Honors Contracts enable motivated students to develop, under the guidance of a professor, an enriched curriculum from an existing upper division course. Honors Contracts demand that students achieve “greater depth and rigor” than what is required of their classmates and might well be viewed as a primer for graduate study.
Learn about Honors Contracts with Jacque in a great "How To" video created by SMC Honors students Justher Gutierrez, Emily Sutfin, and the Honors class of 2014.
To graduate from the Honors Program, students must complete two, upper division Honors Contracts, or one Honors Contract and an Honors Independent Study. Students may choose to develop an honors contract in major, required non-major, or elective courses.
“Greater depth and rigor” may be achieved by:
- Integrating a more challenging and sophisticated content matter into the existing course curriculum.
- Integrating an allied emphasis into the existing course curriculum.
- Integrating a social justice emphasis into the existing course curriculum.
- Honors Contracts might be constructed for any upper division course in which a student is enrolled, or, for any course requiring at least two prerequisites.
- Graduate courses may not be substituted for Honors course credit. Contracts proposing to use a graduate level course to satisfy the Honors Program requirements will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Benchmarks for achieving “greater depth and rigor” will be determined by the course professor and must be clearly articulated by the student in the honors contract proposal.
- The student is required to attend at least one Honors Contract seminar/workshop to receive mentorship on form and content of proposed contract.
- The student’s grade in the course in which s/he is enrolled remains independent of the honors course distinction.
- Professors will judge student performance and will award honors course credit on a pass/fail basis at the end of the semester.
- Successful contract proposals articulate a carefully chosen focus, substantial enough to explore in great depth over the course of one semester.
- Professors complete mid-term progress reports (provided by the director) to evaluate student progress and recommend, if necessary, that students revise or, in extreme cases, discontinue their contracts.
- Students complete a mid-term self-evaluation and have the opportunity to propose minor contract revisions to be approved by the instructor and the Honors Program Director.
Keys to Successful Proposals
- Speak to your professors early (preferably the semester before you are scheduled to take a course) and begin to focus, narrow and deepen the scope of your research. Successful contract proposals are well focused, with clear, well-stated objectives.
- Use the template provided to clearly articulate how you plan to achieve your desired outcomes.
- Remember that outcomes describe what you hope to learn, and how you hope to learn it.
- Remember, students are required to attend at least one Honors Contract seminar/workshop to refine and sculpt your contract. Read through examples of successful contracts provided by the Honors Program Director.
- Divide the project into a series of assessable outcomes, and then create a timeline using those outcomes to mark your progress.
- Before submitting a proposal complete an Honors Contract Proposal Rubric and revise your proposal one more time.
After enrolling for the next semester’s classes, approach the professor in whose class you wish to create an Honors Contract and politely solicit his/her help. Be sure to educate your professor on the requirements and commitment of such an undertaking (which means you first need to educate yourself!) Begin brainstorming contract ideas.
First week of the semester
Submit a request to create an honors contract to the course professor (they should already know by this time!) and the Honors Program director.
First and Second week of the semester
Student, in collaboration with the professor, develops the contract, writes and submits the proposal. (You would be wise to begin developing your contract before semester begins.)
Third week of the semester
Contract Proposals are distributed to Honors Academic Mentors who determine if the objectives, outcomes, and methods necessary to achieve greater depth and rigor have been clearly articulated. All contracts are then reviewed by the Honors Advisory Board.
Fifth week of the semester
All Contract Proposal revisions due in to the Honors Program Director.
Professor submits a candid evaluation of the student’s progress (form provided by Honors Program Director) and recommends that the student drops, alters the contract, or continues the Honors Contract as planned. Any revisions or modifications to the contract will be submitted for review to the honors director.
If the Honors Contract requirements are met to the satisfaction of the professor, the student receives honors course credit on her transcripts.