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 may 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 established 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 study-abroad@uiowa.edu, 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 of Study Abroad, the student is eligible to earn 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 you 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 start 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 no later than the Monday of finals week.

Step 6: Submit your narrative

The purpose of your narrative is to present highlights of your experience to others and demonstrate how they have contributed to your growth and self-knowledge. There isn’t one way to do this, but in general, we want it 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 500 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 250 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 
  • How this experience fostered self-discovery and personal growth
  • Two (2) images (more are welcome, though!)
  • Your author bio (you have the option to include a photo of yourself)

Your narrative may be published on the honors blog and social media. 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. To prepare your narrative for others, you will need to reflect on the experience and think about what you want to share. You may draw on ideas and even whole paragraphs from your answers to the post-experience questionnaire; however, please keep in mind that you are writing the narrative for a general audience.

Here are some tips for blog-writing:

  • Avoid unnecessary jargon, like technical terms and acronyms.  Make sure to explain any ideas or concepts that are not common knowledge.
  • Use paragraphs to break up the ideas in your narrative.
  • Be specific about your experience by including examples and anecdotes. Get creative and be descriptive!
  • Pay attention to the transition and flow of your main ideas—your narrative should make sense from start to finish.
  • Finish strong. What do you want others to take away from your narrative? What advice do you want to impart to your peers? How did this experience impact you the most? End your narrative with gusto!
  • Fix grammatical errors and submit a polished final draft.

Submit Your Narrative

You can start 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 no later than the Monday of finals week.

Step 7: Earn honors credit!

Honors Experiential Learning credit will be awarded per semester accordingly:

  • 1-2 week experience with questionnaires 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 or more 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 for one semester (regardless of the number of weeks), four (4) is the maximum number of honors credits that can be earned by completing the honors reflection assignment. For study abroad in the same country for two or more semesters, eight (8) is the maximum number of honors credits that can be earned by completing the honors reflection assignment. 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 Honors 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 projects 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 conversations 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 for an independent project with faculty.

These details must be submitted to andrew-willard@uiowa.edu and approved prior to departing.