Honors course contracts take a variety of forms, appropriate to individual course content and the discipline in which the course is taught. While we believe that faculty are in the best position to determine the amount and level of work needed to fulfill the goals of an Honors contract, we are available to answer questions and help faculty through this process.
What is an Honors Contract?
Contracts are a means for Honors students to make an agreement with a professor to earn Honors credit in a non-Honors course through completing additional work that allows them to explore the course materials in greater depth or in more sophisticated or complex ways. Whenever possible, faculty should consider utilizing innovative pedagogical approaches for Honors contracts, such as:
- in-depth experiential learning activities
- collaborative, project-based and/or problem-solving activities
- integration of course concepts with students’ outside coursework, major, and/or career paths
- innovation in the ways students apply and demonstrate learning
- and/or using other pedagogical approaches that engage students at a more sophisticated or complex level than might be expected of non-Honors students in the course
How Does the Contract Process Work?
Students should approach faculty early in the semester/session about potential contracts. Depending on the faculty member’s preference, students may propose self-designed projects or the faculty member may provide a framework for Honors projects in their class.
Once faculty and student are in agreement about what work is expected for the contract, the student submits a contract form in MyRed detailing the agreement. The form is found at the top of the student’s “Enrollment” page in MyRed. Once submitted, the form is routed to Honors for review to ensure sufficient detail is included. If detail is insufficient, the form is sent back to the student to revise and resubmit. If it has appropriate detail, it is routed to the faculty member via email for final approval.
What Should be Included on the Contract Form?
Students need to provide 4 pieces of information on the form about the agreed upon work:
- What is the project/work?
- What is the scope of the work? Ie: how long, how often, how frequently, etc.
- What are the relevant deadlines? These should include the final deadline, but may also include a deadline for confirming a topic, submitting a draft, or otherwise completing a component part of the work.
- How will the student interact with the faculty member and receive feedback along the way?
A primary goal of the contract process is that it should be an opportunity for ongoing interaction with faculty and that student should receive feedback and opportunity for revision of their work.
When are Contracts Due?
Contracts are due by the 1st Friday of the summer session terms and the 5th Friday in a regular fall/spring semester. Note: contracts may not be submitted until the first day of the semester/session in which the course is offered.
How are Contracts Graded?
The last week of the session, Honors will email the faculty asking for feedback on the students’ performance. Faculty should consider the Honors work an additional “complete/incomplete” element that earns the Honors designation for the course, not as part of the regular grade. In other words, if a student performs well in the class and earns an A, but does not complete the contracted work, the “Honors” designation is removed on their record, but they should still receive the “A” grade. The regular grade is reported in MyRed; feedback about the contract is sent to Honors.
Can Contracts be Cancelled?
Yes, students may cancel a contract by returning to the contract from in MyRed and requesting cancellation—after the contract is posted to the student’s transcript. The posting of contracts to a student’s record is currently a manual process, so contracts are generally eligible for cancellation after the 10th week of the regular semester and after the second week of a summer session. Faculty will receive an email when a contract is cancelled.
Is There a Sample Syllabus Statement about Contracting?
Yes. Please feel free to adapt the following as appropriate to your class. Please note that the deadlines and grading policy cannot be changed.
Students in the University Honors Program may request to contract this course for Honors credit. Students wishing to earn Honors credit will need to:
- Talk to me about their interest in contracting;
- After receiving my approval, submit the contract form in MyRed by the Honors Program deadline of the 5th Friday of the regular semester or the 1st Friday of a summer or short-term session; and
- Complete the following work:
- Description of contract work here or invitation for students to propose individual projects
Contracts are graded on a pass/no pass basis in terms of whether or not the student earns Honors credit for the course. They do not otherwise impact the student’s grade in the course. As with all Honors courses, students must earn a B- or better for this class to count for Honors hours, even with a successfully completed contract.
Can Any Student Contract a Class for Honors Credit?
No, the contract form is only accessible to students who are members of the University Honors Program. However, current students may apply to the Honors Program twice annually; deadlines are December 1 and May 1.
Please see the Honors Program website for further information. If you have questions, please contact the main Honors Office firstname.lastname@example.org
These are examples to help faculty and students think about possible contracts. The primary goal for a contract should be to promote critical thinking and creativity, and demonstrate synthesis beyond the material presented in the class. The contract must include interactions with the instructor as well as opportunities for feedback and revision.
- give a presentation on a topic not covered in class
- design a demonstration for k-12 students
- organize and host reviews for classmates before exams
- meet with the professor and other students to discuss journal articles or other readings
- engage in a real-world application of course content
- hold a debate in front of the class