Honors Courses

Dig deeper into your interests by taking Frederick Honors College courses, which are both more challenging and more interesting. In these courses, you will engage in the material with richer analysis, cutting-edge tools, and through the lens of culture and society. Frederick Honors College faculty fellows, specialists from across the University, design and teach our courses with the intellectual needs of our students in mind. With the spring 2024 term around the corner, start looking at honors course options for your schedule!

Enrolling in Honors courses

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.

Honors Course Enhancement Contracts

Honors course enhancement contracts allow David C. Frederick Honors College students the opportunity to earn course credit for Honors Degree or Honors Distinction program requirements in an undergraduate course that does not already fulfill an FHC requirement.

Examples of courses approved for FHC requirements that cannot have a course enhancement include:

  • Courses with the Frederick Honors Course attribute
  • Courses with the High Impact Attribute Values of Undergraduate Research, Undergraduate Internship, and Capstone Course
  • Courses with the Civic Learning and Civic Learning + Engagement attributes
  • Courses used to fulfill honors-approved certificates/programs
  • Courses that have an honors version of it available (e.g., introductory biology, chemistry, physics, etc.)

Additionally, undergraduate courses with the writing intensive course (w-course) attribute cannot have an honors course enhancement contract associated with them.

Instructors are not obligated to agree to a request from a student to create an honors course enhancement contract for their class.

The experience and subsequent product(s) must engage the student beyond a more passive requirement, such as adding one additional paper for the class, although a paper may be one component of the deliverable.

Instructors and students are encouraged to be creative in their approach by considering:

  • Presentations
  • Individual research projects or assistance with instructor research
  • Using innovative technologies
  • Producing creative works
  • Community engagement or service-learning projects
  • Preparing and presenting class lectures or designing and testing lab projects
  • Reflecting on intellectual development opportunities related to the course, such as visiting museums, galleries, archives, or attending guest lectures or seminars

An honors course enhancement may be designed for an individual student, or several students may work together under one contract.

A contract form (PDF) is submitted to David Hornyak no later than the end of the add/drop period of the semester in which the course is being taught. The contract form includes details of how the course enhancement provides greater depth to the course and a description of the deliverable product(s). The contract form is signed by the student and the course instructor. If several students are working on the same enhancement project together, separate contract forms must be completed for each student, although the details about the enhancement project can be the same for all students involved.

At the end of the semester, David Hornyak will provide the instructor with an evaluation form through Qualtrics to assess the student’s performance and success in meeting the requirements of the contract. The evaluation is due when course grades are submitted.

The evaluation of the honors course enhancement contract is separate from the grading for the course. Failure to complete the contract’s requirements will have no impact on the grade the student receives for the course.

If the student successfully completes the requirements of the honors course enhancement contract, they will be given credit for an honors course requirement as part of the Honors Degree or Honors Distinction.

For questions or assistance in developing an honors course enhancement contract, students and instructors are encouraged to discuss possible ideas with the Frederick Honors College by contacting Assistant Dean David Hornyak at hornyak@pitt.edu.

Suggested 2023 fall term Frederick Honors courses for first-year students

HONORS 0001 - University Orientation

(Class Number 26362), 1 credit
Friday, 2:00-2:50 pm - 144 Cathedral of Learning
Instructor: Brett Say

Undergraduate research has long been identified as a high-impact educational practice that increases student engagement, retention, and success. Many students interested in research, however, struggle with questions of how, where, and when to pursue research opportunities as an undergraduate. In this course, students will learn strategies for how to pursue undergraduate research opportunities. Topics in this course range from identifying faculty mentors to developing research questions and pursuing research funding. Students will also learn about foundational concepts of research that are applicable to any major. The final project for the course will be a research proposal students can use to pursue research or creative opportunities in their field. This class is applicable to students in any major.

HONORS 1510 - Special Topics: Writing to Find Things Out

(Class Number 32137), 3 credits
Monday, 6:00-8:30 pm - 3504 Cathedral of Learning
Instructor: Michael Meyer

In this English course you will read classic and contemporary nonfiction books in which the author aims to understand history, a place, and themselves. These engaging stories will inform your own writing about your family, campus, and work here in Pittsburgh. In four researched assignments, you will practice revision and editing, as well as finding and using primary sources, and conducting interviews outside the classroom. Your final, longer piece of writing will be a profile of a Pittsburgher at work in a field you want to enter. Previous students have shadowed a Phipps botanist, a Carnegie paleontologist, an Innocence Project attorney, an Allegheny GoatScape veterinarian, the people who play Roc the Panther, and more. You will also attend the monthly author talk hosted by Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures at the Carnegie Music Hall.

ENGWRT 0400 - Introduction to Creative Writing

(Class Number 32145), 3 credits
Thursday, 6:00-8:30 pm - 325 Thackeray Hall
Instructor: Michael Meyer

This course offers the opportunity to experiment with forms of poetry and fiction and to read and discuss from a writer's point of view contemporary writing in these genres.

