Apr 24, 2024  
2023-2024 General Catalog 
2023-2024 General Catalog ARCHIVED CATALOG: To search archives, MUST use search box to left. Current catalog: catalog.usu.edu.

University Honors Program

Location: LLC, Building A, Room 112
Phone: (435) 797-2715
E-mail: honors@usu.edu
Website: honors.usu.edu

Honors Program Executive Director: Dr. Kristine Miller
Honors Program Coordinator: Andreas Leidolf
Honors Program Assistant: Jennifer Cortez
Honors Academic Advisor: Amanda Adison


The University Honors Program trains a diverse community of tomorrow’s leaders by engaging them in civil discourse, research and creative projects, and local and global humanitarian work. The program embodies Utah State University’s land-grant mission to prioritize academics, foster diversity of thought and culture, and serve the public through learning, discovery, and engagement. In keeping with this institutional mission, the program aims to recognize and develop the potential of students to become future change agents, even when students do not yet see that potential in themselves and to build an increasingly rich and diverse community of students, faculty, alumni, staff, and stakeholders who represent the best that Utah State University has to offer.  Built upon four learning outcomes – critical thinking, independent research, interdisciplinary learning, and civic engagement – Honors trains its students to think deeply about how to make the world a better place.

Program Structure

Honors students earn a combination of credits and points (28 total tracked through a University Honors Program (UHP) Canvas course) that reward their engagement both in and beyond the classroom. Honors students who enter the program as first-year students begin college by exploring various academic disciplines and creating connections in the Honors community of peers, faculty, and alumni. First-year Honors students take one of the following Honors Introductory Experience courses, which meet USU’s General Education Breadth requirements:

These courses investigate big questions about cultural, socio-economic, scientific, and technological issues facing our global community and thus introduce students to shared concerns across academic disciplines. In addition to their coursework, Honors students participate in structured Honors-in-Practice (HIP) work and attend in-person and virtual co-curricular academic events that extend learning beyond the classroom. First-year students earn Honors points in the UHP Canvas course by completing these course credits and/or documenting HIP work and co-curricular engagement.

Second-year students may continue to take Honors courses for additional USU Breadth credit. They may also enroll in a team-taught, cross-disciplinary “Think Tank” that satisfies one of USU’s General Education Depth requirements (HONR 3010, HONR 3020, or HONR 3030). These courses model civil discourse among scholars and community leaders from different disciplines and engage students in seeking creative approaches to specific local and global challenges. Sophomores also engage actively in independent and structured HIP work, which connects them with mentoring professors on topics of mutual interest and allows them to earn Honors points as they document and reflect upon the value of their educational experiences. They continue to attend co-curricular events and enjoy special Honors opportunities to interact with faculty and visitors on campus and virtually.

If the first two years in the Honors program allow students to ask big academic questions and to join the Honors community, junior year allows them to take charge of putting their knowledge into practice by applying the skills learned in their majors, minors, or areas of particular interest. Attending co-curricular activities takes on new meaning as students begin to develop more specialized skills: they now represent their disciplines and specific interests at interdisciplinary events. Students can complete research, study abroad, serve internships, design academic projects outside the classroom, write grants, work in laboratories, or develop service projects – all earning Honors points when documented and submitted in the UHP Canvas course. Transfer students and new applicants may join the program as juniors and still graduate with University Honors, providing they complete all required Honors milestones (this work typically takes four semesters). This work, along with HONR 3900 (a specially designed pre-capstone course), helps to prepare Honors students to complete a capstone project in their final year at USU.

Senior Honors students must complete a capstone or thesis project in an area of particular interest, typically by registering for HONR 4900. These projects vary according to discipline, but all involve focused research or creative reflection (often in the major) and yield a final product with professional and intellectual value for the student. Final 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 reflective writing; 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 capstone writers and to share their work with other interested Honors students, alumni, and faculty. As the most experienced students in the Honors community, seniors also take on leadership roles in the Honors Program and clubs and organizations within their departments and colleges. Once again, they earn Honors points in the UHP Canvas course by documenting the work of putting Honors into practice. Their attendance and reporting in Canvas on co-curricular activities by senior year should be driven, at least in part, by their involvement in shaping those activities for the USU community.

Showcasing the important work that these undergraduate students can do, the University Honors Program is central to USU’s land-grant educational mission.


The University Honors Program values diversity and seeks students who bring a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and skills to the Honors Aggie community. The program welcomes applications from incoming, transfer, and current USU students on any USU campus. These applications include two brief essays, a current transcript, and an extracurricular resume.

Honors students bring various interests and talents to our community, but they all share a passion for taking learning beyond the classroom. While application review does include an assessment of grades (most students enter with a 3.5 GPA), the essay-based holistic approach to admission gives all applicants the opportunity to demonstrate more than an ability to earn good grades: the program is equally interested in what students care about and how they plan to bring that passion to their work at USU. 

Honors is therefore looking for exceptional students who are…

  • CURIOUS and passionate about changing the world
  • CREATIVE and thoughtful in problem-solving
  • COURAGEOUS and resilient when challenged
  • CONNECTED and engaged with their communities

Students with at least two years remaining at USU are encouraged to apply (see honors.usu.edu for more information).

Transcript Designations

Honors students may graduate with any combination of the following transcript designations, each of which indicates a particular kind of outstanding achievement at USU:

  • University Honors
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Community-Engaged Scholar
  • Global Engagement Scholar

For more information, please see the University Honors website (honors.usu.edu) or contact the University Honors office at honors@usu.edu or (435) 797-2715.