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Developing Scholars

In addition to providing specific challenges and opportunities, the Honors Program is designed to help the brightest and best students mature as scholars. The following unique features of the program address specific areas of intellectualism and scholarship, developing cognitive and cultural awareness in the Honors Scholar.

Students in Lecture Hall





Honors Portfolio

All Honors students are required to complete a web-based portfolio project. A portfolio is a collection of the student’s work that displays his or her skills in such areas as leadership, research, global citizenship, and critical thinking. These skills are exhibited through the presentation of select texts that illustrate how the student’s learning has developed over the course of his or her time in the Honors Program. As well, each selected text is accompanied by a personal reflection that explains how each text has contributed to the student’s intellectual and personal growth. In this way, the portfolio contextualizes the entire undergraduate experience.

The portfolio also helps the student create an online presence that is attractive to both graduate schools and professional careers, thereby demonstrating that the student is technologically competent; it illustrates the student’s growth as a scholar and the student’s ability to reflect on his or her learning experiences; it provides a well-rounded view of the student, displaying not only academic success, but extracurricular activities and creativity; and it shows the student’s management and organizational skills because most of the online progress is conducted on the student’s own time and schedule. The portfolio requires that students be actively involved in their own education.


Honors students will create a website in the HNRS 101: Honors Forum class during their first semester. They will then add to and update the website throughout their time in the Honors program.

Each semester, students will select samples of their writing and upload them to the website. These include essays, projects, and presentations of which the student is most proud and which exemplify the student’s academic abilities. The added value of these samples is that they have been reviewed and graded by a professor, and revised by the student if need be, thus ensuring the samples uploaded to the website are examples of the student’s best work. The more samples the student uploads to the website, the more variety to choose from when the student creates the final portfolio to showcase to the campus community. The student should archive his or her website periodically so as to ensure that no material is lost.


While students may wish to upload multiple essays, projects, and academic recognitions from various classes throughout their time in the Honors Program, and perhaps even samples from their major, the portfolio must contain the following seven items:

A capstone essay from HNRS 101: Honors Forum. This essay will show that the student has developed critical-thinking skills through the presentation of a well-constructed and persuasive essay that not only enriches ideas and topics discussed during the semester—via novels, plays, films, artwork, and poetry—but shows that the student understands how multiple disciplines can work together in an interdisciplinary manner.

  • A capstone essay from HNRS 201: Service Learning in which the student discusses the process of putting together a service project, as well as what he or she has learned about the value of service learning, both on a personal and communal level.
  • An essay that addresses global learning to be submitted upon completion of the student’s study abroad requirement. This essay will demonstrate an understanding of the various connections among cultures, as well as a strong perspective on international issues.
  • A research proposal from HNRS 400: Research Seminar. Choosing a topic in his or her major, the student will learn skills like how to choose a mentor, draft a thesis statement, compose a literature review, and write a methodology.
  • An interdisciplinary essay selected from HNRS 298: Special Topics in Honors.
  • An interdisciplinary essay selected from HNRS 495: Honors Seminar.
  • An essay selected from an Honors section of a Humanities course.

During the student’s last semester in the Honors Program, he or she will enroll in Honors 490: Senior Portfolio. This is a one-credit course in which the student will meet weekly with Honor Program faculty to assess the student’s progress toward completing the portfolio. The student will then create a narrative that he or she will share with the campus community via a public presentation. Through this presentation, the student will discuss the impact that the honors program has made on his or her intellectual, personal, and ethical development.


Honors Courses

Honors Forum (HNRS 101) - two credits

An open and interdisciplinary forum to introduce first-year Honors students to the principles and practices of scholarly inquiry and active learning. Students will read a variety of texts concerning personal and academic challenges inherent in a college environment. In doing so, they will define themselves both as students and as individuals while becoming active participants in the MSSU community and as citizens of a twenty-first century global community.

Service Learning (HNRS 201) - two credits

After intensive preparation, Honors students experience first-hand the value and challenges of community service as they simultaneously participate in and analyze the culture of a local service institution. Students keep journals of their experiences and produce reflective analyses that apply the theories they learn in the classroom to their own experiences and those of their peers, culminating in the students developing their own personal philosophies of service.

Special Topics (HNRS 298)-three credits

An interdisciplinary Honors course. Topics to be announced each time the course is offered and approved by the Honors Director. Emphasis on discussion, group activities and projects.

Research Seminar (HNRS 400) - three credits

This course will introduce Honors students to a wide range of research practices and methodologies. Students will be exposed to the language of research; ethical principles and challenges; the elements of the research process; research design; and a combination of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches.

Honors Seminar (HNRS 495)- three credits

Intensive seminar course for upper-division Honors students, culminating in a substantial research paper. Topics to be announced each time the course is offered and approved by the Honors Director.

Senior Portfolio (HNRS 490) - one credit

Students will meet weekly with Honor Program faculty to assess their progress toward completing their portfolio project. Students will select texts to showcase, compose personal reflection statements, and discuss the impact that the Honors Program has made in their intellectual, personal, and ethical development in preparation for a public presentation. 

Honors Catalog