Description:  Honors College  Description:

July 2012


HONOR Course Descriptions

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Dean: Sylvia Torti, Ph.D.

1975 DeTrobriand
Building 619


The Honors College provides excellence in undergraduate education to highly motivated and talented students. The Honors curriculum challenges students to do their best thinking and learning. Honors faculty set higher expectations for students than is typical in many undergraduate courses, calling for deeper and more independent thinking and high quality in student output such as research, writing, and class related activities. Entrance to the Honors College also means entrance into a learning community that values excellence and provides a means of community identity through interactions with other bright and engaged students, with distinguished faculty, and with members of the university community at large. Honors students enjoy small classes, which allow for interaction between faculty and students and among students themselves.

New Students: 
Students graduating from high school are invited to join the Honors College on the basis of a holistic review of an application, which includes their high school record, composite entrance examination scores and an essay. New transfer students are generally eligible for admission to the Honors College if they have at least a 3.6 grade point average.

Continuing Students

University of Utah students are admissible to the Honors College with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Application Process: Students should apply for admission to the Honors College only after they have been admitted to the University of Utah. The application form is available on the Honors web site.

Early Assurance Program:   The Early Assurance Program at the University of Utah is a four-year undergraduate program that provides guaranteed admittance to one of the U’s participating graduate or professional school programs upon successful completion of a Bachelor’s degree and program prerequisites at the University of Utah. This unique open-track program allows students to dive into coursework and explore a wide variety of subjects before declaring their graduate intentions. Students are immersed in the Honors College experience, and receive faculty mentoring and guidance before embarking on graduate studies.  Students must apply as incoming freshmen and have a rigorous high school record of a 3.8 high school GPA. Top Utah students admitted to Early Assurance may be selected for the Eccles Distinguished Scholars Award, a prestigious four-year full financial award package.  For more information visit the website

Honors Degree Requirements
The Honors baccalaureate degree has a two-tiered structure – the Honors Certificate and the University Honors degree.

Students admitted to the Honors College need to maintain a 3.5 cumulative grade point average to earn the Honors Certificate.

Honors Certificate: The requirements for completing the Honors Certificate are as follows:

Two semesters of the Honors Core in Intellectual Traditions (Honors 2101, Honors 2102, Honors 2103, Honors 2104).

One semester of Honors Writing (either Honors 2211 or Honors 3200).  The Construction of Knowledge course can be substituted for the Honors writing requirement for those students with an AP score of 4 or higher.

Two additional Honors courses (Honors Core in Social Science, Honors Core in Fine Arts, Honors Core in Physical and Life Science, Construction of Knowledge, Honors Calculus for Non-technical Majors, American Institutions, or any of the Honors seminars) .

Students who complete these requirements will receive the Honors Certificate designation on their transcript.

University Honors Degree:  The requirements for the second tier of the Honors baccalaureate degree consist of: Two additional Honors courses and completion of an Honors thesis, creative or capstone project in their major.

Students who complete these requirements - 24 Honors credits including the Honors thesis course - will graduate with the University Honors degree designation on their transcript and degree.

Honors Courses and University General Education/University Graduation Requirements
The Honors College offers many courses that can also be used to fulfill the University’s general education and graduation requirements. These courses are so marked on the curriculum page of the Honors College website (

Special Considerations and Policies
Many Honors students enter the College with AP credit, concurrent enrollment credit, or an IB diploma. These credit hours satisfy General Education requirements and proceed toward graduation but do not satisfy Honors requirements.

Transfer Students: Students who transfer to the University of Utah with 59 or more transfer hours or an Associate Degree will receive credit for two courses in the Honors College. After admission to the College, students will take five additional Honors courses (rather than seven) and complete a thesis for the Honors Degree.

LEAP: LEAP students may receive Honors credit for two LEAP courses if they receive an A- or A in those classes.

Departmental Honors Courses and Colleges: Students enrolled in University Honors may also take departmental Honors classes if they have met the prerequisites for them. The departmental Honors courses count as electives toward the Honors Degree.

