Honors-by-Contract allows a student to complete a traditional course for Honors credit, when the student and professor together agree to a set of enhancements in research (or performance) that raise the demands placed on the student to the Honors level. As a very rough guideline, an Honors course should be approximately 120% of the level of work of a non-honors course (it is not necessarily the amount of work, but the overall level of work that should be intensified). The enhancements proposed should bring added depth to the students’ understanding and appreciation of topics introduced in, or substantively linked to, the traditional course in which the student is enrolled.
The Honors-by-Contract option provides an opportunity for independent learning and directed research. It is a useful way for a student who would like to explore a specialized area of interest to do so at an Honors level even if an Honors course is not being offered in that particular subject. A student who is working on an Honors-by-Contract project should (1) seek to synthesize a body of knowledge within the chosen academic field and/or (2) seek to advance original research in that field. A student who has completed a course under Honors-by-Contract shall have come to possess a level of expertise sufficient for functioning as a teaching assistant for part of a class session. Ideally (and only when both appropriate and feasible from a pedagogical perspective), the student shall present the outcome of his/her work to the class as a whole.
Students are allowed to count up to two Honors-By-Contract units towards the completion of the Honors requirements. Courses must be at the 200-level or above.
Submitting a Proposal:
If an Honors student is interested in doing an Honors-By-Contract for a particular course, the first step is to meet with the professor to see if it is feasible and if the professor is willing. Ideally, if the student knows the professor, this meeting should occur before the semester begins, but in all cases, the initial conversation should begin by the first week of the semester, for a full semester course (if the course is being taking during Jterm, Maymester, or a Summer Session, all discussions must happen in advance).
Next, the student and the professor together should come up with a plan for the student’s independent learning or research. The plan should cover not only the specific area to be researched and activities to be carried out, but also a tentative meeting schedule, due dates, and guideline for the form that the final product will take (whether the student will give an in-class presentation, submit a report, paper, etc., approximately how long any written assignments will be, how many sources will be used, etc).
Next the student (not the professor) types up an approximately 1-2 page proposal based on this plan and send it to the professor for review. The proposal should include: (1) an initial reading list or research agenda, (2) a general schedule for periodic one-on-one meetings with the professor, and (3) a clear description of the suitably refined research, or study, product which shall mark the culmination of the project.
Once the professor has approved the proposal, the student should bring a filled out copy of the Honors-by-Contract form (available as a PDF on the Honors website) to the professor to sign. The student also needs to sign the form, which he/she will then bring to 109 Green Hall along with the proposal.
Materials must be submitted by 4pm on the Friday of the fourth (full or partial) week of classes for fall and spring courses. For Maymester and J-term courses, the proposal must be submitted by the last day of classes of the previous semester (that is, the last day of fall classes for a J-term course, and the last day of spring classes for a Maymester course). For Summer Session courses, the proposal must be submitted three weeks before the first day of the course. Late proposals will not be considered. The Coordinator of the Honors Program will evaluate each proposal for Honors-by-Contract, on an individual basis.