Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to McBride

I’m a prospective student who has been offered admission to Mines, and I’d like to join the McBride Honors Program. What are my options?

There are many different ways to get into the McBride Honors Program, which ordinarily begins during the sophomore year, but there is flexibility in this. The First Year Honors Experience offers a glimpse into Honors Education at Mines but is in no way connected to your application or admission into the McBride Program. Regardless of whether a student is in First Year Honors or not, students usually apply for the program in the Spring semester of their freshman year. However, like previously mentioned, the McBride Honors Program is flexible with applicants whether you are a transfer student or a non-traditional student, if you believe the McBride program might be a good fit for you, then apply!

What do I need to do to apply to McBride?

Our Honors programs are privileges, and admission is competitive. There are different applications procedures for each program. For the McBride Program, the process consists of an application and a follow-up interview with a mix of McBride faculty and student directors. There is no commitment when applying so if the program interests you at all, please apply! The application process is detailed here.

Does First Year Honors improve my chances of getting into McBride?

No, First Year Honors provides a glimpse into Honors education at Mines, but it does not in any way effect your application or admission into the McBride Honors Program. All students go through the same application process and interview process regardless of background or history with Honors at Mines. That application process is detailed here.

When do students start in McBride Honors program?

In most cases, students will begin taking classes in McBride during the first semester of the sophomore year, and will take one class in McBride every semester thereafter (plus practicum, see below). There are additional options for transfer students or those who join McBride at other stages of their academic career (see below).

If I’m a transfer or upper-level student, can I still apply to McBride?

Yes! Although most McBriders will apply to the program as freshmen and begin taking classes as sophomores, we also admit students who come to McBride at different stages of their academic careers. Transfer students or Mines students who join McBride later in their educational careers will pursue a customized timeline developed in consultation with program staff.

Is there a minimum GPA for the McBride Honors Program students?

Yes. To be admitted and remain in the program, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.9. You also must maintain a 3.0 GPA in all your McBride coursework. Students who fall below these standards will be given a probationary semester to get their grades up. There is also an appeal process to petition to remain in the program. Contact the program director for details.

What is the difference between the McBride Honors Program and the First Year Honors Experience?

The programs share the same mission and educational style.  The McBride Honors Program is a 21-credit upper-level Honors program that leads to an Honors Minor in Public Affairs.  Most students begin in McBride during the sophomore year and take one class per semester, plus completing the Honors Practicum.

The First Year Honors Experience brings Honors learning to the freshmen year.  It does not lead to a Minor or other degree, but instead fulfills two core requirements (Nature and Human Values plus EDNS I) through an innovative, integrated, and interdisciplinary Honors course that uses real-world problems to introduce students to the role of engineers and scientists in a fast-changing world.

First Year Honors is one of several gateways into McBride but you will still go through the same process for applying to McBride as any other student.  Admission will be contingent upon space available and academic performance.

Scheduling / Credits

How many credit hours does the McBride Honors program require? How many extra credits do I have to take?

The program requires 21 credit hours of Honors course work. McBride students typically take six Honors seminars, one per semester for three years. These seminars fulfill all of your LAIS requirements except NHV. In addition, McBride students must fulfill a three-credit practicum requirement (see below).

What impact will the McBride Honors Program have on my course schedule?

McBride courses usually meet on Wednesday evenings, from 6:00-900pm. The school makes every effort to keep that time slot open so students from all majors can join the Honors program. You should plan on taking an Honors course at that time every semester from your sophomore to your senior year. In addition, you’ll need to set aside time to fulfill the three-credit practicum (see below).

If you foresee an obstacle to this timeline, contact the program director to discuss your options.

Will joining McBride delay my graduation?

In most cases, no! Some students do elect to stay on for an extra semester or two, but in most cases that is because they have taken on an extra major or minor, or because of demands unrelated to the McBride program.  In fact, McBride students are much more likely than their peers to graduate in four years. If you have concerns about being able to graduate in a certain period of time, contact the program staff, to discuss your options.

How does Honors affect my liberal arts and humanities (HASS and EB) requirements such as Economics, NHV, and Global Studies?

Being a student in McBride allows you to fulfill most of your liberal arts and humanities requirements by taking Honors courses. All McBride courses count toward Mines’ required 19 credits of coursework in the Humanities and Social Sciences!

McBride students also do not have to take HASS 200 Global Studies, which is fulfilled by HNRS 315. However, like other CSM students, McBride students must complete HASS100 Nature and Human Values (NHV) and EBGN201 Principles of Economics. If a student is admitted to McBride, but has not yet taken NHV, the student can take NHV concurrently with the first McBride seminar. Doing so will require the approval of the program director. EBGN201 is not a prerequisite for McBride, but the course must be completed prior to graduation to fulfill CSM requirements.

Students who complete the First Year Honors Experience get an added “bonus.” The first-year Honors course fulfills both NHV and EDNS I.

What happens if I withdraw from First Year Honors or McBride?

Most McBride credits meet the university’s Humanities and Social Science credits and free elective credits, so if you leave McBride many of your Honors courses will still count toward graduation requirements.  However, students who withdraw from McBride without completing HNRS 315 will need to take HASS 200: Global Studies.  In addition, some students may need to complete a 400-level HASS course.  Students who withdraw from McBride should meet with the HASS Undergraduate Advisor for guidance.

Students who join the First Year Honors Experience will want to complete the entire first-year curriculum, which is a single Honors course that stretches over the entire academic year, since that course fulfills two university requirements that you will have to take anyway: Nature and Human Values (NHV) and EDNS I.  However, if for some reason you do withdraw from First Year Honors before the end of the academic year, you will need to take both NHV and EDNS I, as those courses are structured differently than the Honors course.

