Honors options for Tippie students

Tippie students are able to work towards honors graduation in two ways.   

University Honors

The University Honors Program, also referred to as “Honors at Iowa,” is a membership-based program open to students with a strong academic record and commitment to membership in the Honors community. You can graduate with University Honors by completing honors-designated coursework and experiential learning opportunities.  A great way to satisfy the experiential learning requirement is to complete an honors thesis project through Honors in the Major. To learn more about eligibility and graduation requirements, visit University Honors.

Honors in the Major

In addition the University Honors Program, Tippie offers an honors graduation designation specifically for undergraduate business students. ‘Honors in the Major’ can be earned by completing additional requirements within your major.

How it works

Through Honors in the Major, you’ll complete a research project under the mentorship of a Tippie faculty member, resulting in an honors thesis. You’ll have the opportunity to delve deep into a topic that interests you and develop expertise in your subject area. We’ll support you throughout your experience and connect you with a community of business honors students.


  • Dedicated honors advisor and faculty Director of Honors
  • Connections with Tippie’s world-class faculty
  • Opportunity to write an original thesis and develop expertise that prepares you for graduate school or distinguishes you as an expert in the job market


Honors in the Major requirements include:

  • 3.5 GPAs at graduation: cumulative, UI, business, UI business
  • Three-semester research and thesis project:
    • Semester 1: Completion of BUS:1999 Introduction to Research in Business
    • Semesters 2 and 3: Thesis project with a faculty member in your field
  • Poster presentation of your research at the Undergraduate Research Festival

Getting started

The Honors advisor in the Undergraduate Program Office holds Honors advising hours during the academic year. There are a few ways to sign up:

  • Look out for an email invitation from the Honors advisor to schedule a one-on-one meeting.
  • Contact the Undergraduate Program Office front desk and ask to be connected to the Honors advisor to schedule an Honors advising appointment:
  • Complete the Registration form at the button below, and the Honors advisor will be in touch.

Register for honors


Build community with top Tippie scholars

The Tippie Business Honor Society is open to Tippie students whose UI GPA places them in the top 10% of their class.  Tippie Business Honor Society members build community through social events and opportunities to dive deeper into business research topics.  Invitations are issued each January, and membership runs for a 12-month period.

Planning your Honors experience

Key goals include aiming for 3.5 GPAs, completing 12 credits of Honors coursework, and completing a thesis in your final year.  Follow our yearly guide to be best prepared to graduate with both University Honors and Honors in the Major at Tippie.

Learn about Honors graduation options, including University Honors and Honors in the Major.  

  • For information about Honors in the Major at Tippie, attend one of Tippie's honors info sessions at the start of each semester (check our weekly UPO newsletter for details), or email Tippie's Honors Advisor at nicholas-kavanaugh@uiowa.edu to schedule a one-on-one advising meeting.
  • For information about University Honors, visit Honors at Iowa, and look out for email invitations from the Honors at Iowa staff and Peer Mentors.

Learn about the Tippie Business Honor Society.  This organization recognizes excellence in the Tippie student body, builds a community of honors business students, and provides members with resources to work towards Honors in the Major graduation.

  • If your UI GPA places you in the top 10% of admitted Tippie students, you will receive an invitation to join the Tippie Business Honor Society at the start of the spring semester. Membership runs for 12 months and will be renewed as long as you maintain at least a 3.80 GPA, with one semester allowed for probationary membership if your GPA falls below this.

Start completing 12 Honors credits if pursuing University Honors.  Honors Primetime, honors sections of General Education courses, and honors sections of business core courses are great ways to get started.  Be sure to mention to your academic advisor that you are working towards University Honors, so they can help you factor honors sections into your plan.

Aim for 3.5 GPAs (cumulative, UI, business, UI business) to be on track for Honors in the Major graduation.

Complete your 12 credits of Honors coursework to be on track for University Honors.  Most students must complete Honors credits in the first four semesters of membership in the University Honors Program.

This is a great year to build a network of honors peers, explore honors options, and begin thinking about research.

