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Program Overview


What is the University Honors (Scholars) Program?

The University Honors Program is a community of academically motivated students and dedicated faculty who seek scholarly achievement through intellectual challenge and growth.  The students who enroll in the Honors Program are those who like to read extensively and to discuss ideas, to engage in a dialogue with thinkers, writers, artists, and to commit to serious critical thinking about big questions in the atmosphere of small, interdisciplinary classes. 

Scholars also have the opportunity to participate in community service activities, social events, special Forum Lectures by distinguished faculty, and trips to regional honors conferences and cultural events, such as an annual theater trip to the Guthrie in Minneapolis.

Scholars in Honors come from all departments and division of the University.  Because the classes are specially designed interdisciplinary seminars, they are accessible to students in any major.  Though the courses may be rigorous, professors foster an atmosphere of mutual support and collegiality, rather than rivalry or competition.  Nearly all of the honors courses carry General Education credit and therefore satisfy many of the general education distribution requirements for all majors.

The Honors faculty are teachers and scholars who are selected for their commitment to undergraduate teaching and to the notion that a free exchange of ideas is the best way to foster intellectual growth.  Honors courses offer the opportunity to work closely with some of the best teachers on campus.

What are Honors Courses?

Honors courses are based on a colloquium or seminar model which promotes student-centered discussion and the development of analytical and communications skills which will be an asset no matter what your major may be.  The goal of the faculty in honors courses is to help students sharpen their perception and learn how to ask good questions, and then to seek their own answers based on an understanding of the ways different fields of study and different cultures address important issues and problems.

How does a student get into the Honors Program?

For students applying from high school, the admission criteria include ACT/SAT scores (generally 29+ composite and a 27+ in English or 1280 SAT), high school grades and class rank, and a brief application essay.  Although the selection is based on these indicators of past performance, an applicant’s interest and motivation, as reflected in the essay are important factors.  It is also possible to join the program after your first year at North Dakota State.

What are the Requirements of the Program?

Most students take one honors course per semester for their first three years at the university and complete a senior honors project in their fourth.   Completion of the Honors Program requires a minimum of six honors courses, or 18 credits,  and a 3 credit Senior Project.   The first honors course is English 121 – an honors version, called "Literature and Ideas", of a university-required General Education class.  Alternatively, first-year students may take Communication 111--the honors version of the Public Speaking course required in general education.

What if I already have Advanced Placement Credit for some of my English requirements?

If you have AP or some other credit for first-year English, you may substitute a second or third-year seminar for English 121 to attain the required 18 credits of honors course work.  Some students choose to take English 121 in any case because the material and discussions are stimulating, and the approach is different from their high school work.

Are honors courses more difficult than others?

Students in honors courses are not necessarily expected to do more work but to do work of a different nature.  Honors classes are designed to provide a qualitatively different experience from that in regular university course work.  Because they are interdisciplinary, and sometimes  team-taught (you may have faculty from Math, Biology, and Religion & History all teaching in a single course), they challenge students to think at a more complex level about issues and ideas, to be more independent and creative in their approach to understanding.

Who teaches honors courses?

Experienced faculty members whose proposal for an honors class has been reviewed and accepted by the Honors Council.  No honors courses are taught by graduate assistants.  Faculty members from any discipline may submit a proposal to teach a second or third-year colloquium.  Because the classes are small, never more than 20 students, and are based on a seminar approach, senior faculty find this an attractive way to teach something they are really passionate about to a small group of motivated students.


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Published by:  University Honors Program

Last Updated: Monday, March 04, 2013 8:00:47 PM