Overview - Natural and Complex Systems Program

The Natural and Complex Systems Program focuses on scientific, research-based projects that integrate student work across the Natural, Physical, Engineering, Mathematical and Computer Sciences. Students admitted to the Natural and Complex Systems Program who complete the University Honors Core Seminar requirements and the Natural and Complex Systems requirements with a grade of C or higher. In addition, students must maintain:

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to remain in “good standing” with the program

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher to graduate as a “University Honors Scholar: Natural and Complex Systems”


Honors Foundation Courses (Honors Core): 9 credits total

  • HNRS A192:  Honors Seminar: Enduring Books (3 credits)—An honors seminar focusing on the directed reading of a single book of enduring significance.  The seminar will focus on the art of reading a text closely and grappling with its significance—i.e., the idea of coming to grips with how to live with the aid of one of the great books—while at the same time honing the student’s abilities in listening, writing and speaking. Topics and instructors change every semester.

  • HNRS A292:  Honors Seminar in Social Science (3 credits)—By examining selected topics from a social science perspective, students are exposed to a broad range of social issues and develop skills to examine and evaluate their world.  The seminar emphasizes research findings and skills, including the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data.  Both oral and written communication are key components of this course.  Topics and instructors change every semester.

  • HNRS A310:  Community Service: Theory and Practice (3 credits)—This course includes guided volunteer service with a cultural organization or government agency.  Students explore questions of service, community, and self through investigating several key questions.

Completion of HNRS A192 and A292 will satisfy 3 credits of Humanities and 3 credits of Social Sciences under the General Education Requirements.

Natural and Complex Systems (NCS) Program Courses: 6 credits total

  • CPLX A200 /BIOL A200: Introduction to Complexity (3 credits)

  • HNRS A309: Interdisciplinary Team-Based Research Methods (3 credits)

Honors Senior Project/Thesis Requirements (Honors Core): 7 credits total

  • HNRS A392:  Honors Thesis Seminar (1 credit)—This course is an in-depth application of discipline research skills to a particular problem in concert with development of understanding the research problems addressed and research methods used by different disciplines.  

  • HNRS A490: Senior Honors Seminar (6 credits)—A two-semester long interdisciplinary seminar.  Topics change every year. Registration for this course is in the fall semester only. Final grades will appear on the fall semester transcript after successful completion of the course at the end of the spring semester.  There is a special section of HNRS 490 for NCS students.


Will University Honors courses count towards your degree? Yes! Read more in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Students should be placed in ENGL A111 or above before registering for HNRS courses.