2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 26, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Honors College Distinction

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs - Majors, Minors, Certificates

Program Coordinator/Contact

Rebecca Bott-Knutson, Dean
Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College
Honors Hall 119, SHON Box 2705A

Program Information

The Mission of Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College at South Dakota State University is to provide talented, motivated students with a personalized, engaging, distinctive academic and enrichment experience that will position them for success as lifelong learners and leaders. 

Program Admission and Requirements

Students who earn a 27 or higher ACT score, a 1280 or higher SAT score, and/or are in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class are eligible to take Honors College courses. Students not meeting these requirements but who wish to take Honors courses should contact the Honors College to enroll in Honors courses.

When a student decides they intend to pursue graduation with Honors College distinction, they submit an Honors College Continuing Enrollment Form and sign the Honors College Student Ethic. At this point, students are officially enrolled as Honors College students, the Honors advisor is added as an advisor to their program, and their coursework is audited each semester to ensure progress toward requirements for graduation with Honors College distinction and eligibility for priority registration. Students complete 24 credits of Honors coursework integrated into their academic requirements and must earn a 3.5 cumulative grade point average upon graduation.

Students enrolled in SDSU’s Honors College are granted priority registration if they are meeting the established Honors progression standards. This privilege is provided to allow students to meet the academic requirements of their major while also fulfilling unique scheduling demands associated with graduating with Honors College distinction. Priority registration is intended only for students who are committed to pursuing graduation with Honors College distinction.

Each semester, the Honors College office will conduct an audit of students’ academic progress to determine eligibility for priority registration. Students intending to graduate with Honors College distinction who do not meet the progression standards will not be granted priority registration for that term. However, they are still part of the Honors College and are encouraged to work toward these standards to earn priority registration in future semesters. 

Eligibility for priority registration will be based on the following progression standards:

  1. Students must have an Honors Continued Enrollment Form on file in order to be eligible for priority registration.
  2. Honors credit and GPA requirements are as follows:
Current Semester* Honors credit requirement GPA Requirement
1st Enrolled in the Honors Orientation (HON 100 ) course N/A
2nd Completed at least 3 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.2
3rd Completed at least 6 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.3
4th Completed at least 9 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.3
5th Completed at least 12 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.4
6th Completed at least 15 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.4
7th Completed at least 18 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.5
8th Completed at least 21 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.5
9th (and on) Completed at least 24 Honors credits Minimum GPA 3.5

*Current Semester refers only to fall and spring semesters. Summers are excluded.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College will demonstrate excellence in the following student learning outcomes:

  1. Effectively communicate ideas and beliefs with clarity, civility, and respect.
  2. Analyze and integrate multiple sources of information and demonstrate applications of critical thinking.
  3. Articulate personal values, beliefs, and self-identity.
  4. Articulate the value of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
  5. Demonstrate professionalism in a variety of contexts.


The Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College is a member of the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council and the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Course Delivery Format

Honors courses are characterized by high levels of student engagement, faculty/student interaction, communication, critical thinking, and multi-disciplinary perspectives. Most courses are taught face-to-face on the Brookings campus in lecture/discussion/seminar formats. Many Honors courses also include hands-on laboratory, service, travel, and experiential components. 

Requirements for Honors College Distinction: 24 Credits

  • Honors General Education Credits: 12
    Students enroll in Honors sections of general education courses needed for university and major/minor requirements. These Honors sections feature smaller classes, outstanding faculty, and more in-depth discussion and activities. AP exam scores of 5 may also be counted toward Honors general education (up to 6 credits).
  • Credits: 3 * (3-6 credits required)
  • Colloquium is an exciting, multidisciplinary course focused on teaching material that is both relevant and contemporary. Topics vary from semester to semester, and the purpose of the course is to emphasize higher order thinking skills, as well as oral and written communication skills. Recent examples of Colloquium topics include: Current and Future Issues in Healthcare, Mathematics and the Arts, and The Work of Creativity. Participating in an Honors study abroad experience also fulfills the Colloquium requirement.

  • Honors Contracted Coursework (300-400 level) * Credits: 3-6
    Students are able to contract a non-Honors course by working with the faculty member on a supplemental project that allows the student to engage more with the course material. Once the contract is completed, the student earns Honors credit for the course.
  • Credits: 1-3 * (3-6 credits required)
  • Students conduct original research, creative work, or scholarly activity under the direction of a faculty mentor to fulfill the independent study requirement. The project is accompanied by an academic paper and a presentation of the research or creative work in a public venue. Credits can be from HON 491 or approved departmental independent study, capstone, or undergraduate research credits.


    * Students must complete at least 3 credits of  Honors Colloquium, Honors Contracted Coursework (300-400 level), and Independent Study. The additional 3 credits needed for graduation with Honors College distinction may be earned through a second contract, Colloquium, or independent study, or through other upper-division Honors credits.

Total Required Credits: 24

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs - Majors, Minors, Certificates