May 30, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Bulletin

Honors College

Jennifer Frey, Dean



The mission of the Honors College at the University of Tulsa is to offer an excellent and accelerated education, focused on the study of classical texts in the liberal arts tradition, in a vibrant intellectual community that fosters friendship, growth in excellent habits of mind and character, and service to the common good. 


We believe that education is the cultivation of human potential into human excellence.  Therefore, the Honors College offers an integrated, holistic, and transformative liberal arts education, which also allows students to pursue a more specialized program of study within any major offered at TU. By studying classic texts within a community that seeks wisdom, virtue, and friendship as common ends, Honors students will confront the most profound and enduring questions of human existence, as explored by some of the most influential thinkers within our inherited intellectual tradition.

Honors Program

The Honors Program invites students to join a centuries-old conversation about what makes for a meaningful and well-lived life. Through course readings, seminar deliberations, and portfolio reflections, Honors Scholars work to articulate their own richly informed answer to that question.  As they investigate the perennial questions and big ideas that thinkers have tackled across time and across cultures, Honors Scholars also cultivate intellectual agility and independence of mind.

Because Honors seminars can be used to fulfill general education requirements or as elective credit, the Honors Program is compatible with any major offered by the University.

To become an Honors Scholar, students must submit a separate application to the Honors Program Office. Please visit the Honors Program webpage for more information about admission to the Honors Program and to access the application.

To remain eligible for the 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; and
  • Post their threefold reflection to their Honors Portfolio each semester.

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete TU’s Honors Program will:

  1. Be able to say something about their own understanding of what makes for a meaningful and well-lived life, expressing their ideas and questions by drawing on some of the foundational texts that inform, illuminate, provoke or challenge their understanding of themselves and of the world in which we live.
  2. Read closely, listen responsively, and write and think critically. We group these skills together and often describe their coordinated use as intellectual agility. That term, intellectual agility, gives emphasis to how these skills help us hold multiple perspectives and concerns in mind when tackling difficult questions and complex issues. For example, reading closely and thinking critically challenges us to imagine each idea in its best formulation without losing sight of where it falls short. Note too that when we do this, we cannot help but draw connections to other thinkers who might offer ways to fill in the gap.
  3. Use their knowledge and skills to exercise independence of mind, often demonstrated in their ability to ask and investigate difficult, unsettling questions and/or in their ability to reflect upon the significance and implications of what they are learning/discovering.

 Honors Core (12 hours)

Honors Scholars take one Honors Seminar each semester for four semesters. In each seminar, students trace the development of the moral and political commitments, religious practices, scientific achievements, and artistic sensibilities that shape our modern world. The Honors courses are sequenced so that students read and assess past thinkers in their own right, as well as consider how subsequent thinkers use, abuse, enlist and/or reject thinkers who came before them. Honors professors encourage students to think hard about difficult ideas, to ask unsettling questions, to defend what they say with good reasons, and to write well. By engaging great thinkers who have come before us in this way, Honors Scholars come to better understand themselves and the world in which we live.

With the exception of HON 2013, each Honors seminar can be used to fulfill Block I or Block II general education requirements; HON 2013 can be used to fulfill Block II or Block III general education requirements. In Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences, no more than one Honors seminar can be used to fulfill Block I requirements, no more than two Honors seminars can be used to fulfill Block II requirements, and no more than one Honors seminar can be used to fulfill Block III requirements. Honors courses cannot be taken Pass/Fail.

Standards of Antiquity

Foundational Traditions

The Scientific Enterprise

Modernity and its Legacies

Honors Portfolio

At the end of each semester, Scholars assess the nature of their intellectual inquiries and personal development. The portfolio reflection advances in three parts.

  • With an annotated bibliography, Scholars index the ideas they have engaged over the semester.
  • Then, Scholars select a writing sample or some other artifact that represents their most meaningful work of the semester.
  • Finally, Scholars craft a succinct narrative where they distill the questions that have been animating their curiosity and articulate how they have been shaped by the semester’s studies.

By engaging in this end-of-the-semester reflection, students become more mindful of their own thinking and better able to articulate their most pressing questions and concerns and to assess their progress addressing them.  Honors professors also read these portfolio entries so they may help Scholars identify potential research questions, burgeoning interests, and emerging themes.

Honors Plan

After completing the Honors Core Curriculum, students may choose to design and implement an Honors Plan. The Honors Plan is an opportunity to design independent work that will complement a student’s growing mastery in their major and/or enable the student to continue to explore questions and interests that might otherwise fall by the wayside.

Figuring out just what sort of endeavors will best serve the student’s intellectual and educational aspirations is part of the challenge. Honors Scholars begin by reviewing their Honors Portfolio with two professors (one from the Scholar’s home major and one in a different discipline). Together, they identify strengths and weaknesses and articulate interest areas and questions around which the Honors Plan might be designed.

The Honors Plan may (but need not) include additional coursework, including graded independent studies. HON 4003 Senior Project is available for such independent research.

Honors Scholars who wish to enrich their studies as an upperclassman with independent work must file their Honors Plan with the Honors Program Office by Oct. 1 of their fifth semester at TU. With the guidance of an Honors Mentor, Scholars then pursue their Honors Plan and continue building their Honors Portfolio.


If you have questions about the Honors Program, please contact Dr. Jennifer Frey, Dean of the Honors College, at 918-631-2445 or


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