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FMU Honors

FMU Honors rewards excellent students with enhanced educational opportunities that foster inquiry, stimulate learning and promote community involvement. FMU Honors offers a unique curriculum, special social and co-curricular activities, community living and study abroad opportunities. We also reflect FMU’s commitment to personalized instruction, low faculty-to-student ratios and an enriching undergraduate experience.

Admission to FMU Honors is made by application that can be submitted below.

For more information, contact the Director of FMU Honors:

Dr. Chris Kennedy


FMU Honors encourages applications from students who are well rounded, academically accomplished and involved, and understands that aptitude and potential can be measured in many ways.  First year (freshman) candidates may therefore submit information they think best describes them, including any combination of their ACT or SAT scores, high school grade point average and class rank, or may speak to their participation in Honors, IB or AP courses, extracurricular activities, athletics or volunteerism.   First year students must achieve a 3.0 GPA their first semester and a 3.25 thereafter to remain in the program.   Current and transfer students should have a GPA of 3.25 to apply to and to remain in the program.   All students must be members of FMU Honors before being allowed to register for Honors courses.

Graduating With University Honors

To graduate With University Honors, students must complete 21 semester hours of Honors courses with a minimum gpa of 3.25. Three of those hours must be earned in the Honors 397/Honors Colloquium, and three must be earned by successfully completing an Honors 491/Honors Independent Study (or an equivalent course, usually numbered 497, in their particular discipline). Students graduating With University Honors will receive at commencement a medallion and a degree indicating that singular achievement.

Note that graduating With University Honors is different from Latin Honors, which indicates that the recipient has achieved a particular grade point average. Students who graduate with a gpa of 3.5 to 3.74 are granted a diploma cum laude (with praise); those with a gpa of 3.75 to 3.89 are granted a diploma magna cum laude (with great praise); and those with a grade point average of 3.9 or higher are granted a diploma summa cum laude (with greatest praise). There are also several honors societies with which the University is affiliated, the most prestigious being Phi Kappa Phi. Others are associated with particular disciplines.


FMU Honors students may (and should) begin their Honors coursework their first semester, beginning with 1-hour Honors Symposia; 100- and 200-level general education courses like English 101H, Math 134H, Sociology 201H, Speech Communication 101H, etc.; and 200-level Honors Special Topics courses in various disciplines, all of which apply toward general education requirements.

Honors Independent Study (HNRS 491)

Students who plan to graduate “With University Honors” must complete an Honors Independent Study project (HNRS 491) as 3 of the 21 hours of Honors credit required.

Honors Ambassadors

Honors students in France

Frequently Asked Questions and Related Observations

How does FMU Honors communicate with me?

Incoming freshmen identified by our Admissions Office as Honors-eligible should receive a letter in the late fall containing, among other things, an application and brochure for FMU Honors. If you have not been so notified but feel you should have, contact the Honors Director, Dr. Chris Kennedy, at

Upon admission to the University and acceptance to FMU Honors, most communication (including information about early pre-registration and social events) will be conducted via email at students’ addresses. Honors emails will be sent only to these addresses.

What constitutes being, remaining, or becoming honors-eligible?

Entering freshmen are considered Honors-eligible with an SAT score of at least 1160 (combined Math and Verbal) or a composite ACT score of 24. Other students who believe their academic, artistic, extra-curricular or other achievements qualify them as Honors-eligible are encouraged to apply.

Current or transfer students must have a gpa of 3.25 and apply for admission to FMU Honors before being allowed to enroll in Honors courses.

Remaining in Honors depends upon maintaining a minimum overall gpa (see below). Students whose grades fall below Honors-eligible thresholds will be granted a one-semester Honors probation and encouraged to meet with the Director during that probation.

To maintain eligibility, FMU Honors students should complete Honors hours as follows:

  • of the first 15 hours, 3 should be Honors at 3.0 gpa
  • of the first 30 hours, 6 should be Honors at 3.25
  • of the first 60 hours, 12 should be Honors at 3.25
  • of the first 90 hours, 18 should be Honors at 3.25

Do I need to apply to be accepted into The Honors Program?

Yes. Membership in FMU Honors is not automatic, though once you’ve applied and been accepted, you do not need to reapply.

What do I have to do in order to graduate With University Honors?

