What Is an Honors Contract?
One option to satisfy your "upper-level" honors credits is by completing an honors contract. Honors contracts should be oppportunities for you to tailor courses to your specific interests and career goals, which is why they are typically completed in one's major or minor. Although the course instructor must approve your ideas, use the contracts as a chance to do something exciting, creative, and interesting! Your goal should be to have your honors contract considered for the Outstanding Contract Award.
General information about the honors contract:
- 300- and 400-level courses (except with permission from the director)
- Can either count toward the course grade or not depending on the agreement between the student and instructor
- Should be an assignment/project that is consistent with approximately 5-10% of the total course points. A rule of thumb is that honors contracts are something "bigger than a quiz, but smaller than a major exam."
- Faculty are NOT required to allow honors contracts in a given course. Be respectful of the time that the faculty member is spending on your behalf. Remember that you are representing the entire honors program with your work.
Starting an Honors Contract
There are four steps for initiating an honors contract.
- Consult with your departmental academic advisor about courses that you might wish to contract for honors credit. Appropriate courses for contracting are typically 300- and 400-level courses in your major or minor.
- Pick-up an Honors Contract Proposal Form in the Honors College office (160 Floyd Hall) or use the electronic .pdf on the Honors College D2L page.
- Meet with the course instructor to discuss if and how the course requirements could be modified to receive honors credit. This meeting should occur within the first 1-2 weeks of the semester. You might need to meet multiple times to finalize the details of the contract.
- Return the completed form to the Honors College office prior to the 4th Friday of the semester.
Completing An Honors Contract
Most important, complete the work described in your proposal! Meet with your course instructor regularly (typically weekly) to ensure that you are staying on track. If something occurs during the semester that will force you to be unable to complete the contract, see your instructor as soon as possible! Once you have discussed the situation with the instructor, inform the Honors College office.
At the end of the semester, the Honors College office will email your instructor to confirm that you completed the contract. If you completed the contract, the Honors College office will ask the Registrar to list your course as honors on your transcript. This process will take ~1 month after final grades are due.
Examples of Honors Contracts
Listed below are examples of past honors contracts from several majors. They are listed to give you a sense of the variety of activities that can be included in contracts. Use your own creativity and your faculty mentor's guidance to create contracts that are tailored to your currrent interests and long-term goals!
Student's major: English Education
Course: ENGL 310 - Poetry Writing
Contract: Creating poetry-related exercises for an AP Literature class that the student was teaching at a local high school.
Student's Major: Theatre
Course: THEA 430 - Theatre Design IV
Contract: Researched a set designer and a costume designer and then replicated a work from each.
Student's Major: Nursing
Course: NURS 360 - Pharmacology
Contract: Researched the herbal therapy "white thistle" and wrote a paper describing the mechanisms of action and pharmacodynamic.
Student's Major: Psychology
Course: PSYC 317 - Child Psychology
Contract: Designed an unconventional therapy program for children with physical, cognitive, or emotional challenges.
Student's Major: Criminal Justice
Course: CRJU 410 - Juvenile Justice
Contract: Observed juvenile court in Pulaski County and wrote paper responding to targeted questions about the proceedings.
Student's major: Communication Sciences and Disorders
Course: COSD 315 - Language Science and Technology
Contract: Designed, implemented, and evaluated an alternative communication system. Simulated use of the system that required a 15 minute conversation during which student could NOT nod/shake head, gesture, use eye gaze, or speak/vocalize.
Student's Major: Biology
Course: BIOL 460 - Advanced Seminar in Biology
Contract: Constructed an on-line dichotomous key - designed for the general public - to identify the flowering trees, shrubs, and plants of Wildflower Park in Radford.
Student's Major: Chemistry
Course: CHEM 301 - Organic Chemistry
Contract: Determined potential ethanol content (for biofuel source) by fermenting and analyzing various foods and juices.
Student's Major: Computer Science
Course: ITEC 324 - Principles of Computer Science III
Contract: Researched different types of data structures and developed a mini search engine.