The Honors Option allows you to earn Honors credit for a non-Honors course. It consists of an agreement between 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

Benefits of Honors Options
  • 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

Ideas and Examples
Prerequisites
  • Student is in “good standing” in the Honors College.
  • 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.
Procedure
  • You and the faculty member meet after class registration to begin discussions on a set of requirements that would qualify the course for Honors credit.
  • Signed Honors Option Contract must be received in the Honors College main office by the end of the second week of the semester in which the class is taken. Under rare circumstances, option contracts may be accepted after this published due date each semester. However, the Honors College does not guarantee approval of Honors Option Contracts submitted after this due date. You do not need to include information on the topic/theme/structure of your proposed Honors Option.
  • Honors Option proposal, which includes a detailed project description, timeline and/or custom syllabus, must be received in the Honors College main office by the end of the fourth week of the semester in which the class is taken. 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.
  • Before the drop-add date within a semester, you and your faculty member(s) will be contacted by the Honors College for a mid-semester report on progress.  
  • If progress is not being made on your Honors Option, you should formally drop the Honors Option by notifying the Honors College before the drop-add deadline within a semester. You can drop an Honors Option one time during your time at JMU without penalty.
  • You must submit all work associated with the Honors Option to the Honors College by the last day of finals week. 
  • At the end of the semester, the faculty member reports to the Honors College the successful completion of the Honors Option. The Office of the Registrar is then notified by the Honors College to award you Honors credit for the course upon successful completion. 
  • If you fail to complete an Honors Option, or fail to withdraw from the option prior to the drop-add deadline, a grade of no-credit will be recorded in your Honors College file for that Honors Option. 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 deadlines for successful completion may be earlier; it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all Honors Option work is completed on time.
Reporting Final Grade
  • Faculty member reports completion for credit (C), or unsatisfactory completion for no-credit (NC), or incomplete (I) to the Honors College. 
  • The Honors College assumes that an Honors Option has been completed successfully in cases where faculty do not report their grades in a timely manner to the Honors College. 

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