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Experiential Learning

Please note that this page has been revised since the 2020-2021 academic year.


A hallmark of the Honors College involves bringing ideas to life. One of the ways the honors experience differs from the traditional university experience is through the honors experiential learning component.

The Honors College sees experiential learning activities falling into the following three categories, and we will discuss the 2021-2022 options with reference to them. Click on the gold links for full details.

Please note that students in an Honors FYE class have different expectations this year. See the “Experiential Learning for First-Year Students in an Honors FYE Class” section below.

This section includes activities in the classroom or the research environment that are beyond being a typical student.

Academic activities that fulfill the experiential learning requirement include:

Study Abroad: All study abroad trips and exchange programs developed and led through the Office of Global Engagement.

Undergraduate Research Projects (Outside the parameters of the Honors Thesis): Independent research mentored by a faculty member, research assistant positions, and opportunities like National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Please note that for student-initiated research projects to count for the experiential learning requirement, they must follow at least three criteria: 1) the research cannot be a class assignment, 2) the research cannot be work for the thesis and 3) the research must be mentored by a faculty member.

Peer Leaders: Students may apply to be a Peer Leader through the The Office of First- and Second-Year Programs.  If selected, completion of a semester as a peer leader will fulfill the yearly requirement.

Undergraduate Student Teaching Assistantships and Supplemental Instructors: Teaching assistantships and supplemental instructor positions are available for academically strong and talented students in certain departments. See your department for these opportunities.

Internships, Co-ops, Student Teaching, Clinical Hours in Nursing and Health Sciences: Internships and co-ops must be for academic credit through the student’s academic major or minor OR registered through the Office of Career and Professional Development.

These options involve direct service with community organizations, alternative break trips, and service-learning experiences.

The majority of honors students beyond the first year complete a service-learning or volunteer project to fulfill the requirement. Many students also participate on an alternative break trip or participate in other pre-approved service-learning/volunteer projects. (Holding a leadership position for a student organization is not volunteering. Please use the leadership option for those projects.)

Please note that at least 25 service hours with your chosen organization are required if you wish to use service-learning to fulfill your experiential learning requirement.

Alternative Break Trips

Many students participate on weeklong alternative break trips over Thanksgiving, Winter Break, or Spring Break. Participation in these trips–whether sponsored by the Honors College or the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement–counts for the requirement.

Weekend trips will also count, but we ask that you participate in enough trips to total 25 hours for the year.

If you are interested in an Honors College-sponsored alternative break trip, please visit our alternative break trips page.

Students who take on a significant leadership role in an officially recognized student organization may use that experience to satisfy the requirement.  Please note that students who select this option must hold the position for at least one semester during the academic year.

Summary of Steps

Regardless of the option a student chooses, they will still need to follow these steps:

  • Students will choose an activity and arrange for the experience.
  • Students will identify their plans in the experiential learning registration form. It is due September 30.
  • Students participate in the activity throughout the year.
  • In March, students will include information about their activity in their annual report. It is due April 30.
  • Failure to complete any of these steps may result in removal from the Honors College.
  • Note for fall semester graduates: If you begin your final semester with one last experiential learning activity to complete, then you must complete it during your final semester. An annual report form will be sent in mid-November and due by the last day of fall classes.
  • Note on summer projects: Students who engaged in an activity over the summer who wish to have it count for the 2021-2022 school year should complete the fall form and the annual report. Students who plan to engage in a project during summer 2022, may count that for the 2022-2023 school year requirement.

Experiential Learning for First-Year Students in an Honors FYE Class

Honors students in honors sections of the first-year experience seminar will have several assignments related to experiential learning including an assignment to focus on exploring potential experiential learning activities that they might engage during their second, third, and fourth years.

First-year students will also volunteer through SERVE912 and/or other organizations for 15 hours total during the fall semester with “check-ins” at the end of September, October, and November (students should plan to volunteer 5 hours each month). Short reflection pieces on the experience will be submitted in class each month.

Any questions? Please contact Dr. Francis Desiderio at

Last updated: 4/11/2022