PITT 0130 - Wellness and Resilience

(Class Number 26774), 3 credits
Monday, 3:00-4:30 pm, plus a recitation (various times) - 324 Cathedral of Learning
Instructors: Ahmed Ghuman and Cassandra Long

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.

ENGR 1711 or NUR 1014 - Happiness and Human Flourishing

(Class Number 32130) or (Class Number 32071), 3 credits
(NOTE: Students in schools other than Engineering and Nursing my enroll in either section)
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10:00-11:15 am - 125 Victoria Hall
Instructor: Grant Martsolf

Aristotle wrote that "Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." The modern west, however, is facing a happiness crisis. We are experiencing historic levels of depression, anxiety, and lack of meaning. Cultures around the world and throughout history have had a lot to say about the nature of happiness.  In this interdisciplinary class, we explore different conceptions of happiness and work to develop a capacious definition of happiness as "human flourishing."  We then turn our attention to the pre-conditions necessary to promote human flourishing and survey how various disciplines might be oriented toward the flourishing person. We conclude the course by reflecting on the course material to help students reflect on their own lives and how they might construct flourishing lives in college and beyond.

RELGST 1802 - Religyinz: Researching Religion in Pittsburgh

Mondays, 12:00-2:30 pm - 213 Cathedral of Learning
Instructor: Dr. Margarita Delgado Creamer

In this course, students will experience on the ground the incredibly diverse religious landscape of Pittsburgh. We will visit Buddhist centers, Hindu temples, and other religious sites to get acquainted with their material culture to interact with monastics and laypeople. By the end of the course, students will better understand the meaning, potential, and challenges of diversity and will have enhanced their ability to fully participate in a local context as a culturally literate and empathetic citizen.

GEOL 0881 - Exploring Issues in Climate Change

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 1:00-2:15 pm
Instructor: Dr. Reem Hannun and Dr. Abigail Carroll

This course offers a multi-disciplinary approach to learning about climate change that both develops the science and enables students to build ongoing interactions with the broader community, setting them up to be climate science ambassadors. We will discuss evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change, future climate projections, and the development of climate policy related to adaptation and mitigation strategies. Students will engage in active and collaborative learning exercises, integrate data analysis projects using physical and social climate science data, and develop written and oral communication techniques through workshops with local journalists and political and social scientists.

GSPIA courses for Frederick Honors students: 2023 fall term

Are you interested in public service and learning how our world works? Do you want to challenge yourself by taking a graduate-level course? Any Honors College student is welcome to cross-register and take a course from the Graduate School of Public & International Affairs.   

To request a permission code that will allow you to register, please email rkidney@pitt.edu and specify which course you would like to take. You will receive a reply within 2-3 business days. 

PIA 2156 - Law, Policy & the Internet

Professor Lisa Nelson, Thursdays 12:00-3:00 p.m.
Information technology and the information that it generates has increasingly become part of our daily lives shaping our practices, discourses, and institutions in fundamental ways. Personal information is used by consumers, professionals, and organizations to a variety of ends and in a number of different settings. The growing reliance on personal information not only challenges long standing demarcations between public and private institution in terms of responsibilities, obligations, and limits, but also calls for a reconsideration of how to ensure the protection of long standing civil liberties and civil rights. This course will consider the impact of emerging technologies within existing constitutional, statutory, and international guidelines and will then explore a range of policy solutions for managing the use of personal information in our public and private sectors.

PIA 2250 - Working with Public Interest Technologies & Civic Data

Professor Sera Linardi, Thursdays 12:00-3:00 p.m.
This class is designed to equip students passionate about social justice issues to work with public interest technologies and civic data using a curriculum co-developed by four Pitt centers: Center for Analytical Approaches for Social Innovation (CAASI), Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC), the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and the University Honors College (UHC). The goal is to discern the opportunities and challenges that can come from working with technology and civic data, prepare students to understand and account for community dynamics, develop socially-responsible research and data practices, and implement projects that hold benefits for both community partners and students. This is not a quantitative course and no programming experience is expected.

PIA 2362 - Leaders & U.S. Foreign Policy Decision-Making

Professor Mindy Haas, Thursdays 12:00-3:00 p.m.
How do U.S. presidents make foreign policy decisions? The class will review the constraints, dilemmas, risks, and opportunities that American presidents face during international crises and wars. It will expose students to alternative explanations for how states make foreign policy, with an emphasis on the decision-making process. We will critically analyze the decision-making process that led to the undertaking of major and historical decisions in the U.S. history and will conduct simulations of potential crisis scenarios. The course will examine rationalist and psychological theories of decision-making, as well as how other characteristics of leaders can create patterns of decision-making in foreign policy.  A key part of this course is the role of advisors and intelligence officials in assisting policymakers. Students will take on the role of members of the federal agencies with seats on the U.S. National Security Council in a roleplaying exercise on how to advise the President in an international crisis. As part of this simulation exercise, students will collaborate on policy options, propose them in a group setting, and draft a debriefing memo on the policy ultimately chosen to address the crisis. Students will also write and present a leadership analysis on current international leaders to assist students in understanding the parties across the negotiating table in policy issues involving the United States.

