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The LSU Honors College Experience

On its own 10-acre campus in the heart of LSU, the Honors College offers students a living and learning community within a large top tier university, where they are challenged, nurtured and encouraged to find their own path to success.

The Honors College curriculum offers a unique academic experience with small classes, personal attention from faculty and camaraderie with other high-achieving classmates.
Jay High/Residential Life

The Honors campus includes a fully renovated residential college, called the Honors House, which will be fully completed 2012 and accommodates 600 students. The Honors House is a place where students can listen to faculty seminars, study together or enjoy a tailgate before a football game.

Sitting next to the Honors House is the academic center of the Honors College, the French House, a beautiful historic building resembling a French chateau, where small seminar classes are held, students meet with specialized advisors, and all Honors College events take place, ranging from classical concerts to Quiz Bowl tournaments. With 1,200 students enrolled as Honors College members, from freshmen to seniors, the LSU Honors College is a dynamic, highly engaged part of the LSU community.

The hallmark of the LSU Honors College is small seminar style classes that foster discussion and debate among students and faculty. These classes bring together top faculty members from around campus to teach a variety of topics. For example, a class on "Stand-Up Politics" explores the use of comedy to express political viewpoints; "Social Movements and the Courts" studies the intersection between the two; or a class on "Picasso" examines the impact of African art on this icon of 20th century art. This multidisciplinary approach allows students to explore intellectual connections across a range of disciplines in a setting where learning is enhanced by student contribution and peer discussion.

Honors College students also receive priority enrollment in more than 100 honors courses taught campus-wide, ranging from honors architectural design to honors principles of microeconomics. With access to first rate teachers and excellent peer learning, 80 percent of Honors College students have graduated by their fifth year, a rate that matches that of many elite institutions and exceeds that of LSU's regional peers.

The Honors campus includes a fully renovated residential college, called the Honors House, providing both a residence and a collegiate atmosphere for first-year through fourth-year students.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

But the Honors College offers more than first rate classes and exceptional graduation rates; it offers a broad ranging intellectual experience grounded in four goals each student should strive toward:

  • Become active members of their communities on campus, at home and in their own academic fields. Service projects; a special program called Louisiana Service and Learning, or LASAL; and internships are all offered through the college.
  • Travel and study abroad to enrich their education and to gain a wider perspective on the future of this country. The Honors College sponsors summer study trips to China and to South Africa, where students learn foreign languages, engage with students from those countries and learn about their cultures.
  • Delve deeply into the study of their own chosen fields through research assistantships and related professional internships – on campus with a chosen professor or in a business or institution off campus. Learning firsthand from professionals in their own fields is the best way to find their own careers.
  • Integrate their undergraduate studies and experiences into a final project, the Honors Thesis, which provides a stepping stone into their future careers. The Honors Thesis is the culmination of the Honors College experience and has proven to be the key to the future for honors students.

Opening Doors

Each new school year is kicked off with Honors Convocation, where students hear from the author of the Summer Shared Reading Program selection and have the opportunity to meet faculty members and interact with other freshmen.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

The Honors Thesis brings together the entire educational experience to create direction for the future. Working side by side with professionals in their fields, Honors College students combine their experiences inside and outside the classroom to move forward after graduation. Many alumni still recall the value of their thesis after many years, including corporate attorneys, who credit their thesis with improving their ability to formulate an argument, and computer software executives, who started their careers with an undergraduate project.

The Honors Thesis focuses students' interests and develops their ability to articulate their vision. The following alumni represent the many successes Honors College students have experienced following their Honors Thesis.

Julie Gerdes graduated with a bachelor's degree in English after completing her Honors Thesis in creative writing. Gerdes also found her creativity was channeled through her work with the Honors College student organization, FOCUS, which brings high school students to the LSU campus each summer in an arts and humanities-based education program. She expanded her skills by organizing fund raising for the student group and decided that she wanted to pursue a career in arts management. She worked as development director for the Baton Rouge Ballet, as an intern at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and is now external relations director at the City Dance Ensemble in Washington, D.C., where she combines her love of the arts with her writing skills.

Michael Tipton graduated with two degrees, a bachelor's degree in history and a bachelor's degree in political science, after leading the Honors College Student Council and completing an Honors Thesis on "Conservative Public Interest Group Litigation." Tipton had planned to go on to law school after working for two years as a volunteer for Teach for America. His leadership skills and understanding of the growing public concern over education instead turned him toward his current career, as executive director of Teach for America, South Louisiana, where he has overseen unprecedented growth in the organization.

With a culture emphasizing LSU's Commitment to Community, Honors College students are involved in a number of community service projects during their college careers.
Jim Zietz/University Relations

Brian Goh spent time in the lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center performing stem cell and circadian biology research for his thesis, "Food Entrainment of Circadian Gene Expression Altered in PPARα-/- Brown Fat and Heart." In addition, he produced 11 publications, including one of the top 20 articles in 2007 for the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. Based on his work, he received a Goldwater Scholarship, a Howard Hughes Institute research award and a spot on USA Today's 2009 All-USA College Academic First Team, while still an undergraduate at LSU.

Goh soon realized that his work could go beyond the lab.

"I want to be able to create something in the lab and bring it to my patients," Goh said. "There are a lot of discoveries that get made in the lab that never make it to patient care. There's something very dynamic about tissue engineering, creating something that wasn't there, something that could improve someone's quality of life – that's been my motivation."

Goh enrolled in an MD/Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University, where he can pursue his research interests and learn to apply his discoveries to the improvement and well-being of his patients.

Chelsea Marcantel earned two degrees, a bachelor's degree in theatre and a bachelor's degree in English and wrote her thesis, "The Logic of Art: A Thesis on Directing Catherine Butterfield's 'Joined at the Head' for LSU Theatre's Studio Season 2004." Her experience directing a play, and reflecting and writing about it in her thesis, led to a career in the theatre in Chicago as a director, playwright and author. In 2009, she won the Chicago Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Emerging Playwright Award.

In the words of one recent Honors College graduate, "If not for the Honors College, I can't imagine much of what has happened being possible … I would never have chosen my major (or) gotten the internships I did … The great thing about the Honors College is that it's like a smaller community within this larger community that is LSU."

The LSU Honors College provides the keys to success.