Jul 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

University Honors Program

Honors Programs


The University offers a variety of honors and distinction programs to encourage research and creative scholarship among its best students.

The University Honors Program, the largest of these programs, is open to students in all majors and designed to prepare high performing students to meet the challenges of rapid change and take advantage of the possibilities this dynamic world presents. To this end, the program emphasizes the values of a liberal arts education, namely, the ability to read, write and think critically, and the acquisition of a basic under-standing of human society in all its dimensions. Along with these objectives, the program provides exceptional opportunities for international study and the exploration of topics across disciplines.

The University Honors Program focuses on Common Curriculum courses taken over the course of a student’s career at SMU. Students begin with a two-term, first-year honors humanities seminar that encourages critical reflection about major concepts and works of literature that have shaped the modern world. Classes are small (15 or fewer students), with students in several honors sections occasionally meeting together as a larger group. Designed to be broad and introductory, and drawing on material from the past and present, the course offerings explore the way different disciplines raise questions and construct knowledge about the human experience.

In addition to the first-year honors humanities sequence of WRTR 2305  and WRTR 2306 , students also take at least four honors seminars (general education Breadth courses, or special one credit Honors seminars available in the sophomore, junior, and senior years) from among the honors offerings.

The final requirement is for the Senior Culminating Project – designed to draw the student out of the classroom and into the larger society – applying the knowledge learned to the outside world. There are many possibilities for this project, including the senior thesis in the major (see below), a Richter Fellowship, an Engaged Learning project or fellowship or other research fellowship, as well as certain internships.

The University Honors Program creates an intellectual community of students and faculty that extends beyond the classroom. Beginning with several orientation activities, special events throughout the year provide additional occasions for coming together. Honors students and faculty are encouraged to attend dinners, programs, seminars and book discussions that may be organized around scholars, artists or other distinguished visitors to the campus. Honors students benefit, too, from the sense of solidarity and community found in a campus venue dedicated to bringing together students in all University honor and scholar programs, the Scholars’ Den. The program also takes advantage of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Visits to museums, studios, theatres and live-music venues allow students to experience the myriad opportunities for learning that only a large urban center can provide. At the same time, the University Honors Program at SMU is not segregated from the campus. Honors students interact with their fellow students in nonhonors classes; in the Residential Commons; in the student center; on the playing fields; and in the numerous student governing, social, pre-professional, political, cultural and social organizations that enhance student life at SMU.

Entrance to the University Honors Program is by invitation prior to matriculation or by application after at least one term of coursework at SMU. At the end of their undergraduate years, students who maintain a 3.000 GPA in their honors courses and at least a 3.300 overall GPA receive a diploma inscribed with the designation “Honors in the Liberal Arts.” More information about the University Honors Program is available on the website (www.smu.edu/univhonors) or from the director, Dr. David D. Doyle, Jr. (ddoyle@smu.edu).

The Richter Research Fellowship Program provides funding for undergraduates to travel and conduct independent research under a faculty adviser’s supervision. All honors students who have completed their second year are eligible to apply. Often this research work is connected to a student’s senior honors capstone or distinction project, although that is not a requirement to apply for the fellowship. Richter projects have included researching literacy in Ghana, education for non-native English speaking children in rural California, environment/government correlation in Fiji and women’s reproductive health in Ethiopia. The Richter Fellowships are available only to those students who are members of the University Honors Program.

Department and Division Honors. In addition to the University Honors Program, individual schools, departments and divisions of the University offer honors or distinction programs to exceptional students in their upperclass years. The strongest SMU students are encouraged to participate in honors programs at both the University level (the University Honors Program) and the departmental level. Depending on the major, students take a series of honors courses and seminars in their departments or divisions. Many departments and divisions also offer internships and re-search programs to upperclass students majoring in their fields. Such activities provide practical experience and specialized training within the major. Students completing honors or distinction programs within their departments or divisions graduate with an “Honors in” designation specific to their department or division. More information on these programs can be found under the individual department and division listings in this catalog.

The following is a list of schools with honors programs and departments that offer honors within the major, with a general overview of the programs:

Dedman College
Anthropology Significant independent research paper.
Biochemistry Independent reading, research and a senior thesis.
Biological Sciences Independent reading, research and a senior thesis.
Chemistry Independent research project and a senior thesis.
Economics Rigorous independent project under the direction of a faculty sponsor.
English ENGL 4397 , followed by either an independent study in which the student writes a senior thesis or a graduate seminar, and a minimum of 36 credit hours in the major.
History Major research project and thesis, and an oral defense before a faculty committee.
International and Area Studies Senior thesis and an oral exam on the topic of the thesis.
Markets and Culture SOCI 4396 , distinction thesis and oral exam by faculty.
Medieval Studies Distinction paper (with original research), an oral exam or a review by a distinction committee.
Philosophy Substantial writing project under the guidance of a department faculty member.
Physics Independent reading, research and a senior thesis (under the direction of a department faculty member) that will be presented to a faculty committee.
Political Science Distinction thesis, oral exam and two advanced courses related to the topic of the thesis.
Psychology Distinction courses and an independent research study (under the direction of a faculty mentor) submitted for conference presentation or publication.
Religious Studies Directed research tutorial followed by an independent studies course and a senior thesis.
Sociology Original research (based on a topic covered in a 3000- or 4000-level course) and a journal-length article written under the supervision of a departmental faculty member, who then determines if distinction is to be awarded.
World Languages Two extra courses beyond the major requirements; at least one must include a major research paper.
Cox School of Business
BBA Honors Program 18 credit hours of business honors courses (12 credit hours at the junior/senior level) with a 3.500 business honors GPA.
Lyle School of Engineering

Computer Science
and Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Successful completion of a senior thesis course, independent research project approved by the academic adviser, defense of the thesis through a public presentation and oral examination before a faculty committee, and a 3.500 major GPA.
Meadows School of the Arts
Art History Honors thesis, defended before a committee.
Corporate Communication and Public Affairs Honors thesis and 6 credit hours of COMM honors courses.
Film and Media Arts Thesis project.
Journalism Honors thesis and 6 credit hours of honors journalism courses.
Simmons School of Education and Human Development
Applied Physiology, Sport Management and Wellness Departmental distinction programs:
Applied Physiology and Health Management Specialization: Departmental Distinction
Applied Physiology and Health Management Specialization: Departmental Honors
Sport Management Concentration: Departmental Distinction
Sport Performance Leadership Concentration: Departmental Distinction
Teaching and Learning

Educational studies majors: Departmental distinction project.
Outstanding Pre-Service Educator
Teacher Scholar Award