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The University Honors Program (UHP) is a highly selective interdisciplinary program that provides the educational foundations in the liberal arts of a student's undergraduate career through the majors to a bachelor's degree.  It is distinguished by its small classes and student-centered pedagogy. The UHP invites creative topics from instructors. Students and faculty alike benefit from the excitement of trying educational innovations.

Its classes promote discussion, cooperative learning, and independent exploration. The learning community is strengthened by the Honors Club and the option of living on an Honors residential floor.

The academic aims of the University Honors Program

In Honors classes the student will:

  1. Develop advanced skills in written and oral communication, in creative and critical thinking and problem solving.
  2. Develop competency in independent intellectual exploration and cooperative learning.
  3. Gain familiarity with ideas from a range of academic disciplines.
  4. Discover the interrelatedness of knowledge and values from various fields.
  5. Explore diversity as a fact and value in human lives and cultures.
  6. Practice the habits necessary for life-long learning and leadership.

The University Honors Club

All Honors students are invited to participate in the Honors Club. Club members welcome new Honors students, recruit instructors, and participate in community building. They provide the student voice in shaping the program. The club's social activities, educational activities and service projects enable students to practice leadership and strengthen the Honors learning community. Honors students also are expected to participate in the University's other extracurricular activities, leadership development, and/or service learning through their years on campus.

International Opportunities

In addition to SCSU's overseas campuses, the University Honors Program is associated with the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England. Through the Centre, selected Honors students are able to experience British university life, tutorials, lectures and classes. Students are in residence at the Centre for one or two semesters. Courses taken in Oxford and SCSU’s other study abroad programs may be used to fulfill Honors requirements by approval of the Honors Director.


Students can be admitted into Honors by several paths. Whether a student is an incoming freshman right out of high school, a transfer student from another college or university, a member of an Honors program at another college or university, or currently enrolled at St. Cloud State University as a general education student, there is a particular procedure for admission to the program.

Students applying from high school should be in approximately the top ten percent of their graduating class with strong college test scores, have a record of participation in school and community activities, and demonstrate writing skills through a required short, imaginative essay.

International students and students already enrolled in college who apply to Honors will be asked to provide comparable information. Students who are currently enrolled at St. Cloud State University and wish to apply to Honors need supply a faculty reference letter and evidence of a GPA of 3.5. If a student has less than a year of college credits upon the transfer, she/he must provide both college and high school transcripts when applying.

A student transferring to St. Cloud State University from an honors program at another institution may be admitted directly to the program. The student must show reasonable evidence of membership in the previous university’s honors program.

The Honors Guest Pass

On rare occasions a student who is finished with Liberal Education requirements will join Honors on a Guest Pass to take a limited number of Honors courses. The Guest Pass does not bring priority registration with it, nor an expectation of completing Honors requirements. The requirements described below pertain to “regular” Honors students, not to the Guest Pass.

Honors and Liberal Education

Honors is an alternative track to the Liberal Education requirements at SCSU.  Many requirements are parallel.  Students do not usually need to meet both Honors and Liberal Education requirements. Some majors and pre-major programs require specific Liberal Education courses; in each such case, either that course substitutes for an Honors requirement or there is an Honors course that counts in place of the specific Liberal Education course.

Honors advisers will show how all these details apply to your personal educational goals. The Honors office has specific advising checklists for many majors. There is more information below, throughout the description of the Honors Program and its overlaps with the Liberal Education Program.

Honors and the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Honors course requirements are organized into eleven Goal Areas, parallel to the ten Goal Areas of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC).  Completion of any of Honors Program Goal Areas 1 to 10 also completes the parallel Goal Area in the MnTC, and vice versa for students joining Honors at SCSU with prior credits.  Completion of Honors requirements completes the MnTC and facilitates transitions in and out of Honors, both within St. Cloud State University and between public colleges and universities in Minnesota.  See Continued Progress Towards Graduation After Withdrawal From Honors below.

