Pierre Laclede Honors College


Pierre Laclede Honors College Home Page

The Pierre Laclede Honors College mission is to enrich the educational experience of a select group of highly motivated and intelligent undergraduates. With this in mind, it enrolls students who are ready to accept academic challenges and become creatively involved in the learning process.

The college has a unique structure and identity. Unlike the university's other colleges, it has no academic departments and it grants no degrees. Instead, it brings together a cross section of students and teachers in a special curriculum, designed to meet a portion of the students’ general education and various other requirements. Programs are available to four-year and transfer students. 

Honors College instructors are drawn from university faculty in all academic divisions but mainly from the “traditional disciplines” of the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Sciences. These teachers share a desire to work closely with intellectually curious, high-achieving students. Faculty design courses directed toward such an audience and based on small discussion seminars. Thus the honors faculty grows each year as new faculty join the honors project. Their talents add to the Honors College’s rich instructional pool of more than 100 regular and full-time faculty, many of whose teaching and scholarship have been singled out for special awards.

In addition, the Honors College has seven full-time academic faculty members whose responsibilities (besides instruction) include admissions, student advising, and curricular design. These faculty are:

Robert M. Bliss, Associate Professor, dean
Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Nancy Gleason, Teaching Professor, associate dean, and director of writing.
M.A., University of Missouri-St. Louis
Kimberly Baldus, Associate Teaching Professor.
Ph.D., Northwestern University
Birgit Noll, Associate Teaching Professor
M.A., Washington University in St. Louis
Daniel Gerth, Assistant Teaching Professor
M.A., University of Missouri-Columbia
Chad Hankinson, Assistant Teaching Professor
M.A., University at Buffalo, SUNY
Gerianne Friedline, Lecturer
M.A., University of Missouri-St. Louis

Honors College students are highly qualified and motivated individuals from a broad range of public and private secondary schools and colleges. They enter the college with diverse backgrounds and interests and remain part of it while simultaneously enrolling in classes and pursuing bachelor's degrees in other academic divisions of the university.

Most honor students major in traditional liberal arts disciplines spanning the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences, but well over a third use their undergraduate education to prepare for careers in business, education, nursing, or engineering. Most Honors college students plan to go on to graduate study or professional schools, although a significant number successfully seek employment immediately after graduation. Honors faculty and staff provide advice and guidance in both course choice and career plans.

The Honors College Writing Program
Both two- and four-year programs include participation in the Honors College writing program, writing through the curriculum, which involves writing in most honors seminars, as well as formal courses in composition (including HONORS 1100 and HONORS 3100 or HONORS 3160).  In the final year, this culminates in the compilation of a personal Honors College writing portfolio (HONORS 4100).

Independent Study Requirement

All Honors College students, whether in the four-year or the two-year program, must fulfill a 6-credit-hour independent study requirement. This can be met in several ways, including supervised research, guided reading, internships, and in many cases capstone courses in the major.

Four Year Program (40 credit hours total):
Approximately one-third of the 120 hours honors students earn toward graduation are taken in the Honors College or under its auspices. Most of these credits are associated with a sequence of honors courses designed specifically for the college, the majority of which are taken during the first two years. During this period, these students fulfill virtually all of the university's general education requirements, usually in innovative ways. In their junior and senior years, honors students also may earn honors credit for work done within their major fields, work which includes the possibility of internships, independent study projects, and advanced undergraduate research.

First Year
Students take HONORS 1100, 1200, and 1201, and one course each from the Western Traditions and Non-Western Traditions seminar series. Students may take a seminar from the American Traditions series as an elective or in place of the Western Traditions seminar. *

HONORS 1100, Freshman Composition
HONORS 1200, Freshman Symposium: Cultural Traditions I
HONORS 1201, Freshman Symposium: Cultural Traditions II
HONORS 1110-1130, The Western Traditions Series
HONORS 1230, The American Traditions Series (elective as an alternate to Western Traditions)
HONORS 1310, 1330, The Non‑Western Traditions Series

Second Year
Students take two of the following Honors classes:
HONORS 2010, Inquiries in the Humanities
HONORS 2020, Inquiries in the Fine and Performing Arts
HONORS 2030, Inquiries in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
HONORS 2050, Inquiries in the Sciences
HONORS 2060, Inquiries in Business
HONORS 2070, Inquiries in Education
HONORS 2080, Inquiries in Nursing

Honors students in the four-year program who take HONORS 3100 (“Writing the City”) or HONORS 3160 ("Writing in the Sciences") may present it for their honors certificate as one of their 3000-level seminars. They may also, depending on their major, present it to meet their graduation requirement for Junior-level composition.

