Honors Curriculum - The University of Tulsa

Honors Curriculum

Honors Core

Your Honors studies at TU begin with a set of integrated and interdisciplinary Honors Seminars. In these small interactive seminars, you join a centuries-old conversation about how we make sense of our human condition and what ideas, principles and practices best equip us to live well. Honors Scholars analyze literary and artistic creations, mine historical accounts, weigh philosophical arguments and political debates, and examine scientific discoveries and technological innovations — all with an eye toward deepening our understanding of our world and ourselves.

Ultimately, the Honors Program aspires to cultivate the habits of mind and attention that distinguish a well-rounded, well-educated human being. Because of this, each Honors Seminar can be used to fulfill general education requirements that all University of Tulsa students must fulfill.

  1. In your first Honors seminar you investigate the standards of antiquity. You encounter the invention of history, philosophy, tragedy and democracy, among many other things. We read and assess these past thinkers, artists and scientists in their own right. At the same time we use the ancients to help us better understand ourselves as moderns. What is it that we have inherited from the ancient Greeks (for better and for worse) and what is it that we have left behind (for better and for worse)?
  2. The second Honors seminar investigates how we move from the ancient to the modern world. You can choose to study these foundational traditions through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and/or the Enlightenment.
  3. The scientific enterprise captures our attention in the third Honors seminar. We examine why science takes off in the West when and how it did, and we consider too what it means to do science.
  4. In the fourth Honors seminar we assess modernity and its legacies in one of two ways: either through thinkers who identify the sources and experience of modern discontent, or through contemporary issues.

These integrated and interdisciplinary Honors seminars lay the foundation for higher education at TU. The sequence moves chronologically so that we can study how thinkers use, abuse, enlist, revise and/or reject thinkers who came before them. They sustain a conversation that fosters intellectual community and helps to make visible how our own individual thinking takes shape over time and in response to a wide array of concerns.

Honors Portfolio and Your Honors Plan

Your Honors Portfolio and Honors Plan invite you to enrich your undergraduate studies by tailoring readings, courses and other intellectual investigations to speak to your most pressing questions.

Your Honors Portfolio

The Honors Portfolio challenges you to reflect upon the nature of your intellectual inquiries and to discern what is your own best thinking. At the end of each semester, Scholars take stock of their studies by answering three questions.

  1. What have I been reading and thinking about this semester, across all my courses and in my independent readings, art and/or research? By answering this question, you build an annotated bibliography indexing the ideas you’ve studied during the semester.
  2. Of all the work I have produced, what has been my most meaningful accomplishment of the semester? By selecting a writing sample or some other artifact that represents your most meaningful work of the semester, you highlight both your talents and your passions.
  3. What are the discoveries I have made over the semester, and how have this semester’s studies shaped my thinking and development? In response to this final question, you craft a succinct narrative where you distill the questions that have been animating your curiosity and shaping your inquiries.

This sort of reflection is valuable in and of itself, as it advances our self-awareness and engages us in the sort of metacognition that distinguishes deep and adaptive learners. In addition, Honors professors read these portfolio entries so they may help Scholars identify potential research questions, burgeoning interests and emerging themes.

Your Honors Plan

After you complete the Honors Core Curriculum, we will ask you if you want to continue your Honors studies. Some of our Honors Scholars will decide not to continue in Honors because they want to immerse themselves in their studies in their major and the various research projects or professional internships they may be involved in. But if you have a burning question or two that may fall by the wayside if you focused solely on your burgeoning area of expertise, then you will likely want to design and pursue an Honors Plan.

Your Honors Plan will be unique to you, what you are curious about and where your intellectual and professional aspirations direct you. Indeed, figuring out what sort of endeavors will best serve you is part of the challenge. To get started, you will review your Honors Portfolio with two professors, one from your home major and one in a different discipline. Together, you identify your strengths and weaknesses and articulate your interests and goals, in order to design a course of action that broadens and deepens your undergraduate studies.

That course of action may take shape as a traditional Honors Thesis, or it may make more sense to structure your investigation as a set of independent readings that you discuss with the relevant experts on campus. Yet another plan may envision pursuing opportunities like civic engagement or service learning so to apply their particular area of expertise in different contexts. However your Honors Plan takes shape, it should complement rather than duplicate your studies.

Honors Scholars who wish to enrich their studies as an upperclassman with independent work must have an Honors Mentor agree to advise their Honors Plan, and file their plan with the Honors Program Office by December 1st of their fifth semester at TU. They then use their Honors Portfolio to document their progress as they execute their Honors Plan.


To remain eligible for the Honors program students should be making good progress through the Honors curriculum. Specifically, Honors Scholars must:

  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA in the first year and a 3.25 cumulative GPA thereafter;
  • Be enrolled in an Honors seminar or have an approved Honors Plan on file with the Honors Program office;
  • Post their threefold reflection to their Honors Portfolio each semester