Honors courses

Coursework that cuts across traditional academic boundaries. 

Honors classes create a dynamic, personal 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 pop culture and society.  

Use PeopleSoft to find the list of all honors courses being offered. On the Class Search page, select University 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 in the Honors College 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 0001 – University Orientation

At its core, research and scholarship serves to develop new knowledge, inform action, and advance the public good. This seminar teaches students about foundational concepts and skills necessary to conduct research across disciplines while helping students begin to develop their own scholarly work. Specific seminar sections focus on topics in either the Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, or Professional fields (e.g., education, business, etc.).

SECTION TOPIC: The Meaning of Things

Mondays, 12-12:50 pm
Class Number: 30599
Instructor: Josh Cannon

We assign meanings to objects on a regular basis, whether it be a wedding ring or a national flag or a box of chocolates in the shape of a heart. This course will examine how social behaviors and attitudes create these meanings and then explore how this creation of meaning affects us. The first part of this course will discuss research methods broadly, with a focus on social scientific research approaches. This will be supplemented by readings that exhibit these methods in line with the creation, interpretation, and impact of meaning. The last part of the course will be dedicated to research design where students will put together their own research project on a topic of their choice. This will include identifying a social science-oriented hypothesis, a way to collect data to test that hypothesis, and a theoretical framework though which that data can be interpreted.

SECTION TOPIC: Identity and Narrative

Tuesdays, 10-10:50 am
Class Number: 30607
Instructor: Lesha Greene

In this seminar, students will explore the different forms of qualitative research including research ethics, interviewing skills, observation methods, internet research, etc., and look at how information collected can be used to form a narrative. While the first third of the seminar will introduce students to the basic tenets of academic research, the latter two thirds will focus on developing and utilizing some of these skills and creating a narrative based on their collected research. Readings will include short articles instead of a primary text and the final product will be a one-page narrative in a format of the student’s choice.

SECTION TOPIC: Community-Engaged Scholarship

Wednesdays, 10-10:50 am
Class Number: 30839
Instructor: Stacie Dow

In order to create mutually beneficial research that affects positive social change by contributing to the quality of life for people and sustainability of the planet, we must look at the ways in which we as an institutional partner interact with our larger communities. This seminar is ideal for students who are interested in becoming familiar with community-engaged scholarship (CES) and how they can work in collaboration with a community partner to create research that addresses contemporary, complex, and enduring social issue and contributes to a greater public good. The first section of this seminar will focus on learning about the foundational concepts of research and scholarship across disciplines while the later sections will focus primarily on community-engaged scholarship. Through readings and discussions students will begin to learn how to: differentiate CES from service-learning, name and address jointly defined goals and research methods alongside community partners, and disseminate research in a strengths-based way among the community. At the end of this seminar, students will have created a research proposal for one of the several community-engaged scholarships at the university.  

SECTION TOPIC: American Politics in 2021

Wednesdays, 12-12:50 pm
Class Number: 30602
Instructor: Aidan Beatty

You may have noticed some big changes in American politics recently! In this seminar we will study some of the main strands (and most controversial questions) of contemporary American politics; race, policing, mass incarceration and capitalism; how are all of these connected and how they are playing a role in contemporary politics. The first third of the seminar will introduce students to the basic tenets of academic research. The second section will be a close reading of various academic texts with a particular focus on the research methodologies being used; we will essentially take the readings apart and see how they are constructed. We will all vote on and choose the readings at the start of the semester, based on everyone’s research interests. In the last third of the seminar, students will develop their own research project on American politics (broadly defined), identify suitable archival sources and methodologies, and prepare an application for a research grant to actually carry out this research.

SECTION TOPIC: Hands-on with Marginalized Groups in Pittsburgh

Wednesdays, 4-4:50 pm
Class Number: 30942
Instructor: Parker Werns

Pittsburgh is filled with marginalized groups creating communities, fighting for their rights, and shaping how our city evolves socially, politically, economically, and culturally. These groups are woven throughout our city’s history, existing in back corners, hidden attics, and underground music venues – and out on the streets in protests and rallies. Students will select a marginalized group to examine throughout Pittsburgh’s history while learning the basic tenets of academic research and archival work. The first third of the seminar will introduce students to the basics of research and the archives available to them at Pitt. The rest of the seminar will see students developing their own research project proposal on a marginalized group in Pittsburgh, finding suitable archival sources, and identifying actionable next steps to further their research and community work.  

SECTION TOPIC: Research for Social Change

Thursdays, 10-10:50 am
Class Number: 30600
Instructor: Everett Herman

If the success of a democracy is dependent on leaders’ justifications of public policies, the use of policy research skills can offer more logical rationale to inform constituents. This section of Foundations of Research & Scholarship is ideal for students that are interested in becoming familiar with relevant skills for exploring how inequitable policies and systems effect groups of people differently (including race, gender, income, sexuality, religious practice, ability, or any combination of these characteristics) in order to produce social change. The first section of the course will provide an overview of effective practices in policy research. In the second section of the course, students will focus on a public policy (e.g., public health, education, environmental, economic - to name a few) of interest. In the final section of the course, students will have the opportunity to propose a research project on a specific public policy that has an effect on a local, regional, or global community.

