Honors Institute

When you become part of the Honors Institute at Buena Vista University, you go places. Places like Custer State Park in South Dakota; the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota; and The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Honors students also take part in smaller classes, covering a wide range of subjects drawn from each of the University’s four schools. They often present a research project on a topic of their choosing, with funding provided by BVU.

Students discuss academics with laptops open

Develop yourself academically and enhance your educational experience. Apply to the Honors Institute

The Honors Institute encourages our best and brightest students to develop academic talents beyond the regular curriculum, through specialized courses and an extensive research project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Participation in the program cultivates critical thinking skills and the development of a sophisticated intellectual disposition.


Students are selected for the program based on academic achievement, potential, and an interest in completing research at an undergraduate level. To qualify, they must be enrolled or accepted to BVU at the undergraduate level on our Storm Lake campus.

  • GPA greater than 3.75
  • Top 10 percent of class
  • Completed Honors Program Application


  • Honors research with expert faculty 
  • Priority class registration
  • Program credit at graduation and on academic transcripts
  • Elite honors-specific housing
  • $500 for research purposes
  • $2,500 travel stipend for credit-bearing trips
  • Funding to present research at national conferences

Honors University Seminar & Live-Learning Community

Each year incoming Honors students will participate in the Honors University Seminar. University Seminar is a freshman experience where students and faculty read, think, present, discuss, and write about important topics.  

Honors students have the option to live in the Honors Living-Learning Community in Liberty Hall. Students will have resident assistants, who also serve as peer mentors that provide guidance in how to be successful within the Honors Program, become engaged leaders, conduct research, and participate in creative activities. A series of experiential and discussion-based activities will occur across the year, in collaboration with other on-campus organizations.   

A professor and students in an office

Graduating from the Honors Program is an achievement to be proud of, but finding out what you are truly capable of is the real reward.

Jacob Simonsen, Class of 2020

From science, to business, to education, to arts—BVU is your place to start building. Programs and Majors

Partnership in the Park

Each summer, Honors Institute students who have completed their first year at BVU will participate in the Partnership with Custer State Park Program. This program includes:

  • Experiential Learning Program. A two-to-three-week program where students will explore the intersection of environmental, political, and cultural boundaries represented in the Badlands, Black Hills, and Custer State Park of western South Dakota.  
  • Summer Internship in Custer State Park. Students will gain real-world experience, develop and build on skills, test drive a career, and practice engaging with new and different people.  

Buffalo in Custer State Park

Domestic or International Travel

  • Second-year honors students may apply for the Domestic or International Travel Fellowship
  • Students receiving the fellowship will enroll and participate in a fall travel preparation course and participate in a 3-credit travel course. 
  • Travel Fellows will be expected to participate in some of the global perspective programming hosted by the university and in the community. 

Students in Rapa Nui

Innovation Fellowship

Each year, BVU will choose exemplary students from the incoming first-year Honors class to follow their research, scholarship, or creative curiosity and turn their goals for innovation into reality. Each Innovation Fellow will use their fellowship in an extended learning experience beyond BVU during their junior or senior year. Applications for the Innovation Fellowship are typically taken during the fall semester of one’s first year. 

Student in a science lab

Develop yourself academically and enhance your educational experience. Apply to the Honors Institute

Meet the Director

Amy Barth

Director of the Honors Institute


About Dr. Barth

Grace Meyers

I’m really excited that Dr. Barth is challenging the Honors Institute students to be competitive, not just here at BVU, but nationally as well.

Grace Meyers, Class of 2022

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