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Honors Course Contract

Please contact Anne Dotter annele@ku.edu if you have questions about the honors course contract.

General Description:  The honors course contract is designed to allow students to pursue individualized work within the framework of a non-honors class 300-level or above. The honors course contract is primarily defined by two key characteristics: it is student driven and faculty supported. Honors contracts are envisioned as a means to empower undergraduate students to take a leadership role in their education by driving some of the content of their learning. This self-directed learning is only possible if faculty members are ready to guide honors students as they engage in deepening and/or broadening their understanding of course content; thus mentorship is the second key element of honors course contracts.

Assignments:  Honors Course Contracts can be a lot of things, but they should not be more burdensome and isolating work. The major value added of the project developed by the student and instructor is a furthered understanding of the area of study the class is taught in and some of the implications of course content. This encompasses the standards of the discipline, specific methodological analyses and, in the best cases, will be a first step in the direction of the student’s capstone / thesis.   

Examples of assignments include: portfolio of responses to academic and other forms of reading, listening, viewing or experiential assignments, a research project on a specific topic identified by the student as an area of interest, which can be expressed in writing or in a visual format, a significant annotated bibliography or a literature review, etc. Both faculty and student must endorse the proposed project.

Benefits:  The Honors Course Contract represents a significant investment for both faculty and student. Students will benefit from the mentorship of the faculty member, and might therefore be expected to share some of their findings with benefit their peers in the non-honors course. 

Examples of possible avenues for students and faculty to enrich the class at large include: a presentation of the research conducted, tutoring, organizing a meaningful field trip for the class, showing a film and monitoring a discussion, leading a discussion or more on a pertinent topic, etc.

Submission DetailsThe honors course contract is a collaborative endeavor. The student interested in enhancing their learning in a course ought to seek their instructor's assent before submitting an honors course contract form. Once all parts of the contract are agreed upon (topic, nature of the project, learning outcomes, deadlines), the student is responsible for submitting the online form at the latest by the twentieth day of the semester. The form will need to be approved by the faculty member mentoring the project before the submission can be reviewed by the University Honors Program. Student and faculty will be informed of the status of their project within seven business days.

Groups of Honors students can also complete a Collective Honors Contract under the direction of their course instructor.


Course offerings are “among the most comprehensive in the nation,” according to “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs”
98% of University Honors Program graduates are employed or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation
40% of students in the University Honors Program conduct research before graduation
9 to 1: Average ratio of KU honors students to faculty advisors
1 of only 7 programs nationwide to receive a top rating from “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs” in 2014
60% of University Honors Program students study abroad
KU honors students select their advisors from top-ranked KU faculty
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