Several departments have established a Departmental Honors degree allowing students to take a combination of University and Departmental Honors courses or to follow a curriculum of Departmental Honors courses and Honors research activities.

The following departments and colleges currently offer Departmental Honors tracks:
College of Architecture and Planning
David Eccles School of Business: Finance and the ASAP Freshman College
College of Education
College of Engineering: All departments and the School of Computing College of Fine Arts: Art, Art History, Ballet and Modern Dance
College of Humanities: Philosophy & English
College of Health: Exercise and Sports Science
College of Science: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics
College of Social & Behavioral Science: Political Science

Detailed information on Departmental Honors tracks including contact information on departmental Honors advisors is available on the Honors College website at

Minimum Grade Point Average Requirement: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 to remain eligible to participate in the Honors College. Students who fall below this minimum are placed on probation for one semester and may be dropped from the College if they are unable to raise their grades to the required minimum. Students can be reinstated in the College only if they subsequently raise their grade point average to the 3.5 level and reapply to the College.

Graduation Policies
Application for Graduation:
 Students who plan to graduate with an Honors Bachelor’s Degree should inform the Graduation Office (250 SSB) of their intent no later than the end of the junior year. Students must specifically state on their graduation application that they are completing an Honors Degree.

There are three ways that students can graduate with an Honors degree - the University Honors degree, the Departmental Honors degree, and both (i.e., the University and the Departmental Honors degree).

Honors Thesis/Project: The Honors thesis/project is the capstone of students’ academic efforts in earning the University Honors degree. In the thesis/project students will demonstrate their intellectual independence and apply research methods of their discipline in preparation for graduate or professional work.

The nature of the thesis/project and its presentation varies from discipline to discipline, such as a lab project with a final report presented in a seminar or a performance evaluated by a jury. Regardless of the form of the thesis/project, students must submit their capstone project in a form that can be archived in the University’s library (e.g., an audio, video, electronic, film or written product).

A faculty member in the student’s major department and the Departmental Honors advisor will supervise the student’s thesis/project.

Students working on their thesis/project sign up for a 3 credit thesis course in the department of their major (course #4999). For example, a student majoring in Chemistry would sign up for CHEM 4999.

Students must earn at least a “B” grade in the 4999 thesis course in order to graduate with an Honors degree. Pre-thesis Interview: Before beginning the senior Honors thesis/project, students must arrange for a pre-thesis interview with the Associate Dean in the Honors College. This should be done at least three semesters before students intend to graduate.

The Honors Community
Being an Honors student means more than just completing the curricular requirements of the Honors degree. The Honors College has created many opportunities to enhance the educational experience of Honors students. Students are expected to be engaged community members, and to take advantage of these opportunities in their pursuit of excellence.  The Honors website includes a more detailed description of these programs.

Mentor Program: Honors students from all disciplines and professional areas have the opportunity to participate in a mentoring/mentee program. Each participant acts as both mentor and mentee, both creating and benefiting from a strong supportive network.

Study Abroad: The Honors College offers several opportunities for students to spend the summer in a culture other than their own and take courses for Honors credit. A description of each program, application forms, and scholarship information can be found on our website.

Honors Tutorial: The Honors Tutorial is an opportunity for students to work on an individual basis with a faculty member for Honors credit, usually in the context of their major. Students can use the Honors Tutorial to begin research on their Honors thesis/project or in conjunction with the experiential programs described below.

Honor Internships and Apprenticeships: This program provides Honors students with the experience to work alongside a community leader in a real world situation to bring about change in the community. This internship, based on availability of funds, includes a $1,000 stipend for a 16-week time commitment. Students have the option to receive credit for the internship. 

The Honors Think Tank: This is a two-semester experiential program that gives a group of Honors students from various majors an opportunity to work collaboratively on a contemporary societal challenge under the guidance of faculty. Students receive a $1,000 stipend for the two-semester long program and sign up for Honors 3700 each semester. The themes for the Think Tank change from year to year. For example, previous Think Tanks focused on topics such as revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City, bioethics, land issues in Southern Utah, immigration issues, and higher education.

