Honors Contracting: An Overview

An honors contract entails an agreement between an honors student, course instructor, and the honors program in which the student will receive honors credit for a non-honors upper level course (i.e., 3000 or 4000 level course) within his or her degree plan.[1]

The purpose of the honors contract is to facilitate student acquisition of knowledge, skills, or experience in their discipline that can distinguish the student’s resume or CV and give him or her qualifications to discuss during future interviews with employers or applications for post-graduate schools.

In an effort to promote the professional development of honors students within their respective disciplines, each honors student admitted after the Fall 2018 semester must complete two (2) honors contracts to fulfill his or her honors coursework requirement.[2]

To receive honors credit for a non-honors course, the student must complete a separate honors project overseen by the instructor in addition to the regular course assignments, projects, exams, etc. This honors project must accomplish work significantly beyond the normal class requirements and often (though not always) includes a research component of some kind.

The instructor should be prepared to serve as a mentor to the student, guiding him or her toward completing the honors project in a timely manner. This role will likely require the scheduling of separate meetings with the student to discuss the project, monitor its development, navigate challenges or setbacks, and provide feedback and support.

The instructor has the option of collaborating with the student to tailor the objectives and details of the honors project to the student’s interest(s) in the course but ultimately retains the right to design the project how s/he sees fit to best facilitate the student’s deeper understanding of the course material.

The goal(s) of the honors project should include one or more of the following:

  • For the student to develop deeper understanding and specialized knowledge of the course material
  • For the student to gain new skills or experience related to the course content
  • For the student to produce an artifact, text, or presentation of some kind that reflects their learning


[1] Non-honors 1000 and 2000 level courses, especially those included in the core curriculum, may not be contracted for honors credit.

[2] Honors credit for contracted coursework is not reflected on the student’s academic transcript. Credit for honors contracts can be verified by contacting the Coordinator or Director of the Redwine Honors Program.