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University Honors Program


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.

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:

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

  2. 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. 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 course, course, or course when pre-major requirements include course, and take course when pre-major requirements include course. Similarly, Honors students may take course in lieu of course. Prospective Art majors should take course or course rather than a composition course in the course 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 course and course, 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 course 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.