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Hilltop Scholars Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will participating in HSP limit my class options?

A: No.  HSP courses are, in most cases, courses that meet the University Curriculum requirements anyway, such as DISC 1313.  You just get to take them with friends in the program.  Most students take the DISC course, plus one other in the program. The rest of your schedule is yours to shape to your needs and interests.

Q: Do the Hilltop Scholars live together in the same Residential Commons?

A: Not exclusively, but they are clustered in certain areas. Hilltop Scholars live among the other first-year students in the Commons. However, you may room with another Hilltop Scholar if you choose to do so.


Q: Can I still participate even if I place out of DISC 1312?

A: Yes. A certain number of our students will come in with Advanced Placement credit for DISC 1312.  These students will start the program in DISC 1313, which we offer in both fall and spring semesters.

Q: Are the extra activities mandatory?

A: No.  But we do recommend them!  We strive to offer social, cultural, and academic events that students want to attend and that will enhance their experience here on campus.  Our goal is to encourage student participation without overloading them. 

Q: How many students are in the program?

A:Between 150-165 of our top first-year students will participate. The program is by invitation only.

Q: Will being a Hilltop Scholar interfere with Greek life or other social obligations?

A: No. Hilltop Scholars belong to a variety of campus groups, including Greek houses. HSP students are active participants in all aspects of campus life.

Q: Are the courses more challenging than regular SMU courses?

A: Yes and no.  The program-specific courses, such as the DISC 1312 and 1313 courses are designed to meet the needs of high-achieving students.  We hope to challenge them and keep their interest by doing so. In some courses, HSP students take a group of reserved seats in a class with non-HSP students. In these courses, the enhancement comes from the shared experience of the coursework and a built-in peer group for studying.

Q: Is HSP part of the University Honors Program?

A: HSP is part of the Honors Community here at SMU, but is separate and distinct from the University Honors Program. The University Honors Program is a four-year program that allows students to graduate with Honors. HSP, on the other hand, is first-year only. At the end of their first-year, our students move on to other university activities and organizations. Some HSP students, however, can and will apply to the University Honors Program at the end of the fall semester.