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Honors Program

About the Program

The Honors Program at Southwest Minnesota State University offers qualified students from all disciplines enhanced opportunities to develop leadership skills, engaged critical thinking, and global consciousness. The Honors Program supports an undergraduate education through a rigorous and challenging curriculum with a focus on the individual student’s potential talents, interests, and abilities. Honors Program students are encouraged to design an academic plan that creates innovative experiences, exploration of diversity, interdisciplinary connections, and contributions to the community.

The Honors Program offers three pathways: the Traditional Pathway, the Transfer Pathway, and the Experiential Pathway. The Traditional Pathway provides qualified students with an alternative to the university’s Liberal Education Program (LEP). In place of the standard LEP, honors students, in consultation with the Honors Program Director and a review board of faculty members from diverse disciplines, design their own course of study in the liberal arts—one that is more challenging and directly suited to their individual academic needs. Traditional Pathway students are also required to take Introduction to Honors, Honors Seminar, and core courses from four different categories. Additionally, each student is required to participate in undergraduate research and complete an hour-long senior dialogue with selected faculty members.

The Transfer Pathway is an option for students with transfer credits. Transfer Pathway students are required to complete the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, a senior dialogue, Honors Seminar, and core courses from four different categories.

The Experiential Pathway is an option who have completed at least 34 Minnesota Transfer Curriculum credits before joining the Honors Program. In addition to completing a senior dialogue, students are required to take Discover, Engage, Lead, and Honors Seminar.

Regardless of pathway, graduation from the Honors Program requires a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 or higher.

Honors Program


The primary benefit of the program is personal growth. Students also receive the recognition and sense of accomplishment that comes from taking charge of one’s own education. In recognition of this achievement, students are awarded a special medallion and lead the parade of undergraduates at commencement. The achievement of program completion is also noted on the student’s transcript, which is of considerable importance for those applying to graduate or professional school and those competing in the job market.

Honors students who maintain a 3.4 grade point average are eligible to register first for classes, assuring them of getting the courses they want. The program also provides some honors conference travel scholarships awarded on a competitive basis, the Curtler Honors Lounge—a lounge designated for honors student use, and an Honors Club that sponsors various activities.

“I originally started the Honors Program as something to add to my resume, but it became much more than that. It provided me with the unique opportunity to revamp the traditional LEP and take courses that were better suited for my career path. I was able to take more control and ownership of my education, which helped me take it more seriously from the beginning. My honors courses also challenged me in ways very different from my major courses. They, along with my fellow honors students, caused me to think outside my comfort zone and consider differing perspectives in our dynamic world.”

Rebecca Sommer, Class of 2016
Double-major in Biology & Chemistry

Rebecca Sommer

Honors Opportunities

  • Personal Growth
  • Special recognition
  • Priority registration
  • Travel to honors conferences
  • Access to the Curtler Honors Lounge

Honors Club

The Honors Club provides a venue for co-curricular activities with other honors students. The club organizes various academic and educational activities throughout the year. Such activities may include dinner with professors, game nights, movie nights, and educational road trips.


  • Complete and submit the online application form and short essay at

  • Send a letter of recommendation (preferably from a teacher) and an unofficial transcript to:

    Honors Program
    Attn: Dr. Brett Gaul
    Southwest Minnesota State University
    1501 State Street
    Marshall, MN 56258

Contact Information

Honors Program

BA 109, Southwest Minnesota State University
1501 State St.
Marshall, MN 56258


  • Complete Application
  • $20 Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Official High School Transcript(s)
  • ACT or SAT Test Scores

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  • Rank in the upper half of graduating class
  • or
  • Score a composite of 21 or above on the ACT or 990 on the SAT


Students with a Composite ACT score of 27 or above or a high school GPA of 3.8 or above are automatically admitted to the SMSU Honors Program when they apply to SMSU.

Students with Composite ACT scores of 24-26 or a high school GPA of 3.50-3.79 are strongly encouraged to apply to the SMSU Honors Program.

Last Modified: 5/20/24 9:07 AM | Website Feedback