During the first two years, honors students will take additional course work in other areas, such as mathematics, natural science, foreign language, and major prerequisite classes to satisfy various university, Honors College, and specific degree requirements.

Third and Fourth Years
Honors students in the four-year program take at least four seminars (12 credit hours) from the Advanced Seminar (3000 level series) and/or Research Seminar (HONORS 3530 or HONORS 3535). They may take more where this is compatible with their major and/or minor requirements. In addition, honors students do 6 credit hours in independent study projects, normally in or closely related to their major field. These independent study projects normally carry credit in the major, but can be done as Honors College independent study or research projects (HONORS 4900, 4910, 4915). During the final year, students also take HONORS 4100, a one-hour capstone for the Honors College writing program; HONORS 4100 may be taken for two hours.

Two year Program (22 credit hours total):
Students in this program will take a combination of Honors College seminars and honors independent study credit (usually for work done in their major fields). The 22 credit hours must include 6 credits of independent study, as for the four-year program.

Third Year
During the first year of the two-year program, students take three honors seminars, including HONORS 3100, Writing the City or HONORS 3160, Writing in the Sciences; one course from the Inquiries series (2000 level); one course from either the Advanced Seminar (3000 level) or Research Seminar (HONORS 3530 or HONORS 3535). In addition, 3 credit hours of independent study may be taken during this year, normally in or closely related to their major.

Fourth Year
The final year of the two-year program involves three courses chosen from the 3000 and 4000 level options, including HONORS 4100, the honors writing portfolio, and at least one course chosen from the 3000 level or HONORS 3530 or HONORS 3535.  In addition, students will complete their independent study requirements with 3 or 6 hours of project, internship, or research work.

Honors and Nursing; Honors and Engineering
Because of the extensive professional requirements for both Nursing and Engineering, the Honors College has, with the support of the relevant faculties, created special programs for Nursing and Engineering majors who wish to pursue the Honors College certificate. Both programs feature reduced Honors College credit hour requirements but retain the core of the Honors program and give students ample opportunities to experience interdisciplinary inquiry, seminar-based learning, and take part in the Honors College Writing Program.

Honors and the Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS)
Pierre Laclede Honors College students who wish to present the honors Certificate as a minor for the BLS must complete the Honors Capstone (HONORS 4100, one or two credit hours) and also direct three to six hours of their Honors independent study requirement as part of their BLS program. Students should consult the BLS faculty advisor in the Honors College about this requirement, as well as an Arts and Sciences advisor.  

Pierre Laclede Honors College Student Learning Outcomes.
Both four- and two-year programs share the same learning agendas:

  1. Through coursework comparing and contrasting diverse cultural viewpoints, academic disciplinary approaches and information, Honors students will demonstrate the ability to synthesize knowledge from various perspectives.
  2. Honors students will exhibit the ability to communicate effectively in speech and writing: - by speaking in groups to present, reflect on and evaluate information and perspectives. -by completing the written assignments required in all Honors courses that focus on various perspectives, audiences and disciplinary approaches(demonstrating effective writing that employs correct diction, syntax, usage, grammar and mechanics.
  3. Honors students will demonstrate skills in higher-order thinking, valuing and managing information: -by exhibiting the ability to distinguish among opinions, facts and inferences; by identifying underlying or implicit ins assumptions; by making informed judgments; and by solving problems through applying evaluative standards. -by locating, accessing, synthesizing and annotating information from print, electronic, and other sources; by distinguishing between scholarly and non-scholarly sources in preparation for higher-order thinking. -by analyzing and synthesizing information from a variety of sources, applying the results to resolving complex situations and problems, and defending conclusions using relevant evidence and reasoned argument. -by utilizing cultural, behavioral, and historical knowledge to clarify and articulate a personal value system while recognizing the ramifications of personal value decisions on the self and others. -by identifying conflicts within and between multiple perspectives and value systems; by recognizing and analyzing ethical issues in a variety of contexts; and by employing standards of logic to formulate a reasonable position among multiple perspectives.
  4. Honors students will select and participate in Honors courses in various disciplines and will demonstrate essential skills and approaches relevant to those disciplines: -Students participating in Honors courses in disciplines such as the social sciences, life and physical sciences that rely upon the understanding of fundamental mathematical concepts and their applications will display a level of quantitative literacy that would enable them to understand and analyze quantitative data, draw conclusions, and solve problems. –Students participating in Honors courses in the social and behavioral sciences will exhibit understanding of themselves and the world around them through the study of the content and methodologies used by historians and social and behavioral scientists to discover, describe, explain, and predict human behavior and social systems; they will demonstrate understanding of the diversities and complexities of the cultural and social world, past and present, and come to an informed sense of self and others. –Students participating in Honors courses in the humanities and fine arts will exhibit understanding and critical analysis of the ways in which people have addressed their condition through literature and art; they will demonstrate their understanding of these cultural works and their historical circumstances; they will formulate aesthetic judgments of these works. –Students participating in Honors courses focusing on life and physical sciences will demonstrate knowledge of scientific principles, research procedures and empirical methods of scientific enquiry; they will display their understanding of how scientific discoveries affect and are affected by theoretical views of the world and human history.
  5. Honors students will complete specific Honors requirements designed to develop their awareness of career and advanced study opportunities: -by participating in internships, independent study and undergraduate research to develop and demonstrate advanced knowledge in a discipline, professional skills, and greater understanding of career and educational goals. –by creating an Honors Writing Portfolio that demonstrates the ability to assess their writing skills and development; by devising and revising documents for employment searches or graduate school applications to enhance their ability to formulate and pursue specific career goals.

