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Honors Contracts

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Honors Contracts extend and enrich a non-Honors class and, when completed, earn a student one additional Honors unit towards their graduation requirements. The following Q & A form explains most of the requirements for completing an Honors contract.

Contracts

What is an Honors Contract?
Who Should Complete One?
What Classes may be Contracted?
What Classes may not be Contracted?
Can I Complete a Contract in a Studio Art or Music Class?
What Type of Work Should be Completed on a Contract?
What is the Grade Requirement for a Contract?
What Happens if I Don't Earn the Required Class Grade?
What Happens to my Class Grade if I Don't Complete the Contract?
How many Contracts may a Student Undertake?
What is a BIC Group Contract?
Is an Honors Contract the Same as an Independent Readings Contract (HON 3100/3101)?

Procedures for Contracts

How do I Arrange a Contract with my Professor?
Where are the Forms Located?
How Do I Fill Out a Contract Form?
How is the Contract Submitted?
Can I Arrange a Contract After the Third Week of Class?
Can I Complete a Contract if I am Studying Abroad?
When Should the Contracted Work be Finished?
What Happens at the End of the Semester?
How and When is the Honors Work Recorded?
How Long Does it Take for the Contracted Honors Class to Appear on my Transcript?
Can I Cancel an Honors Contract?


Contracts

What is an Honors Contract?
An Honors Contract is an agreement between a student, his or her professor, and the Honors Program wherein the student completes an independent project in a non-Honors class. The completion of a contract earns the student one Additional Honors Unit, similar to the credit received in an Honors section of a course.

Honors contracts provide an opportunity for a student to explore related topics or go deeper in an examination of course material. Ideally, they add a new dimension to the class and do not simply extend regular course assignments.

Who Should Complete One?
Students unable to find a suitable Honors class should consider completing an Honors Contract in one of their non-Honors classes. Most of the time, freshmen will be able to find a suitable Honors course (identified with an "H" in the section number) so that they do not need to complete an Honors contract during their first year. Juniors and Seniors are more likely to use the contract to meet their Honors Program requirements as there are fewer Honors sections of upper-level classes.

What Classes may be Contracted?
With the approval of the course instructor, almost any academic class can be contracted for Honors credit. Students are encouraged to consider two factors when deciding on an Honors Contract: (1) Interest in the subject matter, since they'll be doing extra research and writing, and (2) an ability to do well in the overall class, since a grade minimum is required to earn Honors credit.

In all cases, the course professor is free to decline allowing a contract in his or her class. Students should thus be prepared to complete an Honors Contract in another class or pursue credit through alternate means (film or book club, etc.) in these cases.

What Classes may not be Contracted?
Generally, students may not complete Honors contracts in the following courses:
GTX 2301 and GTX 2302
Any Honors (HON) class
HP 11xx courses
Other 1-hour classes and labs

Note that departments generally don't allow students to complete a contract in a class where there is already an established Honors section, even if that Honors section is offered in another semester.

Can I Complete an Honors Contract in a Studio Art or Music Class?
Art or music students may complete Honors contracts in these classes, provided, as always, that the professor is willing to allow such an arrangement. Elective group piano or guitar classes for non-music majors may not be contracted.

What Type of Work Should be Completed on a Contract?
The particular requirements will vary based on the nature of the class and the interests of the student and professor. The work completed for a foreign language course would be quite different than that completed for a studio art class or a chemistry class.

Students seeking an Honors Contract might undertake a more rigorous research project, give a special presentation to the class, tutor or lead a discussion with other students, participate in a workshop with the professor, expand a required term paper to include new material or perspectives, write book or article reviews, complete additional translation work, create and display exceptional works of art or give a performance, etc. Whatever the work, it should be mutually agreeable to both the student and the professor.

Good Honors Contracts should require the student to work two to three hours a week, on average, and stipulate that the student will meet with his or her supervising instructor at least three times before the end of the semester. Contracts should state explicitly the work that the student will undertake for Honors recognition.

  • This would be a poor description: "Sidney will write a research paper."
  • A better description: ""Sidney will write a 6-8 page research paper on the historical philosophy of one of the authors read in class. The writing assignment will use at least two primary sources and two secondary sources. Sidney will utilize Turabian formatting in the final paper. Sidney will meet with Dr. Smith before each major test to review progress on the paper."

What is the Grade Requirement for a Contract?
Contracts are supplemental to the course, so they should not impact the regular course grade. However, the Honors Program requires that certain grades must be achieved in order to earn Honors credit. For individually arranged contracts (yellow form), a grade of B+ or better must be earned in the regular course. For BIC Group Contracts, a grade of B or better must be earned.

What Happens if I Don't Earn the Required Class Grade?
If the Honors Program student earns a course grade below the contract requirement (see above-usually a B+ or better), he or she will not receive Honors credit even if all the supplemental work is completed. The student will still get university credit for the course.

What Happens to my Class Grade if I Don't Complete the Contract?
Honors Contracts, unless defined specifically in the contract terms, have no bearing on the regular course grade. Failure to either complete the contract or to earn the minimum grade for Honors credit will result in no Honors credit for the course.

