Honors and Scholars

Graduating With Honors

In addition to Latin Honors, the University offers other tracks for graduating with honors.

University Honors Program

Open to qualifying students of all majors, the University invites up to 165 first year students to the University Honors Program which centers on the values of a broad-based education in the humanities and sciences. Honors students choose six courses that offer an enhanced version of the SMU University Curriculum. Honors students can earn Honors course credit while participating in SMU Abroad, SMU in Taos, or conducting independent research outside the United States through the Richter Research Fellowship Program. Each year a full calendar of events from dinners and book discussions to information sessions and workshops is offered to enrich the academic experience and strengthen the Honors community. No separate application is required. Students are automatically reviewed and selected based upon academic merit. Generally, students in the top 10-12% of the entering first-year class will participate in the University Honors Program.

Departmental Distinction

In most cases, a student can choose to pursue Departmental Distinction in his or her major. The precise requirements differ by department, but generally include a junior-level seminar or training aimed at developing the method and topic of the student’s interest, and then completing and presenting a significant research paper. Students who complete this process will graduate with a notation on their diplomas and transcripts indicating “with distinction” in the major.

BBA Honors Program

The BBA Honors Program is an honors curriculum within the business curriculum. Students are offered a number of honors sections in business courses; these sections are small and emphasize discussion. By entering the BBA Honors Program and maintaining the required GPA, the student will receive the notation “Honors in Business” on the transcript and diploma. For information on the grade point averages required for business honors, please see the university catalog for your year of entry to SMU.

Learn more about the BBA Honors Program here.

Latin Honors

There are three classes of graduation honors: summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude. The awarding of graduation honors is determined by minimum GPAs announced at the beginning of the academic year for each of SMU’s five undergraduate schools. The minimum GPAs generally represent the top five percent, 10 percent and 15 percent of graduates in the school.

Honors Convocation

Honors Convocation is a ceremony that celebrates academic achievement at the University and Department levels.

Honor Societies

Alpha Chi Alpha Chi is a national college honor society founded in 1922 that admits students from all academic disciplines.  To be invited to membership a student must have at least junior standing and a cumulative GPA of 3.90 or higher.

Alpha Kappa Delta The Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta is an organization set out to acknowledge and promote excellence in study of sociology. In addition, this organization serves as a way to unite students together to engage in scholarly discussion about social problems and other intellectual activities. Contact: Andrea Laurent-Simpson (alaurentsimpson@smu.edu, 214-768-4891)

Beta Gamma Sigma Beta Gamma Sigma is the highest national recognition a student in business can achieve. The top ten percent of Cox's junior class and top ten percent of the senior class will be invited to join.

Chi Epsilon Chi Epsilon is an honorary organization that recognizes outstanding civil engineering students who possesses characteristics necessary for the pursuit of a career in this field. The organization promotes the status of civil engineering as a profession and aids in the development of professionalism in students.

Eta Kappa Nu Eta Kappa Nu, founded in 1904, acknowledges excellence in the electrical and computer engineering disciplines. Membership is offered to the top 25 percent of juniors and 33 percent of seniors.

Hyer Society Named for the founding president of SMU, the Hyer Society recognizes SMU’s most intellectually gifted undergraduates who have distinguished themselves through high academic achievement. Only a small fraction of SMU students are nominated each year for membership, roughly the top four percent of the student body.

Kappa Tau Alpha Kappa Tau Alpha is an honor society for communication arts that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship. Membership is a mark of high distinction and honor.

Mortar Board Mortar Board is a national honor society recognizing college seniors for superior achievement in scholarship, leadership and service. Founded nationally in 1918, it is the first honor society at SMU

Omega Rho Omega Rho is a national honor society founded in 1976 that recognizes honor and excellence in operations research and management science. Undergraduates must rank in the top 25 percent of the class. 

Phi Beta Kappa Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society in the liberal arts. Students elected to the society must not only fit stringent GPA requirements, but they also must demonstrate an impressive and challenging course of study, with a majority of hours completed in the liberal arts.

Pi Kappa Lambda Pi Kappa Lambda was established in 1915 to honor distinguished students for both academic and musical accomplishment.

Pi Lambda Theta Founded in 1910, Pi Lambda Theta is the most selective national honor society of educators. Undergraduates must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.75, have 18 hours of education courses completed and be voted into membership by the faculty.

Pi Tau Sigma Pi Tau Sigma recognizes mechanical engineering students who possess sound engineering ability, scholarship and personality – all important for success in this field. Membership is offered to top junior and senior students.

Psi Chi Psi Chi is the international honor society in psychology. It was founded in 1929 to encourage excellence in scholarship and to advance the science and application of psychology. The SMU chapter was established in 1930. Contact: Dr. George Holden (gholden@smu.edu, 214-768-4696)

SALUTE The SALUTE National Honor Society recognizes the academic accomplishments of student veterans, active duty, National Guard and Reserve members. 

Tau Beta Pi The Tau Beta Pi Association was founded in 1885 to recognize those who have conferred honor upon their alma mater by distinguished scholarship and exemplary character as students in engineering, or by their attainments as alumni in the field of engineering.

Tau Sigma Tau Sigma is an academic honor society designed specifically to recognize and promote the academic excellence and involvement of transfer students. Tau Sigma recognizes the academic achievement of the most outstanding transfers nationwide and, in the process, helps universities better serve their transfer population.

Upsilon Pi Epsilon Upsilon Pi Epsilon is the first and only existing international honor society in the computing and information disciplines. It recognizes academic excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

To find out more about the Honor Societies, visit the Honors Convocation website.