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Honors Program of Study

Vision

The USC Upstate Honors Program underscores the commitment of USC Upstate to academic excellence and the life of the mind. The Honors Program offers enhanced educational opportunities tailored to the special needs, aspirations and motivations of students with outstanding intellectual and creative abilities. By bringing together talented students and dedicated and accomplished professors in small classes and individual research settings, the Honors Program creates a community united by a passion for learning and driven by a hunger for knowledge.

  • The Honors Program enriches the learning experience with study abroad opportunities, research assistantships, faculty and community mentoring and a range of co-curricular activities and experiences that build a shared sense of intellectual curiosity and achievement of the highest standards of academic excellence.

Mission Statement

The goals of the USC Upstate Honors Program are as follows:

  • to encourage an intellectual orientation by providing a challenging curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, creative and active learning, integration of academic disciplines, in-depth exploration of new fields of study and application of learning to other environments;
  • to develop the skills and qualities necessary for leadership both at USC Upstate and in the larger community through an emphasis on service learning and public presentations;
  • to provide a center of intellectual identity and community; and 
  • to meet the needs of outstanding students for engagement and intellectual pursuits beyond the classroom walls.

An Upstate Honors Student…

  • is intellectually curious and participates in undergraduate research, attends and hosts speakers and other extracurricular events and explores the world through study abroad.
  • is a global citizen and  contributes to his or her community and society through thoughtful service learning activities.
  • is a leader and shares his or her ideas publicly through presentations and projects.
  • is academically accomplished and has achieved two of the following criteria: a minimum high school GPA of 3.25, SAT verbal and math score of 1100  or top 10% of their graduating class.
  • is an active part of the honors learning cohort and completes at least six credit hours of honors courses per year. These courses include yearly honors seminars: The Life of the Mind (HON 101), Self and Society (HON 201), The Ethical Factor (HON 301) and The Process of Progress (HON 401).

Requirements for Graduating with Honors

To graduate from the Honors Program, students must:

  • complete at least 18 credit hours of honors seminars, courses, internships and tutorials of 200-level or above. This course of study will serve as an interdisciplinary minor, with the title of the student’s honors project designating the interdisciplinary focus of study on the transcript. All honors students, including those who transfer to USC Upstate with junior standing are required to complete the upper-level honors seminars: The Self and Society (HON 201), The Ethical Factor (HON 301), and The Process of Progress (HON 401). Honors students who enter USC Upstate as first-year students will typically complete over 24 credit hours of honors courses, including 100-level courses and the Life of the Mind seminar (HON 101).
  • maintain an average cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  • compile an electronic honors portfolio of projects and reflections from the honors seminar courses (HON 101, 201, 301, and 401), internships, research experience, service learning activities and extracurricular activities. The final portfolio will also include a statement of purpose describing the student’s accomplishments in the capstone honors project and the interdisciplinary theme or focus of study that underlies the student’s honors experience.
  • present to a public audience a capstone project designed and proposed in fall in HON 401 (The Process of Progress) and completed in spring in a three-credit tutorial or internship under the guidance of an honors faculty member. Students are encouraged to pursue creative project formats, including multimedia, performance, experiential or application-based projects, although conventional thesis projects may also be accepted. Projects must be approved by the director of the Honors Program.
  • complete a minimum of 20 hours of service learning activities, typically as a course requirement in Honors 201. Other service learning or community service must be approved by the director of the Honors Program. Short reflection essays about this community engagement will be included in the electronic honors portfolio.
  • demonstrate significant contributions to honors activities by serving on the Honors Student Council and/or participating in the programming of the Honors Program, such as research assistantships, study abroad and cultural activities. Each semester, honors students must attend four events that are approved by the director of the Honors Program. Short reflection essays about these events will be included in the electronic honors portfolio.

Honors Students and General Education

All graduates of USC Upstate should demonstrate five core competencies as described in the Academic Programs section of the Academic Catalog. These competencies include the following: (1) the ability to communicate effectively in English in writing and orally, (2) comprehension and application of scientific and quantitative reasoning, (3) critical thinking and integration of information, (4) understanding and awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity, and (5) facility with information technology. A USC Upstate honors student must develop and refine these competencies by completing a coherent set of introductory-level courses which may be drawn from both honors and regular course offerings.

Honors students are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach to the general education competencies by enrolling in Honors Arts and Humanities, Honors Natural Science and Mathematics, Honors Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Honors General Education Tutorials, and special honors courses. Students will coordinate with the Director of the Honors Program and their major advisors to satisfy the general education competency requirements through no fewer than 30 credit hours in general education courses, including at least one course in each of the three main divisions: the humanities and fine arts, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics.

In addition, students must fulfill any particular general education requirements that serve as foundational courses for their designated major. For example, an honors student majoring in biology must complete Precalculus I and II as well as General Chemistry and General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis. Working with their major advisors, honors students will identify these courses by the end of their first year at USC Upstate. 

Honors Students and Major Requirements

In addition to completing the honors focus of study, honors students select an academic major and fulfill the requirements of that major. Courses designated as honors courses, such as BIO 110H or ENG 102H, can substitute for non-honors courses. Special honors courses, tutorials, or internships may substitute for comparable general education courses or courses in the major program of study, or they may apply toward the honors minor or serve as electives. Honors students will work in coordination with the Director of the Honors Program and their major advisor to fulfill the requirements of both their major and their honors minor.
 

