What does it mean to contract a course?
Why contract a course?
Some students choose to contract a course because they cannot find an Honors course they are interested in that fits the rest of their schedule. Students may also choose to contract a course because the topic is of particular interest to them.
How do you contract a course?
- Choose a course. The course should be a 200, 300 or 400 level class taught by faculty. If the course is taught by a graduate student, then the student wishing to contract the course must work with the supervising faculty member for that course on their contract. When choosing a course, please note that the grade and number of credits you receive for the course itself will be factored in to your Honors GPA.
- Determine the parameters for your project. See the information below for additional guidance.
Consult with your professor.
You can use this letter [PDF] to introduce the idea of an Honors course contract
to your professor, or you may direct them to this website. Ask if they are willing
to work with you to contract the course.
- Review your established idea with the course professor and listen to the professor's suggestions for how to improve or revise your project. Make sure to work together with your professor to outline due dates, project timelines and grading criteria. See below for examples of grading criteria.
- Complete the Contract Application. Be sure to include in your application why the project is important, the timeline for completion, and how the work will be evaluated (for example, a rubric). Contracts are reviewed on a rolling basis, and due by Friday of week seven of each semester.
- Your Contract Application will be reviewed by the Honors College.
- Look for an email in your MIX account. Within a couple of weeks of submission, you will receive an email notifying you of the status of your application. Contract applications are rarely rejected outright, but sometimes revisions are suggested or clarification is needed. If revisions are required, you must reply and decide to revise your contract or cancel your contract.
- Complete your coursework.
- Your professor should keep an eye on their email for an email from the Honors College asking for your project grade. Students earning a B or higher in their contract project will receive Honors credit for their course, provided they earn a C or higher in the course itself. Please note that because you are earning Honors credit for the contracted course itself, your Honors GPA will be impacted by the course grade and number of credits received for that course.
- Look at the notes section of your DegreeWorks to see when your contract project has been processed by the Honors College and assessed for Honors credit. Please note: while satisfactorily completed Honors contracts will be granted Honors credit, it may take some time to appear in your Honors block.
Contract Application Requirements
All contract applications must be received by Friday of week seven of the semester. For Spring 2021, this date is Friday, March 5. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
The application should detail the assigned project and be reviewed with the course’s
instructor before submission. The Honors College does not mandate specific upper or lower limits on the work
required for the contract; faculty members and students should work together
to devise work appropriate to the course subject and level.
What makes a good contract project?
Projects should be substantive in both content and process, allowing for substantial learning and growth from students. The Honors College recommends the project complete one of the following goals:
- Formulate original ideas from student-lead research,
- Expand meaningfully upon the base of knowledge discussed in class,
- Understand and synthesize course material through experiential learning, or
- Develop professional skills and self-image by implementing academic concepts in a community or professional setting.
In addition, the Honors College welcomes projects outside of a research paper. Some
examples include: PR campaign, service project, laboratory research, and presenting
in class or in the community.
Examples of work for an Honors contract
- Research on a topic related to course material.
- Resulting in a final paper (usually around 10-12 pages),
- Resulting in a presentation to the class,
- Resulting in a combination of the two: a shorter paper (5-7 pages) and a shorter presentation, or
- Resulting in a public presentation
- Research on multiple topics related to course material.
- Resulting in multiple shorter papers (3-5 pages) that follow along with the course material across the semester.
- Creating study materials for other students in the class.
- Work on making study materials that correspond to exams in the class. Meet with the professor to go over accuracy of study materials. Accurate study materials can be used by future students.
- Expanding on assignments included in regular curriculum.
- Designing a project such as 3D renditions or artwork related to the material of the course
- Making a website
- Learning topics outside of the regular coursework (such as certain math functions) and working through the material with set questions from the professor.
To consult with the Honors College on appropriate work, students or faculty may contact the Assistant Dean.
Example Guidelines for Grading Criteria
- Papers: Papers can be graded like any other paper written for the course with added criteria for anything specifically related the Honors contract project. If there are not any other papers in the course, then the faculty member could use criteria that focuses on areas such as: subject material, organization, evidence and mechanics.
- Presentations: Presentations could be graded on such criteria as relevance of material, coherency and clarification, and proper presentation etiquette.
Projects in such areas as art or technology: These projects could be graded on criteria concerned with use of technical skills, completion or creativity.
These example guidelines are meant to be a starting point for developing evaluation criteria for Honors contracts. Students should work with faculty to develop grading criteria specific to their projects. These criteria should then be included in the Honors Contract Application with a breakdown of exactly how the student’s work will be evaluated.
Contract Course Grading
Students must earn a B or higher in order to receive Honors credit for a contracted course. However, because the student is earning Honors credit for the contracted course itself, students should note that they will receive Honors credit based on the grade and number of credits in the contracted course itself, not solely the contract project.