Honors Courses

Coursework that cuts across traditional academic boundaries. 

Honors courses create a dynamic, personal learning environment — so you become part of the course, shaping it with your own commentary and interests. 

Even though they're more challenging, they're more interesting. Dig deeper into the material with richer analysis, cutting-edge tools, and through the lens of culture and society.  

Use PeopleSoft/Campus Experience (CX) to find the list of all honors courses being offered. On the Class Search page, select Frederick Honors Course in the Course Attribute pull-down menu to get the list.

If you do not meet the enrollment requirements for an honors course, you must contact the professor teaching the course to obtain their permission to enroll in it. When you email the professor, explain why you're interested in taking the course and offer details about any skills/experiences you will bring to the course. If the professor is willing to waive the enrollment requirements to allow you to enroll in the course, the professor can direct you to someone in their department who can issue you a permission number, or the professor can send an email message to David Hornyak (hornyak@pitt.edu) with the following information:

1. The course department and number (e.g., HIST 1234)
2. Your name
3. Your email address
4. Your PeopleSoft ID number

You will be emailed a permission number in return.

Electus Faculty Fellows Honors Courses 2023 Spring Term

The Frederick Honors College Electus Faculty Fellows Program is a three-year fellowship designed to support faculty from across the University in developing unique and signature Honors courses, mentoring Honors students in research and community engagement opportunities, and participating in the rich intellectual culture of the Frederick Honors community. 

Please speak with your academic advisor or one of the honors Scholar Mentors to discuss honors course options appropriate for you, given your skills, interests, and goals.

HONORS 1010 - Health Science Complexities

This course is an introduction to topic areas in health sciences that can be counter-intuitive or illogical. The goal of the course is to provide students examples of how decisions in health science are not always reached through logical processes or following the scientific method. Students will learn to critically analyze healthcare research and decision making. The course also provides the training necessary for students to objectively read and understand health science literature.

The course is designed for students who are interested in the health sciences, health research, and both clinical and non-clinical areas. The primary method of coursework will be interactive discussions, where students will be given the opportunity to critically analyze topic areas that are relevant in the past, present, and future.

HONORS 1510 - Immersive Nonfiction Writing

This course is both an intensive writing seminar, and a chance for you explore a Pittsburgh neighborhood or trade. The goal of the course is to strengthen your writing skills, and also to connect your studies to our surrounding community. Students will learn the basics of reporting, including interviewing and accessing primary sources, as well how to workshop their writing, and even submit it for publication.

The course is designed for students who are interested in real-world research, revision, and responding to their peers' prose. Previous students have used it as a springboard to their BPhil thesis, as well as their applications to Peace Corps, Fulbright, the Rhodes Scholarship, and graduate school.

HONORS 1510 - Health and the City

This is a discussion- and service-learning based course designed to expose students to the root causes of poverty and poor health in Pittsburgh. Students will gain a deeper appreciation for how poverty and health inter-relate and gain practical working with a community organization aiming to improve conditions for health. While the emphasis on this class is on exposure to health access and disparities, students will develop leadership skills through their oral and written communication as well as their service on behalf of the community organization.

This course is designed for students with an interest in health, equity, and community based participatory research. Students do not need to be in a health-related major or track, rather those who are broadly interested in social determinants of health will find meaning in the course topics. The course relies on a mixture of reading, discussion, and service-learning to achieve the course objectives.

Selected Additional Honors Courses: 2023 Spring Term

ECON 1910 - Seminar in Current Economic Research

This course features research by Pitt faculty exploring the current frontier of a selected topic in economics.   Students will learn to read and evaluate research papers in economics. Students will understand how research in the field builds on prior work and how multiple studies with different approaches, methods, data, and cases contribute to consensus in the field.

