An honors contract is an independent project that an honors student conducts in one of their courses. The contract is an agreement between the professor and the student that details how that student can get an honors experience from the chosen course. Upon completion of the contract, the course will be designated as “honors” on the student’s transcript. Students completing 3 honors contracts in upper-division coursework in their major will complete the Honors-in-the-Major Experience.
Good reasons for students to perform honors contracts include the following:
Students are not required to take honors contracts; but all students attempting to complete the Honors-in-the-Major experience will need 3. They are really designed to help a student to pursue learning beyond the classroom. Students should never take honors contracts for the sole reason of making the course an honors course.
Because contracts generally need the entire semester to develop, students need to begin talking to their professors about a contract during the first two weeks of the course. The completed honors contract form, which all honors students have access to, should be completed by the professor and student together. It should be as detailed as possible, so that there are no misconceptions about the requirements.
We expect an honors contract to be the equivalent of 1-credit hour of work (45 hours of student work). There is no exact requirement as to what that work should be; however, it should not be “busy-work” or merely additional work. It should be an experience that creates a qualitative honors experience in the course.
Honors students defend their contract before an interdisciplinary panel of their peers. This defense is intended to norm the standards in the Program. The review is generally concerned with the following:
Students whose proposals are rejected may re-defend in the following week and will be given clear guidelines by the committee as to how to improve the proposal.
At the completion of the contract, the student must have a contract completion form (again, the student has access to these) signed by the professor and returned to the Honors Program.
An honors contract should reflect an experience that is qualitatively different from that which non-honors students enrolled in the same course will have. The honors contract should contain an individualized set of assignments, experiences, and/or activities that provide some or all of the elements of the honors course experience to an individual student enrolled in a non-honors course. The completed contract form should identify these assignments, and state how they provide the elements of the honors course experience. It must be submitted by the date specified on the form.
Assignments for honors courses or contracts may require one or more of the following:
Some examples of assignments for honors courses or contracts include: Service learning projects with a course-related research component; original work in the form of a written thesis, public performance, musical score, dance, or other presentation; a research paper or undergraduate research project; design of a laboratory exercise, classroom activity; opportunities for publication, public presentation (to class, campus, or other audiences); experiential learning (“field”) trips, including study abroad; a learning portfolio; structured debates.
Directions for Students