Honors Contracts

In addition to taking honors courses, students also have the option of earning up to three credit hours (typically one course) through an honors contract. An honors contract is a voluntary agreement between an honors student and faculty member that defines an independent project the student can complete in addition to required coursework to earn honors credit in a non-honors course. Honors contracts are a great choice for students who want to challenge themselves to complete honors-level work in specialized subject areas and/or with specific faculty members. Students interested in completing an honors contract should follow the process below.

  1. Contact your professor expressing interest in completing an honors contract in the course. 
  2. If the professor agrees, work together to complete the honors contract form and submit to the Honors Program for approval no later than three weeks after the beginning of classes. Completed forms can be submitted  electronically.
  3. Students and faculty will be promptly notified of approval by email and provided copies of the approved form.
  4. At the end of the semester, your professor will notify the Honors Program of your final grade in the course and whether honors work was completed satisfactorily.
  5. If the work for the honors contract was completed, the Honors Program coordinator will contact the Admissions and Records office to record the grade as Honors credit within 30 days of grades being posted.
  6. If the work for the honors contract was not completed, the course grade remains on your transcript as a traditional course with no Honors distinction.

Students who participate in an Honors contract not only earn credit for the course but can earn valuable skills for doing more challenging analytic, investigative, or research-based work. A successful Honors contract reflects favorably on the student for having completed a self-directed and designed project toward greater mastery of an academic interest. After successful completion of the Honors contract with a B or higher in the course, the student will earn Honors credit and Honors transcript designation for the class.

An Honors contract is based on a project that extends beyond the regular work for the course. While the student will receive guidance from the instructor, the project should represent independent thinking, self-motivation, and a deeper exploration of the topic. 
The selected course for the contract must be a 1000- or 2000-level course of the student’s choice. Ideally, the course should be relevant to the student’s major or special interest.  
The contract should outline a project that the student completes over the course of the fall or spring semester. The student, in collaboration with the instructor, is the principal designer of the Honors project.  

In the spirit and tradition of serious scholarship, the Honors contract must include an element of public presentation. That presentation may be shared with the class or the public at large. Ideally, the student will present the project on Honors Presentation Day at the end of the semester.  

Honors projects must be graded as part of the class grade. The student and instructor will agree upon the percentage of the final course grade that the project represents. The typical value of the assignment has been between 10 -20% of the student’s overall grade. The student and instructor will also decide what regular work will be eliminated or modified. All these details must be explained fully and clearly in the Honors contract. 

Completed contracts are due the fourth Friday of the semester. Contracts can be submitted through Microsoft Forms at this link: https://forms.office.com/r/9QqSTKPSPc 
If the instructor and student wish to make changes to the contract after it has been submitted, those changes may only be made with the approval of the Honors coordinator. 

Normally, the Honors project should require between ten and twenty hours’ worth of work beyond the typical work for the course. Under special circumstances, projects may extend beyond the stated twenty-hour scope.

Given that contracts are due the fourth Friday of the semester, the Honor student should approach the instructor with a broad proposal for the project at least by the end of the second week of class. It is the student’s responsibility to generate this proposal.

The student explores, in detail, a topic within the purview of the course. This topic should represent work that falls outside the “traditional” assignment. That is, the project will require more extensive exploration outside the classroom.  

Student’s Role

  • Upon approaching the instructor for a contract agreement, the student should have in mind a topic of interest to propose to the instructor, either verbally or in writing.  
  • The student is meant to work independently with some guidance from the instructor. 
  • The student is responsible for adhering to the requests of the instructor and for completing the work as outlined. 
  • The student is responsible for delivering the work to the instructor in a timely manner. 
  • The student is responsible for delivering the final, graded project to the Honors Program at honors@southwest.tn.edu

Instructor’s Role 

  • The decision whether or not to accept an Honors contract is entirely at the discretion of the instructor.  
  • It is encouraged that the instructor arranges, at his or her discretion, regular checkpoints. 
  • The instructor offers guidance and checks the student’s progress. 
  • The instructor will report the project and course grades to the Honors Program. 

Other Stipulations 

  • Honors contracts can only be fulfilled by students enrolled in the Honors Program.  
  • Honors contracts are to be completed during full Fall and Spring Semesters only.  

The student makes below a B on either the Honors project or class itself. 
The student fails to satisfy all the instructor’s guidelines for the project, as well as those for the Honor’s Program. 

Besides the benefits to the student, students and faculty who participate in Honors contracts help support the Honors program and enrich the intellectual life of the college community. 



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