ENGLIT 1009 - J.R.R. Tolkien and Counterculture

This course studies the persona, work, and critical and popular reception of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) from his initial publication of The Hobbit in 1937 through today.  In the 1960s and '70s, people were scribbling "Frodo Lives" on subway walls and getting married dressed like Aragorn and Arwen.  Less than half a century later, The Lord of the Rings repeatedly beat out the Bible as "best-loved" book in British polls, and Peter Jackson's adaptations made history both for their box-office earnings and for their groundbreaking contributions to film-making. Widely recognized as the father of modern fantasy and touted as the "Author of the [Twentieth] Century" by scholars, Tolkien continues to exert a panoramic influence on culture, particularly in his ability to speak to and for the marginalized.  From Comic Con to Elder Scrolls to Game of Thrones, his sub-creation of Middle-earth embodies and fuels "nerd" culture now just as it did for the hippies of the previous century.  Yet, Tolkien " war veteran, Oxford professor of Medieval languages and literature, devout Catholic " was a man of his time and quite conservative, at least publicly.  While he famously said that his wife "should be satisfied by devotion to her children" and not "enter the intellectual side of life," the female characters in his stories, while small in number, are arguably great in power, assertiveness, and heroism.  Tolkien's writing argues for the importance of a community where all cultures coexist:  Elves, Dwarfs, Men, Hobbits go to war against Sauron and the "One Ring" designed to "rule them all."  In this course we will read Tolkien's major works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in their entirety, as well as excerpts from what he considered to be his master work, The Silmarillion.  We will explore Tolkien materials housed in Special Collections at Hillman Library and online.  Our reading list will include reviews and scholarship on Tolkien's life and work, as well as on the ways in which his mythology continues to resonate and be reimagined in the twenty-first century.  Ultimately, we will analyze the relationship between Tolkien and the counterculture as a way of understanding the ways in which myth, fantasy, and literature more broadly represent, shape, and interrogate complex social and political systems.

ENGLIT 1600 - Computational Methods in the Humanities

This course introduces students to the use of computational modeling and programming to conduct text-based research in the humanities. The goals of this course are to learn how to identify research questions in the humanities that are amenable to computational analysis and processing, along with designing and implementing xml-based computational systems to explore those questions.

ENGR 0501 - Music Engineering Laboratory

A course directed toward development of basic skills in recording engineering through expanded understanding of the science and engineering of music. The course will use the music engineering laboratory (MEL) located in Benedum hall. The MEL is a state-of-the-art sound recording facility with research and educational capabilities for sound recording and music engineering. Students are expected to have prior musical experience, working knowledge of Fourier transforms, and working knowledge of basic electronics. Topics covered: recording engineering (microphones, amplifiers, and mixing, filtering, special effects).  Physics, mathematics, and psychophysics of sound and music (acoustics, speech and singing, hearing, pitch, stereo perception). Musical instrument function (mechanical and electronic).

HIST 1095 - Sport and Global Capitalism

The history of sport and global capitalism is designed for students seeking to make their way as professionals and/or for those interested in global sport as a social and political force both in the US and around the world.  Focusing on the evolution of sport as a global industry and the creation of an imposing scholastic, community, and non-profit infrastructure, it equips students to understand and navigate those arenas.  If, after graduation, students venture into the sports industry, scholastic sport, or sport for development, they should do so with their eyes wide open.

LAW 5748 - Race, Religion & Criminal Justice

This course examines the treatment of religion in various contexts, paying particular attention to the intersection of race and criminal justice. As a course that is primarily interdisciplinary in its approach, this exploration necessarily involves study of how law impacts and shapes religion, and in turn how religion impacts law and policy. The class focuses on the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment as well as other areas of law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Topics include Civil Religion, Death Penalty, Intoxicants and Worship, Prison Rights, and Islam in Prison.

