The Honors Option allows you to earn Honors credit for a non-Honors course. It consists of an agreement with a professor so that you can complete an additional or enhanced assignment and make the course eligible for Honors credit. In other words, you have the freedom to individualize part of your curriculum – to focus on your personal, academic and professional interests. Honors Options are a great way to get to know professors and to begin exploring topics that can lead into an Honors Capstone Project. Honors Options may also be used to apply a course’s content in a way that extends the concepts from Area of Emphasis courses.

Honors Options count toward Honors elective requirements; they cannot be used to satisfy Honors General Education or Honors Seminar requirements. There is no limit to the number of Honors Options that a student may complete; however, students are limited to only one Honors Option non-completion. No more than two Honors Options should be attempted in any given semester as these courses are intended to be demanding and will require a student’s best effort. It is also recommended that students apply the Honors Option to 3 credit hour courses (rather than 1 or 2 credit hour courses) in order to satisfy the Honors elective requirement more quickly.

Finally, the Honors College views the Honors Option experience to be fundamentally different than the other Honors curricular options. Consequently, the Honors College urges you to satisfy elective requirements by enrolling in Areas of Emphasis courses, Honors Seminars, Honors study abroad programs, or Honors independent study courses wherever possible. Honors Option courses are generally considered options for students whose opportunities for obtaining the necessary credits to graduate with Honors are otherwise seriously limited by departmental requirements within select majors.

The Honors College acknowledges that each department or program makes the final decision whether or not to offer Honors option credits through a regular course offering. Where there are no departmental or program impediments, individual faculty members have the right to decline your request to contract their class for Honors Option credit for any reason. 

Required Documents

To be submitted to the Honors College main office. See Procedure for full instructions.

  1. Honors Option ContractSubmit by the end of the second week of the semester
  2. Honors Option Proposal: Submit by the end of the fourth week of the semester
  3. Honors Option Work: Submit all documents associated with your Honors Option work by the last day of finals week


  • Get to know your professors better
  • Individualize a portion of your Honors curriculum that can focus on your personal, academic and professional interests
  • Begin exploring topics that can lead to Honors Capstone projects
  • Count courses in your major towards the Honors curriculum


  • You must have completed a minimum of 30 credits of college coursework to enroll in an Honors Option. Except in rare circumstances, Honors Options will not be approved if you are a first-year student in your first semester at JMU. This rule does not apply to transfer students.
  • Honors Option course must be 200-level or above.
  • Honors Option course must be taken for a letter grade.
  • Cannot be a course currently offered as an Honors course. You cannot contract a class that already offers an Honors section unless you have a scheduling conflict.
  • Supervision by a tenured, tenure-eligible, or RTA faculty member is preferred.
  • Limited to six hours (two courses) per semester. 
Preferred Characteristics of an Honors Option

At least two of the following characteristics should apply to your Honors Option:

  • Allows you to pursue a particular topic of interest to you in significant depth.
  • Furthers knowledge/skills in your major or minor.
  • Extends knowledge/skills from an Area of Emphasis. 
  • Enables investigation of potential capstone project topics.
  • Furthers your progress towards developing a capstone project.
  • Enhances knowledge/skills related to your academic and career goals.
  • You and the faculty member meet to begin discussions on a set of requirements that would qualify the course for Honors credit.
  • If you have not met with the faculty member, do so as early in the semester as possible.
  • Submit a signed Honors Option Contract to the Honors College main office by the end of the second week of the semester. Under rare circumstances, option contracts may be accepted after the deadline; however, the Honors College does not guarantee approval of option contracts submitted late. You do not need to include information on the topic/theme/structure of your proposed Honors Option.
  • Once the Honors Option Contract has been approved by the Honors College, the information will be imported into the student system. You will now be able to see the Honors Option status of your course in your class schedule in MyMadison.
  • Submit a signed Honors Option Proposal, which includes a detailed project description, timeline and/or custom syllabus, to the Honors College main office by the end of the fourth week of the semester. Proposals should be approximately 1 page in length and must include a section that addresses which of the preferred characteristics listed above apply to your Honors Option. Proposal must be signed by the faculty member.
  • If progress is not being made on your Honors Option, you should formally withdraw from the Honors Option through MyMadision by the withdrawal deadline. You can drop an Honors Option one time during your time at JMU without penalty.

Tracking Honors Options in MyMadison

  • You must submit all work associated with the Honors Option to the Honors College by the last day of finals week. 
  • The faculty member will officially report the completion of your Honors Option through MyMadison during grade submission at the end of the semester.
  • If you fail to complete an Honors Option, or fail to withdraw from the option prior to the withdrawal deadline, a grade of no-credit will be recorded in your Honors College file for that Honors Option. The Honors Option status of the course will be removed from the student system and will not be indicated on your transcript. You are limited to a grade of no-credit for an Honors Option one time during your time at JMU without penalty.
Requirements for Successful Completion
  • You must maintain regular independent meetings with the course’s faculty member (at least four times within the semester).
  • You must submit all work associated with the Honors Option to the Honors College by the last day of finals week. The professor’s deadline for successful completion may be different; it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all Honors Option work is completed on time.


Reporting Honors Option Completion
  • Faculty member officially reports completion for credit (C), or unsatisfactory completion for no-credit (NC), or incomplete (I) through MyMadison during grade submission at the end of the semester.
  • If a faculty member fails to officially report completion of the Honors Option by the end of the semester, the Honors Option designation will be removed from the course and the faculty member will be contacted by the Honors College regarding the status of the option. It is the responsibility of the student to follow up with the faculty member thereafter. The faculty member must contact the Honors College main office to report the successful completion of the Honors Option and the Honors Option designation will be added to the course. 

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