The University of Southern Mississippi Honors College Student Handbook was created as a guide for current Honors Scholars. The Handbook serves not only as an informational resource for students with regard to expectations and requirements, but also as a guiding policy document for the Honors College (HC), its students, and its staff. Changes in policy will be updated in the Handbook and kept current on the website.
II. The Honor Code
III. The Curriculum (Requirements, Policies, Year-by-Year Guide)
Office of Nationally Competitive Programs
The Honors College Leadership Council
Electronic Newsletter and Honors College Listserv
The Honor House
The University of Southern Mississippi offered its first Honors classes in 1965. By 1976, the program had evolved into a formalized Honors College, making it the sixth oldest public honors college in the nation and the oldest Honors College in the state of Mississippi. Appropriate to its historic role at the university, the home of the Honors College is the Honor House, one of the original buildings on the Southern Miss campus. Built in 1912, the Honor House was given its current name when it was a dormitory for women who were put “on their honor” to respect curfew and other campus policies. Today’s Honors College is comprised of 500 curious, imaginative, and aspiring scholars who strive for excellence, thrive on academic challenge, and serve and lead both on campus and in the community.
The Honors College at the University of Southern Mississippi fosters a deep, communal engagement with ideas and an atmosphere of personal connection and achievement by providing students with small classes, opportunities for active learning, and research experiences. We create a supportive and challenging intellectual community, promote attentive mentoring, and expose our students to cutting-edge scholars and artists. Above all, we encourage our students to seize opportunities and boldly determine their own paths—both at the university and beyond. Upon graduation, our students will have the independence and confidence to pursue their passions, the knowledge and tools with which to chart a fulfilling future course, and a lifelong commitment to using their capacities for the public good.
We expect all Honors College Scholars to recognize and take seriously the many implications of “honor.” We hold Honors Scholars to high standards not only with regard to academic performance and integrity, but also with regard to civility and tolerance. We value the diversity of the Southern Miss campus and expect our students to respect one another and honor and learn from differing viewpoints, cultural experiences, faith systems, and interests.
Upon accepting admission into the College, all Scholars are governed not only by the Southern Miss Academic Integrity Policy but also by the Honors College Code, which reflects our mission and our fundamental commitment to rigorous standards of excellence:
As a member of the University of Southern Mississippi Honors College, I commit to serving as a leader and role model on campus and to maintaining high standards of academic integrity, personal conduct, and campus citizenship.
I will exert a sustained effort to pursue academic and scholarly excellence and to grow both personally and intellectually. I recognize the inherent value of each member of the Honors community, and I pledge to help forge a more equitable, just, and inclusive community for all.
I recognize that it is my responsibility to uphold this code and to encourage others in their efforts to do so.
The Southern Miss Honors curriculum is divided into two phases—Honors Foundations (for freshmen and sophomores) and Honors Keystone (for juniors and seniors). Those who enter the College as freshmen are expected to complete the four-year curriculum; upon completion of Honors Foundations requirements, these students will transition automatically into the Keystone curriculum. Students may also enter the Honors College as rising juniors and complete the Keystone curriculum only. Scholars must remain in good standing and complete all Honors Keystone requirements, including the thesis, in order to graduate with Latin Distinction.
All students who complete Honors Keystone requirements with 3.25 or higher cumulative USM GPA will graduate with Latin Distinction, as specified:
Graduating students will be given an Honors College Medallion, which they may wear with their robes during commencement proceedings.
Through course offerings and extra-curricular programming, the Honors College nurtures the habits of mind, spirit of curiosity, and sense of civic engagement that are at the heart of our mission. The curriculum is developmental and builds steadily toward the achievement of the Honors thesis in the senior year. Students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA to remain in good academic standing in the Honors College.
Freshman Year: Honors Colloquium (HON 111/112): 6 hours
Taught by specially chosen Honors Faculty Fellows, this two-semester course sequence will nurture students’ curiosity and their ability to ask, and answer, rich and complex questions. While a common theme and common assignments will unite all sections, each class will offer its own approach, depending on the interests and discipline of the faculty instructor. All sections will take an active learning trip during Fall Break in October. Class sizes are typically 15-18 students.