Other Academic Features and Requirements

The satisfactory/unsatisfactory option does not apply to any course work undertaken for Honors College credit.

Admission and Retention
To be considered for admission to either the two-year or four-year honors program, a candidate must file a special Honors College application, as well as a general university application. These application forms and additional information concerning scholarship awards, general eligibility guidelines, and the admissions process are available from the Honors College admissions office at (314) 516-7769 or from the University Admissions. See also the Honors College website.


Every new freshman or transfer student admitted in good standing to the Honors College receives academic scholarship support. Students continue to receive these awards as long as they meet the criteria associated with their particular scholarship.

Good academic standing

To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a cumulative GPA, in all his or her UMSL courses, of at least 3.2, and must continue to meet the requirements of the honors program for which he or she was initially admitted. Unless other arrangements have been made, Honors College students are also expected to be full time, that is, to register for and satisfactorily complete at least 12 credit hours per semester. Students wishing to enter the Honors College as part-time students or to change to part-time status must make prior arrangements with the Honors College dean or associate dean.

UMSL: an Urban Land Grant Institution

Given its location in St. Louis, and because it is part of an urban land grant university, Pierre Laclede Honors College seeks to encourage awareness of the manifold benefits of pursuing an undergraduate education in a dynamic and varied urban community. This is accomplished partly through the Honors Curriculum through facilitating cultural and other outings in the city, and by encouraging students to include in their academic program courses, research projects, and/or internships which exploit the university's manifold connections with city people and its partnerships with leading city institutions such as the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Missouri Historical Society, and the Mercantile Library of St. Louis. Many honors students fulfill all or part of their independent study requirements working through such partnerships.

International Study and Other Exchange Programs

Honors students are encouraged to consider a semester's or a year's study at another institution. This can be done through the University's Center for International Studies, which administers exchanges with more than 70 universities in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and South and Central America as well as the Missouri-in-London program. Students not wishing to go abroad may, through the National Student Exchange, which is administered for the university by the Honors College, attend any one of more than 100 universities in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Canada.

Please note that students in the Honors and International Business program are normally required to spend their exchange study through the Center for International Studies.

Course Descriptions

Please note that all honors courses are planned to fulfill UMSL graduation requirements, primarily in general education and the state requirement for American history and government. For further guidance on these requirements, please see the university general education matrix.

Selected Honors courses may also meet divisional area study requirements, for instance in international studies or cultural diversity. Please note also that several Honors courses in the 2000, 3000 and 4000 levels, can be used to fulfill major, minor, and certificate requirements, where that has been agreed by other divisions or departments of the university.

Honors course lists and descriptions, published each semester before the beginning of the registration period, identify clearly which seminars fulfill these various requirements. When in doubt, students are urged to consult their Honors College advisor.

Important note: Unless otherwise indicated, all Honors seminars and courses require students to obtain the consent at the Honors College during registration. In practice, “consent of the dean of the Honors College” means consent of the student’s Honors advisor.

HONORS 1100 Freshman Composition (3) [C]
Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Theory and practice of writing expository prose. Emphasis on individual tutorial. Assignments will be linked with topics discussed in other courses in the Honors Freshman Year program.

