What is the Honors College?

Put simply, the Honors College is a community of high-achieving students at Missouri State University who have demonstrated a dedication to learning and are encouraged to reach their full potential through an enriched program of study, research, and recognition.

But the Honors College doesn’t exist solely in the classroom; it can be so much more!

Honors students are traditionally some of the most involved students at MSU, and many attain leadership positions in campus activities ranging from student government to marching band to sports. The Honors Council regularly hosts social and service programs that help to bring students together in a diverse academic community.

In short, the Honors College strives to give students a wide array of opportunities for personal growth across the whole spectrum of college life.

Why do so many American colleges and universities have Honors Programs?

Honors programs at more than 1000 colleges across the United States are special academic programs designed to help superior students-who are sometimes bored or unchallenged by conventional courses-make the most of their college experience. If a college is like a big swimming pool, an Honors program is the opportunity to swim in the deep end. You don’t have to be there all the time, but you should not miss it. A typical American Honors programs offers a series of small classes or seminars, taught by the best faculty at the college, limited to the students with superior academic abilities, and emphasizing class discussions rather than lectures. Because these characteristics are often associated with very expensive Ivy League education out of reach of most families, Honors programs occupy the place of pride on their campus and have been recognized as one of the greatest bargains in American higher education.

What academic advantages does the Honors College offer me?

An Honors education has many benefits and here are just a few:

  • exceptional staff/faculty
  • priority registration (students first to register in class)
  • smaller class sizes
  • broadened library privileges (4-month loan time, free inter-library loan)
  • in-depth, personalized instruction

Many of our students also go on to complete Distinction projects, which allow students research opportunities unavailable to most undergraduates. Finally, the broad, liberal arts focus of the program can give graduates of the Honors College a competitive edge when seeking employment or placement in, and funding for, graduate school and professional programs.

Does participation in an Honors Program really matter?

Yes, it will speak volumes about your abilities and aspirations. Students in Honors programs are widely recognized as being the best students at a college, having both superior academic ability and the motivation to make the most of their college experience. Consider what an American college degree means to the general public. Because there are more than 3000 colleges and universities in the United States, most people have no way of evaluating, for example, the scores of colleges in California, and they have only a vague idea about the quality of colleges in their local area. But everyone knows that if you join an Honors Program, you are obviously a superior student who is clearly committed to getting the best education-the best courses and professors-available to you.

What are the requirements for membership?

Incoming Freshman eligible admission requirement.

Continuing MSU students are eligible if they have maintained a minimum 3.25 GPA in their undergraduate classes. Applications for continuing students can be found in Online Resources

To continue membership in the Honors College, a student must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA and complete twelve credit hours per semester. As most of our students are on scholarships that require a 3.5 GPA, the grade requirement is rarely an issue.

For more information, please see Membership Eligibility

How big is the Honors College?

Currently, the Honors College is made up of approximately 1300 students out of Missouri State University’s 16,000+ undergraduates. Honors students make up roughly 8% of the total undergraduate population.

What is the typical Honors student like?

There is no typical honors student! Students in the Honors College represent every major field and come from all parts of the United States and beyond. Part of the appeal of an Honors education is immersion in a group of peers from widely different backgrounds that have all demonstrated a love of learning.

Aren’t most Honors Students just Nerds?

This is a common high school attitude, but in college you will quickly see how wrong it is! Honors Students are a highly diverse group, not just in majors, but also in backgrounds, nationality, ethnicity, race, personality, interests, etc. We like it that way! For example, Honors students compete on varsity teams, others are dancers, artists and actors, mathematicians and scientists; many are heavily involved in student government, clubs, and residence hall activities. Honors students are also prominent leaders on campus, serving as major officers of student government, editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, sports broadcaster on the radio station, leading the psychology, English, and pre-med clubs, etc. Honors Students don’t look the same or act the same: what they do share is a commitment to academic excellence and a desire to make the most of their college experience. And in this diverse mix of Honors Students, you are likely to find your greatest friends.

Will Honors separate me from other students at the college?

No, Honors Students are as fully a part of college life as is possible. Honors students take a mix of Honors and non-Honors courses, and they find their friends and roommates both in and out of Honors.

How do I apply?

All students eligible for membership are invited upon their acceptance to the University. Prospective students merely need to return the reply form and attend their SOAR session to begin their journey in the Honors College.

Students not initially invited to join are eligible after the first semester if they have achieved a 3.5 GPA in their undergraduate classes at MSU and apply no later than the first semester of their sophomore year. Come by the Honors College office to pick up an application form and to set up a meeting with one of our recruiters.

Will I have to do any extra coursework?

General Honors students (who come in with less than thirty credit hours) are required to take two extra classes: UHC 397 Honors Colloquia in their Junior Year and UHC 410 Honors Senior Seminar in their Senior Year. They must also complete at least one credit hour of experiential learning, though this can be integrated into classes required for their majors.

Accelerated Honors students (who come in with thirty credit hours or more) are also required to take UHC 397 and UHC 410. In addition to this coursework, they are also required to complete Distinction in their majors.

For more details about the general Honors program, see our Program Requirements.

For more details about the accelerated Honors program, see our Accelerated Program Requirements.

How do Honors courses and regular courses differ?