Sophomore Year: Honors Seminars (HON 303): 6 hours
Taught by the university’s most innovative professors, these special topics classes will focus on the questions that are currently energizing scholarly and creative research across the disciplines. With a focus on interdisciplinary and cutting-edge exploration, these classes are designed to spark excitement and investigation. Multiple sections will be taught each semester, on varying topics; class sizes are typically 15-18 students.
Freshman and Sophomore Year: Honors Forum (HON 321), 4 hours
For over 40 years, the University Forum Lecture Series has been bringing some of the most respected and innovative cultural, scientific, and artistic voices in the world to Southern Miss. A one-credit hour class taught in association with this series, Honors Forum promotes engagement with the intellectual and cultural life of The University of Southern Mississippi.
Note: Additional Honors sections of other classes (e.g. ENG 101 and 102, CHE 255 and 256) will occasionally be offered; students are encouraged but not required to take advantage of these opportunities when they are available.
Junior Year: Developing the Honors Thesis I and II (HON 300 and HON 301): 2 hours
Taught in sequence, these one-credit hour classes will provide students with the tools they need to lay the foundation of their Honors thesis and will shepherd them through the process of topic and project plan development. HON 300 is a prerequisite to HON 301 and cannot be waived.
Senior Year: Thesis Research/Comprehensive Exam
In the senior year, students must
The following is based on a student earning a bachelor’s degree in four years (8 semesters) and is a general guide only. The program of study will be different for students who study abroad, complete internships off-campus, take summer coursework, etc. Advisement throughout each student’s academic career will ensure that s/he is making appropriate progress in the curriculum.
By the end of each year, students should have completed the following:
Honors Foundations, Year One (Freshmen)
Honors Foundations, Year Two (Sophomores)
Honors Keystone, Year One (Juniors)
Honors Keystone, Year Two (Seniors)
One of the major benefits of Honors College membership is the careful attention and guidance provided to Honors scholars. Honors College advisers will assist you by:
Note that advisement in Honors supplements (but does not replace) advisement within a student’s major program.
Students in the Honors College must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA in order to remain in good standing. We are invested in our students’ success and are committed to providing guidance when and where it is necessary in order to ensure that a student is making good academic progress. To that end, we monitor student grades and progress at both midterm and at the end of each semester. So that we can intervene early and offer assistance, those who do not meet our GPA criteria or who appear to be experiencing academic difficulties at midterm will be contacted and may be required to meet with an HC Adviser or with the Dean to establish a plan for improvement. At the end of each semester (fall, spring, and summer), we review the grades and progress of all Scholars in order to assess academic standing in the Honors College.
In order to remain in good standing in the Honors College, students must:
The following conditions are grounds for Honors College probation:
Students will be informed of their probation by electronic mail to their @usm.edu account. Students on probation will be required to complete an Honors College Probation form and to meet with the Dean of the College to establish a Plan for Academic Improvement (PAI). The PAI, which remains internal to the Honors College, will be used to guide further action with regard to standing in the Honors College. A student on probation who fails to meet with the Dean and/or who fails to meet the requirements of the PAI by the end of the following term will be suspended from the Honors College.
Honors College students are allowed only one probationary semester; in rare cases, and only with approval of the Dean, a student will be granted one semester of “Probation Continued.” Students will not be allowed more than two semesters of probation in total.
Note on summer coursework and probationary standing: Students who are placed on probation/probation continued at the end of the spring semester and who choose to take summer coursework are required to meet with the Dean to implement a Plan for Academic Improvement (PAI) that will include appropriate benchmarks for the summer semester. Students who fail to do so may be suspended from the Honors College.
The following conditions are grounds for Honors College suspension:
Students will be informed of their suspension by electronic mail to their @usm.edu account. Students who wish to appeal their suspension may do so by completing a Suspension Appeal Form. All appeals will be considered by the Honors College Appeals Committee.
*In determining whether a student’s record warrants suspension, the Honors College will consider the previous record, the extent of the violation. In cases of suspension, remediation of the XF grade does not guarantee Honors College reinstatement or the ability to graduate from the Honors College and receive Latin distinction. Upon receipt of a suspension appeal, the Honors College Appeals Committee will review the case and determine whether remediation warrants reinstatement.