Honors Priority Registration

For the first semester at SCSU, Honors students will register on their regular new student or transfer student Advising and Registration Day. Each semester after that, Honors students (not on a Guest Pass) will have an early registration window. They are to see an Honors advisor to obtain their access code each semester until accepted into a major.

Program Requirements

40 credits minimum, comprising at least 37 in HONS courses and/or approved substitutions, plus 3-4 credits of a language. If a course counts in more than one Honors Goal, the credits must be made up by other HONS coursework to total 40 credits in all.

Extracurricular Participation in Honors. Each Honors student is expected to participate for four years in Honors Program and Honors Club campus and community activities, including service learning as part of the Seminar 100 course. See the program directors and Honors advising staff for details. This expectation is not a graduation requirement, but it is expected for continuation in Honors.

Taking Honors courses to meet Honors requirements. An Honors adviser may approve specific substitutions of Liberal Education courses for Honors requirements, as needed, due to course availability or to meet major or pre-major requirements. In some Goal Areas, taking a Liberal Education course is the norm. See below for automatic course substitutions. See an Honors Program advisor about specific course substitutions needed in your major.


Honors Seminar I (HONS 100, 2 cr.) and Honors Seminar II (106, 1 cr.) This 3-credit sequence introduces the academically accomplished student to the academic life of the university, adjustment to learning at the university level, use of campus and community resources, service learning, leadership development, and community building in Honors and in the university. It includes a common reading experience as well as a research component culminating in the Honors Research Colloquium in the spring.

Program Requirements: Goal Areas

The remaining requirements are organized under ten Goal Areas.

Students wishing to transfer to another state college or university in Minnesota will find, below, a comparison with the Goal Areas of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.

GOAL 1: Communications (7 credits)

Communication Studies; required: HONS 170 (substitutes for CMST 192 in any SCSU requirement).

Written composition, 4 cr.; select one: HONS 160, 161, 163 (substitutes for ENGL 191).

Some transfer or pre-college credits may meet one or both parts of Goal 1. (The same is true throughout the eleven Goal areas, and all students are advised to get their credits transferred and evaluated at St. Cloud State promptly after earning those credits. If you are waiting for test scores or credits transfer, see an advisor so as to avoid taking classes you will later transfer in.)

GOAL 2: Philosophy (3 credits)

Select one: 250, 251, 253.

GOAL 3: Natural Sciences (Minimum of two courses, 3-4 credits each, no more than 4 credits from one department. One course must include a lab or field component; the second may be a natural science course with or without a lab or an environmental science course.

Required: BOTH an Honors Lab or Field Science course – select one: 130, 131, 133;

AND EITHER an additional Honors science from another department – select one: 130, 131, 133, 140, 141, 143;

OR Honors environmental science, also by a different department – select one: 220, 221, 223, 420, 421, 423.

See also automatic substitutions for natural science classes, below. See below for a comparison with Goals 3 and 10 of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.

GOAL 4: Mathematical/Logical Reasoning (3 credits)

Select one: 110, 111, 113 (Substitutes for MATH 193 in any SCSU requirement) Also see automatic substitutions below.

GOAL 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences (Minimum 3 credits)

Select one: 260, 261, 263, 460, 461, 463. Future business, nursing, or education majors should also see an Honors advisor about Goal 5.

GOAL 6: Humanities and Fine Arts (Minimum 6 credits, no more than 3 credits from one department.)

One Humanities course: 240, 241, 243, 440, 441, 443. The Humanities portion of Goal 6 can also be met by an Honors philosophy class (250, 251, 253) which may then double count in Goal 2; but then the 3 credits would have to be made up somewhere among any of the eleven Goals. This is true of double counting in any of the eleven Goal Areas: the total must always come to 40 cr.

One Fine Arts course: 230, 231, 233, 430, 431, 433.

