Program Overview

Introduced in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1979, the Honors Program was established to promote interdisciplinary learning and undergraduate research, strengthen the intellectual climate of the campus, and maintain the vision of the liberal arts as central to the college experience.

Our Classes 

Students in the Honors Program benefit from an enriching interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares them for meaningful careers, graduate school and/or professional programs. Honors classes are small and interactive, and the Honors faculty members are among the best on campus. Honors students develop close relationships with these faculty members, who instruct, mentor and collaborate with students across their time at USD.

Honors students take classes that integrate their own major area(s) of study and the university's core curriculum requirements. These courses span the university, from the College of Arts and Sciences to the School of Business to the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering. Students also complete their own senior thesis project for the Honors Program, which they present publicly during their senior year and may publish digitally if they choose.


In addition to the many benefits of small, dynamic Honors sections of courses and the chance to conduct independent research, Honors students enjoy many extracurricular opportunities offered by the Honors Program (such as cultural excursions, social events, speakers, student-faculty gatherings). They also benefit from one-on-one advising from the Honors Program staff, as well as priority registration each semester.

To celebrate students' intellectual journeys and academic achievements at USD, Honors students who complete all requirements of the program receive special recognition at Commencement, the Honors Convocation, and the Dean's Honors Reception.

For more detailed information, please consult the Honors Program Handbook.

Honors grads 2


USD faculty designed the Honors Program to fulfill the following objectives:

  • Challenge students to develop their talents to their fullest potential.
  • Promote critical thinking and problem solving from perspectives that cut across standard disciplinary boundaries.
  • Foster interactions with faculty in small classes and informally through co-curricular activities and research collaboration.
  • Nurture students' independent scholarship in their majors through original research projects that constitute the basis for the Senior Thesis Seminar.
  • Prepare students to transition to careers, graduate and professional educational programs with a skill set that includes superior written and oral expression, interdisciplinary understanding and original thought.

Learning Outcomes

  • Critical Thinking and Written Communication: Students produce a clearly written, discipline-specific thesis that analyzes a complex problem or addresses a significant research question with insight and imagination.
  • Information Literacy: Students produce an original and thoroughly researched thesis that utilizes evidence in a convincing manner; synthesizes primary and secondary sources; and cites references appropriately.
  • Oral Communication: Students deliver an oral presentation on their thesis project that is well organized, effectively delivered, knowledgeable and appropriate for a multi-disciplinary audience.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: Students independently create whole arguments out of multiple parts (synthesize) or draw conclusions by combining examples, facts or theories from more than one field of study or disciplinary perspective.

Make a Donation

If you would like to support the Honors Program, you may make your contribution online or contact Director of Development Ericka Swensson at

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