Honors Scholars Program

Honors Scholars Program

The Honors Scholars Program (HSP) offers students opportunities to become campus leaders and enrich their college experience with academic, service, and cultural work beyond the standard curriculum. Honors scholars are able to work closely with faculty in General Education courses, as well as within their chosen majors, to deepen their knowledge in courses of their choosing. Honors scholars work together to plan service projects within the LMU and wider community, organize academic and cultural trips, and travel to regional and national conferences to present their research.     

Mission Statement

The LMU Honors Scholars Program exists to promote undergraduate scholarship and encourage intellectual dialogue among students. It deepens values through an approach of critical reading and writing in courses reinforced with service learning and increased social and cultural collaboration. The LMU HSP is marked by its interdisciplinary nature and course objectives that focus on analysis, integration, and application. A service ethic is reinforced by activities and responsibilities throughout the program where Honors students reach out to fellow students and to the broader community.

Program Admission

Incoming freshman students with a minimum 3.5 high school GPA may apply to be members of the HSP. To accord with the University’s temporary test-optional admissions, the HSP has temporarily suspended the requirement that applicants have a minimum 26 ACT composite score. Transfer and current students may apply to be members of the HSP with a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.00. All applicants are required to attend a formal interview and provide a writing sample as part of the application process. Final admissions decisions are made by the Honors Council, a committee of faculty from across the university and elected honors student-officers, who review all materials and approve new members by vote.

Program Design and Benefits

This program is intended to function like a “minor” and will include special regalia and recognition at commencement, as well as corresponding designations on the student’s diploma and transcript. Students commit to engage in special coursework, service work, and cultural activities  to enrich their regular learning, as well as enhance their resumes and networking opportunities. Core courses with HNRS prefixes are listed below. Many non-HNRS courses can be taken as honors “contract courses” and will fulfill General Education or academic major requirements. Honors contract courses help fulfill the minimum required credit hours for recognition at graduation and allow students to work with faculty in classes of their choosing to do honors-level work.

Eligibility for the HSP scholarship is based on acceptance into the Program. However, Program admission does not guarantee that a student will receive the award, because scholarships are awarded on a competitive, first-come, first-admitted basis from a finite annual fund. When the fund is exhausted for the academic year, students who did not receive the scholarship will be placed on a waiting list.    

Requirements for 4-year Honors Students

Honors students who enter the Program in their freshman year and/or complete at least 23 honors course credits, including the Honors Thesis project, will receive recognition as University Honors Scholars. For 4-year honors students, the required honors courses are: 

HNRS 100 Honors Perspectives and Skills                         1

HNRS 200 Meaning & Service in a Diverse World              1

HNRS 203 Honors Seminar                                                1

HNRS 300 Junior Thesis Project                                         1

HNRS 303 Honors Seminar                                                1

HNRS 333 Honors Lab (min. of 2/max of 4 full credits)   0 - .5

HNRS 400 Senior Thesis Project                                        1

HNRS 497 Senior Capstone                                                0

Requirements for Transfer or Current LMU Students

Transfer students and current LMU students who have at least two years (or 60 credits) of degree-work remaining are eligible to apply for the Program if they have a minimum cumulative college GPA of 3.0. Students completing at least 18 honors course credits, including the Honors Thesis project, will receive recognition as Honors Scholars on their transcript. Transfer students who have completed all or part of the requirements of an honors program at another academic institution may have some of these requirements waived with the approval of the Honors Council. 

For transfer or current LMU students, the required honors courses are:

HNRS 203 Honors Seminar                                                1

HNRS 300 Junior Thesis Project                                         1

HNRS 303 Honors Seminar                                                1

HNRS 333 Honors Lab (min. of 1/max of 2 full credits)   0 - .5

HNRS 400 Senior Thesis Project                                        1

HNRS 497 Senior Capstone                                                0

Contract Courses

All honors students will earn the balance of required credit hours by selecting contract courses (CCs) that allow them to engage in scholarship under the mentorship of a faculty member. At the beginning of each semester, honors students may choose no more than three (3) of their regular courses to designate as contract courses. Students must request a “contract” with the instructor to do honors-level work in that course. This work is agreed upon in writing (CC proposal form) between the student and instructor and then routed for authorization by department chairs, deans, and the Honors Council. At the end of the semester, the Honors Director and Office of Academic Affairs verify that the work was completed and all contract terms met. The Registrar then designates the course as HNRS on the student's permanent transcript.

Honors Thesis and HNRS-prefix courses

All honors students complete a thesis project as a program requirement. The majority of required HNRS courses are therefore designed to allow the honors student to build critical thinking, reading, writing, and research skills as they work toward a capstone experience as scholars: the completion and presentation of an Honors Thesis. The project can take various forms (e.g. research experiment, creative work, etc.) but all must include a written component and PowerPoint presentation.

