William and Virginia Darr Honors Program

Specialization in Honors

Associate of Arts


The William and Virginia Darr Honors Program at Missouri State University-West Plains seeks to create a collegial environment that nurtures and empowers students of high academic and/or artistic potential to become educated persons.


  1. Recruit students of high academic and/or creative ability.
  2. Motivate students to:
    1. Academically challenge themselves and their classmates
    2. Formulate a greater, wider and deeper understanding of their existence and of their abilities
    3. Influence the world during and through that existence
    4. Explore new subjects and experience the world and its ideas in search of truth
  3. Assist students in developing their various academic and vocational interests.
  4. Provide for student-to-student, student-to-faculty and student-to-community interaction for the expressed purpose of building a community where learning can be enhanced and transmitted.
  5. Honor students of high academic ability and purpose as evidenced by their completion of the program and their degree at Missouri State University-West Plains.


  1. Identify students who possess
    1. A seriousness of academic purpose
    2. A desire to be active, rather than passive, learners
    3. An intellectual curiosity that supersedes an obsession with grades
    4. A demonstrated potential for critical thinking and excellence in oral and written expression
  2. Communicate the mission, goals and objectives of the Honors Program to potential and current students, the Missouri State University-West Plains campus community and the service area.
  3. Offer a unique and innovative curriculum of small courses, offering stimulation, challenge, multidisciplinary perspectives and constant interaction with peers of comparable abilities and outstanding instructors who are willing to learn with their students.
  4. Provide special options, opportunities and financial incentives that enhance the undergraduate experience at a two-year higher education institution.
  5. Aid students in the development of, the understanding of and the appreciation for higher education.
  6. Encourage and/or enhance a positive learning attitude across the campus.
  7. Help clarify students' capabilities and limitations as well as personal values, goals and needs.
  8. Develop an atmosphere open to diversity in learning, thought, culture and race.
  9. Provide personal attention to each student, including offering information and counseling as each student develops a personal academic and career plan.
  10. Coordinate efforts among faculty, staff and community members so students can develop a network of colleagues (classmates, instructors and community members) for personal support, intellectual interaction and continuing growth.
  11. Encourage the creation and presentation of special projects for a public arena that enhances the student's academic program and intellectual and/or artistic development.
  12. Establish articulation agreements with area colleges and universities to which Honors Program students are likely to transfer.
  13. Submit all program changes and additions through the faculty governance system established by the Missouri State University-West Plains Faculty Senate.
  14. Assess annually the effectiveness of the total program in meeting its mission and goals.

Enrolling in the Darr Honors Program

Admission into the Darr Honors Program is based upon successful completion (a grade of 'B' or higher) of HNR 150, Honors I Seminar (or with permission, HNR 250 Honors II Seminar). To be eligible to enroll in the HNR 150 course, the student must meet one of the following criteria:

For First-Time Freshmen

Any first-time freshman student who has an ACT composite of 25 or above may enroll in HNR 150 during the first semester at Missouri State University-West Plains. Registration for HNR 150 can be completed at any regularly scheduled STAR orientation. First-time freshmen who have a composite ACT score of 23 or 24 must have an ACT reading score of 28 or above and be eligible to enroll in ENG 110 and

  1. Complete a personal interview with the director of the honors program and
  2. Receive approval to enroll in HNR 150 (or HNR 250 under special circumstances) by the director of the honors program.

For Currently Enrolled

Any currently enrolled student at Missouri State University-West Plains who has a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA after completing at least 12 credit hours at Missouri State University-West Plains (dual-credit courses cannot be a part of the 12 credit hour total) and has completed or is eligible for ENG 110 may enroll in HNR 150 upon

  1. The recommendation of a full-time faculty member at Missouri State University-West Plains
  2. The completion of a personal interview with the director of the honors program.

Continuing in the Program:

After successfully completing the HNR 150 course (or HNR 250, if taking it as the entry course) with a grade of 'B' or higher, the student may enroll in any HNR course or an approved section of a course with an Honors Component (see the listing of Honors Component Courses in this program description). (The one exception to this stipulation concerns students who are concurrently enrolled in HNR 150 and MTH 261, through which the student may earn honors credit for each of the courses but only if the student successfully completes the HNR 150 or HNR 250 course during that semester.)

Continuance in the honors program is contingent upon the student's success in the HNR core courses (HNR 150, 250 and HNR 297) and upon his or her academic standing in all coursework. An honors program student is subject to scholastic probation and suspension even though he/she may have successfully completed the HNR core courses. If a student is placed on probation or is suspended, he/she must first satisfy the requirements of the probation or suspension before he/she can take another HNR course or a course with an honors component.