PIA 2379 - Introduction to Cyber Crime

Professor Laurie Iacono, Mondays 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Traditionally, crime has taken place in the physical world. Since the dawn of the internet, criminal activities on the web have been continually increasing. Crime is no longer restricted to a town, city, state or even country because internet crime transcends all different types of jurisdictions. In this course, students will learn the types of crimes that occur online, as well as receiving an overview of how these crimes are conducted. Since this course focuses on computing technologies, students will be given the basic necessities needed to understand the technologies they will be utilizing throughout this course, as well as future courses. Students will learn safe computing practices and how to gather the necessary data to help track down criminals on the web. Topics covered will include introduction to various technology topics, distributed denial of service attacks, ecommerce fraud, counterfeiting, 0-day exploits, discussion on various cyber criminals and nation state threats, etc. Lastly, students will learn about the different organizations, both public and private, and the various policies and laws that are intended to counter the increase in cybercrime.

PIA 2301 - International Political Economy

Professor Siyao Li, Tuesdays 12:00-3:00 p.m.
This course is an introduction to international political economy, an interdisciplinary field related to international politics and international economics. This course introduces students to important actors and institutions that shape the global economic system. Central issues in international political economy include policy-making on the topics of trade, money, foreign investment, development, migration, and the environment. Major questions include: 1. What are the main economic and political forces that shape the international economy? 2. What domestic and external strategies have states adopted in order to develop their economies and to benefit from exchanges with other countries (while minimizing their vulnerability)? 3. Why and when do states seek to cooperate with each other in the management of the international economy? How successful have their efforts been? (4) What are the major challenges currently facing policy-makers in the management of the international economy? To answer these questions, students will identify key political and economic actors (governments, firms, workers, interest groups, international organizations) and examine interactions within and between states. Drawing on both historical and contemporary events, the course focuses heavily on globalization's opportunities and challenges by examining the complexities of governing in an interdependent world.

PIA 2223 - City of White Supremacy

Professor Rashad Williams, Tuesdays 3:00-6:00 p.m.
The title of this course is meant to signal the objective of scrutinizing how systems of white supremacy have shaped the American city and how the American city functions in ways that reproduce and reinforce white supremacy. As George Lipsitz (2007: 12) tells us, "The lived experience of race has a spatial dimension, and the lived experience of space has a racial dimension." The first section of the course will focus on frameworks for understanding white supremacy generally, and as it relates to urban development specifically. The second section considers specific domains of urban policy and planning using white supremacy as the analytic framework. We will examine how white supremacy has been expressed across a range of urban development issue areas, including housing, transportation, the urban environment, education, criminal justice, and urban design, and how policies and planning practice have maintained or disrupted systems of white supremacy.

PIA 2473 - Strategies of Global Inquiry

Professor Lisa Alfredson, Wednesdays 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Global Studies is an expansive and dynamic interdisciplinary field that explores current and past transnational processes, such as migrations, human rights, ethnonationalism and imperialism, economic and institutional globalization, and transnational social movements. Within the academy, it is a meeting place or community of inquiry for scholars interested in topics that spill beyond temporal, political, disciplinary, ecological, geographical, and cultural boundaries.  This seminar will hone graduate students' abilities to analyze issues and events through global and transnational research frameworks that incorporate various disciplinary perspectives, and to investigate linkages between global processes, social justice, and human well-being. The course is designed to complement each student's own disciplinary background and interests, and to foster preparedness for collaborative and inter-disciplinary global work. It will stimulate student abilities to think critically about a broad range of theoretical and methodological issues involved in global research, including ethics, the co-production of the global and local, the nature of "global" research questions, and research designs from different disciplinary perspectives. In addition to providing a framework for global thinking and learning, the seminar also intends to create a "community of junior global studies scholars" and thus places strong emphasis on attending regularly, participating actively, and presenting critical analyses in a scholarly manner. This is the core seminar for students in the Global Studies graduate certificate program (UCIS). 

PIA 2328 - Ethics & National Security

Professor Luke Condra, Wednesdays 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
This graduate seminar focuses on the ethical quandaries confronting principals who make decisions on national security policy. Students practice articulating foreign policy arguments, paying attention to the political, ethical, and social scientific aspects of those arguments. Issues covered include just war, humanitarian intervention, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, immigration, economic sanctions, foreign aid, and distributive justice.

PIA 2522 - Climate Policy: Local and Global

Professor Shanti Gamper Rabindran, Wednesdays 12:00.-3:00 p.m.
We examine strategies at the local, national and international level to address the climate emergency and to transition to more sustainable and equitable economies. These include mandating climate risks disclosure for financial institutions, climate litigation to hold governments and fossil companies to account and the declining costs and technology advancement for greater deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency. We discuss how to advocate for shifting taxpayers' funds from fossil fuels to renewable energy and for the just transition of fossil fuel reliant communities and how to counter climate misinformation and false solutions.