SECTION TOPIC: Health and Data

Fridays, 10-10:50 am
Class Number: 30605
Instructor: Dave Fraser

Decisions about health are driven by facts and data. This is true whether the decision is made by an individual for their own personal health or by officials setting policy for millions of people. This seminar will look at the presentation of health-related data in the media. Readings and discussion will focus on ways in which quantitative data is presented to bias the reader towards a particular interpretation and how violations of the basic assumptions about graph construction can be used to mislead.

SECTION TOPIC: Research in History and Society

Fridays, 2-2:50 pm
Class Number: 30608
Instructor: Brett Say

Research has a long tradition of using historical data to address social, political, and legal issues in our society. This interdisciplinary course helps students explore a topic of their choosing, ranging from sustainability to health policy research, through Pitt’s Archives and Special Collections. Students will learn how to use evidence-based practices and primary historical data to develop a research proposal that can be used as the foundation for future research and creative projects in their area of interest.


BIOSC 0155 - Honors Foundations of Biology 1

This course covers biological phenomena at the cellular level: macromolecules, cell structure, photosynthesis, cell respiration, homeostasis, signaling and genetics.  The experimental basis supporting our understanding of these processes will be introduced. Students must have an Advanced Placement Biology Test Score equal/greater 4 or International Baccalaureate Biology Score equal/greater 5

BUSENV 1706 - Market Manipulations: Crises, Bubbles, Robber Barons and Corporate Saints

Taking a historical perspective, the course focuses on the major kinds of market manipulations, as well as their impacts. Major topic areas include: the nature of a market and its 'failures,' and how firms as well as governments evolved to compensate for those failures; types of major market calamities, with historical comparisons, examining how they might have been successfully managed; the market manipulators, focusing on the 'robber barons' of the 'gilded age;' and the contexts and consequences of market manipulation, including an overview of factory towns and of worker impacts.

CHEM 0710 - Honors General Chemistry 1

Chemistry 0710 and 0720 comprise a two-term introduction to the fundamental properties of matter.  The courses emphasize the fundamental principles of chemistry as exemplified by applications to industrial and environmental chemistry. Chemistry 0710 covers stoichiometry, electronic structure of atoms and molecules, periodic behavior, theories of bonding, and spectroscopy.

ECON 0100 - Introduction to Microeconomic Theory

Introduction to principles of economic analysis as applied to the study of prices and markets.  The course builds a theoretical basis for understanding producer and consumer behavior and prepares students to appreciate the importance of markets in our economic system. 

ECON 0110 – Introduction to Macroeconomic Theory

An introductory course which develops the basic tools needed to analyze the behavior of various macroeconomic phenomena including inflation, gross domestic product, and unemployment.  In addition, these tools are used to study how and whether the government can impact the behavior of the overall economy.  Finally, the course looks at the role various institutions such as banks and the stock and bond markets play in affecting the economic environment.

HIST 0760 - Introduction to Public History

The course will introduce students to the theory, methodology, and practice of Public History.  Public History is the employment of professional historical methods by public and private agencies to engage communities in shaping the presentation of the past into usable histories.  Through the course, students will be able to analyze how Public historians and the Public collaborate to explain individual and collective human behavior through a variety of methods, mediums, and contexts.  Moreover, students will learn how Public Historians and the Public create and express historical meaning for their local, state, national, and global communities. 

MATH 0235 - Honors Variable Calculus 1

An enriched version of MATH 0220/0230.  Course will cover same topics but in greater depth and with more challenging problems, computer experimentation and applications using maple.

PHYS 0475 - Introduction to Physics, Science and Engineering 1

This is the first term of a two-term honors version of the physics 0104-0105-0106 sequence.  This term deals with mechanics, waves and thermodynamics. Students must also be enrolled in MATH 0230 or MATH 0235.

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.

STAT 1050 - Data Jam: Using Big Data for Community Good

This is a course that introduces students to the various aspects of big data science - data visualization and analytics, engaging communities in using big data, and the ethics and equitable access to big data. The course will be co-taught by faculty with expertise in these various areas.  Big Data Science is becoming increasingly relevant as big data is everywhere and its use is impacting almost every aspect of modern life. This is a "hands-on" learning experience as university students taking the course will also serve as mentors for teams of high school students in a local big data competition, The Pittsburgh DataJam (see http://pghdataworks.org to learn about the Pittsburgh DataJam).

Honors Courses Offered in Pitt's Law School – 2021 Fall Term

To access information about LAW courses in PeopleSoft, do the following on the Class Search page:

In the Subject field, type LAW
Change the Course Career pull-down menu from Undergraduate to Graduate

Finally, EVERY student will need a permission number from the Law School to enroll in the LAW courses. Here's the procedure to request a permission number:

Send an email to lawreg@pitt.edu and include the following in your email:

1. State that you are an undergraduate student.
2. Give the specific course number (e.g., LAW 2910).
3. Provide your PeopleSoft ID number.

The Law School will email the permission number to you in return.

LAW 2910 - Lawyers in American Society

Tuesdays & Thursdays,  11:00 am- 12:15pm

LAW 2911 - First Amendment

Mondays, 6-8:30 pm