Enrollment in Honors courses is typically limited to a maximum of twenty-four students. As a result, Honors sections provide enhanced opportunities for classroom discussion, in-depth study, and personal attention from the instructor. Additionally, Honors classes are taught by exceptional professors who have distinguished themselves both as scholars and teachers. Since the body of the class is made up of high-achieving students, grades may not be assigned according to the traditional bell-curve. Students do not compete with each other; they work together as a learning community and get the grade they earn.

For more information, please see Course Criteria

Are Honors courses harder?

While everyone must answer this question individually, the majority of our students agree that Honors courses are NOT harder. In fact, some even claim they are easier! This is because Honors courses are tailored to the style of learning typical of students with high capabilities. The small class size, increased instructor attention, and emphasis on classroom discussion and writing make Honors course offerings the highlight of our students’ college education. Rather than saddling them with further intellectual burden, Honors courses offer students the chance to find and more fully express themselves in their learning.

Won’t my college GPA suffer if I join an Honors Program?

No, Honors courses aren’t graded harder (or any easier!) than other college courses. A student who averages a 3.6 in regular courses will probably have a 3.6 GPA for Honors courses too.

Wouldn’t I do better in college if I didn’t join an Honors Program?

Sometimes this is true, but very often it is not. In fact, more than a thousand colleges have established Honors programs precisely because good students do better in them! Without a peer group that values academic excellence, social life can easily become more important than studying. Talented students can be bored in normal classes and coast through or put off simple assignments (just as they did in high school). Unfortunately, students who avoid challenges and try to take the easy way out often face severe shocks in college (it’s not grade 13!) and graduate with mediocre academic records.

What are the requirements to graduate with General Honors?

Students with less than thirty credit hours

Honors students coming in with less than thirty credit hours are required to take at least six courses in the program. One of the courses, UHC 110: Freshman Honors Seminar, is an introduction to university life and is taken in the first semester. Three of the courses will be General Honors courses. One will be an Honors Experiential Learning Course. For this, students can choose between studying abroad, service learning, independent study, undergraduate research, or an internship/apprenticeship. One will be an Honors Colloquia course. One will be the Senior Honors Seminar course.

For more information, please see our Program.

Students with more than thirty credit hours

Honors students coming in with more than thirty credit hours must complete at least six courses in the program. One of these courses will be UHC 110: Freshman Honors Seminar, unless the student has already completed GEP 101 (or an equivalent foundations course). Students who have already completed a first-year foundation course may take a General Honors course or an Experiential Learning course instead. One course will be UHC 397: Honors Colloquia. One Course will be UHC 410: Senior Honors Seminar. Students must also complete the requirements for Departmental Honors.

For more information, please see our Accelerated Program.

What are the requirements to graduate with Departmental Honors/Distinction in the Major?

Students choosing to complete Departmental Honors will be required to complete 12 additional hours of coursework in their major area. Nine of these additional hours may be completed as either Honors course offerings within the major or Honors components added to regular coursework with permission of the Department Head. Students must also complete at least three hours worth of a senior project that is tailored to their interests.

Do I need Departmental Honors to graduate from the Honors College?

If you join the Honors College with less than 30 credit hours, then Departmental Honors are optional. If you join with more than 30 credit hours, you will automatically be instated into the Accelerated Honors program, in which Departmental Honors are not optional.

Does the Honors College offer scholarships?

Currently, the Honors College does not offer any scholarships specific to Honors students, though we are in the process of finding a donor to remedy our situation. However, all incoming Honors students are eligible for the general MSU scholarships offered to qualified freshmen upon admission. The majority of our students receive undergraduate scholarships and many are beginning to use their Honors College education to earn grants and fellowships for graduate study. In response to this trend, MSU has recently created the Fellowships Office to aid students in funding their professional education.

For more information, please see the Fellowships Office

What is the difference between Honors housing and regular housing?

Students choosing to live in Honors housing are privileged to live in a community dedicated to scholarship and intellectual development. Honors housing makes neighbors of some of the brightest students at Missouri State University and allows them to participate in special activities put on by the Honors Council. Demand for this housing is great so we suggest students apply early.

Do I have to live in Honors housing?

No. Honors housing is entirely optional.

Which facilities on campus provide Honors housing?

Scholars House is an entire residence hall exclusive to Honors College students. Demand for this housing is great so we suggest students apply early.

Can I participate in sports or other extra-curricular activities and still do Honors?

Certainly, and you will meet many other students doing the same. Most Honors students are able to participate successfully in a wide range of extra-curricular activities and still maintain a balance with their academic work.

Can I participate in Education Abroad as part of my Honors College experience?

Education Abroad options are an excellent opportunity for anyone and we encourage Honors students to capitalize on such an experience. Participation in Missouri State University’s variety of Education Abroad options in no way hinders graduation from the Honors College. In fact, the Honors College is developing Honors courses that take place in Rome and the Caribbean.

For more information, please see Education Abroad Experiences

Will participation in an Honors Program help me get a job, or get into graduate or professional schools, after I graduate?

Yes, there is good evidence that Honors education will be an asset for your future. As an Honors student you will be identified as possessing not only superior academic abilities (often supplemented by solid extracurricular involvement), but you will be recognized as having the commitment and motivation to take on challenging work. Hence, Honors students are eagerly sought by employers and preferred for admissions by graduate and professional schools. Your Honors research projects provide you with graduate-level research experience and prove your ability to work independently at an advanced level.

If I have more questions, whom should I call?

The Honors College office can be reached at 417-836-6370. The office is located in University Hall Rm. 212 and open from 8-5 Monday through Friday.