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University of Iowa Honors Program

Director

  • Art L. Spisak
Web site: http://honors.uiowa.edu/

The University of Iowa Honors Program enriches the intellectual and personal lives of outstanding undergraduates across the University. It provides academic opportunities, cocurricular programs, special recognitions, and social events, many held in the award-winning Blank Honors Center. It also sponsors three residential communities for honors students, all located close to the Blank Honors Center.

Honors at Iowa challenges students and helps them make connections. For example, honors students learn from some of the top professors on campus when they select from the University's many honors courses.

Honors students engage in a wide variety of academic and cocurricular activities, with support from numerous programs. They enjoy extended library privileges, including longer loan periods. Honors Writing Fellows refine their own writing skills when they mentor other student writers. Some students investigate topics for Iowa communities and the Iowa Legislature through the Iowa Policy Research Organization. Those who need to find mentors and funding for research get help from the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates.

All honors students may take part in programs that offer opportunities in the arts, sciences, politics, international relations, cultural explorations, and a variety of field trips.

The honors staff helps students tailor their honors curricula to enrich their majors. The staff also helps  arrange internships, service learning, study away, teaching, and other experiences for students exploring their interests in and beyond the classroom.

Undergraduate Program of Study

  • University of Iowa Honors Program

Honors at Iowa helps students tailor opportunities to different educational needs and goals. Honors students may take honors courses every semester they are enrolled at the University. Honors courses generally are small and interactive. They connect students with distinguished professors and offer new topics each semester. Honors courses also are part of the regular curriculum, not additional requirements for graduation.

Honors encourages students to begin honors work early. In 143:020 (HONR:1100) Honors Primetime, entering students earn 1 s.h. of honors credit by taking a short course a few days before fall classes begin. Students who enter the honors program directly from high school take 143:030 (HONR:1300) Honors First-Year Seminar, earning 1 s.h. for fall semester work with selected professors on current topics. Honors students may fulfill General Education Program requirements by completing honors sections of 010:003 (RHET:1030) Rhetoric and 004:011 (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 143:100 (HONR:3200) 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 major seminars, graduate courses, honors studies, and honors practicums in teaching and service.

Students learn about honors opportunities in weekly e-mails from the honors program. Honors professional staff members and peer advisors 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 Academics on the honors program web site.

Requirements for graduating with University honors have changed. Students who entered the University of Iowa Honors Program in summer 2013 or later must complete the requirements stated under "Graduation with University Honors" below.

Joining the Honors Program

Honors at Iowa offers membership to many students entering the University directly from high school, based on the students' grades and test scores. Entering students who are not offered membership may request an admission invitation by submitting a high school transcript, a teacher's recommendation, and a personal letter saying how the student expects to gain from participation in the University of Iowa Honors Program.

New transfer students who have a cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.50 and have earned at least 24 s.h. of college credit are offered membership in the honors program. Transfer students with less than 24 s.h. of college credit are considered for honors on the same basis as are students who enter the University directly from high school.

Continuing University of Iowa students who maintain a UI cumulative g.p.a. of at least 3.33 are eligible to join the honors program.

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 specific honors program requirements. For more information about joining the University of Iowa Honors Program, see Joining Honors on the program's web site.

Collegiate Honors and Honors in the Major

In addition to graduating with University honors through the University of Iowa Honors Program, students may graduate with collegiate honors or honors in their majors. Each college and/or major sets its own requirements for graduation with honors. Students in the Colleges of Education, Engineering, and Nursing and the Tippie College of Business meet the requirements of their college's honors program, graduating with collegiate honors. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences meet the honors requirements of their major, graduating with honors in the major.

Graduation with collegiate honors or honors in the major is recognized at commencement and is noted on the student's transcript. Visit the individual Catalog sections to learn about requirements for collegiate honors or honors in the major.

Graduation with University Honors

Students must accept a formal invitation from the University of Iowa Honors Program in order to become members; see "Joining the Honors Program" above.

All students who enter the honors program must attend an honors orientation.

Graduation with University honors through the University of Iowa Honors Program is recognized at commencement and is noted on the student's diploma and transcript. Honors program students completing degree programs in the Colleges of Education, Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Nursing and the Tippie College of Business may graduate with University honors. Honors requirements for engineering students are different from those for students in the other colleges.

Graduation with University honors requires the following work.

Business, Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Nursing Students

Students earning bachelor's degrees in the Colleges of Education, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Nursing and in the Tippie College of Business complete a two-level program of approved course work (level one) and experiential learning (level two) in order to graduate with University honors. Students are not required to complete all level-one requirements before they begin work on level two.