McBride Classes

I am thinking about graduate school – in Law, Medicine or a STEM field. Is McBride for me?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, if you’re serious about pursuing postgraduate work, McBride is the place for you. More than a third of all McBride students go on to some form of postgraduate education, including law and medicine. The program will help develop your skills at reading, writing, and critical thinking – which are not only essential to your success in graduate school, they will help you get in to a top graduate school.

Are McBride classes writing intensive?

Yes. Every McBride class puts significant emphasis on helping you hone and refine your writing skills. When students begin in the program, they have different skill levels. Some are excellent writers; some are not. Our faculty put extra effort into helping all students improve, from the first seminar to the last. You may be a struggling writer when you start. But if you work at it, you’ll see remarkable improvement over time, and you’ll discover that your ability to communicate effectively will provide you with a tremendous advantage in the years to come.

I tend to be shy about speaking up in class – will that hurt me?

Since McBride courses are taught in a seminar format, your participation in discussion is essential to your learning and success. However, the McBride faculty also recognize that different personalities bring different things to the table. They respect and value the contribution each student brings to the seminar, and they’re also eager to help you feel more comfortable in a discussion-oriented class.We have also discovered that many students who might describe themselves as “shy” or “reserved” develop greater confidence about public speaking as they move through McBride.  And we value good listening as much as strong speaking skills – after all, listening is critical to good communication!  Still, if you tend to be on the shy side, speak to your instructors, the student directors, or to the program staff. They can help you with strategies for getting engaged in discussions. We’re here to help!

Are Honors courses “harder” than other courses?

As with all such questions, it depends. McBride courses are comparable to those offered at an elite liberal arts school, or those offered by other Honors programs. McBride courses typically assign more reading and demand more writing than similar courses at Mines, and McBride students are expected to master core readings and to write effectively. If you read slowly or write awkwardly, you’ll probably have to work harder initially to catch up.

But most McBride courses also place less emphasis on memorizing lecture material or taking examinations, and they typically meet one night per week, so there are trade-offs that make the workload manageable! What’s more, the readings and discussions are engaging, and a refreshing break from the science and engineering curriculum. So most McBride students will tell you that these trade-offs make the program less onerous than it appears at first. They’ll also tell you that their Wednesdays with McBride are the highlights of the week.

The most important thing to remember is that students in the Honors program are expected to take responsibility for their own educations – to work diligently and to work independently. By signing up for McBride, you’re making a pledge to devote yourself not just to your Honors courses, but to a lifetime of learning.

What are “seminar style” classes?

Most McBride courses are taught as seminars. They are small classes devoted to exploring ideas through discussion and debate, as well as through independent learning projects and group assignments. Occasionally faculty members will lecture for a short while to explain difficult concepts or provide context, but the seminar style puts the focus on you. It is up to you to master the material and develop your skills by grappling with the concepts through reading, writing, research, and discussion. In other words, it’s all about active learning!


Are McBride students required to study abroad?

No, but they are encouraged to! Many McBride students choose to work, volunteer or study abroad for a period of time, and the program offers special awards to facilitate these kinds of foreign educational experiences which often have a transformative impact on students’ lives. But McBriders are also encouraged to pursue internships, volunteer opportunities, and other valuable experiential learning opportunities right here in the U.S.

What kind of awards does Honors offer?

We offer many different kinds of competitive awards and awards that are only available to our small community of Honors students. These include:

  • Honors Enrichment Awards to help students pursue extraordinary educational opportunities – such as a study abroad program, foreign internship, volunteer program, intensive language program, research program such as an REU, public policy internship in Washington, D.C., or other deserving activities.
  • Phillips 66 awards of $1500 for up to ten students in the First Year Honors Experience.
  • Up to ten additional $1000 awards for other students in the First Year Honors Experience.
  • Six awards of about $1000 are offered to the top two sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • A campus citizenship award of $1000 for the student who has made the biggest difference on the Mines community.
  • Three $1500 awards plus salary for students selected to serve as Honors Student Directors.
  • Honors Writing Center Fellowships for Honors students selected to work as tutors in the Writing Center.
  • Honors Teaching Assistantships for Honors students selected to work as teaching assistants for Liberal Arts and International Studies.
Can I spend a year or a semester abroad and still remain in McBride?

Yes – we strongly encourage it, in fact! We’ll probably need to customize your academic plan so that you can get the maximum benefit of your time away.

Will having the word “Honors” on my resume and transcript help me get an internship or a good job?

Absolutely! McBride students often say that when they have interviews for internships or jobs, all the interviewer wants to talk about is McBride. When employers see the words “McBride Honors Program,” they want to know more. McBride tells employers that you have special potential.

But it’s not the line on the transcript that makes the biggest difference: it is the valuable skill sets that McBride helps you develop. In today’s environment especially, employers are desperate to hire people with solid engineering and technical skills who can write clearly and think critically. Indeed, numerous CEOs of technical firms, including Lockheed CEO Norm Augustine, have written passionate pleas about the importance of developing those skills through the study of liberal arts subjects like History. As Augustine wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “In my position as CEO of a firm employing over 80,000 engineers, I can testify that most were excellent engineers—but the factor that most distinguished those who advanced in the organization was the ability to think broadly and read and write clearly.” Engineers with strong communication skills often find they advance more quickly than their peers, even if those peers have better technical skills.

That being said, most McBriders don’t join the program because they want a line on their resumes. They join McBride because they want a broad-ranging education. They want to do more than just crunch numbers – they want to explore the world in all its facets, with all its marvelous complexity.