The core of the University Honors Program is building connections between exceptional undergraduate students and the full range of faculty who make up the University of Minnesota. Through both curricular and extracurricular programs, we give students and faculty the chance to come together around a shared passion for ideas, learning, and research.
UHP reaches out to every department to meet once every three years, but are happy to meet more often as needed. We would be delighted to attend a faculty meeting in your department to discuss opportunities in UHP – simply reach out by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In Fall 2023, we welcomed our first class of Faculty Fellows to the University Honors Program. We have structured these fellowships to be a way for faculty from across the University to come “live” with UHP for a semester or year. As part of their fellowship, faculty will teach an honors seminar, lead NEXUS and NEXUS One sections, be active in the administrative life of the program, and engage with honors students outside of the classroom.
We welcome both experienced faculty with a record of engagement in UHP, as well as faculty looking to jump-start their relationship with Honors through a fellowship. Tenure-track fellows will be released of any teaching expectation from their home department through compensation to their department or college. Non-tenure track instructional staff are considered for fellowships, and financial arrangements will be made on an individual basis. All fellows will receive a $2000 stipend intended for research funds. The support of your department chair will be required for an offer of a fellowship to be extended.
Applications for 2024-2025 Honors Faculty Fellowships will open in September 2023. As part of the process, applicants need to propose, or request renewal of, an honors seminar that will be taught as part of their fellowship. The priority deadline for 2024-2025 academic year proposals is November 1st, 2023.
Teaching an honors seminar is a unique opportunity to work with fully-engaged, high-ability students in an interactive environment. Each year, we offer around 40 honors seminars from faculty across the University addressing the technical, economic, societal, cultural and ethical aspects of the many challenges facing our society in the 21st century.
Seminars are offered for two or three credits, are open to students from all disciplines (typically lack specific course prerequisites), and have enrollments limited to 19 students. 2xxx-level seminars are designed to be introductory and yet comprehensive courses focused on innovative ideas and topical issues. 3xxx-level seminars may address more complex themes through advanced reading, writing, and critical thinking. Tenure-track faculty who hope to teach a seminar multiple times are invited to apply for liberal education cores and themes for their courses, with assistance provided by UHP.
The submission period for academic year 2024-2025 will open in September 2023. The priority deadline for 2024-2025 academic year proposals is November 1st, 2023.
Honors Seminars may be taught as a course overload for additional pay or, with the approval of your department chair, count toward your teaching load.
NEXUS ONE & NEXUS
NEXUS Experiences are curated learning experiences, led by faculty or staff, that provide students an educational opportunity of around 45 hours outside of the restrictions of a traditional course. NEXUS experiences can take many forms, from an intensive week spent reading the daily newspaper and discussing current events and media ethics with faculty and peers, to a semester-long interdisciplinary exploration of tabletop board games. We are interested in both faculty to supplement the perspectives in existing experiences, as well as new ideas for innovative experiences. Honoraria are available to compensate facilitators and speakers at our experiences. Contact Associate Director Ian Ringgenberg (email@example.com) to get involved!
Every honors student begins their journey in UHP as part of a NEXUS One cohort. NEXUS One introduces students to honors and the broader NEXUS program by pairing them with a faculty facilitator and upper-division student mentor in a small cohort of 15 students or fewer. Across eight 75-minute meetings, students learn more about their values and identity, research, the University, and each other. Half of the meetings have curriculum provided by UHP through the NEXUS One Handbook (link), while the other half is creatively determined by the facilitator and their section, and can include anything from a field trip or arts-and-crafts day to learning about study-abroad opportunities. In this way, we hope every honors student will exit the experience familiar with at least one faculty member on campus, as well as feeling a sense of belonging to a group of their peers. Faculty are compensated $600 per cohort, with additional funds available for programming. Contact Angel Howard (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
Departmental Honors Courses
In addition to the Honors Seminar courses taught through the HSEM subject designator, we are proud to offer many honors versions of departmental courses, indicated by an “H” or “V” designator. These departmental honors courses give students access to advanced learning with other high ability students in your discipline. Having departmental honors courses available in your major is one of the key ways that you can support students to complete honors in your department.
Requirements of Honors Courses
While every honors course is unique in how it distinguishes itself from the non-honors version, we request the following of every honors course:
- They should be taught by faculty. While a TA may assist with grading, or occasionally with leading discussion, the main goal of having a departmental Honors curriculum is to give students regular access to faculty members both inside and outside the classroom.
- They should be smaller than their non-Honors counterparts. This is a corollary to the point above; if Honors classes are too large to foster enduring student-faculty engagement throughout the semester, then they miss the main thrust of having such a curriculum.
- They should offer a meaningfully different level of engagement with the material. We wish to avoid an honors course simply being more work, harder work, or an extra paper. Rather, we hope the honors curriculum can allow for enhanced experiences that benefit from lower enrollment courses of intellectually hungry students. The form that enhancement takes have included all of the following in the past:
- Enrichment: greater context for the material, greater breadth of ancillary or background material included, or a “deeper dive” into the material
- Acceleration: getting through the same material as a non-Honors section, but at a faster rate, for instance, completing what is normally a three-semester core-course sequence in two semesters
- Opportunities for student-driven, independent research
- Direct engagement with primary source material
- Projects and activities that take the student outside of a normal classroom environment
- Emphasis on discussion, collaboration, and problem-solving
- Opportunities for students to have some agency in the topics covered and the manner in which the class engages with the material
- Opportunities for students to interact with one another regularly around the course material
- Opportunities to engage meta-cognition, epistemology, and ontology (e.g., getting students to think about knowledge, its nature, and its acquisition)
To allow departments flexibility in offering an Honors curriculum in a resource-conscious manner, we have created three formats for an honors course:
- Stand-Alone Course: All course components (lecture, discussion, or lab) are unique to the honors section and taken exclusively by honors students – or those who have received the permission of UHP. Compared to the non-honors section, the honors course can move at its own pace and have deeper engagement throughout the syllabus since it is taught independently. This format is preferred when possible to provide both instructors and students with the highest quality experience.