Freshmen Honors students will be introduced to the culture and expectations of the Honors program, strategies for college success, and the nature of scholarship in HNRS 100. The student will develop and hone research skills and consider the processes of research by examining multi-disciplinary approaches to community problem-solving in HNRS 200. In HNRS 300, the student will develop advanced research skills and begin work on the Honors Thesis; in this course, they will choose their topic, form their faculty thesis committee, and write the thesis proposal for submission to and approval by the Honors Council. The student must present a written proposal for the thesis or creative project to, and receive approval from, the Honors Council before commencing work on the thesis or creative project. HNRS 400 affords the student time to work independently on research and with their committee members as they complete the thesis project. Because the thesis functions as a capstone experience, the student will publicly present and defend their thesis in HNRS 497. This course will also serve as the place for completing an institutional assessment of the program.

The honors seminars (HNRS 203 and 303) are taught by faculty from across campus on an array of topics that introduce students to multi- and interdisciplinary research. All faculty are invited to propose and teach seminar topics in their areas of expertise.

HNRS 333 is the Honors Laboratory, a course held every semester in which honors students meet to read and discuss common texts, plan service projects and cultural excursions, write reflectively, and conduct committee work vital to Program success. HNRS 333 is a required course that students must take for credit at least once per academic year. It may be taken for zero credit with no writing requirement. Students are encouraged to enroll every semester, as this course is our primary means of fostering camaraderie and benefiting from a multiplicity of perspectives.

Optional Honors Course: LNCN 110

As part of the General Education (GE) requirements at LMU, all students must take LNCN 100 “Lincoln’s Life and Legacy.” A more advanced version, LNCN 110 “Honors Lincoln’s Life and Legacy,” has been created to replace LNCN 100 for any student who wishes to complete honors-level work for this GE course. LNCN 110 is designed in the style of a seminar: interactive and discussion-based. Students will read a scholarly biography of Lincoln and focus on current, real-world issues and problem-solving related to Lincoln’s legacy. Additionally, students in 110 will learn about research methods in the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum and digitally explore Lincoln travel sites. While the 1 credit does not apply to the required HNRS credit totals of 23 or 18, the course is designated “honors” on the transcript. Because of the opportunities 110 offers, HSP students are highly encouraged to take LNCN 110 instead of 100 in the spring of their freshman year.   

HSP Participation and e-Portfolios

All honors students create and maintain an e-Portfolio to document their participation in the three pillars of the HSP: academic, service, and cultural experiences. Containing students’ photographs and brief reflections, these personal websites have been shown to be important links on resumes and graduate school applications, as they provide viewers with visual evidence of student engagement and success. Academic experiences include attendance or presentations at conferences, attendance at lectures, workshops, and award ceremonies, research opportunities, study abroad, etc. Students must record at least two academic posts per semester. As campus leaders, honors students are expected to help design and participate in at least one HSP-sponsored service project per semester. Students must also record attendance at least one cultural event per semester, such as a play, concert, museum, etc. Each e-Portfolio should be updated throughout the semester, with final updates due on the last day of classes. The e-Portfolios are director- and peer-reviewed and scored according to a rubric.      

Program Leadership: Honors Director and Honors Council

The Honors Director and Honors Council have oversight responsibility for this academic program. The Director reports directly to the Vice-President for Academic Affairs and meets regularly with the Council to present operational matters for discussion and voting. The Honors Council is composed of representative faculty members from every undergraduate School and student-elected representative honors students. The Director makes recommendations to the Vice President for Academic Affairs regarding criteria for honors courses and specific honors courses that have been approved by the Council.

General Criteria for Honors Courses:

• Analysis

• Synthesis

• Critical reading

• Critical writing

• Documentation and attribution excellence for source materials

• Relevant and current application of knowledge and analysis

• Evidence of learning approach(es) such as debate, presentations, instructional travel

• Service/experiential learning

Note: Each course is expected to meet many of the above objectives but not every item above. Courses are expected to be designed appropriately for the academic level.

General Criteria for Faculty teaching honors courses:

• Proven ability to provide intellectual leadership and mentoring of students in and out of the classroom

• Support for the overall mission and objectives of the Honors Scholars Program

• Understanding of the differential educational approach of honors courses

• Exceptional teaching skills which include fostering inclusive discussion, thoughtful learning activities, selection of relevant and current readings, use of scholarly documentation and attribution, meaningful assessment instruments, and timely feedback to students

• Engagement of peer evaluation process of classroom observation, feedback, and reflection

Probation and Dismissal from the Program

If an honors scholar fails to achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA in any given semester, they will receive an academic warning and be placed on probation. The student will be expected to raise the GPA within two semesters. If after the second semester the GPA is still below 3.0, the student will be dismissed from the Program.

The e-Portfolio is an important indicator of Program participation. If an honors scholar fails to maintain the e-Portfolio by the stated deadline, or if the scored rubric indicates insufficient participation/content, the student will be placed on probation. If the e-Portfolio is not updated by the next stated deadline, then the student will be dismissed from the Program. An honors scholar who fails to update the e-Portfolio during his/her last semester will not graduate with honors.

Students placed on academic warning, probation, or suspension are ineligible for the HSP scholarship. Because the scholarship is awarded on a competitive basis, there is no guarantee that it will be restored even after the warning/probation/suspension period has ended.

Any violation of the University’s academic integrity policy or codes of conduct will result in immediate dismissal from the Program.

An honors scholar who is dismissed from the Program may appeal his/her dismissal to the Honors Council by completing an appeals packet, as described in the HSP Handbook.