University Honors Program

University Honors Program

Honors Seminar Pedagogy & Structure

Honors class.


Thematic Areas
Honors seminars align with one of the honors thematic areas - community engagement, global studies, leadership, and research/creative arts. Seminars are not expected to align with all or multiple thematic areas. Rather, an in-depth focus in one area is better received than a course that tries to fit in multiple areas on a surface level.

Experiential Learning
Honors seminars engage students in experiential learning and in reflection on their learning. They should challenge students with creative projects/activities that take learning beyond the typical classroom, integrate theory to practice, provide contextual complexity and provide opportunity for reflection.  Experiential components vary widely and may include visits to local or regional sites, fieldwork, service-learning, integration of lab work, performances, international or domestic study tours or other activities.

In the case of study tours, these can take place during the break period immediately following the semester or, for spring semester seminars, spring break is also an option (spring break study tours are encouraged).

Unique Nature Honors seminars challenge and broaden the intellectual horizons of honors students at all levels and regardless of the disciplines in which students are majoring. These courses should be rigorous and, therefore, are not introductory survey courses. At the same time, they do not normally require any prerequisites and should provide a positive learning experience for students from across disciplines (ie, for the non-specialist). Proposals can come from any discipline in any college. Interdisciplinary courses are encouraged.

It is expected that faculty/student dialogue will serve as a primary mode of interaction and that lecture will be kept to a minimum. Collaborative work is encouraged. Students should be challenged by reading primary sources and writing assignments that demand clear articulation of ideas. Use of innovative technology is encouraged. Evaluation of students should be based on their willingness to explore and critique concepts, rather than on absorption of facts.

Learning Portfolios
UHP students are required to maintain online learning portfolios to integrate and share their learning over the course of their time in University Honors. They are expected to create areas in their portfolios for each honors seminar completed, reflecting on and integrating their learning.  Please keep this in mind as you design your seminar and consider what evidence/artifacts students may include in their portfolio as well as what opportunities for reflection on learning will be included in your seminar.


Course Numbering and Listing

  • Listed as 2000- or 3000-level courses. Honors seminars are usually 3000-level.
  • Always three credit hour courses. They must be three hours to fulfill general education BoK (breadth of knowledge) requirements. They cannot be more than three hours because most students would not be able to fit more than three hours into their schedules (without paying extra tuition).
  • Must meet one or two BoK (breadth of knowledge) general education requirements.
  • Listed by the faculty member’s home department.
  • Entered into e-curriculum by the faculty member's home department.
  • Must be offered during standard university class blocks. The faculty member and his/her department, in consultation with the University Honors Program, will determine the scheduling of the course.


UHP Funding:

  • For each course accepted and offered, the originating department will receive a $6000 payment from University Honors.
  • In the case of a team-taught course, $8000 will be split amongst participating departments.
  • The funds are transferred to the department(s) at the end of the add/drop period in the semester in which your course is taught, provided that the course has an enrollment of 12 or more University Honors students. If the course has an enrollment of 11 or fewer University Honors students, the amount will be pro-rated.
  • The use of the funds is determined by the college/department. If a faculty member has questions about how the funds will be used, he/she should talk with the department head.

PBB Funds:

  • In addition, performance based budgeting (PBB) plays a role. University Honors students come from all of the undergraduate colleges. Therefore, students from across colleges will enroll. Typically, 2/3 of students in each honors seminar will likely originate from a different college.
  • Under PBB in 2014-15, the college listing the course receives $236.56 per student credit hour for students who are majors in other colleges. With a class of 20 students, if 2/3 (13) are from outside the listing college, then the college could generate $9225.84 additional dollars (13*$236.56 *3credits).


  • Class size is limited to 20-25 students.
  • Honors seminars are designed for students enrolled in the University Honors Program. UHP students have first priority to enroll.
  • Undergraduate students who are not in the UHP may receive permission to enroll if the student has a cumulative university GPA of 3.4 or higher and there is space available in the class after UHP students have completed priority registration.
  • Graduate students are not eligible to enroll in honors seminars.
  • If the course has an enrollment of 11 or fewer University Honors students, the UHP funding amount will be pro-rated.

Course Evaluations

  • Faculty teaching honors seminars are expected to support the administration of UHP course evaluations on Survey Monkey.
  • A UHP staff member will send the students a link to the honors seminar course evaluation at the end of the semester.
  • After the semester has ended, a UHP staff member will send the compiled evaluations to the instructor.

Supplemental Information for Proposals Including Study Tours (International or Domestic)

  • We expect that faculty have direct experience in the study tour location. Faculty will need to share with us their knowledge of the destination country and culture (or, for a US location, the city).
  • Seminars with study tours have a different timeline than regular honors seminars. Because of the need to begin planning a full year in advance, we are currently only accepting proposals for seminars with study tours for spring semester 2016 and fall semester 2016. We are not able to implement new seminars with study tours for fall semester 2015 through this current process.
  • A detailed tentative itinerary and budget must be submitted with the proposal. We recognize that the budget and itinerary will change as the course is developed. Please provide the best information available at this time. Proposals for seminars with study tours that do not include a travel itinerary and budget will not be considered. Spring break study tours are encouraged for spring semester courses. The itinerary and budget may be included here or as a separate attachment.
  • We may require an in-person meeting as part of the selection process. We will reach out to those who submit proposals with study tours to schedule a meeting if needed.