The University of Iowa Honors Program is an open and welcoming community, and staff members help students tailor the honors experience to their particular circumstances and goals. The program's general objective is to enrich the undergraduate experience by cultivating intellectual curiosity and practical skill through challenging coursework, creative engagement, and experiential learning to nurture a deeper understanding of one's discipline and self.
What is especially unique about Honors at Iowa? It gives students the space and opportunities to make connections and develop self-authorship through self-discovery. For example, because honors classes are usually smaller than non-honors sections, honors students have the opportunity to form closer connections with their professors on campus. Such working relationships can change careers and lives through mutual discovery. Iowa honors students also make lasting connections and learn from each other through the unique pre-fall semester workshop, HONR:1100 Honors Primetime, their honors first-year seminars, and through the honors residential community in the Honors House at Daum Hall.
The UI Honors Program is also unique in the strong emphasis it puts on experiential learning (learning by doing), which comprises half the program’s curricular requirements. Experiential learning takes the form of undergraduate research, study abroad, internships, teaching practica, being an honors ambassador or an Honors Writing Fellow (or both), and other opportunities. Learning by doing, besides being the most effective way of acquiring knowledge, also helps with self-discovery.
In general, students who are serious about their education and making a meaningful contribution to the world with their particular capabilities and gifts can be assured that the University of Iowa Honors Program will help them in their journey.
Unique Honors Academic Activities
Honors Outreach Ambassadors
Ambassadors earn academic credit for acquiring and then sharing knowledge of honors opportunities by organizing events around campus and meeting with prospective students and their families.
Honors Writing Fellows
Fellows are trained and paid to assist in undergraduate courses by mentoring a dozen students each semester on major writing assignments.
The Iowa Policy Research Organization
This organization selects honors students each year to earn academic credit by learning how to conduct policy analysis and then writing policy papers for Iowa communities and the Iowa Legislature.
Study Abroad and Internships
These opportunities with a reflective component or embedded project enable students to earn honors academic credit for their experience.
Learn more about honors activities and Experiential Learning on the honors program website.
Honors at Iowa offers students a rich variety of activities outside the classroom. Many honors students find cocurricular programming a good way to meet people, get involved, and learn more about themselves and the world around them. Some of the programs are volunteer-based, some offer pay, and some award honors credit. These opportunities provide peak educational experiences, especially extensive and intensive interactions with faculty mentors and other honors students.
- Honors newsletters, which are written by honors student editors, inform readers on and beyond the campus about honors at the University of Iowa.
- Honors student staff earn pay by staffing the UI Honors Program reception area and other duties as assigned.
- Honors Peer Mentors earn pay by mentoring honors students.
- The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC) hosts luncheon dialogues on current international issues. Past speakers include award-winning journalists, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, seasoned diplomats, prominent politicians, and policy analysts. Listening to and talking with these expert speakers allow honors students to become better informed about world affairs.
- The Presidential Scholars Program (PSP) engages recipients of the Presidential Fellowship in shared classes, opportunities for prestigious fellowships, and unique programming. Presidential Fellows participate in events with faculty and key administrators, scholarship and fellowship mentoring programs, and volunteer projects.
To learn more, visit Opportunities on the honors program website.
Undergraduate Program of Study
Honors at Iowa helps students tailor opportunities to different educational needs and goals. Honors students may take honors courses each semester that they are enrolled at the University. Honors courses are generally small and interactive. They connect students with distinguished professors and offer new topics each semester. Honors courses also are part of the GE CLAS Core curriculum and do not add requirements for graduation.
Students are encouraged to begin honors work early. In HONR:1100 Honors Primetime, entering students earn 1 s.h. of honors credit by taking a short course the week before fall classes begin. Students who enter the honors program directly from high school take HONR:1300 Honors First-Year Seminar with selected professors on current topics, earning 1 s.h. in the fall semester. Honors students may fulfill GE CLAS Core requirements by completing honors sections such as RHET:1030 Rhetoric, ENGL:1200 The Interpretation of Literature, and CHEM:1110 Principles of Chemistry I.
Upper-level students may take honors courses in their majors or pursue individual instruction with faculty members through honors courses such as HONR:3994 Honors Research Practicum. Students also may earn honors credit for a non-honors course by developing an honors contract with the course instructor; the student and instructor negotiate a unique project for the course and develop the honors contract around the project.
Additional academic opportunities include honors advanced seminars, honors independent studies, and honors practica in teaching and service.
Students learn about honors opportunities in weekly emails from the UI Honors Program. Honors professional staff members and honors peer mentors offer guidance in personal meetings and group presentations. In addition, the honors staff helps students design individualized curricula for their special interests. To learn more, visit Honors Requirements on the program's website.
