The Honors at Iowa Mission

Honors at Iowa enriches the undergraduate experience by cultivating intellectual curiosity and practical skill through challenging coursework, creative engagement, and experiential learning to nurture a deeper understanding of one’s discipline and self.

The Honors at Iowa Vision

We envision Honors at Iowa as an inclusive and supportive community for high achieving students who are in the process of understanding the broader significance of their education, life experiences, and relationships with the goal of awareness and self-authorship.

The Honors at Iowa Inclusion Statement

The University of Iowa Honors Program seeks to nurture a deeper understanding of one’s discipline and self. Central to that is embracing and seeking to cultivate intellectual curiosity enhanced by the diversity of our community through identities such as race, ethnicity, orientation, gender, class, religion, or any other classification that deprives the person of consideration as an individual.

Our purpose is to foster and support an environment in which diversity of background and perspective is not only recognized and respected but viewed as a dynamic opportunity to enrich and strengthen the student experience and entire Honors Program community. We are committed to increasing the representation of populations that have historically been marginalized and excluded from opportunities in higher education, as well as being a welcoming and safe place for everyone.

How we do it:

  1. We engage and challenge our students in their first two years through seminar-style classes that give them a broad and varied knowledge base.
  2. We enable our students to engage in experiential learning through participating in undergraduate research, study abroad, internships, and more.
  3. We help them with their self-discovery process through the personal guidance, community, and many other opportunities (some quite unique) that we offer as part of membership.

Honors at Iowa Charter

Our Charter outlines our program and its mission.

How did Honors at Iowa begin?

The University of Iowa Honors Program was created in 1958 by Samuel Rhodes Dunlap. Professor Dunlap introduced the program as a response to the U.S. government’s call for better and more competitive education. His intent was to ensure the University’s position as a leader in research and learning. Dunlap was the program director from its founding in 1958 until his retirement in 1981, and was instrumental in the growth of the program from the half-dozen or so departments at its beginning to the many involved when he retired. He worked with the various departments to get them interested, and was also involved with honors at the national level. He attended many conferences and seminars across the country in order to promote honors.

Dunlap’s Legacy – Students First

Although Professor Dunlap worked hard at all levels in promoting honors, he never lost sight of his own program’s primary mission of serving the students. Dewey Stuit, the former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and a colleague of Dunlap, said, “You sometimes read that the University doesn’t show individual attention to students. Samuel Dunlap was an example of a person who puts students first. . . . He always looked out for the individual . . . .”

Visible and lasting proof to Professor Dunlap’s commitment to honors and the students is the Rhodes Dunlap Scholarship, which was made possible by his bequest. Each year Honors at Iowa gives out a substantial number of these scholarships to its students in Dunlap’s honor. Thus does his vision of honors education continue on.

Make Your Connection

Dunlap’s approach to, and philosophy of, academic excellence have been carried through and augmented in the Honors Program to this day. Honors at Iowa now extends across all the undergraduate colleges and departments at the University of Iowa. It is truly a university-wide program, with its administrative home being the University College housed in the Provost’s Office. Honors now has dedicated space in the Blank Honors Center for Honors Professional Staff offices (4th floor) and the Honors Student Center (3rd floor); it also has a residence hall – Daum Honors House.

Yet, even with the scope of the program, our primary concern is with the individual student. Our tagline, Make Your Connection, captures it most concisely: through our program our students make their connection with who they are, their social community, and with their particular area of study and their career. We think that’s the logical and most profitable place to begin, and particularly for high capability students, who typically can do more than one thing well.

Professional Affiliations


The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), founded in 1965, is a nonprofit organization that supports the community of educational institutions, professionals, and students who participate in collegiate honors education around the world. The NCHC provides publications, honors program/college reviews, professional development, an annual professional conference, and networking opportunities to its members, as well as experiential travel programs and honors student awards and scholarships.