Kansas State Honors Program: A Recent Edition, with Promise

The University Honors Program at Kansas State is very new by honors standards, having begun only six years ago, in 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year, a total of 33 students graduated from the KSU program, indicating that it is one of the smallest public honors programs–at this point in its development.

There are signs of expansion, including the designation of Marlatt Hall as the location of the honors cluster floor, beginning in 2009.

“One of the goals I have for the honors program is to really develop a community,” Stephen Kiefer, director of the K-State Honors Program, said at the time. “Having them all living in proximity to one another is going to facilitate that goal enormously.”

Recently renovated at the time of its designation as the honors residence hall, Marlatt was chosen for the honors cluster floor because it is spacious, has both suite-style and traditional-style rooms, and is affordable, Kiefer said.

Admission to the honors program requires a minimum ACT of 28 and a high school GPA of 3.75 (weighted or unweighted). Applicants must also submit an essay or project along with one letter of recommendation. Students must maintain a 3.50 GPA to remain in good standing.

The honors curriculum is not yet as extensive as it is in many programs, requiring 15-16 honors credits for completion, including a thesis or a project. Honors students are, however, true partners in defining their college careers.

“As an Honors student,” the program site says, “you will have the opportunity to develop your personal program of study by working closely with the University Honors Program and your academic advisor. From the very outset of your involvement in the Honors Program, you will be an active partner in identifying important learning outcomes and how those will be best achieved.

“The goals of this process are twofold: they allow you to identify and fulfill your academic plans and they will provide you with the documentation of such accomplishments. This documentation will provide you with many of the tools necessary to succeed in your post-baccalaureate plans, whether they involve a job, professional school, or a graduate program.”

KSU has already established itself as a public university powerhouse when it comes to achieving prestigious awards. The university site states that “K-State ranks first nationally among state universities in its total of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater and Udall scholars in the last 25 years, earning K-State a place among the nation’s elite universities.”

Our own research shows that KSU would rank behind only Illinois, Penn State, and Virginia in the number of undergraduate Goldwater scholars in the STEM subjects, and would be tied with the University of North Carolina for the number of Truman scholars. We do not know how many of those awards have been earned by honors students since 2006.

The strongest academic departments at K-State are biological/agricultural engineering, atomic and molecular physics, industrial engineering, and veterinary medicine. The undergraduate engineering program as a whole is ranked number 66 in the nation.

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