The Honors College is dedicated to innovative courses, hands-on experience, service learning, and — most importantly — the individuality and diversity of our brilliant students.
Some learning experiences — and some unique students — just don’t fit into the standard college curriculum. You know the type — the student who wants to double-major in neuroscience and philosophy, with a minor in business. Or the student who doesn’t see a major that suits her wild mosaic of interests and wants to design one of her own. That’s why we guide our students in charting their own course with their own personalized curriculum.View the Personalized Curriculum Details >
Working with your honors adviser, you’ll start to develop your interests and talents into goals. Then you’ll build a pathway to get there, going through honors offerings to find courses that interest you, inspire you, and engage you. Your next step is to string them all together in a four-year curriculum that will take you places no standard, one-size-fits-all curriculum ever could — no additional courses, no extra semesters, just four years of satisfying your degree requirements with classes and experiences like none other. You’ll check in with your adviser every semester to make sure your pathway is headed in the right direction, but what they won’t do is tell you what course to take in what semester. They’ll show you the array of options available to you, and then the next steps are up to you.
And it’s not just classes — your adviser will help you find leadership and service opportunities to make it all meaningful. They’ll help you learn about your subject and about yourself. (We had one biology major who uncovered a love for filmmaking during an honors seminar — he’s added a digital media minor and is combining both of his passions into one.) You’re the one going out there to make a difference in the world after graduation. It only makes sense to prepare you with a targeted, personalized curriculum.
Sample Courses: Think Like an Entrepreneur; Persuasion: How To Get More of What You Want and Make Others Feel Good About Giving It To You; Border Crossings and Parallel Worlds in British Fiction; Human Trafficking; Creativity and Imagination
Honors students are known for leadership. Look at any major student organization on campus — Ambassadors, TrailBlazers, Student Government, Residence Life, Athletics, Greek life — and you’ll find an honors student in a leading role. We count on our students to lead the Honors College as well, and we create opportunities for them to develop their leadership potential through the Honors College Ambassadors and the Honors College Student Leadership Council. Leadership comes in many forms, but the element that brings them together is passion — to make the world better, to accomplish change, to innovate. It involves knowing who you are, what’s important to you, and how you can make a difference. And that’s why we get to know you on a personal level and why we allow you — and challenge you — to personalize your experiences in the classroom and out in the world around you.
|Engineering, Innovation, and Design: How to Turn a Series of Mistakes Into a Successful Outcome||Dr. Iwan Alexander, Dr. Timothy Wick|
|Individual Choice and Population Health: Making Hard Decisions in Public and Personal Health||Dr. Suzanne Judd|
|Persuasion: How to Get More of What You Want and Make Others Feel Good About Giving It To You||Dr. Mike Wittmann|
|Health and Humanity: Being a Global Leader||Dr. Henna Budhwani|
|Think Like an Entrepreneur||Dr. Joel H. Dobbs|
|Justice for All? Education and Opportunity in America||Dr. Ashley Kuntz|
|Design Thinking for Innovators||Dr. Molly Wasko|
|Our Environment, Our Choices, Our Selves||Dr. Dale Dickinson|
|Media, Culture, and Society||Professor Michele Forman|
|The Secrets of Better Communication||Dr. Timothy Levine|
|The Who, What, Where, When, and How: An Interdisciplinary View of Healthcare Delivery in America||Dr. Shannon Morrison, Dr. Erica Pryor|
|Leadership||Dr. Scott Boyar|
|Ethical Conflicts in Health Care||Dr. Mariko Nakano|
UAB Honors College students start their freshman year strong, studying under top-notch faculty from the first day of their first Honors Seminar.