Applications are available on the website at the end of each spring semester.

Honors College Scholars Program:  The Honors College Scholars Program creates a learning community around themes and are intended to help students explore a major, a career and develop interdisciplinary knowledge, skills and perspectives.  Members form networks of relationships in an environment in which they feel comfortable to express their thoughts and ideas. Scholars have increased contact with faculty mentors, fellow students and greater integration with the greater university community. Themes for Honors College Scholars cohorts include social justice, sustainability, global health, law and community leadership.

Scholarships For Honors Students
The Honors College offers a broad range of scholarships for students. A detailed description of these scholarships, deadlines, and the application form are available on the Honors College website. Students should periodically check the Honors website for updates in scholarship information.

Academic Advising
Advisors in the Honors College assist students from the time they enter the College until they graduate. Students should call the Honors office at 581-7383 to schedule an appointment. First year students are encouraged to visit with an academic advisor every semester to ensure they are making progress toward the Honors Degree as well as to discuss any academic difficulties they may encounter.  Seniors meet with an Honors advisor in their major who will guide them through the thesis process.

Students pursuing a departmental Honors track should also contact the Honors advisor in the department in which the College is housed. A list of departmental Honors advisors and contact information is available on the Honors website.

Residential Life—A Living and Learning Community for Honors Students: 

The Honors College offers students a residential experience in the company of other motivated and talented students who take their education seriously and who represent different backgrounds and interests.  Students join together for courses, monthly lectures, social activities and community service.  Students can enjoy an Honors residential experience until they time they graduate.

The Honors CORE Experience provides first-year students an opportunity to participate in a cluster of Honors classes taught at the Honors Center in Ft. Douglas and join in a series of community building activities, discussions, and collaborations. Students take five Honors courses over the course of the first year.

The Honors First-Year Floor is a good choice for first-year students who plan to study in lockstep majors or majors that leave little room for the required cluster of Honors classes taken by the Honors Living and Learning students.  This option gives the flexibility necessary to take required major courses and still be part of the Honors community.

The Poulson House is part of the elite row of houses located at the top of Officers’ Circle at Fort Douglas where 12 Honors students live together in an historic sandstone, Victorian house.

The Honors Innovation House provides students who lived on the Living and Learning floor a continuation of that experience.  Only students who lived on the floor are eligible to live in the Second-Year House.

Honors students live in the S.J. Quinney Law House where law students mentor them.  Honors students can also participate in law school events and meet with faculty and other students from the law school.

The Honors Student Advisory Committee (HSAC) HSAC is an independent student organization that serves primarily as liaison between students and the Honors College. The student organization has considerable input in the selection of courses and faculty. HSAC members also mentor incoming freshmen throughout their first year to help new students become familiar with the Honors College and engage in service activities.

Honors Policy Board
The Honors Policy Board consists of faculty representatives from undergraduate colleges and is chaired by the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Board is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Honors College and for approving the policies and procedures governing the College.

Departmental and College Honors Advisors
Each undergraduate college and each department within a college designates a faculty member to serve as advisor to Honors students. A current listing of college and departmental Honors advisors is available on the Honors College website.

Honors College Curriculum
The Honors curriculum includes individual courses, sequence courses, seminars, and workshops. No Honors course exceeds an enrollment of 30 students, and the average student/faculty ratio is 17 to one. Class instructors are chosen on the basis of their demonstrated teaching excellence and include the regular faculty as well as highly selected adjunct professors and lecturers. Most of these scholars actively publish research in their field, and courses are frequently designed by the professors to coincide with their current research activity. Occasionally, individuals from the community, who have distinguished themselves in their profession and who are proven good teachers, are invited to teach in the Honors College. Teaching assistants and teaching fellows never teach Honors courses.

HONOR Course Descriptions


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