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Honors By Contract

Honors By Contract Form


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.

Submitting a Proposal:

If an Honors student is interested in doing an Honors-By-Contract for a particular course, the first step is for he /she 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. 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.). Next the student (not the professor) types up an approximately 1-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 1-page proposal. This must be submitted by 4pm on the Friday of the fourth (full or partial) week of classes. Late proposals will not be considered. The Coordinator of the Honors Program will evaluate each proposal for Honors-by-Contract, on an individual basis.


Since Honors-by-Contract is not limited to any one school or to any one department, it is impractical to offer a rigid set of requirements beyond the general guidelines given above.  Recent successful proposals include:

  • (Chemistry) A project aimed at developing a business plan for a company working on the sustainable production of carbohydrate feed stocks.
  • (Art) A literature review and class presentation on ‘Exotic Romanticism.’
  • (Engineering) A project in compliant mechanics, including the design of a catamaran, a written report and a class presentation.
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