  • If you have been invited to join the Tippie Business Honor Society, be sure to participate in Society events.
  • Consider your experiential learning options.  If you choose not to pursue Honors in the Major at Tippie, you can still be eligible for University Honors by completing experiential learning opportunities, many of which also count for our own Tippie RISE experiential learning requirement.  It's important to record all of your experiential learning through Honors at Iowa to be sure you earn credit towards University Honors graduation.
  • Visit faculty office hours and read up on your faculty to learn about their research interests.  Tippie faculty are internationally known for their innovative research.  This year is a great chance to start learning about it.

Continue to aim for 3.5 GPAs (cumulative, UI, business, UI business).  You can still pursue Honors in the Major if your GPA falls below 3.5 prior to graduation.  The important goal is to aim for 3.5s by the time you graduate.  If you have concerns about your GPAs, please talk with your academic advisor, who can help you with GPA calculations and talk about options for raising your GPA.

You will likely dive into your major coursework this year, so it's an important time to meet faculty and start to develop ideas about your thesis to work towards Honors in the Major graduation.

Continue to build your network through the Tippie Business Honor Society and Honors at Iowa.

Visit faculty office hours to learn more about their research, and start considering your own interests in your field of study.

In fall or spring, you will take BUS:1999, Introduction to Research in Business.  This one-hour S/U graded course is taught by Tippie's Honors Director.  Through this course, you will explore types of business research, learn how to develop a thesis topic, and meet Tippie faculty engaged in research.  You will also have assistance in identifying a faculty advisor for your thesis.

By the end of your third year, you should have your faculty advisor secured and have a good idea of your thesis topic, so that you can hit the ground running in your final year.

If you choose not to pursue Honors in the Major, you may be able to work towards University Honors by completing experiential learning opportunities, many of which also count for our own Tippie RISE experiential learning requirement.  It's important to record all of your experiential learning through Honors at Iowa to be sure you earn credit towards University Honors graduation.

Continue to maintain GPAs or work on improving them if any of the four GPAs we measure is below a 3.5 (cumulative, UI, business, UI business).

This is your thesis year.  Under the supervision of a Tippie faculty advisor, you will undertake your own project, including research and data analysis, resulting in a written report of your work that is due at the end of your final semester.

  • The thesis is a two semester project.  In both semesters, you enroll in your academic department's 4999 Honors Thesis Course for 2 credit hours, for a total of 4 credits.  
  • For access to the shared database of previous Honors theses, please email nicholas-kavanaugh@uiowa.edu

In your final semester of the project, you must present your work in poster format at the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Research Festival.  We will provide you with a template poster and will have your poster printed for you. 

This is the final year to aim for 3.5 GPAs.  Your GPAs will be checked after grades are recorded in your final semester.  We will review your cumulative, UI, business, and UI business GPAs to ensure that all are at 3.5 or above.

You will receive recognition at graduation (please note: official Honors graduation status is confirmed after final grades have been reviewed):

  • Honors in the Major graduates wear white cordons.  Honors in the Major is noted in the full-length Commencement Program and in our Tippie Order of Events.
  • University Honors graduates wear medallions.  University Honors is noted in the full-length Commencement Program and in our Tippie Order of Events.
  • If you completed 12 Honors credits and completed the requirements for Honors in the Major, you will be awarded both University Honors and Honors in the Major.
  • Your Honors graduation status will appear on your diploma and on your official transcript.
Alumni Story
While at Tippie,, Tom Niblock (BBA07) merged his economics and religious studies majors to build a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

Pivot from research assistant to advocate

Tom Niblock (BBA07) was a research assistant at Iowa. On one of his first projects, he and his professor researched the effect of HIV/AIDS on labor markets.

"We wrote a paper together, and I presented it at a conference through the honors program and at the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines."

At the time, there was a crisis developing in Sub-Saharan Africa with HIV/AIDS. People there were dying really at an alarming rate, but no one had looked at the implications for what would happen to the labor market.

Read Story

Also explore: academic distinctions

Looking for more ways to add to your credentials? Check out academic distinctions and honor societies.