Ellen Weinauer, Dean
The University of Southern Mississippi offered its first Honors classes in 1965. In 1971, the university established the Honors Program, named in honor of George R. Olliphant, and in 1976, the program became a full-fledged Honors College.
Today’s Honors College provides a stimulating education for high-ability students from any of the University’s academic disciplines. The Honors College rewards and recognizes excellence, provides opportunities for leadership and professional development, and prepares students for success in graduate/professional schools and the workforce. From their first year, students are taught in small classes by experienced professors and are introduced to the principles of academic inquiry and scholarly investigation. In their junior and senior years, Honors scholars work closely with faculty mentors to develop original research projects and creative scholarship. Throughout the curriculum, Honors scholars are strongly encouraged to serve as contributing members of the campus community and to participate in study-abroad programs in order to widen their cultural and intellectual horizons.
The curriculum of the Honors College consists of two phases: Honors Foundations (for freshmen and sophomores) and Honors Keystone (for juniors and seniors).
For more detailed information about the requirements outlined below, please consult the Honors College Student Handbook, available at www.usm.edu/honors.
To enter the College as freshmen, students compete with other applicants on the basis of high school grades, standardized test scores (ACT or SAT), and other elements such as essays and letters of recommendation. The typical applicant will have an ACT score of 27 or above and an unweighted high school GPA of 3.5 or higher.
In addition to completing the curricular requirements of their major and/or minor, students in Honors Foundations must:
- Complete a minimum of 16 Honors Hours, to include: HON 321 - Honors Forum , 4 hours; HON 111 - Honors Colloquium and HON 112 - Honors Colloquium , 6 hours, taken in the freshman year; HON 303 - Honors Seminar , 6 hours, taken in the sophomore year
- Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above and remain in good standing; for information about policies with regard to probation and suspension, please consult the Honors College Student Handbook.
Students who have completed the Honors Foundations curriculum will automatically advance to Honors Keystone. Transfer students and Southern Miss students not already in the Honors College may apply to Honors Keystone. The typical applicant will have a minimum GPA of 3.4 on at least 45 hours of college credit and will have completed three full-time semesters of college. In order to complete the Keystone curriculum, students should have at least four semesters of coursework remaining. Admission is competitive. For more information, visit www.usm.edu/honors.
Honors Keystone Curriculum
The Honors Keystone curriculum is designed to enhance students’ intellectual curiosity and advance their critical and communication abilities through the completion of an Honors thesis project. Working closely with a faculty advisor, students will design and execute an original project of research or creative scholarship. This project is typically completed in the student’s major; out-of-major projects must be approved by the Honors College Dean. The curriculum is structured incrementally, with the thesis project typically developing over four semesters. For more information about thesis requirements, please consult the Honors College Student Handbook. Keystone curriculum requirements are as follows:
HON 300 - Developing the Honors Thesis I , 1 hour
HON 301 - Developing the Honors Thesis II , 1 hour
Thesis Hours (3 hours, taken as 492H in the student’s major, or in a course equivalent as approved by the Honors College)
Comprehensive Examination in the student’s major, to be completed no later than four weeks prior to the expected graduation date.
Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above and remain in good standing; for information about policies with regard to probation and suspension, please consult the Honors College Student Handbook.
At graduation, all students who complete Honors Keystone with the required GPA of 3.25 or above will receive the special recognition denoted by the Latin designations summa cum laude (3.8 or higher), magna cum laude (3.50-3.79) or cum laude (3.25-3.49).
Financial Assistance and Scholarships
Depending on the point of matriculation into the Honors College, all students will receive either the Honors Scholar Award (for students who enter the College in the freshman year) or the Honors Keystone Award (for students who enter the College in the junior year). Qualifying entering freshman may also compete for two Honors College Achievement Awards, the Presidential and the Discovery Scholarship. Students who receive the Presidential or Discovery Scholarship will not receive the Honors Scholar award. All Honors scholarships require completion of the Honors College curriculum. Students who withdraw or are suspended from the College will have their awards rescinded. For more information, visit www.usm.edu/honors. All Honors Scholars must submit a yearly application in the GO system for awards to be distributed.
Note that students who enroll in the Honors College may also apply for financial aid on the same basis as any other student. Visit the Office of Financial Aid for more information.
The University Forum
The University Forum is a special series of lectures and programs open to all students, faculty and townspeople. HON 321 - Honors Forum , a one-credit hour class offered in association with University Forum, is open to all USM students and is repeatable to eight hours.