Centennial Honors College

In-Course Honors Project Guidelines


In-course honors is a contract between the student and instructor to collaborate on a learning experience related to the context of a course. Credit may count towards an academic department's Major Honors requirements, the Pre-Law Honors Minor, or, in limited circumstances, a student’s General Honors program. Honors projects are elevated activities designed to challenge the student beyond the requirements outlined in the course syllabus. A successful honors project represents approximately 15 hours of work (approximately one hour per week of the semester). It should not simply be additional homework. Emphasis should be placed on educational/professional enrichment and feeding students’ curiosity. 


Depending on the student’s major, an honors project may be completed in the areas of research/scholarship, performance, or professional development. An honors student might:

  • Conduct research and write a scholarly paper
  • Create an original piece of music or work of art
  • Conduct challenging lab experiments and report findings
  • Write code for a CNC machine or computer application
  • Develop an app or design a mini website
  • Observe proceedings in a professional setting and prepare summative papers
  • Calculate metrics or develop models not explored in class
  • Explore alternative ideas/opinions/readings and discuss their implications
  • Facilitate class periods or lead discussions on investigated topics


With the exception of honors capstone courses (thesis, recital, internship, etc.), honors projects should be evaluated as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, based on the expectations agreed upon. Successful completion of an honors project is not to be tied to the student’s final grade in the course. However, a student may be required to obtain a minimum course grade to earn honors credit for the project. In other words, except for honors capstone courses, if a student is not successful in an honors project, it is not to be tied to the grade earned for meeting or failing the course requirements outlined in the syllabus. But, the student might be required to earn at least a C (for example) in the class in order to earn credit for their honors project. 


The deadline for completing Honors work is the Friday before finals week in the semester in which the course is taken. The Honors College will confirm with instructors the satisfactory completion of an honors project. An incomplete will only be permitted if an incomplete is given for the course. Students are expected to maintain steady progress throughout the semester. A course grade of C- or higher must be earned for the course to be considered for honors credit. Some departments require a higher course grade to receive honors credit. An honors notation (“H” course suffix) will be entered on a student’s official transcript for successfully completed projects. 


Developing an Honors Contract and submitting the application happens in the first few weeks of the semester. The Honors Contract Application is due the fourth Friday of the semester (first Friday in the summer).

  1. Review your course syllabi and consider which class would provide the best opportunity for completing an honors project, and begin discussing ideas with your instructor.
  2. Make sure you discuss the questions listed below, as these must be answered on the application.
  3. After meeting with your instructor, or together with your instructor, complete and submit the honors project application by the deadline. (Located on the Forms page). 
  4. The instructor of record or thesis advisor listed on the application will be emailed automatically to confirm the information provided on the form. Applications are also reviewed by the Honors College, and students may be contacted if more information is needed to determine if the proposed project merits honors credit. Students typically are contacted within one week of submitting the application.


The following questions about the honors project are to be addressed on the application, which can be found on the Honors Forms page:

    1. What is the topic that will be studied in greater depth beyond the classroom requirements? In one or two sentences, pretend you are telling a friend what your project is about, or writing the title of a paper. What would you say? You must have a clear focus/plan for your project. It cannot be a work in progress or yet to be determined or it will NOT be approved.

    2. What is the anticipated product? What are you required to submit to your instructor for assessment of a successful honors project? (e.g. Research paper, presentation, lesson plans, recital, honors thesis, etc.)

    3. What are the major steps necessary to complete the project? Include a timeline/deadlines for the completion of each step.

    4. How/when will you and your instructor review your progress towards completion of the above steps?

    5. Indicate whether or not your project involves human subjects. If yes, proof of IRB approval is required.

    6. Indicate whether or not your project involves animal subjects. If yes, proof of IACUC approval is required.
      The WIU Office of Sponsored Projects administers policies on research that collects data from humans or animals. Students involving human or animal subjects in their research are responsible for obtaining approval before beginning a project, and should work with their instructor on this process.
      If you are unsure if approval, contact the Office of Sponsored Projects at irb@wiu.edu.


Contact an academic honors advisor at 298-2228, or via email. Go to wiu.edu/honors/staff for contact information.