Note on Academic Standing and Honors College Scholarships: Students must maintain good standing in the Honors College and complete all requirements, including the thesis, in order to retain their scholarships. The Honors College will carefully monitor the progress of all students; in cases where a student appears at risk of failing to complete Honors requirements, the HC may hold and/or delay disbursement of the scholarship until such time as the student has demonstrated substantial progress. Students who fail to complete Honors requirements may be asked to repay all or a portion of their scholarship. Note that any student who is suspended from the Honors College will lose his/her scholarship.
Students may indicate their intention to withdraw from the Honors College by completing the Honors College Withdrawal Form. All students seeking to withdraw will be required to meet with the Dean. Further, we encourage any student contemplating withdrawal to meet with an HC Adviser and/or the Dean to discuss whether withdrawal is appropriate or advisable. Note that students who withdraw from the Honors College will lose any scholarship that is tied to Honors College membership and may be asked to drop Honors sections of classes in which they are currently enrolled.
According to guidelines from the Office of the Registrar, students should print their graduation application one semester prior to graduation. The third page of this document, the Honors College Degree Application, should be signed by the student ONLY and submitted to the Honors College.
The Honors College recognizes all students who have successfully completed HC requirements with a ceremony and an Honors College medallion. Medallions will be distributed upon completion of all requirements, including an approved thesis.
Students who determine in the semester of their anticipated graduation that they need more time to complete their degree or Honors requirements should fill out the appropriate deferment (“rollover”) paperwork with the office of their major. Following the deferment period, a new graduation application must be submitted to the office of their major as well as to the Honors College.
Students who defer graduation will attend the Honors recognition ceremony in the semester of their actual graduation, with the exception of those students who defer graduation from spring to the summer.
Housed in the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships, the office of Nationally Competitive Programs assists students in strategically developing a strong career throughout their time at Southern Miss with an eye toward helping to prepare the strongest application possible for such national scholarship opportunities as the Truman, Marshall, Goldwater, Rhodes, Phi Kappa Phi, and others. Other scholarships are available to support study abroad, undergraduate research, graduate study, and (in some cases) undergraduate study.
For information and assistance, visit the Office of Undergraduate Scholarships.
The Honors College Student Leadership Council is the student leadership wing of the Honors College. The council is made of five committees: Ambassador, Academic, Community Life, First-Year Mentor, and Philanthropy. These branches are involved in recruitment and retention as well as the development of community initiatives, service, etc., that will enhance the HC student experience. Membership is selective and is limited to Honors College students who have completed at least one semester at USM, have a minimum GPA of 3.25, and will not graduate for at least one year. Selection is based on an application and interview process and takes place in the spring of each year. New Honors College students have a chance to join in September of each year for a limited number of positions in the following committees: Academic, Community Life, and Philanthropy.
Sent to all HC students on the Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park campus on a weekly basis, the electronic Newsletter is designed to keep students abreast of important Honors College, campus, and community information. Digested and compiled in an effort to limit the number of emails you receive from us, the newsletter will typically contain information on important topics such as: job, scholarship, internship, and study abroad opportunities, visiting lecturers, upcoming deadlines and advisement schedules, HC policies, parties or events hosted by the HC, student achievements, residence life information, and class information.
All HC students are also automatically placed on the Honors College listserv, which we use to communicate vital information. As with the newsletter, we expect you to read it and be responsible for any information contained therein.
Stay apprised of HC information, fun facts, alumni news, student achievements, and upcoming events by liking us on Facebook and following us on Instagram and Twitter!
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As a Southern Miss Honors Scholar, you have privileges at the Honor House. Using your student ID, you have 24-7 access to the student lounge and the computer room, which houses several computers and a printer. During the daytime, you may request paper (up to five sheets) from the Graduate Assistant, for printing purposes; however, at night or on the weekends, we ask that you provide your own paper.
Please be courteous of your fellow students and the HC staff and clean up after yourself in both rooms. We want the Honor House to be a comfortable place for all!