Classes For Curious People
In their first two years, honors students at USA take many of their required courses in special "Honors" sections that are limited to a maximum of 18 students. These sections engage the material in a sophisticated way that matches your preparation and commitment level--so, they aren't "harder" (a question we often get), they are instead meant to help you get the education that you are ready for. Our honors sections are interesting and engaging. They also make it easy to get to know your professors--not only so you can ask for help, if needed, but also so you can get to know faculty as well as students.
As Juniors and Seniors, USA Honors students have access to fascinating interdisciplinary seminars, often on topics they proposed. Recent seminar topics have included: Science and the Movies, War and Memory in the US, The Hero's Journey (Harry Potter), The Chemistry of Art, and Mardi Gras.
Recognition and Opportunity
- Faculty, classmates, and administrators at USA recognize Honors students as campus leaders.
- Research opportunities in any discipline--from chemistry to cello, and business to biology, and glass-blowing to geology--abound for honors students at South
- Honors students often apply for and win prestigious national fellowships such as the Goldwater, Udall, and Fulbright
- The National Collegiate Honors Council, the Southern Regional Honors College, and the USA Honors College helps students attend unique honors-focused programming such as Partners in the Parks
- At graduation, honors college students receive special academic regalia and Honors College designation as well as the other recognition, such as magna/summa cum laude, that they often earn
Mentoring and Research
The hallmark of USA’s Honors Program is hands-on discovery, since every one of our students engages in original research, broadly defined. Whether that takes the form of laboratory science, field observations, library, creative writing, poetry, performance, painting, composition, during their sophomore year, everyone of our Honors students begins working with a faculty mentor to discover or create new knowledge, understanding. This work culminates in their senior Honors Thesis. In short, creators, not just consumers of culture. It is quite common for our students to graduate as a co-author on one or more academic papers.
- Paid research
- The opportunity for such hands-on research is crucial not only for the unique experience, expertise, but in the way it situates our students to be strong contenders for competitive paid internships and scholarships at the national level. In just the last few years, our students have won paid summer research internships at schools like MIT, FSU, The University of Michigan, and won prestigious scholarships like the Gilman, the Hollins, and NSF.
In addition to their major degree and supporting minors, honors students can apply their thesis hours and honors courses toward a new minor in Research and Creative Methodology – Intended to supplement/consolidate their research with a unique degree designed to help potential employers, professional schools, and graduate programs to appreciate the experiences and skills that set them apart and make them special.
USA honors students never need to worry about getting any of the courses they need at the time they want, and with the professor they want, because they register first.
At South, we understand that some of the most important learning takes place outside of the classroom and laboratory. Thus, our Honors Program works hard to expose our students to the widest possible variety of opportunities for intellectual, cultural, and personal growth, from conferences hosted at the Bethel and special access to visiting scholars, to annual symphony nights and service projects on campus or in the Mobile community.
Students are also encouraged to attend professional conferences to present their research - either at a regional, national or international conference in their discipline, or in at the National Honors conference.
Because international travel can be among the most powerful and transformative experiences a student can have, the USA College works closely with the Office of International education to help students find the right study abroad program, or international internship for them. Better yet, Honors Scholars are eligible for additional funds to study abroad; these can be combined with study abroad scholarships available from other sources, including South. Combined with their summer tuition stipend and other available SA scholarships, honors students at South find the opportunity to study abroad amazingly affordable.