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The Nuts and Bolts of the Core Curriculum

A major impetus for the unique design of the curriculum was a panel discussion by business leaders who explained what they wished they could expect in recent college graduates. They complained about students who had a lot of knowledge, but couldn't think and often couldn't write. The modern work environment usually centers around a team trying to solve a problem. Recent graduates aren't often used to working in teams-they do their learning alone and rarely have much practice in discussing ideas in a critical way or in conflict resolution. Recent graduates were also noted as being uncomfortable with problems where there was no clear right answer. We wanted to equip our students with those skills while still introducing them to the great ideas and traditions in our disciplines. We wanted a curriculum which would lead the students to be successful whether they were applying for jobs or for graduate school.

—Dr. Janet Goebel

Director of the Robert E. Cook Honors College

The Honors College strives to see that the community of scholars remains cohesive with both academic and co-curricular components throughout the four years of the student's honors experience. Honors courses are discrete courses, not added on supplemental work or enhancement for a student in a regular course. Approval of honors course proposals requires that course objectives be framed as questions and that both the pedagogy and evaluation methods of the course be interactive and primarily based on writing or performance, not on objective examinations.


Of the 120 credits required for IUP graduation, honors students are required to take a minimum of 24 credits approved as honors. Of that 24 credits, 18 credits come from the four-semester, interdisciplinary "core" course which substitutes for 22 credits of the liberal studies classes required of all students. At least 3 honors credits are taken in both the junior and senior years when not precluded by study abroad or student teaching. Students are encouraged to seek an advanced course or preparatory courses for an undergraduate thesis in their major field. 3 credits come from an honors synthesis course in the student's senior year.

Other Honors Options

These five required honors courses are supplemented by other honors courses. Students may also choose to do a final honors project, sometimes culminating in an undergraduate thesis.