Completing the Specialization in Honors

A student may earn the Specialization in Honors while completing any of the degree programs at Missouri State University-West Plains. In the case of the Associate of Arts Degree in General Studies or the Associate of Arts Degree in Teaching, the student may use his or her elective hours to complete the requirements of the Specialization in Honors. For those pursuing the Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN) or any of the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees, it will be necessary to complete the required number of credit hours in honors in addition to the total number of credit hours required by the ASN degree or the desired AAS degree. Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor carefully to coordinate the scheduling of courses in order to seek both their desired degree and the Specialization in Honors.

To complete the Specialization in Honors, the student must complete the following requirements in addition to the requirements of the desired degree:

  1. Earn a grade of 'A' or 'B' in the following:
    1. 8 hours of these required Honors Core Courses:
      1. HNR 150 Honors I Seminar: 3 hours
      2. HNR 250 Honors II Seminar: 3 hours
      3. HNR 297 Honors Capstone: 2 hours
    2. At least 9 hours in courses with an approved Honors Component (See Honors Component Courses)
  2. Public affairs requirement: By the end of their degree program, students must complete at least 32 hours of volunteer service approved by the honors program director
  3. Satisfactorily participate in one of the following requirements to satisfy the Darr Honors Program's Bridging Cultures Experience:
    1. Serve as a one-semester intern while studying at the Missouri State University-West Plains campus at Dalian, China;
    2. Enroll in and complete all requirements associated with a university-sponsored travel abroad course, such as:
      1. The annual Honors Abroad study tour
      2. Any University sponsored abroad trips or
      3. With approval of the honors program director, abroad trips not sponsored by the University
    3. Enroll in and complete an Honors Service Learning companion course, completing at least 32 hours of service to approved non-profit organization.
  4. Have at the end of his or her degree program, an overall grade point average of 3.5 or higher in all coursework.

All other University policies apply.


The student who completes the requirements for an associate degree and who completes the requirements of the Specialization in Honors will receive his or her diploma and a certificate of completion from the William and Virginia Darr Honors Program, and entrance into the Order of the Pen and Compass Society. In addition, honors program graduates participating in commencement ceremonies will wear the black velvet Tam O'Shanter (hat), signifying that the student is an honors program graduate. The commencement program will also note the names of those graduates who complete the honors program.

Students who have completed or who are on track to complete the coursework required of the Specialization in Honors and their associate degree program but who fall short of the 3.5 GPA minimum requirement of the Specialization in Honors may, with approval by the director of the honors program and/or the Honors Program Leadership Committee, participate in graduation ceremonies and be noted as a member of the Darr Honors Program in the commencement program and be permitted to wear the Tam O'Shanter. However, such students will not be awarded the Specialization in Honors designation on their transcript, receive a certificate of completion of the Specialization in Honors, or receive entrance into the Order of the Pen and Compass Society.

Graduates of the Darr Honors Program must first have confirmation by the registration and records office that they have met all requirements of their degree program and of the Specialization in Honors before officially receiving their diploma and the Specialization in Honors certificate of completion.

Honors Component Courses:

The following courses may be utilized by the honors program student toward satisfying the Specialization in Honors requirement for six credit hours of honors component coursework; however, only course sections taught by full-time faculty members and approved by the Darr Honors Program Leadership Committee carry honors component credit. Students must first complete a Request to Complete an Honors Component Course form – which includes obtaining permission from an eligible faculty member and the director of the honors program – before being eligible to receive honors credit for the course. (Check each semester's course schedule for availability)

  • AGR 100 Food Security/TEC 105 Technology's Impact on Society
  • BIO 101 Biology in Your World and BIO 111 Understanding Biological Systems through Inquiry
  • CHM 116 Fundamentals of Chemistry and CHM 117 Fundamentals of Chemistry Lab
  • CHM 160 General Chemistry I
  • COM 115 Fundamentals of Public Speaking
  • ENG 210 Writing II: Academic Writing (Honors credit not given for both ENG 210 & ENG 221)
  • ENG 221 Writing II: Writing for the Professions (Honors credit not given for both ENG 210 & ENG 221)
  • ENG 288 Literature of Work: Readings in the Professions
  • HNR 292 Directed Study in Honors
  • HNR 297 Honors Capstone
  • HST 103 World History to 1600 C.E.
  • HST 104 World History Since 1600 C.E.
  • HST 121 Survey of the United States to 1877
  • HST 122 Survey of the United States Since 1877
  • MTH 261 Analytic Geometry and Calculus I
  • PHI 110 Introduction to Philosophy
  • PLS 101 American Democracy and Citizenship
  • PSY 121 Introductory Psychology
  • SOC 150 Principles of Sociology
  • THE 109 Performance Studies