SD Mines Honors Program

Challenging academics is a given at Mines, where most of our entering students would qualify for the academically-oriented honors programs at most universities. That's why our Honors program is different. It's designed to challenge and develop exceptional students beyond academics: developing leadership by solving problems that benefit others.

To our knowledge, no other university offers an honors program quite like this one. It emphasizes leadership, teamwork, community involvement, problem solving, and puts science and engineering in the real world context where it does what it was always meant to do: improve our world.

A Unique Program for Highly Motivated Students

  • Future leaders make a difference by solving real problems that matter to people in the community and world around us.
  • Multidisciplinary teams work in small groups with faculty and professional partners, providing the opportunity to develop leadership, project management, analysis and design skills beyond the classroom.
  • Students are involved in special leadership and professional development events to enrich the Honors experience.

There is no additional fee for Honors Program students, and selection is competitive. Freshman Honors students are strongly encouraged to live in the Honors section of Connolly Hall. Junior and Senior Honors students also have preference for on campus housing in Rocker Square I and II.

Example Projects

Black Hills Raptor Center

Black Hills Raptor Center

A project to build a permanent complex outside of Rapid City to include a clinic space, raptor rehabilitation center, and education center for educational activities and scientific studies. The Black Hills Raptor Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the care and conservation of native wildlife and habitat in South Dakota through education, rehabilitation and study.


YFS Fullerton Farm

Youth and Family Services Fullerton Farm

Fullerton Farm is a 3 acre parcel of land donated to Youth and Family Services (YFS) to develop for use as a community garden and youth learning center; a place where children can learn about growing food and meal preparation. YFS has been working with children and families in western South Dakota since 1965.


Black Hills Playhouse

Wastewater Systems at Black Hills Playhouse

The Black Hills Playhouse is one of the oldest continuously-operated non-profit summer stock theaters in the USA. Founded by USD drama professor, Dr. Warren Lee, the playhouse and its dormitories for actors were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. Still a huge summer draw for local residents and the many tourists who come each year to the Black Hills area, the BHP has been experiencing flooding and is in need of solutions to improve their wastewater and septic infrastructure.


Rosebud Reservation Development

Community Development at the Rosebud Reservation

The Rosebud Economic Development Corporation is planning the Keya Wakpala Waicageyapi development in an area near Mission, SD. The master plan includes housing, commercial development, educational facilities, and water and energy services. The development will reflect the indigenous culture of the Sicangu Oyate (the Upper Brulé Sioux Nation) - also known as Sicangu Lakota, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST), a branch of the Lakota people.


Honors Program Graduation Requirements

  • Successfully complete 4 semesters (6 credits) of Community Project Leadership
  • Complete the Mines Advantage professional development program
  • Participate in four Honors experiences during your undergraduate degree program
  • Serve at least two semesters in an elected or appointed leadership position in a club, team, organization, professional society, fraternity or sorority, or hold an analogous or more significant leadership position as determined by the Dean of Students
  • Submit and receive approval of an Honors Portfolio documenting Honors program activities including Community Project Leadership reports

How to Apply

  • Incoming freshmen may apply for the Honors program by completing the Honors essay on the freshman scholarship application not later than January 15. (See the Interactive Student Checklistfor a link to the scholarship application).
  • Students will be offered a place in the SD Mines Honors program based on a competitive review of the student’s honors essay, leadership and service experience, academic rigor of high school curriculum, grade point average, high school rank, and high school GPA/ACT scores.
  • Existing Mines students can apply to be admitted to the Honors program after successful completion of their first semester but before completion of their sophomore year. They must demonstrate a strong academic record and potential for leadership, and have the recommendation of their department chair.