The Honors Program dares its students to get the most out of an education at Utah State University. Honors students research and create, study abroad,complete internships, take classes that solve real-world problems, design high-impact serviceprojects, and participate in co-curricular events. Honors students live at heart of USU's intellectual community.
The first two years in the University Honors Program allow students to explore various academic disciplines and to create connections within an intellectual community of peers, faculty, and local leaders. Every first-year student takes at least one Honors Experience seminar, which meet USU’s General Education breadth requirements. These experiential introductory honors seminars investigate big questions about cultural, socio-economic, scientific, and technological issues facing our global community and thus heighten students' awareness of shared concerns across academic disciplines. In addition to their coursework, honors students participate in at least three co-curricular events each year. Sponsored by colleges, departments, and the University Honors Program, these academically oriented events all extend learning beyond the classroom and create a sense of campus community for students. Honors deepens this experience by offering regular, focused opportunities for students to meet and converse with faculty, visiting scholars, and performers on campus.
During sophomore year, students may take additional Honors Experience seminars for USU breadth credit. Sophomores and juniors may also enroll in Think Tank collaborative seminars that satisfy USU’s General Education depth requirements. The team-taught interdisciplinary Think Tanks investigate contemporary problems by featuring faculty from two very different disciplines, and give students three "Honors in Practice" points, which track students' application of their academic skills outside the classroom. Students may also earn "Honors in Practice" points by designing research or creative projects with faculty mentors, participating in Honors Book Labs, studying abroad, completing internships, implementing major service projects, or applying for prestigious national scholarships or fellowships. Students create contracts for this work with faculty mentors and submit reflections about their experiences as well as any final products upon the contract completion. As they begin to assume more active roles on campus and in the Honors Program, sophomores also continue to attend at least three co-curricular activities per year and enjoy special opportunities to interact with faculty and visitors on campus.
If the first two years in the Honors Program allow students to ask big academic questions and to join the scholarly community on campus, junior year asks them to put the skills learned in their majors into practice in an intentional, meaningful way. Students earn "Honors in Practice" credit in any of the various ways outlined above; contracts with faculty mentors must be for a minimum 20 hours of academic work outside class, and students who choose to complete an internship or study abroad for academic credit may use up to six credits/points toward honors. All honors students earn at least nine "Honors in Practice" points, combining the above options in any way they choose. Juniors begin to take on leadership roles as they participate in campus co-curricular activities, and they also prepare, often using their "Honors in Practice" experiences and by enrolling in a one-credit capstone preparation course, to design their own capstone project to be completed over the course of their senior year. Students also have the opportunity during the summer before their senior year to apply for the University Honors Program's Summer Capstone Research Institute, which offers eight weeks of housing and a stipend for students completing a capstone-related contracted with a faculty mentor during the summer.
All senior honors students complete capstone projects in their majors. These projects vary according to discipline, but all involve focused research or creative work in the major and yield a final product with professional and intellectual value for the student. These products may take many forms, including a traditional thesis; a single- or co-authored paper based on sustained research; a performance, fieldwork experience, or exhibition with thoughtful process analysis; or a detailed professional portfolio that goes well beyond the normal requirements of the major. Seniors have the opportunity to join interdisciplinary discussion groups exclusively for senior thesis/capstone writers and to share their work with other interested honors students, alumni, and faculty. As the most experienced members of the honors community, seniors also take on leadership roles in Honors Student Council, the Honors Student Advisory Board, and clubs and organizations within their departments and colleges. Their attendance at co-curricular activities by senior year should be driven, at least in part, by their involvement in shaping those activities for the campus community as a whole.