|Honors African American Studies||Dr. DaReef Jamison|
|Honors Creativity & Imagination||Professor Lauren Lake|
|Phage Genomics I||Dr. Denise Monti|
|General Chem I Lab (Honors)||Professor Mitzy Erdmann|
|General Chemistry I – Honors||Dr. Gary Gray|
|Organic Chemistry I – Honors||Dr. Jacqueline Nikles|
|Public Speaking – Honors||Dr. Steve McCornack|
|Principles of Microeconomics – Honors||Dr. Joshua Robinson|
|English Composition I – Honors||Dr. Gale Temple|
|English Composition I SL – Honors||Dr. Nichole Lariscy|
|English Composition I SL – Honors||Dr. Cassandra Ellis|
|Amer. Lit. Before 1865 SL – Honors||Dr. Jennifer Young|
|Sp.Top.: Irish Rising 1916 HON||Dr. Kieran Quinlan|
|Calculus I – Honors||Dr. Lex Oversteegen|
|Engineering Graphics – Honors||Dr. Douglas Ross|
|Learning and Memory – Honors||Dr. Cristin Gavin|
|Special Topics in Neuroscience||Dr. Gwendolyn King|
|Methods in Human Neuroimaging||Dr. Kristina Visscher|
|Mechanisms of Memory||Dr. Cristin Gavin|
|Honors Origins of Epidemics||Dean Max Michael|
|Honors Intro to Global Health||Dr. Henna Budhwani|
|Honors Public Health Bio Basis||Dr. Dale Dickinson|
|Honors Env. Fators in PUH||Dr. Dale Dickinson|
|Intro to Psychology – Honors||Dr. Mary Boggiano|
|Methods in Neuroimaging||Dr. Kristina Visscher|
|Intro to Sociology – Honors||Dr. Elizabeth Baker|
The same group I study with for one class can comprise different majors, concentrations, and reasons for studying the subject.
— Charlotte Boles, Honors College
Not all Honors College students choose a personalized pathway — some find a perfect academic fit in one of our three specialized honors programs. The Global and Community Leadership Honors Program, Science and Technology Honors Program, and University Honors Program lay out a curriculum of courses and experiences to thoroughly explore global leadership, science and technology, or interdisciplinary arts and sciences.
Global and Community Leadership Honors Program
Students in the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program (GCL) know that they’re members of a community — not just a local one, but a global one. And that means their responsibilities to their community span the globe. Social justice issues like educational disparities, poverty, human rights, environmental degradation, and health care access touch lives in every country, in every big city and small village, at every socioeconomic level. GCL prepares students to explore, understand, and take a leadership role in addressing those issues and making those lives better.View the GCL Details >
The GCL curriculum is a carefully crafted mix of interdisciplinary coursework that will equip you to make a difference in local and global communities. Our “Burning Issues” course educates you on human rights, the environment, health, and educational opportunity — four foundational areas that impact almost every social justice issue facing society. Once you’ve identified your own burning issue (you know, the thing that keeps you awake at night and motivates you to make a difference), our GCL advisors will help you find additional courses to deepen your understanding and fan the flame of your passion. From there, you’ll complete a capstone course called “Stoking the Fire — Leadership in Action,” which will provide you with the skills and abilities to be a social change leader.
But it’s not just about the coursework — GCL courses lay a foundation for all of the other educational experiences you’ll have out in the world. Whether you study abroad or partner with local nonprofits, every new encounter is an opportunity for service, and every lesson learned is another step toward engaged, responsible, inspiring leadership.
In GCL, our four core values are Participatory Citizenship, Ethical Leadership, Creative Problem-Solving, and Effective Community. Of course, we don’t need to explain that to you because you already have the drive to internalize those values and put them to use in the world. Our goal is to connect you right away with service experiences and leadership opportunities that will prepare you for all of the impactful work you will do in the future.
Sample Courses: Justice for All? Education and Opportunity in America; Human Trafficking; Global Health Service Learning; Leadership
Student leadership is a huge component of the Global and Community Leadership Honors Program — it’s right there in the name. Our students take the education they receive about world issues, and the guidance and support in developing their leadership strengths, and use them to initiate real change. Engaged, driven GCL students have started campus organizations, including Universities Fighting World Hunger; ONE at UAB, advocating for the reduction of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa; and Active Minds, raising awareness about mental health and mental illness. They also plan and host social and service events each month that are open to the entire UAB Honors College community.
GCL students must complete a minimum of 18 hours of designated honors coursework; students may complete 30 hours of honors coursework for a higher graduation designation.
Required GCL Coursework
12 hours of designated GCL honors coursework:
- Honors Seminar: HC 110-120 (3 credit hours) – Seminar on a topic related to GCL’s mission; topics vary annually.
- Burning Issues: HC 150 (3 credit hours) – Overview of various issues facing society (e.g., human rights, sustainability, healthcare access, educational opportunity). Course includes guest speakers, topical readings, and significant reflective writing. Ultimately, students identify an issue that ignites their passion – their “burning issue.”
- Fanning the Flame: Variable courses (3 credit hours) – Student will select a course that provides further exploration of the student’s “burning issue.”
- Stoking the Fire - Leadership in Action: HC 350 (3 credit hours) – Students will learn, develop, and put into practice a pragmatic skill set for management and operations in social change leadership.
Six additional hours of honors coursework:
- Students should take the remaining hours from approved honors courses relevant to GCL’s mission. GCL administration will designate appropriate honors courses for GCL students each semester, and students will choose the courses that are most applicable to their own passions and goals.