MUSIC 1253 - Listening to Live Music Performance

Listening to Live Music Performance is a course that hopes to deepen the way you understand music and, through new understanding, inspire the way you experience music! Over the course of the semester, we will explore, without prejudice, a variety of live music performances that will help you develop a lifelong ability to analyze music performance, think critically about the act of listening to music, and to consider your critical role as a member of the audience. The purpose of this class is to transform your experience with music by focusing on live performance. Music is a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives, so much so that many people have lost the ability to listen critically to what they are hearing. In many contexts, we are not even aware that music is playing until it is brought to our attention! Recorded music accounts for much of this ubiquity and it's also changed many listeners' relationship with music. Throughout the semester, we will explore the experience of listening to live performances of music, which may include large ensembles, chamber ensembles, solo concerts, and multi-media performances. Topics will include protocol and traditions of the audience, criteria for critical listening, and discrimination of basic elements of performance. Students will attend live performances, consider evaluative criteria for music performances, and develop critical listening skills. We will also have opportunities to speak with performers to learn about various ways of experiencing music. We are interested in developing critical skills to experience, analyze, and appreciate the myriad musical styles and contexts you will encounter over a lifetime of listening. To that end, this class is focused totally on the act of critical, experiential listening, how to do it, informed listening, and what it can tell the listener's not only about a piece of music, but about the culture and society that created that music, as well as the challenges faced by the increasing ubiquity of music in our world. You do not need a musical background to have a successful semester. Through listening, reading, and associated assignments, the objective is to deepen your experience of music.

NROSCI 1014 - Speaking of Science

Students will learn strategies for giving presentations about science to both a scientific audience and a public audience. Topics covered will include 1) how to engage our audience, 2) the art of breaking down your message, 3) tips to make clear, interesting slides, and 4) pointers on presentation style. All audiences want to learn interesting new scientific information, and have it delivered as a good story in an understandable manner by a personable, easy to approach person. Communication skills, including knowing your audience and why they are interested in the information you are speaking about, how to translate scientific jargon into understandable concepts for the public, and how to keep the audience engaged will be discussed. Pointers will be given on answering questions, being conversational, and conveying the "big picture". Students will give a number of presentations in this course and learn to receive and give feedback effectively.

PHARM 1096 - Addiction

Knowledge of substance use disorders and addiction, including its etiology, natural history, biomedical and social consequences, and tactics for prevention and treatment is integral to healthcare practice, especially considering that many drugs prescribed by physicians/dentists and many over-the-counter products have addictive properties. This course examines addiction resulting from medicines prescribed used to treat psychological and physical problems, self-directed use of medicines and complementary putative health-promoting compounds (e.g. nutrition supplements) and "recreational" substances. This course will inculcate an understanding of addiction accompanied with basic skills in screening, problem identification, and intervention pertinent to effective healthcare practice.

PHARM 1097 - Mentored Research

The course provides undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in systematic, hypothesis-driven research bridging bench to bedside in pharmaceutical or pharmacy-focused research. Students are guided through the research process under direct mentorship from expert faculty at the School of Pharmacy in development of problem-solving and other skills in research.

PITT 0130 - Wellness and Resilience

The purpose of this course is to teach undergraduate students skills for having resilience in the face of commonly experienced stressors and difficulties. Stated simply, resilience is the ability to both survive and thrive. Resilience is not only about your ability to positively adapt in the face of adverse or challenging circumstances (that is, survive), but it is also about learning the positive skills, strategies and routines that enable you to live a happy, fulfilling, and successful life (in other words, thrive). This course will provide you with a personalized set of strategies and skills for self-care and optimize your academic and social experiences while at the University of Pittsburgh and beyond.

RELGST 1402 - Health and Religion

What is health, an absence of illness or something more? What is healing, a physical process or something that is not limited to the physical? In order to answer these seemingly basic questions, a host of assumptions about the body, its ideal state, and the kinds of changes to which it can or should be subjected are often implicit. Religious attitudes toward the body and the natural world have a tremendous impact on these assumptions. In this course, you will gain a better understanding of this impact by exploring the relationships between religion and health and seeing these relationships as part of a much larger web of human concerns such as nationalism, resistance to colonization, and gender politics. In order to facilitate cross-cultural comparison and understanding, this course is not organized around geography or history, but rather around the structure human body. After two introductory weeks, each three-week unit will consider a particular aspect of human health through cases drawn from a wide variety of religious contexts. This process is aimed at decentering Western narratives about health, healing, and the body while fostering a more global perspective.

TLL 1704 - Current Issues in Secondary Education

What would the ideal high school look like? How would it provide an engaging, equitable and quality education to all adolescents?  In Current Issues in Secondary Education: Reimagining the American High School we will explore current issues in U.S. high schools, such as systemic racism and unequal funding, and learn about innovative schools that are doing things differently. We will reflect on our own schooling experiences and collaborate to design a model high school.