Your Unique

Academics Like None Other

The Honors College is dedicated to innovative courses, hands-on experience, service learning, and — most importantly — the individuality and diversity of our brilliant students.

Personalized Global and Community Leadership Honors Program Science and Technology Honors Program University Honors Program UABHC Info Graphic

Personalized Curriculum

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

Student Leadership

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.

Student Spotlight: Rebecca Hyde, ’17

Rebecca Hyde made her first visit to UAB as a high school senior. She met with honors advisers and faculty in her area of interest, she took notes on all of the honors opportunities available to her at UAB, and she chose us. Then she started writing, and attacking, a lengthy and ambitious personal and academic bucket list. As an International Studies student, she won the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Oman. As a person with diverse interests, she discovered a passion for filmmaking in one of her honors seminars and designed a second major. Last summer, Rebecca combined both passions as a Clinton Scholar in Dubai, studying the region and documenting her experience through film. This fall, she used photography and digital media to document poverty in Birmingham in her “Stories from the Line” service learning course. And, just for fun, she spent this summer working Space Camp Turkey!

View Honors Seminars >
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

View Honors Sections of Core and Elective Courses >

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

Specialized Programs

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

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.

Student Spotlight: Sarah Griffin, ’17

Sarah came to UAB with a simple goal — become governor of Alabama one day. She’s preparing for a career in public service by majoring in political science and philosophy, taking on leadership roles in every corner of campus life, and serving her community every chance she gets. Not surprisingly, Sarah has been an active student leader in the UAB Undergraduate Student Government Association. She’s also served as an Honors College Ambassador, President of the UAB Student Fellowship of Philosophy, and President of Baptist Campus Ministry. Most recently, Sarah interned on a U.S. Senate Campaign, which gave her hands-on experience with running for office — making phone calls, knocking on doors, organizing volunteers, and seeking campaign contributions. Some students worry that they won’t have time to excel in honors coursework and also get involved in leadership initiatives on campus. Sarah is living proof that you can be academically successful in the classroom while also pursuing your passions wholeheartedly on campus and in the community. She’s got our vote!

View GCL Requirements and Courses >


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.

Experiential Learning

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

Student Leadership

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.

Student Spotlight: Brenna Nye, ’17

Brenna Nye came to UAB from a math and science high school in Mississippi to study molecular biology — and she quickly came to appreciate the difference between just studying science and actually becoming a scientist. As she was learning scientific writing, making contacts and connections with researchers, helping to coordinate the regional Science Olympiad, and even presenting at an undergrad research symposium her freshman year, she knew that she was looking at her future. And she liked it. Currently, Brenna is working in the lab of Adam Wende, Ph.D., looking at how glucose regulates gene expression in cardiac muscle of type 1 diabetics — research that can have a major impact on the future of diabetes treatment. Last summer, after being admitted to multiple, fully funded summer research programs, Brenna chose to study bioinformatics and genetics at the University of Iowa on a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates scholarship. She plans to attend grad school to focus on genetic research, aided by knowledge, skills, and experience she’s already gained in just a couple of years in STH.

View STH Requirements and Courses >


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.

Student Leadership

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.

Student Spotlight: Hriday Bhambhvani, ’17

Hriday joined the UHP from the Alabama School of Fine Arts. He was attracted to the UHP’s interdisciplinary arts and science curriculum, which has allowed him to explore ideas well beyond the immediate area of his research interests with fellow students from diverse backgrounds. Hriday has enjoyed giving tours to prospective students and their families as a UAB TrailBlazer, and has been a long-serving ACT tutor in inner city schools. His undergraduate research, mentored by the chair of the Department of Psychiatry, has been presented at multiple conferences and he has already published papers in professional journals. A 2016 Goldwater Honorable Mention, Hriday was selected as an Amgen Scholar at Caltech in summer 2015 and an NIH summer intern in summer 2016. He will graduate in April 2017 with two separate degrees, a BS in Neuroscience and a BS in Mathematics, before entering an MD or MD-Ph.D. program.

View UHP Requirements and Courses >


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.

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