For students who choose to earn 30 hours of honors credit, the additional 12 hours of honors coursework can be earned through non-GCL specific honors seminars, honors sections of core courses, honors by contract, and/or school/departmental honors programs.
GCL students are required to complete a minimum of one experiential learning course at UAB. These courses may include service learning, study abroad, research, or internships. If taken for honors credit, these experiential learning courses may help fulfill the honors requirement. If not taken for honors credit, they will not be applied to the honors requirements but can still satisfy the experiential learning requirement.
Science and Technology Honors Program
The Science and Technology Honors Program (STH) is built around the knowledge that our students are driven, they’re curious, they’re smart, and they don’t want to wait to put those qualities to good use. We’ve built a curriculum around starting science and technology right away, from an honors-honed core curriculum (enjoy your English class focused on scientific and technical writing) to specialty classes that teach you the fundamentals of science right there in the lab where they belong. Because that’s where you belong.View the STH Details >
The STH curriculum lays out a challenging, engaging four-year path from student/learner to skilled technician to scientist/innovator, from the basics of lab techniques, scientific communication, and planning to the intricacies of scientific research and leadership. Students graduate from the program with exciting knowledge, honors recognition (and most students can satisfy requirements for honors in their major using their STH thesis), and years of lab experience already under their belts before they even start grad school.
A series of STH seminars will explore methodologies and techniques used to study biology, cell biology, chemistry, complex information systems, engineering, neuroscience, physics, and more. A series of Research Approaches courses will teach you state-of-the-art lab methods in biotechnology, molecular genetics, and other disciplines (ever wanted to splice DNA?), taking you to active research labs to observe researchers up close. And your honors thesis will put all of that to use, launching a two-year, hands-on research project that takes you from proposal to publication — from skilled lab technician to actual scientist.
It’s all about experience. Our semiannual “Quick Connections” event is like speed dating for research scientists, helping students connect with faculty mentors who share their interests and want to help support their goals. Those connections can get STH students into the lab as early as freshman year, working one-on-one with their mentors and other researchers to see what real scientific discovery looks like up close — and to make discoveries of their own.
Sample Courses: Problem Analysis and Project Planning; Communicating Science; Clinical Innovation Seminar
Leadership and teamwork are two of the most essential skills a scientist can bring to the lab — and they can only be taught to people who really want to learn them. That drive to lead is what sets STH students apart — to be leaders at the bench and in the community. Through a two-semester leadership sequence, our students plan and carry out service projects to benefit the program, the university, or the Birmingham community. UAB’s annual regional Science Olympiad, the Alabama Brain Bee, and the student awards program at the Alabama Academy of Science have all been STH initiatives. STH students also occupy leadership positions on the Student Executive Council, planning key aspects of the program, assisting faculty with program seminars, and mentoring and tutoring. No evil scientists here — our students use their powers of research, critical thinking, analysis, and discovery to do good.
All Science and Technology Honors students complete 30 credit hours of honors coursework. In the first two years, Sci-Tech students participate in a four-course sequence introducing them to the scientific process, exposing them to research methodologies and techniques, and providing them with hands-on experience in in the lab. Building on this foundation, students then complete a two-year intensive research experience under the direction of UAB faculty mentor. This project becomes the student’s Honors Thesis and is prepared for publication in a scientific journal and for presentation at a national conference.
Each student in the program takes the following STH Program coursework during their first two years in the program to prepare for their independent research experience:
- STH 199 Introduction to the Scientific Process (3 credit hours). Fall semester of freshman year. Students work in teams to analyze current scientific problems under investigation by UAB faculty, learning about how scientists approach problems and conduct their research, including ethics and institutional review of human and animal research.
- STH 201 Research Approaches (3 credit hours). Spring semester of freshman year. Systematic training in foundational research methodologies and opportunity to application of the methods in research laboratories. Students choose among biotechnology training, advanced chemical analysis, molecular genetics or engineering design principles.
- STH 299 Interdisciplinary Seminar (3 credit hours). Fall semester of sophomore year. This course illustrates the synergy achieved by interdisciplinary analysis of problems. Example topics include High Voltage Innovation, Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Energy Generation and Conservation, Disorders of the Central Nervous System, and Creating a Culture of Sustainability.
- STH 395/400 Proposal and Thesis Preparation (1 credit hour each). Small enrollment courses that mentor students through preparing a compelling proposal for their honors thesis research and a scientific publication reporting the research.