- Embedded Section: The honors section occupies one or more sections (typically a discussion or lab) of a larger format course. Students may share a lecture with non-honors sections, but have an enhanced syllabus for a lab or discussion section dedicated to honors students. This format works well for high enrollment courses when resources are not available for a stand-alone course.
- Embedded Seats: The honors section is a cross-listing of the non-honors course, with honors students occupying some number of seats in a larger section and completing their honors engagement through an enhanced syllabus with out-of-class guidance from the instructor. This format is ideal for courses in which the demand for Honors seats can’t constitute a stand-alone section, often upper division electives within a major.
The process of creating an honors version of an existing course is less difficult than many assume, and in most cases does not require review by a curriculum committee or additional Liberal Education consideration. You will need a syllabus for the course which clearly indicates the ways in which the Honors version differs from its non-Honors offering. Please contact Associate Director Ian Ringgenberg (email@example.com) if you wish to begin the process.
Offering an Honors Add-On
The University Honors Program offers honors students the option of working directly with instructors to craft honors-level experiences in non-honors courses through the creation of an Honors Add-On. Add-Ons can be created for any A-F graded undergraduate course, with the exception that Add-Ons should not be offered in courses that have a regular honors offering (e.g. a student should not be permitted to complete an Add-On for Stat 3021 in the Fall if Stat 3021H is being offered in the Spring). Each student is limited to one Honors Add-On per academic year.
An Honors Add-On is an enhancement to your course that will allow the student to receive honors course credit for the completion of a non-honors course. In determining what will distinguish the Honors Add-On experience, it is tempting to simply ask for more work, harder work, a longer paper, and so forth. Rather, as with all Honors courses, the goal should be to foster a meaningfully different level of engagement with the material. The additional workload of an add-on is typically equal to one credit. Add-Ons typically take one of three forms:
- An Augmented Syllabus: The augmented syllabus is a written agreement between a student, a faculty member, and UHP in which the student agrees to do work above and beyond the regularly required course assignments in order to make a 1xxx-4xxx level course an Honors experience. To qualify as an Honors experience, the work done must be qualitatively beyond course requirements. Typically, this work covers topics in greater depth and involves greater use of primary sources, more creativity, more synthesis, and advanced analysis. The student is solely responsible for obtaining both preliminary and final approval from the course instructor and UHP.
- Faculty-directed Research: When appropriate, students may conduct research related to the subject of the course under your supervision to fulfill an honors add-on. This may involve joining your research project or lab, or conducting individual research under your supervision that is not integrated into other course assignments. This work may very well extend beyond the course’s timeline and lead to further directed research credits or thesis work.
- A Semester-long Project: Rather than doing a variety of things outlined in an augmented syllabus, or working on research with a faculty member, a special project related to the course material may be the best option for turning some non-Honors courses into Honors experiences. Again, this project should not be just “an extra paper,” but rather something that will engage the student throughout the semester in meaningful exploration, discovery, primary-source contact, experiential learning, community engagement, problem-solving, and/or other vehicles to provide for a meaningfully different level of engagement with the course material.
In all cases, students will initiate the add-on via the Honors Reporting Center attaching documentation explaining the content and timeline of their add-on work, which will then be forwarded to the instructor and UHP for approval. While Honors Add-Ons are typically arranged for a single student, if multiple students wish to complete an add-on, you are welcome to craft a single set of expectations for all students to complete.
Supervising an Honors Thesis
To graduate with Latin Honors, every honors student must complete a Latin Honors Thesis in their major department. Faculty play an essential role in this process, serving on student thesis committees either as an advisor or one of their thesis readers. All students must have a committee made up of an advisor and two additional thesis readers, though only one of the three must be tenure-track faculty.
If you are new to supervising a thesis, you’ll want to review the Major and Thesis Requirements for the major in which the thesis is being written. We would also encourage you to contact the Honors Faculty Representative listed on the same page, as they may have additional guidance on expectations of theses in their department.
In addition to the department-specific thesis requirements listed on our website, UHP has general guidelines for all Honors theses. The Honors Thesis must go above and beyond any project done for a course other than thesis or directed-studies/independent-studies courses. It may expand upon a term paper for a course, but may not simply be a repurposed project completed for another course or requirement. All students must demonstrate in this project:
- the ability to digest pre-existing work, present and summarize it succinctly, and, hence, articulate the context in which the student’s new work is situated;
- the ability to propose an idea in brief (i.e., the thesis proposal), and then bring that idea to fruition within a given timeline;
- the ability to present writing or recordings whose quality and polish are at a publishable or public-presentation level (even if the data, research, or ideas are still at a preliminary level);
- and, the ability to go beyond programmatic or major capstone requirements for non-UHP students.
Moreover, a summa cum laude thesis must also demonstrate:
- the ability to do original (i.e., not an extended literature review or synopsis of previous work), highest-quality work;
- the ability to meet department- or program-specific stipulations for summa-level thesis work (available at the website identified in the section above)
The UHP Faculty Resources Folder contains additional information including our Honors Faculty Handbook, sample syllabi, the Honors Seminar Guide, and a list of our department liaisons. This information is available to anyone with a UMN account.