You must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete all regular University and departmental or school requirements.
  • Maintain an overall GPA of 3.25 or above, including transfer courses.
  • Complete a minimum of 21 hours in Honors Courses, with a GPA of 3.25 or higher in all Honors Courses taken. Of the 21 hours, 3 must consist of the Honors 397/Colloquium and 3 must consist of Honors 491/Independent Study or an acceptable substitute. Grades below B in the Honors Colloquium and the Honors Independent Study do not count toward credit for the Honors degree, although they do count toward regular degree requirements.

Students who graduate With University Honors are recognized at the Commencement Ceremonies with FMU Honors medallions.

What is the difference between courses with “HNRS” prefixes and honors sections of other classes, like “ECON” or “ENG”?

Each semester, several Honors courses (for instance, HNRS 200, 201, 202, 203 Symposia, HNRS 250-290 Special Topics Courses) are offered; these are courses available only to Honors students. All of these courses are capped at 15-18 students and earn elective and/or General Education credit towards graduation. Not all earn credit toward a particular major or minor.

Other courses (for instance, English 102H or Math 134H) are Honors sections of “regular” courses. These Honors sections are capped at 15-18 students and involve more interaction among the students and faculty.

Many Honors classes are taught in the Honors classroom, a seminar-style room with lounge area, a SmartBoard and Keurig coffee maker.

Seriously, are Honors courses more difficult?

Sometimes. Most typically, though, they are “different” in that the instructor, assuming a level of maturity and preparedness in Honors students, may rely more on seminar-style conversation or Socratic dialogue than on traditional lecture-and-test formats. To put that another way: they are frequently more fun, more engaging, and more substantial than “regular” courses, and more exhausting for the instructor.

What are HNRS 200, 201, 202 and 203 The Honors Symposia? Can I take them more than once for credit? Am I required to take them?

These courses are one-credit hour symposia in different disciplines. All are graded A-F. A symposium in this case means a discussion forum that depends on student interaction, usually in response to a particular text or event, and generally involves less actual homework (though you can expect some written personal responses). In HNRS 200/Science Symposium for instance, students attend weekly lectures sponsored by departments in the sciences, then meet and discuss what they’ve heard. HNRS 200 is offered in the fall and can be taken twice for elective credit. It is not required to graduate With University Honors.

The HNRS 201/Humanities & Social Sciences symposium will likewise ask students to attend a weekly event–a play, gallery opening, lecture, musical performance, etc.–and respond both in writing and in a weekly conversation. Some responses may in fact be creative rather than critical. HNRS 201 is offered each Fall and can be taken twice for credit; it is not required to graduate With University Honors.

The HNRS 202/Business Leadership symposium is designed for students preparing themselves for a career in politics, public service or the private sector. Students will usually meet with an area civic leader or discuss a topic (for instance, downtown development, leadership, human resources or business ethics) relevant to such professions. HNRS 202 is offered each Spring and can be taken twice for credit; it is not required to graduate With University Honors.

The Honors 203/Service Symposium is for students interested in investigating the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Students will research and then create their own service opportunity. Honors 203 is offered each Spring and can be taken twice for credit. it is not required to graduate With University Honors.

What is HNRS 350, The Model UN Experience? Can I take it more than once for credit? Am I required to take it?

In HNRS 350, students will participate in the National Model UN in New York City for one week late in the Spring (FMU pays travel costs). They will assume the role of delegates representing a foreign country in a United Nations simulation. Unlike most Honors classes, students cannot simply register for HNRS 350; they must apply and be selected by the Honors 350 instructor. Students can take 350 twice for credit. It is not required to graduate “With University Honors.” For more information about the application process and the course itself, contact Dr. Kyle Morgan in the Department of Political Science.

What is HNRS 397, The Honors Colloquium? Can I take it more than once for credit? Am I required to take it?

The Colloquium is offered every spring and deals with special topics from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Sometimes it is team-taught; always, professors from various disciplines are involved in at least some of the class sessions. Past topics include “The Divine Arts,” “An Interdisciplinary Introduction to African Studies,” “Climate Change and Society,” “Religion and Culture,” “The Vietnam War and American Culture” and “History of the Civil Rights Movement.” The Colloquium carries 3 hours of elective credit. Since the Colloquium topic is different each time it is offered, it may be taken twice for elective (and of course Honors) credit. Students are required to take the Colloquium, and to earn a grade of B or higher, in order to graduate With University Honors.

What is HNRS 391, The Honors Independent Study Workshop? Can I take it more than once for credit? Am I required to take it?

