Honors Courses

Honors courses are open to qualified undergraduates in any school of the university.

University Honors Program

The University Honors Program provides opportunities for academically outstanding undergraduate students to develop their full potential during their undergraduate years. The Honors Program seeks to bring together students from diverse backgrounds and from every school at KU to grow through honors classes, honors seminars, and co-curricular events. Additionally, the program brings together students and faculty members in a teaching and research environment that ensures high academic achievements and standards.

Honors classes are typically small, discussion-oriented, and taught by full-time members of the faculty. Most honors courses fulfill KU Core (or major) requirements and deal with introductory fundamentals and principles, but they are likely to do so in more depth than their non-honors equivalents. While there is no required number of honors hours a student must enroll in each semester, students must complete 18 hours of honors credit to graduate with University Honors.

During each student’s first year in the program, a semester-long seminar provides an introduction to an academic area of study in an informal setting that allows students to get to know one another and their instructor. The seminar explores the research methods of a discipline and acquaints students with resources available at KU.

Whatever a student’s school or major, Honors Program advisors recommend that they explore their interests through the broad curriculum choices KU has to offer, expanding their knowledge through a range of liberal arts and science courses. Additionally, Honors students are required to engage in educational experiences beyond the classroom such as research, study abroad, internships, or community service to graduate with University Honors.

Honors advising involves regular, personalized meetings with honors staff, faculty fellows, or specially selected advisors from across the university. The program’s staff facilitates early and frequent contact with academic advisors in the students’ areas of interest. Honors students benefit from priority enrollment, which provides flexibility in planning one’s academic curriculum.

University Honors also houses the Office of Fellowships & Scholarships, which coordinates merit-based scholarship opportunities for all qualified students at KU, regardless of affiliation with University Honors. Among other projects, OFS coordinates the University Scholars Program and the campus-wide nomination process for many competitive national awards, including the Goldwater, Truman, Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, and Udall scholarships.


Students from all backgrounds who are seeking to be challenged academically, personalized guidance, and an intellectual community during their time at KU are encouraged to apply to the University Honors Program. For incoming freshmen, applications are evaluated on the basis of high school curriculum, unweighted high school GPA, activities and involvement, standardized test scores, and an essay. For first- and second-year KU students and incoming transfer students, applications are evaluated based on college GPA, involvement and activities, and two essays. Students interested in applying can learn more at the Honors website.

Completion of the Program

Students graduate with University Honors by completing 8 honors units and the first-year seminar while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher. The 8 units must be completed as follows:

  1. 6 honors courses (may include honors courses, less-commonly taught languages, graduate-level courses numbered 700 and above, and other courses completed under an Honors Course Contract).
  2. 1 out-of-classroom experience such as study abroad, documented research experience, approved and documented internship experience, or approved and documented community service.
  3. The eighth unit may be from either category 1 or category 2.

Starting with the Freshman class entering KU in fall 2016, the requirements for graduating with University Honors will change:Honors students will from now on complete an Honors Seminar, 18 hours of Honors course credit, and a selection of 4 Enhanced Learning Experiences (ELEs). 

Each Enhanced Learning Experience may have course-based and/or experience-based paths for completion. No one activity can fulfill two separate experiences (though a course taken toward the 18 hours of Honors credit can also count toward an ELE). Upon completion of each ELE, students will post a reflection question in their KU Portal.

Honors Enhanced Learning Experience categories include:

1. Public Service
2. Cultural Literacy & Social Justice 
3. Global Citizenship  
4. Aesthetic Engagement 
5. Professional Development & Social Entrepreneurship  
6. Leadership 
7. Research Skills & In-Depth Learning 
8. Interdisciplinarity & Breadth of Learning  
9. Student initiated experience 

Nunemaker Center

Nunemaker Center is the home of the Honors Program, located across the street from Templin Hall, the honors dorm at KU. Honors students are encouraged to take advantage of the spaces available at Nunemaker, including several classrooms and study areas, a kitchen, comfortable lounges, and wireless Internet access. Honors advisors are regularly available to meet with students throughout the year, and the center is open most days and evenings.


HNRS 177. First Year Seminar: _____. 3 Hours GE11 / U.

A limited-enrollment, seminar course for first-time freshmen, addressing current issues in Honors. Course is designed to meet the critical thinking learning outcome of the KU Core. First-Year Seminar topics are coordinated and approved by the Office of First-Year Experience. Prerequisite: First-time freshman status. LEC.

HNRS 190. Freshman Honors Seminar. 1 Hour U.

