USI's Honors Program enriches the academic experience of curious students through classes and activities which encourage creativity, intellectual risks, independent learning, and interdisciplinary thinking. Honors students engage with the complexities of our diverse and global community, take leadership roles in navigating change, and value lifelong learning and personal growth. The Honors Program offers expanded opportunities for those students who show promise of outstanding academic achievement. Participation in the program exposes students to a wide range of intellectual and academic experiences, provides enriching extracurricular activities, promotes rewarding interaction between students and Honors faculty, and gives students the opportunity to form lasting friendships with other students committed to academic excellence. As a result of their enhanced collegiate experience, Honors students have a distinct advantage in their future pursuits, whether they go on to graduate or professional school or go directly into their chosen professions. The designation of University Honors Scholar is awarded to those students who successfully complete the Honors curriculum, a distinction which is noted on both the diploma and the official transcript.
The Honors curriculum serves to supplement and enrich the student's overall experience within any of the University's major fields of study. Honors students enroll in specially designated sections of courses taken from Core 39 and/or from the student's major. They can also add an Honors component to a regular class in order to make it Honors level. Students generally take one or two Honors courses in a given semester as part of their normal progress toward the baccalaureate degree.
Incoming first year students who have earned an SAT score of at least 1220 (Math and Critical Reading), or an ACT composite of at least 25, and have a high school grade point average of 3.5 or higher are invited to join the Honors Program. Other interested students are encouraged to apply. Evaluations of these students are made on the basis of cumulative grade point average, class rank, academic background, and extracurricular activities. Transfer and continuing students who have completed a minimum of 15 college credit hours with a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or higher are also invited to join the Honors Program.
To graduate as a University Honors Scholar, students must complete their undergraduate work with a cumulative grade point average at or above the minimum Honors GPA, complete a minimum of 7 Honors courses with grades of B or better, and meet the activity-point requirements for the Honors Program. The seven Honors courses must include a one-hour Honors seminar (HONS 129 ) and an Honors capstone contract added to a 300- or 400-level class in a student's major or minor, or an approved substitute.
Honors students may choose to live in the Honors apartments or the Honors Living Learning Community (LLC) in the residence halls (freshmen only). Research shows that students in LLCs maintain higher GPAs and report greater satisfaction with their college experience than do students as a whole.