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Honors Program

Honors Program Curriculum

The Honors Program offers a four-year, interdisciplinary curriculum that is integrated with a student's major area of study and the University's Core curriculum requirements. Students must complete a minimum of 25 Honors units for graduation with the Honors diploma. This is an average of one Honors course each semester. All Honors courses must be taken for a letter grade.

The curriculum begins with the Honors Preceptorial, which introduces new students to the University and the Honors Program, and ends with a senior capstone experience: an optional independent study, a thesis, and participation in the Honors Senior Thesis Seminar. Students must also take at least two team-taught interdisciplinary courses.

As students move through Honors courses during their first three years, they are strongly encouraged to consult closely with their Preceptor, major/minor advisors, and the Honors Program Director for assistance. Regular advising meetings ensure that students can fulfill the program requirements and their major requirements in time for graduation.

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Planning an Honors Schedule

Freshman Year

Fall Semester Honors Preceptorial (3 units)
Spring Semester Honors lower-division elective (3 units)

Sophomore Year

Fall Semester Team-taught, interdisciplinary course (4 units)
or Single-taught, single-discipline course (3 units)
Spring Semester Same as fall semester. Students should take one team-taught course in the sophomore year.

Junior Year

Fall Semester Team-taught, interdisciplinary course (4 units)
or Single instructor, single-discipline course (3 units)
Spring Semester Same as fall semester. Students should take one team-taught course in the junior year.

Senior year

Fall Semester Independent Study (496/499H) in major field (1, 2, or 3 units)
Spring Semester Honors Senior Thesis Seminar (option of taking for 1 unit or 3 units)

NOTE: Students who study abroad for one semester will have 4 Honors units waived and will only need to earn 21 Honors units. These study abroad units do not count towards the 124 units required to graduate.

How are Honors courses different from regular courses?

Honors courses are special because they are smaller, allowing professors to give more time to individual students. All Honors courses are capped at 20 students. Lower-division courses focus on one discipline and are taught by a single instructor. Upper-division courses may be single discipline courses led by one instructor, or they may be team-taught courses led by two instructors from different disciplines. The team-taught, interdisciplinary classes count for 4 Honors units and are offered only to Honors students.

In general, Honors classes involve thoughtful, sophisticated classroom participation and work. Honors professors expect excellence from their students, both in class and in their assignments.

What is the Honors LLC?

All first-year students at USD are placed in a Living Learning Community (LLC). Incoming Honors students are required to live in the Honors Living Learning Community. The Honors LLC allows first-year Honors students to connect with each other and to build a sense of community early on. The idea is for Honors students to live and learn together. They participate in various LLC activities, both on and off campus. Last year, students enjoyed a play at The Old Globe in Balboa Park and ventured to La Jolla Shores for a swim with leopard sharks. Honors first-years students coordinate study groups in their dorms, attend classes together, and develop close friendships that last throughout their college career.

The Honors LLC serves as an umbrella theme for the Honors Preceptorial Courses. Every first-year student in the Honors Program has an Honors Preceptorial, and the instructor of the course also serves as the academic advisor.