To complete the program, students also take a special section of English composition that focuses specifically on scientific and technical communication, enroll in honors research and honors thesis courses, and complete two leadership preparation courses. In addition, they can enroll in honors versions of many core courses to fulfill the 30 hours of honors credit required.
University Honors Program
Life doesn’t follow one path, and knowledge doesn’t come from one field of study. The University Honors Program (UHP) provides a uniquely engaging arts and sciences curriculum taught by faculty from a wide variety of academic fields. Special team-taught interdisciplinary courses and small seminars replace the core curriculum with something more innovative and varied for excellent students who value the full diversity of their skills and interests.View the UHP Details >
Unique Curriculum: An expansive interdisciplinary course focused on broad themes and taught by a six-person team of faculty and otherwise knowledgeable community members is created afresh each year for the combined class of first- and second-year students. Honors seminars (limited to 16 students) are taught to students of all years by diverse faculty on subjects related to their fields of expertise but not found among the usual department listings. Service learning is formally incorporated into the interdisciplinary curriculum as an annual joint project between UHP and Arrington Middle School 7th graders.
Sample Interdisciplinary Courses: Food; Conflict and Cooperation; Science, Technology, and Society; Nationhood; Knowledge and Ways of Knowing; In Search of Human Nature
Sample Seminars: God & the White Coat: the Influence of Religion on Medicine; Beyond Beads, Booze, and Bourbon Street: the Literature and Culture of New Orleans; Personalized Genomic Medicine; Intelligent Life in the Universe; Harry Potter: Ethics and Imagination
Housed in a beautiful old church on the southern edge of campus and led by a supportive and devoted team of faculty and staff, UHP provides an environment that is as familial as it is academic wherein students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, be steered by their intellectual curiosity, and develop the full diversity of their interests and talents. Many UHP students travel (program-funded) to present research at regional and national honors conferences. Many take an active role in the governance of the honors program itself including the selection processes by which students are admitted and seminars are chosen. Many contribute to and help design student-run creative arts and research journals (Sanctuary; Inquiro). Many study or engage in service activities abroad for weeks, months, even a year at a time. And an impressive number of UHP students have been awarded Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater, Fulbright, and other national scholarships.
UHP has a long tradition of empowering its students to lead, not only within the program but also throughout the surrounding communities and beyond. Our students are extremely well represented in USGA and in the governance of other campus-wide student organizations. And within UHP, our student-run Steering Committee oversees all student extracurricular activities and initiatives in the program from community service, student recruitment, sustainability, and Homecoming to road trips, intramural sports, and the two student-run scholarly journals.
Students in the University Honors Program take 33 credit hours of honors coursework and three credit hours of mathematics that replace the 41 credit hours of UAB Core Curriculum requirements. UHP students have two options for completing their 33 credit hours in honors:
- Two 9-credit-hour fall-semester interdisciplinary honors courses plus five 3-credit-hour honors seminars (only two of which can be related to the student’s major or minor); or
- Two 9-credit-hour fall-semester interdisciplinary honors courses, a minimum of three 3-credit-hour honors seminars (not related to the student’s major or minor), and up to six semester hours of departmental honors coursework within the student’s major (with the total number of credit hours adding up to 33).
The interdisciplinary honors courses are offered during the fall semester and are open only to University Honors Program students. These courses are team-taught by faculty members (usually six) from different schools in the university and by guest lecturers from the medical center, the business, and other areas. Each interdisciplinary course is organized thematically and designed to cover a broad range of material so the student is introduced to all areas covered by the Core Curriculum and to a wide variety of other areas as well. Topics of past interdisciplinary courses have included “Minds and Realities," "In Search of Human Nature," "It's About Time," and "The Anatomy of Desire." As part of the course, each student works on an independent project related to the central theme. Since instructors are committed to full-time teaching of this course, students receive ample advice and guidance on their projects.
The University Honors program offers about 18-20 different honors seminars each year. Some are cross-listed in other departments and so are open to all students at UAB. These seminars are offered during the fall semester, spring semester, and summer term and are limited to 16 students. Honors seminars are available in a variety of different fields and focus on issues that are of major interest within the field and also have implications and applications beyond it. Examples of honors seminars which have been taught are "Ethnographic Filmmaking," " China's Next Phase," "Cognitive Brain Imaging," "Philosophy, Psychology, and the Economics of Happiness," "Existentialism and Modern Literature."
UHP students can also receive up to three credits for participation in special UHP events and completing UHP-approved long-term community service projects. In addition, students may propose an internship or independent study project in place of one seminar. They also have the option of registering for one, two, or three credit hours of Honors Research.