HNRS 391 is offered every semester. It is an optional course designed to help students prepare for their Honors Independent Study (HNRS 491), and should be taken the semester before Honors 491. Working with the Honors Director, students plan for their Independent Study project, select and begin working with their Study Directors, and then prepare and submit an acceptable proposal to the Honors Committee. HNRS 391 is assessed as “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” and carries 1 hour of elective credit. It can be taken for credit only once. It is not required to graduate With University Honors (although 491 or an acceptable substitute is).

What is HNRS 491, The Honors Independent Study? Can I take it more than once for credit? Am I required to take it?

HNRS 491 offers upper-division Honors students the opportunity to pursue independent academic work, normally in the area of their major, under the guidance of a faculty Thesis Committee. It usually takes the form of a major research project/paper, although some recent projects have been creative (i.e., directing one-act plays, arranging and performing a piano concert). Students must have completed 12 hours of Honors courses before enrolling in Honors 491/Independent Study, and must consult with the Honors Director well before the semester during which they write the thesis.

A Thesis Committee is composed of a faculty Study Director and two other faculty readers, one of whom must be from a different discipline. Working with this committee, students must complete a proposal detailing the project they are planning to undertake before the semester they are enrolled in 491.

Students must submit their thesis proposals three weeks before the end of the semester prior to the semester in which they are enrolled for 491. Examples of successful past proposals are available for use as examples; completed thesis projects are cataloged in the Rogers Library. Some funding is available to defray expenses incurred in completing an Independent Study thesis.

Students may choose to take Honors 391 (see above) the semester before registering for Honors 491, though they are not required to.

Students are required to complete the Independent Study (or an acceptable substitute – see below) with a grade of B or higher in order to graduate “With University Honors.”

Can I get credit in my major for my Honors Independent Study?

Yes. The proposal form asks you to designate whether you prefer to receive credit for HNRS 491, or for 497 Special Studies in a particular academic discipline.

Can I transfer honors credits from another institution?

Yes, if the courses are designated as “Honors” by an NCHC-affiliated institution and accepted by FMU for full credit or elective credit. To graduate “With University Honors” from FMU, a transfer student must take a minimum of 12 hours of Honors courses at FMU, including the Honors Colloquium and the Honors Independent Study.

What is the “Honors Contract” option? How does that work?

This option can help students (typically juniors and seniors) who intend to graduate With University Honors, but who cannot find Honors courses that fit their schedule or degree requirements. The contract stipulates what extra work you will undertake in a “regular” course to receive Honors credit. Normally, the Honors Contract option should be applied only to upper-level courses which are not offered as Honors sections. Except under extraordinary circumstances, a student may take only 3 of the required 21 hours as an Honors contract.

What is the Washington Semester Program?

FMU Honors students are eligible to apply for a fellowship in the Washington Semester Program, sponsored by the Honors College at the University of South Carolina. Students accepted as fellows have the opportunity to live in the heart of Washington, DC, and gain valuable work experience as full-time paid interns in federal government or private sector offices while earning 15 hours of Honors credit. Fellows must be degree-seeking juniors or seniors.

The Program operates both the spring and fall semesters. Students accepted into the Program must become transient students at USC for the DC semester. They will earn academic credit for the following courses: POL 497H (Special Studies: Washington Semester, 6 hours); ENG 498H (English Internship: Washington Semester, 3 hours); PSY 310H (The Psychological Focus: Leadership, Washington Semester, 3 hours); and THEA 101H (Introduction to Theatre: Washington Semester, 3 hours). Acceptance for the Washington Semester is competitive, but FMU has an excellent record of placing students in the Program. The coordinator of USC Internship Program pays a campus visit each fall and spring to talk with interested FMU students.

What does FMU honors do for fun? And are students involved in directing it?

Social activities are programmed by a three-student Honors Student Advisory Council. These activities include game-nights, movie-and-pizza nights, kickball, volleyball or dodgeball games, puppy-washing and volunteering at the local animal shelter, organizing a Toys-4 Tots drive, and so on. An organizational meeting is traditionally held at an early fall reception hosted by President and Mrs. Carter at Wallace House. And at the end of each semester, Honors members are invited to a Christmas party or cookout.

In addition, FMU Honors sponsors the Fall Honors Trip to Washington D.C., New York City or Philadelphia. The Trip usually takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving. We leave by charter bus on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, and return on Sunday morning. Most (but not all) of the cost for the adventure is borne by the University.

Is there an Honors Housing option?

The Housing Office has set aside certain portions of Belle Isle Hall in the residence halls for Honors freshmen. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may continue in Honors Housing in either Belle Isle Hall or the Forest Villas, upon request. Students interested in living in Honors housing should check the applicable box on the Application for Student Housing.