Level One: Building Knowledge

Level one requires students to earn 12 s.h. of credit in honors course work during their first four semesters in the honors program. Students may count a maximum of one honors contract course toward the level-one requirement; under certain circumstances, they may count up to 6 s.h. of honors contract course credit. Level one requires the following course work.

Complete an honors First-Year Seminar during the first semester at The University of Iowa (for students who enter the honors program directly from high school).

Complete an honors course or an honors contract course during the first semester in the honors program.

Complete additional honors course work to total 12 s.h. (the level-one requirement).

Level Two: Learning by Doing

Level two requires students to complete 12 s.h. in approved experiential learning activities. Students may satisfy the requirement with one of the options below, or they may combine two or more of these options in order to earn the 12 s.h. of credit required for level two.

Earn honors in the major; this option fulfills the entire level-two requirement.

Earn up to 12 s.h. in mentored research; earning the maximum 12 s.h. fulfills the entire level-two requirement; students who earn less credit for mentored research may combine it with another option to fulfill the level-two requirement.

Study abroad for a minimum of two semesters (fall and/or spring) or the equivalent; carry out a preapproved independent project while abroad and present a poster on the project or write a report about it; this option fulfills the entire level-two requirement.

Earn up to 6 s.h. for a single semester of study abroad, including a summer or between-semester experience.

Complete an internship and carry out a preapproved independent project during the internship; present a poster on the project or write a report about it; internships normally count for up to 6 s.h. of the level-two requirement, but in some cases they count for the entire 12 s.h. required for level two.

Earn up to 6 s.h. in honors course work approved for the level-two requirement.

Engineering Students

Students earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering complete 24 s.h. in a program of approved course work and experiential learning in order to graduate with University honors. They must complete one honors course during their first semester in the honors program, earn 6 s.h. of the required 24 s.h. in honors course work, and complete 12 s.h. of the required 24 s.h. during their first six semesters in the honors program. Requirements may be different for honors students who complete the Grand Challenges for Engineering program.

Students may complete one of the options below, or they may combine two or more of the options in order to earn the required 24 s.h. of honors credit.

Complete the Grand Challenges for Engineering program; this option fulfills the entire 24 s.h. honors requirement.

Earn up to 12 s.h. in honors course work, which may include graduate courses.

Earn up to 12 s.h. in mentored research (earn 3 s.h. by completing 10 hours of mentored research work per week for a fall or spring semester; earn 6 s.h. by completing 20 hours of mentored research work per week for a summer session).

Earn up to 12 s.h. in study abroad (earn 6 s.h. for one fall or spring semester or an equivalent amount of time during summer and between semesters); carry out a preapproved independent project while abroad and present a poster on the project or write a report about it.

Earn up to 12 s.h. by completing one or more internship or co-op experience (earn 6 s.h. for a 15-week experience requiring 40 hours of work per week; earn 3 s.h. for a 15-week experience requiring 20 hours of work per week; earn 4 s.h. for a 10-week experience requiring 40 hours of work per week; earn 2 s.h. for a 10-week experience requiring 20 hours of work per week); students must register their internships and co-op experiences with the College of Engineering and meet the college's reporting and evaluation requirements.

Earn up to 6 s.h. by completing a preapproved engineering community engagement experience (earn 3 s.h. for completing 10 hours of work per week for one semester in one of the following activities: fill a leadership position in an approved engineering student organization or serve as an engineering tutor, engineering teaching assistant, engineering student ambassador, or engineering peer advisor); submit a paper that details personal reflections on the experience, signed by the supervisor or faculty advisor.

Earn honors in the student's engineering major; this option counts for 12 s.h. of University honors credit.

Academic Activities

Honors Peer Advisors earn academic credit for acquiring and then sharing knowledge of honors opportunities by organizing events around the campus and meeting with prospective students and their parents.

Honors Writing Fellows are trained and paid to assist in undergraduate courses by mentoring a dozen students each semester on two major writing assignments.

The ICRU Research Ambassadors earn academic credit for showing how and why research with faculty mentors is an important aspect of education at The University of Iowa.

The Iowa Policy Research Organization selects a dozen honors students each year to earn academic credit by learning to do policy analysis and then writing policy papers for Iowa communities and the Iowa Legislature.

Study away, in foreign countries or culturally contrasting parts of the United States, enables students to earn academic credit for course work, research, or service.

Learn more about honors activities and Experience-Based Learning on the honors program web site.

Cocurricular Programs

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 the world around them. Some of the programs are volunteer, some offer pay, and some award honors credit. These opportunities provide peak educational experiences, especially extensive and intensive interactions with faculty mentors and other talented students.