How many Contracts may a Student Undertake?
There is no limit on the number of contracts a student may complete in a semester, but students are advised to take two, and generally no more than three, Honors Units a semester. If a student is behind and needs to catch up with his or her Honors Units, he or she should meet with an Honors Program advisor to determine the best way forward.

What is a BIC Group Contract?
A BIC Group Contract is a similar to a regular contract in that it is used to transform a non-Honors class into an Honors class through the completion of supplemental student work. Generally, BIC Group Contracts are arranged for World Cultures and Social World classes. A Group Contract standardizes the supplemental work for all Honors Program students in the BIC class so individual contracts do not need to be arranged. Students interested in completing a BIC Group Contract should speak with the BIC Course Coordinator during the first week of class. Note: In order to earn Honors credit via a BIC Group Contract, the student must earn a grade of B or better in the BIC course.

Is an Honors Contract the Same as an Independent Readings Contract (HON 3100/3101)?
No, the two forms serve very different functions, though there are some similarities in procedure. An Honors Contract is a way of earning Honors credit in a non-Honors class. An Independent Reading Contract outlines the work that will be done for credit in a particular sequence of classes, Independent Readings and Research, HON 3100 and 3101, the first step towards writing a thesis.

The two forms are similar in that both must be arranged at the start of a semester, both outline work to be done by the student, and both are completed before the semester ends. They differ in the credit that is earned (see paragraph above) and in the form itself. An Honors Contract is a yellow form, while the Independent Readings and Research Contract is green.


Procedures for Contracts

How do I Arrange a Contract with my Professor?
Honors Program students should approach their professor during the first two weeks of the semester to discuss the possibility of establishing an Honors Contract. Professors have the liberty to allow or reject any contract.

If the professor is willing to establish an Honors Contract, the student and professor should come to a mutual agreement as to the nature of the supplemental work. Some professors have a standard requirement that they uses for contracts, but the student may propose some alternative assignment. Realize, however, that the professor is not under any obligation to go along with a student's proposal, nor is the student required to accept the terms of a contract offered by a professor.

Where are the Contract Forms Located?
Honors Contracts are located in the document bin outside of Ms. Haun's office, next to the doorway into Room 205. Contracts are the yellow form, usually located in the top of the bin. Students may pick up the blank contract(s) at their convenience.

How Do I Fill Out a Contract Form?
Contracts need to be completed by the end of the third week of class. Students should write clearly and include all requested information. The description of the supplemental work should be clearly spelled out and as specific as possible. General, vague statements regarding the proposed coursework may be rejected by the Honors Program or sent back for clarification. The description of the supplemental work may be stapled to the contract instead of written in the space on the form.

How is the Contract Submitted?
Completed contracts should be placed in the wire basket next to the printer in the Honors Suite, Morrison 203. Students have until the end of the third week of the semester to submit a contract.

Can I Arrange a Contract after the Third Week of Class?
Students who wish to submit a late contract must meet in person with an Honors Program advisor and get his or her approval for a late contract. Late contracts submitted to the Office Coordinator without an advisor's approval will be returned to the student.

Can I Complete a Contract if I am Studying Abroad?
Generally, a student cannot complete a contract while studying abroad. Instead, students should consider participating in the Study Abroad Forum upon their return to Waco as a means of earning one Additional Honors Unit. Exceptions must be preapproved by an Honors Program Director or Coordinator.

When should the Contracted Work be Finished?
Graduating seniors need to complete all contracted work about a month before graduation. Specifically, graduates need to complete their contracted work on the 15th of April (if graduating in May) or the 15th of November (if graduating in December). This is necessary for us to complete all the paperwork prior to graduation.

All other students should complete contract requirements (except for the course grade) at least one week before the start of final exams.

What Happens at the End of the Semester?
At the end of the semester, the Honors Program will contact the professor on the contract to verify that the contracted work has been completed by the student. After the end of the term, the Honors Program will verify the class grade to ensure that the minimum requirement (usually a B+) has been earned. This may take a while, often going into the next semester.

How and When is the Honors Work Recorded?
Once a student has completed the requirements for a contract, his or her transcript will be updated to indicate that the course completed was in an Honors section. For example, the student's transcript will be changed from "ITA 1401: Elementary Italian" to "ITA 1401: Elementary Italian – HONORS." Changes to the transcript are manually recorded in the Registrar's Office. Given the number of contracts earned each semester, it may take up to 6 work weeks for the Honors designation to appear on a student's transcript.

How Long Does it Take for the Contracted Honors Class to Appear on my Transcript?
It may take more than a month after the end of the semester for the Honors designation for the class to appear on the transcript.

Can I Cancel an Honors Contract?
Yes, but only after (1) meeting with your professor and discussing the circumstances leading you to this decision, and (2) sending an email to Ms. Haun informing her of the canceled contract. Remember, your professor has also made a commitment in arranging the contract with you, and a canceled contract may mean that a professor has undertaken work on his or her own behalf that is now no longer necessary. Ms. Haun needs to know about the cancellation in order to update your Honors file. Note that canceling a contract may put you behind with your Honors Program requirements.