This seminar serves as an introduction to the Honors Program, to the research opportunities and other academic resources available at the University of Kansas and to specific disciplinary perspectives on an overarching theme. While closely examining a topic germane to the instructor, students develop skills in research, reading, writing and in-depth discussion. The instructor of the student's seminar also serves as the academic honors advisor for the enrolled students. Required of all freshman Honors students; open only to freshmen in the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 195. Transfer Honors Seminar. 1 Hour U.

This seminar serves as an introduction to the Honors Program, and to the research opportunities and other academic resources available at the University of Kansas. This seminar fosters the transfer students' oral and written communication and the critical assessment of their academic and pre-professional goals. The instructor of the student's seminar also serves as the academic honors advisor for the enrolled students. Open only to transfer students in the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 250. Citizen Philanthropy: An Introduction to the Nonprofit World. 3 Hours AE51 / U.

This interdisciplinary course explores the historical and economic roots of citizen generosity and the role of the nonprofit/philanthropic sector. This service learning course combines volunteer experiences and public service internships with research and exploration of the missions and ethical orientations of nonprofit organizations. The course is designed to explore the social and the ethical contexts of the nonprofit sector with opportunities to demonstrate social and civic responsibility. LEC.

HNRS 300. Honors Commons Course. 3 Hours H.

An opportunity to investigate a broad topic across various subjects and disciplines. In alliance with the University Commons at Spooner Hall, this course examines a problem or topic from perspectives of several disciplines across the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities. The course is complemented by a dedicated annual university lecture series germane to the course's topic. Prerequisite: Membership in the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 310. University Scholars Seminar. 3 Hours U.

An interdisciplinary survey to acquaint students with some of the main ideas, methods, and outstanding problems in various areas of scholarship. The organization of human knowledge inside and outside the university, as well as the implications of this organization for scholarship and society, are emphasized. Ideas and methods in various disciplines are contrasted and compared. Required of and open only to newly admitted students in the University Scholars Program. LEC.

HNRS 320. Global Scholars Seminar. 3 Hours H.

The Global Scholars Seminar is designed to foster academically talented and motivated undergraduate students' interest in global studies. Through interdisciplinary coursework, mentorship and research experience in global studies, the seminar provides cohorts of students with opportunities to develop their intellectual capabilities and interests to the fullest and better prepares them for careers, further study, and leadership roles in today's complex international arena. Required of and open only to newly admitted students in the Global Scholars Program. LEC.

HNRS 370. Personal Writing Seminar. 1 Hour U.

This seminar helps students develop their personal writing abilities. Students analyze language and rhetorical choices in the genre of the personal essay. Students demonstrate rhetorical flexibility within the genre, considering audience, purpose, and application of the material. Prerequisite: Permission of the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 380. Critical Thinking and Advocacy Seminar. 1 Hour U.

The focus of this class is on honing the two basic skills of critical thinking and advocacy. In this seminar, students develop a basic system for critical analysis that can be applied generally; test that critical analysis system in a series of practicums to develop the skills necessary to apply it; and develop a basic system for designing effective and ethical persuasive messages. Prerequisite: Permission of the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 430. Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar. 3 Hours U.

An opportunity to synthesize topic across various subjects and disciplines. This course examines a problem or topic from the perspectives of several disciplines. Open to qualified sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the University Honors Program. LEC.

HNRS 492. Topics and Problems on: _____. 1-6 Hours U.

An interdisciplinary study of different topics. Designed especially for juniors and seniors. LEC.

HNRS 495. Honors Directed Study. 1-3 Hours U.

Individual and supervised study of an interdisciplinary topic or topics. May be repeated for a total of up to 6 hours. Up to one 3-hour enrollment will count as one course toward completion of the University Honors Program. Prerequisite: Membership in the University Honors Program and consent of the instructor. IND.

HNRS 496. Honors Internship. 1-3 Hours U.

Students participate in an internship in an organization related to their professional/career goals. An internship plan is developed by the student in conjunction with the student's academic adviser and an authorized agent of the internship site. Prerequisite: Instructor permission required. INT.

HNRS 497. Honors Freshman Seminar Assistantship. 0 Hours.

Open to all Honors students selected to be Honors Freshman Seminar Assistants, regardless of major field. These students assist Seminar instructors in the teaching of an Honors seminar in various ways, including but not limited to: leading group discussion; engaging students in the learning process; developing classroom material; encouraging and guiding students to solve problems themselves and helping students prepare for their advising assignments. Offered fall semester only. May be repeated. LEC.

HNRS 520. University Scholars Junior/Senior Seminar. 2-3 Hours U.

An interdisciplinary seminar course designed for advanced-level students in the University Scholars Program. Faculty mentors are invited to attend. Will count toward completion of the University Honors Program. Prerequisite: HNRS 310 or concurrently. LEC.