The Honors Student Advisory Committee enables volunteers to work with the honors director on awards, initiatives, and priorities for honors education at The University of Iowa.

Honors House mentors are upper-level student volunteers selected to live in Honors House, where they help with honors educational and social programs and guide first-year students.

Honors interns receive academic credit for service learning that is mentored by faculty members and provided in professional or other practical settings.

Honors newsletters inform readers on and beyond the campus about honors at Iowa.

The honors student staff earn pay to make the Blank Honors Center useful to students. They also produce most honors cocurricular programs.

Honors summer ambassadors earn pay to orient entering students to the honors program by informing them of academic opportunities and activities.

ICRU fellows receive scholarships from the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates to do research with faculty mentors in professional fields of study.

Honors Arts sends groups of honors students to music, dance, and theater events at the University and in the community. Students have opportunities to interact with artists, faculty members, and other honors students through related discussions, lectures, and visits.

Honors Engaging Cultures offers a wide range of events to expand cultural horizons and enlarge personal perspectives. These include feasts, films, dances, documentaries, and more.

Honors Gallery takes advantage of the Blank Honors Center’s design to display art. It exhibits student works throughout the year and complements the exhibits with receptions and other events.

The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council hosts luncheon dialogues on relevant international issues. Past speakers include award-winning journalists, Nobel Peace Prize laureates, seasoned diplomats, prominent politicians, and policy analysts. Honors students become better informed about world affairs by listening to and talking with these expert speakers.

The Presidential Scholars Community involves recipients of Iowa’s top merit scholarships in shared classes, opportunities for funded research in the first year, and service. Scholars participate in legacy projects, dinners with faculty and key administrators, scholarship and fellowship mentoring programs, and volunteer projects.

The University of Iowa Honors Program advises four major national and international honor societies: Phi Eta Sigma, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Mortar Board, and Omicron Delta Kappa. It also works closely with Phi Beta Kappa in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These societies provide select students with opportunities to lead, serve their communities, and cultivate academic excellence.

To learn more, visit Student Activities on the honors program web site.

Financial Support

Honors at Iowa helps students apply for scholarships, fellowships, awards, and prizes. The program offers its own scholarships to continuing honors students selected from academic programs throughout the University. Honors scholarships are not available to incoming first-year or transfer students.

Iowa students win major national and international scholarships each year. Honors provides advising and nominations for Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, Churchill, Truman, Udall, Goldwater, Fulbright, Humanity in Action, National Science Foundation, and other prominent scholarships and fellowships. The Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates provides research scholarships for students and travel grants for those who pursue research at distant sites or present work at conferences. Announcements about scholarships and other awards appear in honors program e-mails and on the program's web site. Learn more at UIHP Scholarships & Fellowships on the honors program web site.

Facilities

Blank Honors Center

Honors at Iowa makes its home in the Blank Honors Center, a modern facility that fosters community among honors students. The Blank Honors Center is located at the center of the University's main campus, next to residence halls and classroom buildings. It offers social areas, a kitchenette, quiet study areas, wireless Internet access, a computer lab, and classrooms for students. The center also houses the honors staff and has rooms for meetings, events, presentations, and conversation.

Honors Residential Communities

The honors program sponsors three living-learning communities, all located in University of Iowa residence halls within a block of the Blank Honors Center. Each community hosts its own social events, and all community members have access to the full range of honors academic and cocurricular opportunities.

Honors House is primarily for first-year honors students. It is located in Daum Hall and is connected to the Blank Honors Center by a skywalk. Honors House provides a convenient place for residents to socialize and study together. It also sponsors academic and social events for honors students living in Daum Hall.

Honors: Research Opportunities in Biology and Chemistry is a living-learning community open to first-year honors students. The community connects its members with faculty and research opportunities in the biological and chemical sciences. 

Honors Centerstone is open to continuing and transfer honors students. It offers networking and other support for students who are highly engaged in learning and service activities on or beyond the campus. Some of its social events are held in the Blank Honors Center.

Students must apply to live in the honors residential communities. See Living-Learning Communities on the University Housing & Dining web site for application and other information about the communities. Visit Housing on the honors web site to learn more about the living-learning communities.

Courses

Honors courses are specifically for honors students.

143:020 (HONR:1100) Honors Primetime1 s.h.
Preparation for honors opportunities, especially activities and courses; team work on projects that develop skills of invention and communication; presentation of products and performances; connect honors students, honors teachers, and staff members.
 
143:030 (HONR:1300) Honors First-Year Seminar1-2 s.h.
Small discussion classes taught by faculty members on special topics; may include outside activities (e.g., films, lectures, performances, readings, visits to research facilities, field trips). Requirements: first‑ or second‑semester standing.
 