Joining the Honors Program
Students may apply to the University of Iowa Honors Program as entering first-year, entering transfer, or current University of Iowa students. Current students are encouraged to apply prior to earning 60 s.h. in coursework. Those who join the UI Honors Program must attend an honors orientation.
To remain in the honors program and to graduate with University Honors, students must maintain a University of Iowa cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.33 and complete the honors program curricular requirements; see "University Honors Curriculum" below. For more information about joining the University of Iowa Honors Program, see Join on the program's website.
Graduation with University Honors
Students who graduate with University Honors through the UI Honors Program are recognized at commencement. University honors is noted on a student's diploma and transcript. UI Honors Program students completing any undergraduate degree program may graduate with University Honors.
University Honors Curriculum
Students earning bachelor's degrees at the University of Iowa complete honors coursework and experiential learning in order to graduate with University Honors. Students are not required to complete all honors coursework requirements before they begin experiential learning.
Students complete 12 s.h. of honors coursework during their first four full semesters in the program. Students may count a maximum of two honors contract courses toward the coursework requirement.
The following honors coursework must be completed.
- An honors first-year seminar during the first semester at the University of Iowa (for students who enter the UI Honors Program directly from high school). Students who must take a specific first-year seminar required by their major or living learning community may substitute another honors class for the honors first-year seminar requirement.
- An honors course or an honors contract course during the first full semester in the program.
- Additional honors coursework to total at least 12 s.h. within the first four full semesters in the program.
Students complete 12 s.h. of honors credit in approved experiential learning activities. Students may satisfy the requirement with one or a few of the options below.
- Honors in the major (this option fulfills the entire 12 s.h. experiential learning requirement)
- Study abroad
- Teaching assistantships/learning assistantships
- Honors Writing Fellows
- Iowa Policy Research Organization
- Experiential honors coursework
- Service learning
See more information about these experiential learning opportunities and others by visiting Experiential Learning on the Honors at Iowa website.
Blank Honors Center
Honors at Iowa has its home in the Blank Honors Center (BHC), a facility that helps foster community among honors students. The Blank Honors Center is located near the center of the University's main campus, next to residence halls and classroom buildings. It offers social areas, quiet study areas, wireless internet access, computer stations, and classrooms for students. The center also houses the honors staff and has rooms for meetings, events, presentations, and conversation.
Honors Residential Community
Honors housing is available for first-year honors students in Daum Hall, which is connected by a skywalk to the Blank Honors Center.
Students must apply to live in the honors residential community. See Housing on the University Housing and Dining website for information about how to apply. Visit Honors House on the UI Honors Program website to learn more about the honors housing community.
Honors at Iowa has scholarship opportunities for current honors students selected from academic programs throughout the University. Some scholarship opportunities exist for incoming first-year honors students as well as current honors students. Scholarship possibilities are announced annually.
In addition, visit Scholarships and Awards on the UI Honors Program website.
Sample Plan of Study
Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.
Joining Honors as First-Year Students During Fall Semester
This sample plan is being reviewed and will be updated at a later date.
University of Iowa Honors Program Courses
HONR:1100 Honors Primetime 1 s.h.
Preparation for honors opportunities, especially activities and courses; teamwork on projects that develop skills of invention and communication; presentation of products and performances; connect honors students, honors teachers, and staff members.
HONR:1300 Honors First-Year Seminar 1-2 s.h.
Small discussion class taught by a faculty member; topics chosen by instructor; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities, field trips). Requirements: first- or second-semester standing.
HONR:1310 Honors Research First-Year Seminar 1 s.h.
Small discussion class taught by a faculty member; topics chosen by instructor; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities); research focus allows students to actively discover new information with guidance from instructor, pursue research in small groups, learn the "how to" of a field, and share their findings; no prior research knowledge or experience required.
HONR:1350 Honors Seminar for Presidential Scholars 1 s.h.
Through self-discovery, students learn to know themselves and one another better while participating in selected events and structured experiences (e.g., readings, in-class discussion, small-group work, guest presentations, event attendance); students take time to reflect on interests, experiences, and knowledge, and have an opportunity to explore and integrate skills and resources in a way that helps develop the personal and academic self while also considering knowledge and experience of other individuals and groups; students are provided with tools to seek out academics and activities related to their interests and pursuits to better connect with development resources. Requirements: Presidential Scholarship award received when admitted to the University of Iowa.
HONR:1360 Honors Seminar for Presidential Scholars II 1 s.h.
Through self-discovery, students learn to know themselves and one another better while participating in selected events and structured experiences (e.g., readings, in-class discussion, small-group work, guest presentations, event attendance); students take time to reflect on interests, experiences, and knowledge, and have an opportunity to explore and integrate skills and resources in a way that helps develop the personal and academic self while also considering knowledge and experience of other individuals and groups; students are provided with tools to seek out academics and activities related to their interests and pursuits to better connect with development resources. Prerequisites: HONR:1350.
