Centennial Honors College

In-Course Honors Project Guidelines


In-course honors is a contract between the student and instructor to collaborate on an honors learning experience related to the context of a course and turning that course into honors credit. 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.


Honors students and their instructors work together to develop the honors contract, which outlines the expectations for a satisfactory honors project. Emphasis should be placed on educational enrichment and feeding students’ curiosity. 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. 


Depending on a student’s major, the honors contract can include a project in the areas of research/scholarship, performance, or professional development:

  • Conduct research and write a scholarly paper or give a presentation
  • Experience events related to the course’s subject matter and write response papers
  • Facilitate a couple of class periods or lead discussions on investigated topics
  • Create an original piece of music or work of art
  • Conduct challenging lab experiments and report your findings
  • Calculate metrics not explored in class
  • Explore alternative ideas/opinions/readings and discuss their implications


With the exception of major courses that lead to the honors thesis, the honors contract should not affect a student’s grade in the course. Honors projects should be evaluated as satisfactory or unsatisfactory, based on the expectations outlined in the contract. 

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 contract. An incomplete contract 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 cover the questions listed under Honors Contract Questions 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 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.

To avoid confusion at the end of the semester, students should contact their Honors advisor and instructor immediately if they will not complete their honors project.


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

    • Describe what your honors project is about. What is the focus/topic that will be studied in greater depth? 
    • What is the anticipated product? What will you submit as evidence of the successful honors contract?  (e.g. N-page research paper, N-minute presentation, lesson plans, recital, thesis, etc.)
    • What are the major steps necessary to complete the project? Include a timeline for the completion of each step.
    • How/when will you and your instructor review your progress towards completion of the project?
    •  Indicate whether or not your project involves human or animal subjects. 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 Honors advisor at 298-2228, or via email. Go to wiu.edu/honors/staff for contact information.