New Requirements for University Honors

To: Departmental Executive Officers
From: Art Spisak, Director, The University of Iowa Honors Program , Helena Dettmer, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum
RE: New Requirements for University Honors

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The requirements for University Honors have been revised, effective for students entering The University of Iowa Summer 2013 and after.

Students who complete the new University Honors requirements will have a notation on their transcript and degree award stating that the student has graduated with University Honors. Indication of this award will be included in graduation ceremonies.

  • Latin honors and honors in the major are not affected by these changes.
  • Students do not need to be a member of the University Honors Program nor do they need to earn University Honors to complete honors in the major.
  • CLAS departments set their own requirements for honors in the major, but a minimum GPA of 3.33 is strongly advised by the College.

The new UI Honors requirements* are effective for students entering UI Summer 2013 and after.

(*Engineering students have alternative requirements; please visit the Honors Program web page for information.)

For questions on the new curriculum and requirements, contact Holly Yoder at

General Requirements

  • Students must opt into the program after being invited to do so.
  • First-year first-semester students must attend an Honors Program orientation session in the summer; other students must attend an informational session (e.g. Welcome to Honors) during a regular semester.
  • All students in their first semester of Honors Program membership must take at least one Honors course. First-year first-semester students must complete a 1 s.h. Honors First-Year Seminar during the fall semester. Other students may choose any offered Honors course or may develop an honors “contract” course.
  • Students must maintain a cumulative UI GPA of 3.33 (a current requirement).
  • If the GPA drops below a 3.33, the student has one additional semester to bring the GPA up to 3.33. Students may re-qualify for Honors by meeting the 3.33 standard. (Both of these are current policy.)

Level One Requirement:  Building Knowledge

  • Students must complete a minimum of 12 s.h. of Honors course work by the end of the fourth semester of fulltime Honors Program membership.
  • A maximum of 3 s.h. of honors contract courses may be applied to the level one requirement except in the case of new members with significant GE credit. These students may apply up to 6 s.h. of honors contract credit.

Honors course work is indicated by the H code on ISIS or by the subject code HONR (143).

Level Two Requirement: Learning by Doing
Students must complete an additional 12 s.h. (or the equivalent) of Honors experiences.

Experiential learning for honors credit can take many forms, including research, study abroad, or internships; work completed for honors in the major, usually resulting in a thesis or creative project, also counts as experiential learning for honors credit.

Students choose from the options below, with some options completely satisfying the requirement and others requiring a combination of activities:

  • Honors in the major (as required by a department) completely satisfies the level two requirement.
  • Mentored research (practica, paid, or ICRU fellow).
  • Study abroad with project.*
  • Internships with project* (may satisfy up to 6 s.h. of the level two requirement).
  • Honors in graduate level course work (may satisfy up to 6 s.h. of the level two requirement).

*Study abroad and internships require a pre-approved, independent project with a poster presentation or paper facilitated by Honors.

Students should consult with Honors Advising on the credit hour equivalencies of the above choices.

A Checklist for Students Graduating with University Honors

  • Opt in by accepting the invitation to join the Honors Program.
  • Attend an Honors Program orientation session in the summer (for first-year students) or during the semester (for all other students).
  • Register during the first semester of Honors Program full-time membership for an honors first-year seminar (for first-year students) or for any honors course (for all other students new to the Honors Program).
  • Complete 12 s.h. of honors course work by the end of the 4th semester of full-time membership in the Honors Program.
  • Complete 12 s.h. or the equivalent of honors experiential learning.
  • Maintain a minimum 3.33 UI GPA.
  • Submit an application for University Honors (and for honors in the major if completing that activity).
  • Graduate with University Honors on the transcript and diploma.