HONR:1610 Honors Seminar in Historical Perspectives 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member to explore and explain historical developments. GE: Historical Perspectives.
HONR:1620 Honors Seminar in International and Global Issues 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member to introduce perspectives of other nations and cultures through international or global issues. GE: International and Global Issues.
HONR:1630 Honors Seminar in Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member to appreciate, analyze, create, or perform art. GE: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts.
HONR:1640 Honors Seminar in Natural Sciences 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member on natural science topics. GE: Natural Sciences without Lab.
HONR:1660 Honors Seminar in Social Sciences 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member on social science topics. GE: Social Sciences.
HONR:1670 Values and Culture 3 s.h.
Asking fundamental questions about human experience and its meaning while becoming more aware of what, exactly, defines culture and values; students have a chance to consider their own values and beliefs, and the importance to their lifelong goals. GE: Values and Culture.
HONR:1680 Honors Seminar in Diversity and Inclusion 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member to broaden student perspectives on social and cultural differences and introduce concepts in the structural bases of inequality and the benefits of diversity. Requirements: member of the University of Iowa Honors Program.
HONR:1850 Honors Seminar in Communication and Literacy 3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member; focus on writing, speaking, and critical reading skills or analysis of fiction, poetry, drama, essays.
HONR:2100 Honors Colloquium 1 s.h.
Attendance at talks, performances, and other events across campus.
HONR:2600 Honors Special Topics 1-3 s.h.
Small-class learning with a faculty member on special topics.
HONR:2700 Seminar for University of Iowa Honors Program Fellows 1 s.h.
Scholar development that challenges students to develop self-knowledge that enriches their intellectual life, increases their academic engagement, and deepen their sense of community. Requirements: second-year UI Honors Program fellowship recipient.
HONR:2900 Honors Publications: From Pitch to Print 2 s.h.
Students develop and hone writing skills as they create content for UI Honors Program publications from start to finish—envisioning themes, interviewing, writing, securing photos and captions, workshopping, and editing pieces; topics related to student body, professional staff, alumni, and current events relevant to honors program; completion of up to three major projects published in Honors Newsletter, Alumni Connection, honors program blog, or other social media; discussion posts and workshops.
HONR:2990 Experiential Learning Orientation 2 s.h.
Experiential learning requirements for the UI Honors Program.
HONR:2991 Honors Students and Wellness 2 s.h.
How high ability and wellness interact with one another; focus on mental health and touching on various areas—impostor syndrome, existential depression, and intersectionality of giftedness, mental health, gender, and race; holistic wellness (e.g., physical, nutritional, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual, financial, environmental) and what strengths and challenges high-ability individuals may encounter beyond their college careers.
HONR:3050 Honors Studies arr.
Independent studies arranged with faculty members who certify satisfactory completion of study plans and performance for topics not covered by other UI courses.
HONR:3100 Honors Teaching Practicum 0-4 s.h.
Teaching internship in first- and second-year courses; may include providing tutorial assistance, conducting review sessions, aiding course organization.
HONR:3150 Honors Service Learning arr.
Service learning projects arranged with faculty members who certify satisfactory completion of study plans and service.
HONR:3160 Honors Internship 0-3 s.h.
Independent service internship arranged with faculty members, who certify satisfactory performance and completion of project.
HONR:3170 Honors Outreach Ambassadors 1-2 s.h.
Experience sharing knowledge and experiences of the honors program with other students in meetings during office hours, online chats, other venues; outreach ambassadors; answer questions, provide information, help students find honors opportunities in and out of class.
HONR:3210 Honors Policy Research Practicum 1 s.h.
Theory and practice of public policy research; development of policy-research skills; production of policy-research papers. Requirements: sophomore or junior standing.
HONR:3220 Honors Writing Fellows: Writing Theory and Practice 3 s.h.
Preparation of honors students selected as writing fellows to serve as peer tutors in writing-intensive courses; theories of writing, evaluation of drafts, peer tutoring with students.
HONR:3250 Fieldwork in Social Innovation 3 s.h.
Entrepreneurial skills necessary to actualize ideas in the community; students work with local partners to brainstorm, prototype, and build an original community-based venture involving needs assessment, social history of problem, and concept mapping; students learn soft skills such as interviewing, networking, collaboration, and building trust. Requirements: enrollment in engaged social innovation plan of study and honors program membership in good standing. Same as INTD:3250.
HONR:3994 Honors Research Practicum 1-4 s.h.
Individual research performed in conjunction with a faculty member's research.
HONR:4990 Honors Thesis or Project 1-3 s.h.
Culminating project of research or artistic creation; preparation and completion of the final product associated with graduation with honors in the student's major. Requirements: member of the University of Iowa Honors Program and junior or senior standing.