Instructors may request to offer their seminar as an Honors First-Year Seminar, a Research-Focused First-Year Seminar, both, or neither. This request is indicated during the annual proposal process, and selections are communicated to instructors after all proposals have been submitted. See below for additional information on each of these seminar designation types. 


Honors First-Year Seminars

During the annual First-Year Seminar proposal process, instructors may indicate interest in teaching their seminar as an Honors First-Year Seminar, which means the course will be offered only to new first year students who are part of the UI Honors Program.

Prior acceptance into this category does not guarantee acceptance again in the future, and our capacity to offer these courses is often limited by the size of the incoming first year class. Note that offering your course as an Honors seminar does not mean merely adding additional or harder assignments.

Instructors who are requesting consideration for this seminar type should have relevant knowledge of or prior experience with teaching honors-level first year students. This is taken into account by Honors Program staff when selecting seminars for the UI Honors Program.

All instructors should note that UI Honors Program staff visit one class session (or portion of a session) to speak with students. Please plan accordingly for this. Honors staff will contact instructors directly to schedule their classroom visit. 

Scheduling an Honors First-Year Seminar &
Instructor Compensation

Honors seminars that are not also research-focused seminars are scheduled by and offered through the primary instructor's home department (restricted to first-year students in the UI Honors Program). These seminars are compensated per the instructor's collegiate compensation policy. Instructors should review the compensation policies page for more information as policies vary.

What is Honors Education?

Visit the UI Honors Program website for more information on teaching an honors seminar. Note that teaching an Honors seminar does not mean "just adding additional assignments" to make the class more challenging. 

Research-Focused First-Year Seminars

Does your First-Year Seminar emphasize discovery and investigation? Is it strongly aligned with FYS Pillar 1: Academic Inquiry? Consider turning your First Year Seminar into a Research-Focused First-Year Seminar in collaboration with the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR).

Why consider offering your seminar as a Research-Focused First-Year Seminar?

Research-focused seminars provide students with an opportunity to learn firsthand about research and creative scholarship. These seminars also allow instructors to directly engage students in the excitement of research and build community through small group projects. 

Elke Heckner, a lecturer in the Department of German who has taught her seminar, Memorials, Museums, and Monuments, as a research-focused course, explains that, “Teaching a research-focused seminar was a very rewarding experience. Great students, amazing class discussions and inspiring posters.”

To further encourage student participation in research, OUR will grant a one-semester OUR Research Fellowship ($1,000 for Spring 2024) to the student of your choice from your FYS. The award may also be split between two students. You will receive more information on selecting and nominating your student at the beginning of the semester.

How do you make a seminar "research-focused?"

Many seminars already have the structure of a research-focused First-Year Seminar, and could easily be offered as such. For example, in your First-Year Seminar, do you:

  • Define for students what research is through your seminar topic?
  • Describe the research process used in your field?
  • Guide students toward developing a research question?
  • Visit a site of on-going research on or off campus (or envision where this type of activity could be incorporated into your seminar)?

The following are suggestions for additional research-focused strategies that could be incorporated into your seminar:

  • Invite OUR to speak with your class about undergraduate research opportunities on campus.
  • Organize student teams to approach and develop simple research questions.
  • Have students share their research at the First-Year Seminar Poster Session (see below).
  • Review the Honors and Research-Focused First-Year Seminar page for students to ensure your course aligns with their expectations as well.

OUR is available to meet with instructors to discuss the structure and expectations of the seminar as well and provides additional information once course selections are finalized. 

First-Year Seminar Poster Session

Beginning in Fall 2021, students enrolled in research-focused First-Year Seminars have an opportunity to share what they discovered in a First-Year Seminar Poster Session, held in late October (end of week 10 of the semester- usually the 4th or 5th Thursday of October).  

  • Instructors are highly encouraged to offer their seminar via an off-cycle course that meets for the first 10 weeks of the semester for 75 minutes/week (rather than the full semester) and use the poster session as a final project for the course. 
  • The cost of printing posters for this event is covered by University College. Posters should be created and presented in small groups of 3 - 5 students, rather than as individuals. 
  • While not required, instructors who teach a research-focused seminar are highly encouraged to participate in the First-Year Seminar Poster Session as this is an important learning opportunity for students and many are expecting this when they enroll in the seminar.
  • The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is available to visit your class to discuss how to create posters for this event.

Scheduling a Research-Focused First-Year Seminar &
Instructor Compensation

If your seminar is selected, it will be scheduled by and offered through University College in the Undergraduate Research (URES) department (both Honors and non-Honors sections), and compensation will be distributed via the University College compensation policyAll University College First-Year Seminars compensate instructors via a teaching stipend, which is $2,500/seminar minus fringe.

DO NOT schedule your course in your home department until you have received final word on your seminar proposal.