HONORS 1110-1150 Western Traditions (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. All Western Traditions seminars will be based on the reading and discussion of works of exceptional importance in the development of western culture and civilization. The works to be discussed in each seminar will follow a central theme (defined by its particular relevance to the traditional academic disciplinary areas of the humanities, arts, social sciences, mathematics, or sciences) but will relate that theme to wider developments in Western Traditions and to the American concept of a liberal education.

HONORS 1110 Western Traditions: Humanities
HONORS 1130 Western Traditions: Social and Behavioral Sciences 
HONORS 1150 Western Traditions: the Sciences

Cultural Traditions I and II as ‘core’ seminars.
These symposium seminars (1200 and 1201) are normal freshman year requirements. Each has its own academic agenda, but both are also related—in theme, problem, or subject matter—to Honors Composition (1100), Western Traditions (1110-1150), American Traditions 1230, and Non-Western Traditions (1310-1330) seminars.

HONORS 1200 Freshman Symposium: Cultural Traditions I (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. This course surveys Western and Non-Western Cultural Traditions from their beginnings until 1800. It will introduce the intellectual traditions of a wide variety of cultures through major works of literature, religion and philosophy.

HONORS 1201 Freshman Symposium: Cultural Traditions II (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. This course surveys Western and Non-Western cultural Traditions from the 1800’s to current times. It will introduce intellectual traditions of a wide variety of cultures through major works of literature, religion and philosophy.

HONORS 1230 American Traditions: Social and Behavioral Sciences (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Honors seminars in the American Traditions series involve readings and discussion of major importance in the development of the culture, politics, ideologies, and values which are or have been characteristic of the United States of America. Every American Traditions seminar will cover a broad range of time, and each may include contemporary issues. American Traditions 1230 (Social Sciences) satisfies the American history and government requirement, and any course in the American Traditions sequence may be taken to satisfy one of the core requirements for the American Studies minor.

HONORS 1310-1330 Non‑Western Traditions (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Study of Non-Western societies, "traditional" or "modern," offers a reminder that, however defined, "the West" does not encompass the full range of human potentiality whether in terms of culture, values, behavior or ideas. Based on reading of significant primary texts and/or important secondary works, these seminars remind us of the realities of human diversity and provide perspectives on our own world. Non-Western Traditions seminars may be used to satisfy cultural diversity general education requirements.

HONORS 1310 Non-Western Traditions: Humanities
HONORS 1330 Non-Western Traditions: Social and Behavioral Sciences

HONORS 1900 Independent Cross-Cultural Readings (1-3)
This course is an independent readings course centered on cultural interactions. Students will select readings from an approved list of choices related to Western and Non-Western texts. Students will discuss the works with the faculty member online or in person. One formal paper is required for the class with the length relative to the number of credit hours of the course (1-3).

HONORS 2010-2080 Honors Inquiries (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Inquiries seminars focus on the particular contributions academic disciplines can make to relatively broad areas of inquiry, and reading, discussion, writing and where appropriate, laboratory work or field trips will enhance students’ understanding of the strengths, frailties, and particular characteristics of one or more disciplinary strategies. Inquiries courses may be used to meet relevant General education requirements. Where special arrangements have been agreed, they can meet more specific departmental and divisional requirements. The course number may be repeated for credit whenever the topic is substantially different.

HONORS 2010 Inquiries in the Humanities
HONORS 2020 Inquiries in the Fine and Performing Arts

HONORS 2030 Inquiries in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

HONORS 2050 Inquiries in the Natural Sciences
HONORS 2060 Inquiries in Business

HONORS 2070 Inquiries in Education

HONORS 2080 Inquiries in Nursing

HONORS 2310 Cultural Diversity in the Humanities (3)
This seminar focuses upon cultural diversity themes, texts, and perspectives within the humanities and meets cultural diversity graduation requirements.

HONORS 2330 Cultural Diversity in the Social Sciences (3)

This seminar focuses upon cultural diversity themes, texts, and perspectives within the social science meets cultural diversity graduation requirements..

HONORS 3010-3070 Advanced Honors Seminar (3)

Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Open only to Honors College Students and not acceptable for graduate credit. Usually restricted to juniors and seniors, these advanced seminars focus on in-depth study of a significant body of subject matter. The perspective employed will normally be interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary and will underscore the value of making connections between diverse areas of study. These courses will not usually require specific prerequisites, but may (with the consent of the appropriate department or division) be taken as major or minor courses. The course number may be repeated for credit whenever the topic is substantially different.

