminars and individual projects. The Honors Program welcomes students and faculty who respect and enjoy debate and who seek alternative approaches to new and old problems. The result is the best kind of education that a university has to offer: challenging, interdisciplinary, and rewarding.

Students in the Honors Program benefit from smaller classes that focus on developing their critical thinking and writing skills, which will complement the work they will complete in their chosen major fields. The Honors Program has its own core curriculum that fits within the University’s Framework for Liberal Learning. The first two years of the curriculum are built around an interdisciplinary theme, such as “Freedom, Responsibility, and the Self” or “Truth and Deception.” The last two years of Honors courses present a variety of academic experiences. Upper-division students take two seminars offered by faculty members recruited from every school and college, offering Honors students an opportunity to explore topics beyond what is usually available to undergraduates. As seniors, they complete an honors thesis on a topic of their choice, with the support and guidance of faculty members in their field.

Honors students also enjoy individualized academic advising from the professional staff in the Honors office and they participate in a wide spectrum of special events and opportunities sponsored by the Honors Program. Most freshmen live together on two Honors floors known for developing an energetic community environment. Additionally, Honors students receive priority registration.

The Honors Program is open to students in all majors. The majority of students apply for and are admitted to the Honors Program before entering as first-year students. Generally, they will have displayed potential for honors work in high school through good grades, college preparatory curriculum, high ACT scores, and participation in school and community activities. Students who complete the Honors Core and earn a cumulative 3.25 USD grade point average will graduate with the special distinction of University Scholar. A select number of students, who enter the program during their sophomore or junior year, earn a 3.25 cumulative grade point average, complete two Honors seminars, and write a thesis will be graduated with the distinction of Thesis Scholar.

University Scholar Requirements


All candidates for University Scholar distinction must complete the following:

  1. Honors Fundamentals of Speech (UHON 101  )  

  2. Honors English (UHON 110  ) 

  3. Honors Ideas in History (UHON 111  ) 

  4. Honors Interdisciplinary Civilization I & II (UHON 210  & UHON 211  ) 

  5. Two Honors Seminars (UHON 390  )

  6. Thesis Preparation (UHON 398  )

  7. Honors Thesis (UHON 498  )

  8. One course in Fine Arts

  9. One year of one laboratory science

  10. Calculus (MATH 121  or higher) or pre-calculus (MATH 115  ) and Honors Logic (PHIL 200  with Honors designation)

  11. One year of any language other than English

Thesis Scholar Requirements


Students may apply for the Thesis Scholar Program after completing a full year of college courses. Applications for the Thesis Scholar Program are accepted from students matriculating at and transferring to USD. All candidates for Thesis Scholar must complete the following:

  1. Two Honors Seminars (UHON 390  ) 

  2. Thesis Preparation (UHON 398  ) 

  3. Honors Thesis (UHON 498  )

The Alumni Student Scholars Program (ASSP)


The Alumni Student Scholars Program (ASSP) is a cooperative program between the Sanford School of Medicine, the Sanford School of Medicine Alumni Relations Council and the USD Honors Program that provides conditional acceptance to the Sanford School of Medicine for up to four South Dakota graduating high school seniors each year. Admitted students enroll in the Honors Program and pursue a baccalaureate degree in their chosen major(s), complete pre-medicine requirements and participate in one six-week long summer clinical preceptorship. In order to be admitted to the Sanford School of Medicine, ASSP students must successfully complete all ASSP requirements within 4 years and graduate with a minimum of a 3.50 undergraduate GPA.

ASSP students complete three 1-credit seminars in Issues in Contemporary Medicine (UHON 290) that collectively substitute for one Honors Seminar (UHON 390). For more information, contact Dr. Gerald Yutrzenka at 677-5156 or the Honors Program.

The Law Honors Scholars Program


The Law Honors Scholars Program is supported by the USD School of Law and Honors Program and provides provisional (automatic) admission to the USD School of Law. USD Law Honors Scholars must graduate in four years with a 3.5 or higher GPA, complete the Honors Program, and take the LSAT for statistical purposes only (not for admission purposes). Law Honors Scholars are strongly encouraged to take an Honors Seminar taught or co-taught by a USD School of Law faculty member if available.

High school students must submit the University’s Common Scholarship Application materials to the undergraduate Admission Office and indicate that they are interested in Law Honors on the application.

Applicants must include the application, transcripts of high school work, and confirmation of ACT scores. Applicants must indicate on the form that they are interested in being considered for the Law Honors Scholars Program. A selection committee will identify applicants who will be invited for interviews. A student applying for this program must be a graduating high school senior, have excellent grades at the time of application, and have a score of 27 or higher on the ACT. Beyond demonstrated academic accomplishment and potential, the selection committee will seek students with the personal qualities required of a good lawyer. These include good moral character, integrity, compassion, fairness with colleagues, and a capacity for leadership. The best candidates will have a keen desire to understand and help people. For more information about the Honors Program see: www.usd.edu/honors or email University Honors: honors@usd.edu or For more information about the Honors Program see: www.usd.edu/honors or email University Honors: honors@usd.edu