University of Iowa

Honors at Iowa encourages students to explore — and studying abroad allows them to do just that. To earn honors credit for a study abroad experience all students must complete a guided reflection process, which includes a pre- and post-experience questionnaire and a narrative submission. Students have the option to earn additional honors credit by developing and conducting an independent project.

Students must be enrolled in a study abroad program that is approved by the UI Study Abroad Office.

Quick Links

Step 1: Identify a study abroad opportunity

At the University of Iowa, the Office of Study Abroad connects students with many standing programs for studying abroad. The University of Iowa offers approximately 75 study abroad programs scattered across every continent (except Antarctica). If none of the UI’s programs are right for you, you may participate in a program offered by another U.S. university or foreign university or a program approved by the Office of Study Abroad. The possibilities are nearly limitless.

Contact the Office of Study Abroad with questions at (319) 335-0353 or, or visit the Study Abroad Office website.

Step 2: Register with the Office of Study Abroad

As long as a student is registered for the program through the Office for Study Abroad they are registered for study abroad hours. Contact to determine if your study abroad experience is eligible for honors credit.

Step 3: Complete the Pre-Experience Questionnaire

This consists of a few basic questions. It is designed to guide you through considering and then describing what you hope to gain or accomplish from your study abroad experience.

Pre-Experience Questionnaire

This is due before your depart for your study abroad experience.

Step 4: Go abroad!

Step 5: Complete the Post Experience Questionnaire

This is the place where you can comment on how your experience has shaped your growth. It is designed to guide your reflection on your study abroad experience to see how and in what ways it fulfilled or did not fulfill your hopes and expectations.

Post Experience Questionnaire

You can do this once you complete your study abroad and must do so within five (5) weeks after your study abroad program ends. If you are studying abroad in your final semester at Iowa, this is due on Monday of finals week.

Step 6: Submit your narrative

The purpose of your narrative is to present highlights of your experience and how they have contributed to your growth and self-knowledge. There isn’t one way to do this, but in general, we want you to be fun and informative, yet easy to read and/or understand.

Narratives can take many forms including a written piece, podcast, comic strip, video, slideshow, etc. There is no required format. We do expect a minimum of 400 words and a maximum of 1000 words for written pieces. Video and audio can be varying length. Video, audio, and comic strip submissions will require a short explanation (minimum of 400 words) detailing their pertinence to your experience.

Here is a list of what your narrative must include and what we might ask for you to expand on after reviewing it:

  • Where you went and what you did
  • How long you were there
  • Highlights of your experience and their personal significance
  • Two (2) images (more are welcome, though!)
  • Your author bio (you have the option to include a photo of yourself)

Your narrative will be published on our website and social media. We want others to share and gain from your experience. By sharing your narrative with others, what you learned can have a broader impact and possibly lead someone else to take part in a new experience.

Your narrative will be published because your understanding of how your experience shaped your growth is closely connected to the Honors Program’s mission of fostering self-discovery. By preparing your narrative for others, you will need to reflect on the experience and think about what you want to share.

Submit Your Narrative

You can do this once you complete your study abroad and must do so within five (5) weeks after your study abroad program ends. If you are studying abroad in your final semester at Iowa, this is due on Monday of finals week.

Step 7: Earn honors credit!

Honors Experiential Learning credit will be awarded accordingly:

  • 1-2 week experience with questionnaire and narrative: 1 honors credit
  • 3-5 week experience with questionnaires and narrative: up to 2 honors credits
  • 6-9 week experience with questionnaires and narrative: up to 3 honors credits
  • 10-15 week experience with questionnaires and narrative: up to 4 honors credits
  • Add up to 3 honors credits to the above for completion of an optional independent project*

*The independent project is not an option for the 1-2 or 3-5 week experiences as the duration does not allow enough time for completion.

Note: For study abroad in the same country that extends beyond fifteen (15) weeks, eight (8) is the maximum number of honors credits that can be earned by completing the honors reflection assignment; and a maximum of three (3) additional honors credits can be earned by developing, conducting, and reporting on an independent study abroad project. It is also possible to participate in a different study abroad experience in a different country for additional honors study abroad credit.

Optional: Meet with the Experiential Learning Director to develop an independent project

Students can choose to develop and conduct an independent project during their study abroad. Projects are tailored to a student’s individual interest. Some examples of the types of possible project include:

  • Creative/original/entrepreneurial activities
  • Market research/historical research/environmental impact research
  • An in depth analysis of the global or regional aspects of an industry or sector in which the student is working
  • An in depth analysis of global or regional issues of concern to the host country
  • A series of personal interviews with appropriate leaders on a specific topic

All students conducting independent projects are required to make a poster presentation. Details about the project, including topic, audience, and presentation will be finalized by individual students with the Honors Experiential Learning Director. Students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with faculty for their independent projects.

These details must be submitted and approved to prior to departing.