GOAL 7: Human Diversity (Minimum 3 credits)

Select one course for the university’s list of Racial Issues courses in the General Education section of this Catalog.

GOAL 8: Global Perspectives (Minimum 3 credits)

Required: Any foreign language. The student will then take a course with global perspective in this Goal Area, by advisor approval.

Although we require only one language course in Honors, we encourage a year or more of one language, and some smaller majors also require the student to take a minor or a year of language. Students who build on previous language background can take a course level 102 or higher, and thereby enjoy increased fluency and expanded global awareness. With higher language course placement, students often have the option to buy back credits which count towards graduation. (See Foreign Languages & Literature: Retro-credit guidelines.) Students who take more than the required number of foreign language courses are at an advantage for overseas study and graduate school admissions.

GOAL 9: Ethical and Civic Responsibility (Minimum 3 credits)

Select one: 210, 211, 213, 410, 411, 413.

GOAL 10: Environmental Issues (3 credits)

Students may take courses numbered 220, 221, 223

Diversity course requirement (9 cr.)

To complete the Honors Program requirements, the combination of all courses taken at St. Cloud State must include three courses (9 cr.) with Diversity related content, including one focusing on gender or women's issues. The required Racial Issues course in Goal 7 counts as 3 of the 9 Diversity credits. Students may obtain the other 6 Diversity credits through HONS, major, minor, or university elective courses. HONS course numbers ending in “1” designate the required Diversity content; numbers ending in “3” designate Diversity content related to gender or women (one required in Honors).

If a designated Diversity course is taken outside of Honors, it will count toward the university’s Diversity requirement, but will not substitute for an Honors course without approval by the program director. The presumption is that they will not substitute for Honors courses but do automatically count as Diversity credits. (Being in Honors includes a commitment to meet Honors requirements by taking HONS courses, with exceptions in mathematics, natural science, and Racial Issues; see “Automatic Substitutions,” below.)

Most students will get the additional 6 credits of Diversity by choosing an HONS course ending in a “3” and another ending in a “1” or a “3” from among the courses that also count in the eleven Goal Areas above. Students who enter the university with a substantial number of applicable General Education credits may have their Diversity requirement reduced, as described in the Liberal Education section of this Catalog.

Racial Issues (RIS)

The University's graduation requirement of a 3 cr. Racial Issues course completes Goal 7 of the Honors Program. See the list of Racial Issues courses in the Liberal Education section of this Catalog.

Bilingual Students

The Honors director will waive the language requirement for bilingual international students and Americans fluent at an adult level of daily usage in a language other than English. This is defined as the advanced level of performance according to ACTFL guidelines. Students who choose this option must still meet the 40-credit minimum total by taking additional Honors courses with global perspective content to fulfill Goal 8 of the Honors requirements. See the Honors Program director to approve a global perspectives course.

Honors Course Substitutions

The required 40 crs. of HONS classes, language classes, and automatic substitutions described below, can be reduced in various ways if approved in writing by the Honors director or an Honors staff advisor. This includes:

a. College credits acquired before being admitted to the SCSU Honors Program.

b. Liberal Education credits earned at SCSU's overseas programs. These course substitutions require specific approval, in cooperation with

    SCSU’s Center for International Studies.

Double Counting

Double counting of Honors courses in majors is usually not allowed in the Honors program, with the exception of language courses used to count towards a language major or minor or an Area Studies program. However, courses which can double-count in the Liberal Education program and the student’s major, or waive a Liberal Education requirement, can also double-count in Honors with Honors Director or advisor approval. On the other hand, students who take unapproved non-HONS courses, intending to substitute them, will normally not be able to use them to meet Honors Program requirements. A student who pursues a Liberal Education course of study towards graduation requirements may be dropped from the Honors Program and thus lose priority registration and other benefits of being in Honors. Please consult with an advisor rather than assuming a substitution will be valid.