143:039 (HONR:1850) Honors Seminar in Communication and Literacy3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member; focus on writing, speaking, and critical reading skills or analysis of fiction, poetry, drama, essays.
 
143:040 (HONR:3050) Honors Studiesarr.
Independent studies arranged with faculty members who certify satisfactory completion of study plans and performance for topics not covered by other UI courses.
 
143:041 (HONR:3160) Honors Internship0-3 s.h.
Independent service internship arranged with faculty members, who certify satisfactory performance and completion of project.
 
143:042 (HONR:3150) Honors Service Learningarr.
Service learning projects arranged with faculty members who certify satisfactory completion of study plans and service.
 
143:044 (HONR:3400) Honors Writing Workshop1-3 s.h.
Learn writing through the Iowa workshop tradition of sharing new work with colleagues who provide detailed, constructive suggestions in response; emphasis on invention, structure, style; each edition targets a distinct kind of writing; an experienced writer leads the workshop with meeting formats; credit suited to exercises for the type of featured writing. Requirements: completion of Rhetoric requirement.
 
143:051 (HONR:2110) Honors Seminar in Historical Perspectives3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member to explore and explain historical developments. GE: Historical Perspectives.
 
143:052 (HONR:2120) Honors Seminar in International and Global Issues3 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.
 
143:053 (HONR:2130) Honors Seminar in Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member to appreciate, analyze, create, or perform art. GE: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts.
 
143:054 (HONR:2170) Honors Seminar in Values, Society, and Diversity3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member to explore fundamental questions on human experience from cultural, social, performative, philosophical, or spiritual perspectives. GE: Values, Society, and Diversity.
 
143:060 (HONR:1600) Honors Seminar in Social Sciences3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member on social science topics. GE: Social Sciences.
 
143:070 (HONR:1700) Honors Seminar in Natural Sciences3 s.h.
Small‑class learning with a faculty member on natural science topics. GE: Natural Sciences without Lab.
 
143:080 (HONR:1800) Honors Seminar in Quantitative and Formal Reasoning3 s.h.
Patterns of reasoning useful for understanding and evaluating scientific evidence, theory, controversy; historical and contemporary examples from the physical, biological, behavioral, biomedical sciences. GE: Quantitative or Formal Reasoning.
 
143:083 (HONR:1883) War3 s.h.
Emotions soldiers have as they fight, what makes them continue voluntarily to face death, and how modern society memorializes these experiences; how literature and art transform the experience of war; human responses to war in Homer's Iliad and select Greek tragedies. GE: Values, Society, and Diversity. Same as 20E:083 (CLSA:1883).
 
143:085 (HONR:1885) Reading the Ancient City3 s.h.
How ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern peoples from third millennium B.C.E. to fourth century C.E. described, celebrated, and deplored life in their great cities (Babylon, Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria, Rome); readings selected from ancient literary prose, poetry, drama, and religious writings; study of popular writing (e.g., ancient inscriptions, graffiti, letters, prayers, account books, and magic spells). Same as 20E:085 (CLSA:1085).
 
143:100 (HONR:3200) Honors Research Practicum1-3 s.h.
Individual research performed in conjunction with a faculty member's research.
 
143:101 (HONR:3100) Honors Teaching Practicum1-3 s.h.
Teaching internship in first‑ and second‑year courses; may include providing tutorial assistance, conducting review sessions, aiding course organization.
 
143:102 (HONR:3220) Honors Writing Fellows: Writing Theory and Practice3 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. Requirements: sophomore or junior honors standing, admission to Writing Fellows Program, and availability to work as a writing fellow in subsequent semesters.
 
143:140 (HONR:3211) Honors Policy Research Practicum1 s.h.
Theory and practice of public policy research; development of policy‑research skills; production of policy‑research papers. Requirements: sophomore or junior standing.
 
143:185 (HONR:3180) ICRU Research Ambassadors1-2 s.h.
ICRU Research Ambassadors share knowledge and experiences in research; weekly meeting and interaction with students through presentations, online chat, or other venues to answer questions, provide information, and inform students about undergraduate research opportunities; student perspective on how to navigate research opportunities at The University of Iowa.
 
143:190 (HONR:3170) Honors Peer Advising1-2 s.h.
Experience sharing knowledge and experiences of the Honors Program with other students in meetings during office hours, online chats, other venues; peer advisors answer questions, provide information, help students find honors opportunities in and out of class.
 
143:199 (HONR:4990) Honors Thesis or Project1-3 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.