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Honors Program


Incoming Students

The top 10% of incoming first-year students are invited to apply to USD's Honors Program. These students achieve the highest high school grade point averages and scholastic aptitude test scores upon entering USD. Honors applicants are expected to have an active interest in their own education and an appreciation for academic challenges.

In evaluating the records of high school seniors, we seek to choose students who have the ability and motivation to excel in the Honors Program. Attention is paid to those who will most benefit from the Honors curriculum. Involvement in community, school, and leadership activities, and evidence of a sustained desire to do excellent academic work are the most important indicators of a potential Honors student's ability to succeed in the Program. The above are used as guidelines, not absolute criteria, in selection of Honors students. Each applicant is reviewed to recognize individual strengths.


Mid-Year Admissions

Students who do not enter the program in the fall semester can apply for mid-year admission to the Honors Program. The most important criteria for admission will be the student's academic record at USD. Students will generally not be admitted to the program after their third semester, unless satisfactory arrangements can be made to ensure that they will be able to complete the Honors curriculum by May of their senior year. For more information on mid-year admission requirements, please contact

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Honors Program require extra classes?

The 25 units taken in the Honors curriculum generally fit into a student's Core curriculum, and in some instances, one's major or minor. Therefore, Honors classes are not considered "extra" classes. Further, the Honors Program is open to students from all majors.

Will being in the Honors Program hurt my grade point average?

Most students do at least as well in their Honors courses as in their regular classes, and they find many of the Honors courses among the best they have taken at USD.

Do Honors students live in a separate dormitory?

Honors first-year students live together in the Honors Living-Learning Community. For additional information, please view USD Living-Learning Communities

Does the Honors Program offer special financial aid?

At this time, we are unable to offer special financial assistance for Honors students, but we do find that most Honors students qualify for academic scholarships. Additionally, students can apply for a Hinman Grant to fund Honors thesis research.

How will the Honors Program benefit me?

Most Honors students are looking for a challenging curriculum that will prepare them for graduate and professional programs. Faculty teaching in USD's Honors Program, among the best on campus, are in a good position to write strong letters of recommendation for Honors seniors when they apply for these programs. Further, the Honors Program publishes the best work of its seniors, a distinction that contributes mightily to a solid resume.