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University Honors Program

University life serves many ends, but an essential component of higher education is to prepare students to better understand themselves, others and the increasingly complex world around them. Undergraduate education in particular has the goal of helping students become, in time, their own best teachers. At Montana State University, the University Honors Program addresses this goal by providing academically motivated students with unique opportunities to undertake interdisciplinary course work and undergraduate research leading to a university honors degree. Such studies, in addition to courses within their chosen discipline, provide extraordinary preparation for professional and technical careers, or graduate and advanced studies.

Entering students have the opportunity to undertake innovative studies during their freshman year. Texts and Critics: Knowledge and Imagination are both semester-long seminars that address fundamental issues in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and the fine arts through critical reading and analysis of seminal texts which serve as a foundation for advanced studies in major disciplinary fields. Instructed by faculty representing every college at the University, Texts and Critics earns University Seminar and Inquiry-Humanities core credits. In addition, the Honors Program annually offers a variety of upper-division interdisciplinary seminars. These seminars employ Socratic methodology through which faculty and students engage in critical discussion of issues spanning a diverse range of academic interests. Such engagement also fosters the development of analytic and critical communication skills. These seminars, typically taught by the most respected and stimulating professors on campus, carry university core credit in each of the major discipline categories.

Special Honors sections of departmental courses in Chemistry, Physics, Math, Music, English, Biology, Sociology, Spanish and Economics are also offered. Limited enrollment in seminars and classes permits lively discussion and interactive study among faculty and students.

Great Expeditions is an annual Honors course that involves two-weeks of international travel following a semester of study pertinent to the expedition theme. After travel is completed, students present a public symposium highlighting the results of their journey.

Mentoring Gifted Children, a service-learning course, enables students to work with gifted and talented students in public schools.

Additional opportunities for independent study are available through Honors contracts, which are offered primarily at the upper-division level. Contracts often prepare students to accept the special challenges and benefits of an Honors thesis. Upper-class students may also qualify to undertake supervised tutorial study.

Honors students have been remarkably successful in earning other scholarships for further study, both in the United States and abroad. Special attention is given to preparation for professional and graduate schools. Extracurricular, outdoor, and social activities are an important feature of the daily life of the program.

Enrollment in University Honors Program courses is restricted to students officially admitted to the program. Admission is normally limited to students in the upper ten percent of their high school class and who have high ACT or SAT scores, or to those already enrolled in the University who have demonstrated academic achievement and personal initiative.

To maintain good standing in the program, students must demonstrate significant and continuing progress toward their specific degree in addition to satisfying the particular standards of Honors course work or research. Graduation in the program requires the accumulation of a specific number of Honors credits as determined by the category of Honors degree the student pursues. All such credits may be acquired through successful completion of Honors courses; a minimum 3.5 overall grade-point average; and one-year (or its equivalent) of a foreign language. To graduate with Highest Distinction, a thesis and a minimum cumulative 3.7 GPA are required. Students with energy, self-reliance, and imagination should discuss their interest with the Director. For details about admission and graduation requirements, contact the University Honors Program Office in Quad D by calling 406-994-4110, sending e-mail to or checking the Honors web site at

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