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Honors Seminar Guidelines, Pedagogy & Structure

Honors class.

Guidelines and Pedagogy

Thematic Areas
Honors seminars align with one of the honors thematic areas - community engagement, creativity, global studies, leadership and research. 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 study tours or other activities.

Broad Student Audience and Unique Nature
Honors seminars should challenge and broaden the intellectual horizons of UHP students at all levels, regardless of the disciplines in which students are majoring. They are taken by students across disciplines. They should be rigorous and are not introductory survey courses. At the same time, honors seminars do not have prerequisites. Proposals can come from any discipline/college. Interdisciplinary courses are encouraged.

Course Pedagogy
Faculty/student dialogue should serve as the primary mode of interaction with lecture kept to a minimum. Students should be challenged by reading primary sources and writing assignments that demand clear articulation of ideas. Use of innovative technology and collaborative work are encouraged. Evaluation of students should be based on their willingness to explore and critique concepts, rather than on absorption of facts.

Learning Portfolios
Students are required to maintain learning portfolios to integrate and share their learning during their time in the UHP. 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.  View sample portfolios.

Study Tours
If a study tour will be included in the seminar (typically international), it can take place during the break period immediately following the semester or during spring break. Spring break study tours are encouraged. While we can accept proposals for seminars with domestic study tours, there is typically not enough interest from students to run them. With that, it's now rare for a domestic study tour proposal to be approved. Proposals for honors seminars with study tours must include an itinerary and budget. In addition, we expect that faculty have direct experience in the study tour location. Faculty will need to share with us their knowledge of and experience in the destination country and culture.


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 3.2 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.