HONORS 3010 Advanced Honors Seminar in the Humanities
HONORS 3020 Advanced Honors Seminar in the Fine and Performing Arts
HONORS 3030 Advanced Honors Seminar in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

HONORS 3050 Advanced Honors Seminar in the Sciences

HONORS 3060 Advanced Honors Seminar in Business

HONORS 3070 Advanced Honors Seminar in Education

HONORS 3100 Honors Advanced Composition: Writing the City (3)
Prerequisites: Junior standing and consent of the dean of the Honors College. Enhances critical thinking, research, discussion, and writing skills by focusing on the city of St. Louis and on the specific fields of study of those enrolled in the course. Issues such as depth and development of content, voice, style, tone, correct expression, and research techniques are among the topics emphasized. Students maintain a Commonplace Book of journals, drafts, and creative writings; they also submit a minimum of four formal papers. This course is required for transfer students (two-year Honors Program) and an elective for students on the four-year program. For students on either program, HONORS 3100 meets the Advanced Composition requirement of the university.

HONORS 3160 Honors Writing in the Sciences (3)
Prerequisites: Junior-level standing and consent of the dean of the Honors College This honors course, designed to meet the needs for students in the science disciplines, will satisfy the campus junior-level writing requirement. This course will stress writing observation reports, academic journals, laboratory reports and a major project suited to the specific area of study of each student enrolled in the class. Instruction will include correct documentation of science sources, synthesis techniques of research information, technology-based research skills and effective laboratory reporting methods. Four formal papers, including one large project, and several informal papers will be required for this challenging course.

HONORS 3530 Research Seminar (3)
Prerequisite: Consent of the dean of the Honors College. Open only to Honors College students and not acceptable for graduate credit. Modeled on and for some students affording a preview of the postgraduate or professional research seminar, Honors Research seminars bring students face to face with primary research, as appropriate in the library, the laboratory, and/or field work, utilizing appropriate disciplinary perspectives and secondary reading. These courses may be cross-listed with other advanced courses in appropriate departments/divisions of the university, and as such may carry specific course prerequisites and/or require the specific consent of the instructor.

HONORS 3535 Research Seminar in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (4)

Prerequisites: Consent of Honors Dean and consent of Instructor. Course material based on primate behavior, demographics and morphology. Research techniques for ethological and primatological studies, including the design of research protocols, development of data collection methodologies, analysis of morphological and behavioral data, and the scientific description of findings. Students are required to conduct observations of primates at the St. Louis Zoo and participate in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

HONORS 4100 Independent Portfolio Writing (1 or 2)
Prerequisites: Consent of the dean of the Honors College and senior status. Open only to Honors College students and not acceptable for graduate credit. Students in this course will meet on a regular basis with the director of writing and other appropriate Honors faculty to revise and polish samples in the Honors writing portfolio which the student has compiled during his or her Honors College enrollment. With the assistance of the Director, the student will write an in-depth analysis of his or her writing and will select the best examples of writing in his or her Honors Portfolio. During this independent study, the student may request help with research skills, writing issues, or application procedures for post-graduate courses or employment. All students must take one credit hour; the two-credit hour option is recommended for students whose plans include graduate or professional school.

HONORS 4900 Independent Study in Honors (1-6)

Prerequisite: Consent of the Dean of the Honors College.  Open only to Honors College students and not acceptable for graduate credit.  Most Honors students will fulfill their Honors independent study requirements in another department or division of the university.  Where this is not possible, and where academic credit seems an appropriate reward for the independent study in question, the project may be undertaken as HONORS 4900, normally as a 3-credit course.  This will involve substantial reading, research, and/or field work, and will be supervised by a permanent member of the Honors College academic staff.  Completed proposal forms for this course must be submitted to the Honors College no later than the deadline for university registration. 

HONORS 4910 Internship. (1-6)
Prerequisites: Junior/Senior Standing and consent of the dean of the Honors College. This independent study course is designed for students who are participating in an approved, non-paid or paid internship. Often operating in conjunction with the student’s major, the class requires an on-going journal and formal paper varying in length according to credit hours and hours of the internship work. Evaluation is based on the student’s work, the completed form by supervisor of internship, and assigned papers and journal.

HONORS 4915 Honors Independent Off-Campus Internship (1-6)

Prerequisites: as for HONORS 4910. This course is designed for 1 to 6 hours for an outside internship, approved by the Honors College. The student will not be on campus for the hours of this internship and most work for the internship will be submitted online to the Honors College internship supervisor.