Course Descriptions

HONORS COURSES (HONS)

To enroll in honors courses, students must be members of the Honors Program or granted approval by the Director of the Honors Program in consultation with the faculty teaching the course.

Honors courses require coursework that is more challenging and enriching for honors students; projects and assessments that offer more opportunities for creativity and problem-solving; assignments that include more intensive reading, writing, and research ; and increased opportunities for co-curricular activities that complement course content. Honors sections may involve team-teaching or an interdisciplinary approach to the topics.

HONS 101. The Life of the Mind (3)

A facilitated seminar course taught by multiple faculty members with an interdisciplinary theme centered around the life of the mind, including questions about the nature of education, the self, and society. The course provides an introduction to multiple disciplinary perspectives, engages students in interdisciplinary projects and problem-solving, and fosters leadership through significant interactions between honors students and honors faculty and other USC Upstate departments and resources. 

HONS 120. Honors Fine Arts and Humanities (3-4)

An interdisciplinary approach to introductory fine arts and humanities courses that fulfill general education requirements. The course engages students in a critical introduction through the exploration of an interdisciplinary theme. Themes may include art therapy, ekphrasis, or God and beauty, the history of religious art. Students may enroll in this course more than once if the topic changes. 

HONS 121. Honors Natural Science and Mathematics (3-4)

An interdisciplinary approach to introductory natural science and mathematics courses that fulfill general education requirements. The course engages students in a critical introduction through the exploration of an interdisciplinary theme. Themes may include the history of physics, introductory bioinformatics, or the statistics of gender. Students may enroll in this course more than once if the topic changes. 

HONS 122. Honors Social and Behavioral Sciences (3-4)

An interdisciplinary approach to introductory social and behavioral sciences courses that fulfill general education requirements. The course engages students in a critical introduction through the exploration of an interdisciplinary theme. Themes may include the psychology of elections, sociology of relationships, or work and economics. Students may enroll in this course more than once if the topic changes.

HONS 199. Honors General Education Tutorial (3-4)

An independent, introductory study of a general education discipline designed to address applications of the field of study and/or interdisciplinary approaches to the field. Examples include introductory legal philosophy, biomedical ethics, or behavioral economics. Honors students may enroll in this course more than once if the topic changes. 

HONS 201. Self and Society (3)

A seminar course with an interdisciplinary theme centered around community and societal problem-solving. The course engages students in interdisciplinary projects and community-based problem-solving, promotes scholarly reflection on service projects, and fosters leadership through significant interactions between honors students and community leaders. Course includes intensive reading, writing, public speaking, presenting, and community engagement. 

HONS 250. Honors Travel (3)

Visits to and study of international or US sites of historic, cultural, and/or literary significance. Content and itinerary will vary depending on the instructor’s area of interest. Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program or permission of the Director of the Honors Program.

HONS 301. The Ethical Factor (3)

A seminar course with an interdisciplinary theme centered around ethics and ethical problem-solving. Examples include America’s Evolving Moral Landscape and Civil Rights or Science, Ethics and Religion. The course engages students in interdisciplinary projects and problem-solving, promotes scholarly reflection through written and oral communication, and fosters leadership through significant interactions with guest speakers from the University and the broader community. Course must include intensive reading, writing, and research. 

HONS 350. Honors Travel (3)

Visits to and study of international or US sites of historic, cultural, scientific, and/or literary significance. The focus and work product for the course vary depending on the instructor’s area of interest. Prerequisite: Admission to Honors Program or overall GPA of 3.25 at USC Upstate or accredited institution with permission of the Director of the Honors Program. 

HONS 398. Honors Special Topics (3)

Interdisciplinary approaches to enduring issues or current topics. Course may be team taught and must include intensive reading, writing, and research. Technology-based and/or presentation-based projects may be required. This course may be repeated if the topic changes. 

HONS 399. Honors Tutorial (1-4)

Directed research and reading of a complex and comprehensive nature in keeping with the student's interests and goals. Course will culminate in a final project and/or written report. Research may involve both primary and secondary sources. May be repeated with the consent of the Director of the Honors Program for a total of no more than eight hours of undergraduate Honors credit.

HONS 499. Honors Internship (1-4)

Directed hands-on, practicum experience in keeping with the student’s interests and goals. Honors interns complete additional research and reading and prepare a written report at the end of the term. May be repeated with the consent of the Director of the Honors Program for a total of no more than eight hours of undergraduate Honors credit. A university contract must be completed with all required signatures.

HONS 401. The Process of Progress (3)

A seminar course with an interdisciplinary theme centered around the nature of research and research-based problem-solving. Students trace the process of design and discovery of a documented, well-known research project then apply that model to a project of their own. Project models might include the human genome project and its implications for the limits of humanity or the TED movement. The course engages students in intensive, interdisciplinary research projects, promotes scholarly reflection through written and oral communication, and fosters leadership through significant interactions with faculty research mentors.

Additional Information

Honors Application
Honors Portfolio

Contact

Catherine Canino
Director
864-503-5657

800 University Way
Burroughs Building
Spartanburg, SC 29303
Toll-free: 800-277-8727
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