Repeating Honors Courses for Credit

Repeating courses may be useful to the student who has double-counted a course in more than one Goal Area and thus needs to take additional coursework for a total of 40 credits to meet Honors Program requirements.  Most HONS courses are repeatable for up to 6 credits when taken with different content, as noted in the individual course descriptions below. The non-repeatable HONS courses are 100, 106, 110, 111, 113, 170, 180, 181, 183,   and 196.

Pre-Major Advising

Honors, as an alternative to the Liberal Education requirements, is compatible with all majors and minors. Thus if your major will require a specific, basic mathematics course, you should assume it will also meet the Honors mathematics requirement, just as it would in Liberal Education Goal 4. Some majors require completion of specific Liberal Education courses prior to admission to the major; English composition and Communications Studies are common examples. Honors students will take Honors versions of these classes instead of, not in addition to, Liberal Education courses. For example, Honors students will take HONS 160, 161, or 163 when pre-major requirements include ENGL 191, and take HONS 170 when pre-major requirements include CMST 192. Similarly, Honors students may take HONS 110 in lieu of MATH 193. Prospective Art majors should take ENGL 198 or ART 198 rather than a composition course in the HONS 160 series. Please see an Art advisor.

In Honors advising, we follow the principle that a student will never be disadvantaged for being in Honors. If you discuss your preliminary ideas for a major with an Honors advisor, we can help you plan your progress on both Honors and early pre-major requirements or try out ideas for a major. At the same time, you should get more detailed advising from your prospective major department.

Some majors at SCSU begin right away in a student's first semester and require careful planning in order to finish in four years. In all these cases either we have worked out agreements with the major department as to how Honors students can economize on credits, or we will work out an individual plan with you and your major department. For example, if you are headed for Engineering, Mass Communications, or Nursing, you should start planning with us during your spring or summer Advising and Registration Days, before your first semester. The same is true to a lesser degree for students in pre-Business and any of the natural or social science majors.

The Pass-Fail Option

Honors students may take one non-Honors course for S/U grading, by permission of that department's course instructor and the Honors director. Permission must be arranged by the end of the first week of the class. Normally this option is used to enable students to explore an advanced topic for which they lack formal prerequisites.

Continuation in the Honors Program

If an Honors student’s cumulative grade point average falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on probation in the Honors Program, and will have one semester to raise their GPA to 3.0 before being dismissed from the program. Those concerned about their probation status should make an appointment to meet with the Honors Director to discuss continuation in the program.


A student may withdraw from the University Honors Program at any time. Students who consider withdrawing, for whatever reasons, are encouraged to discuss their reasons with the Honors director. An Honors advisor can help the student work out an individual transition plan to either Minnesota Transfer Curriculum or Liberal Education with no loss of credits except for HONS 100 and 106, which can be counted as university electives.

Continued progress towards graduation after withdrawal from Honors

Students who have begun in Honors at SCSU and discontinued voluntarily or on account of a lower GPA may continue to meet university graduation requirements by using Liberal Education courses to complete either the Liberal Education Program or Goal Areas 1 to 10 of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum.  Credits earned in Honors, with the possible exception of 100 and 106, can apply to either the Liberal Education program or the MTC; please see an Honors Program advisor for help with the transition.  The Diversity and Racial Issues requirements still apply, as well as PESS 122 and other credit requirements described elsewhere in this Catalog.

Recognition Upon Graduation

Those graduating Honors Program students who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 for all work taken and have completed the Honors requirements will receive the “University Honors Program” designation at the top of their official transcript.

Recognition of Honors Program completion is not the same as “graduating with honors.” The latter term simply means that any St. Cloud State University student with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher will be honored Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, or Summa Cum Laude upon graduation. These grade point recognitions are independent of being in the University Honors Program. See “Graduating with Honors,” in this Catalog.

The contents in this catalog and other university publications, policies, fees, bulletins or announcements are subject to change without notice and do not constitute an irrevocable contract between any student and St. Cloud State University.