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Honors Option

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What is an Honors option?

An Honors option is an agreement between an Honors student and a professor that the student will complete an additional or enhanced assignment in a non-Honors course. The option agreement turns a non-Honors course into an Honors course for purposes of meeting the Honors Program requirements. It also provides Honors students the freedom to design a portion of their curriculum. Honors options count toward Honors elective requirements; they cannot be used to satisfy Honors General Education requirements.

Which courses can be made into Honors option courses?

Students may create an Honors option agreement if ALL of the following criteria are met: 

  • the course is a non-Honors upper level course (200 or above)
  • it is a JMU course
  • an Honors section of the course is NOT currently being offered as part of the Honors curriculum. (i.e. an Honors Option will not be allowed in GHIST 225 during a semester that GHIST 225H is offered; the student should take GHIST 225H instead.)

How many Honors options can I complete as part of the Honors curriculum?

  • Track I students may complete up to 9 credit hours of Honors options in order to meet their Honors elective requirements.
  • Track II students may complete up to 12 credit hours of Honors options in order to meet their Honors elective requirements. 
  • Honors students are free to take additional Honors options beyond those that help satisfy elective requirements.
  • Students are allowed to complete an Honors option in a one- or two-hour credit course, but they are strongly encouraged to apply the Honors option to three-hour credit courses instead. Because 9 credit hours (Track I) or 12 credit hours (Track II) is required to satisfy the Honors elective requirement, if a student earns only one or two hours credit with an Honors option, they will need to take more than the usual two (Track I) or four (Track II) courses in order to fulfill those elective requirements.

What do I do to get started on the Honors option?

Students should schedule an appointment with the faculty member teaching the course in which they wish to do an Honors option. The professor has the discretion to allow the Honors option to be done in that course. If approved by the professor, the student must develop an assignment that will be completed during the semester. Possible assignments might include:

  • Lead class discussion on a topic of particular interest
  • Complete an extra or extended paper or project
  • Complete readings for tutorial sessions
  • Complete a literature review or annotated bibliography
  • Keep an academic journal
  • Interview appropriate professionals
  • Do a challenging lab experiment or observation
  • Create a computer program related to the course content
  • Apply the principles of the course through volunteer service

Is there a form I need to fill out?

Yes. The Honors Option form must be typed, printed out, and submitted to the Honors Program Office by the end of the second week of the semester. The form constitutes an agreement between the student and the professor.

When is the Honors option agreement due?

The deadline to submit the Honors option agreement is by the end of the second week of classes. Check the website for the actual date for each semester.

Who approves the Honors option agreement?

The Director of the Honors Program reviews the agreement and will approve it if it meets the criteria set forth above. Due to the volume of Honors options received each semester, you will only be notified if yours is NOT approved.

What models exist for Honors option assignments?

Click here for ideas on different types of assignments and on specific examples of assignments sorted by college. You should also consult with the professor in your department who is the Honors Liaison. The Honors Liaison is familiar with the program's requirements, its history, and the standards for your department. 

Is the Honors option graded?

Possibly. Professors can choose one of two ways to account for the Honors option work: 

  • The Honors option assignment may be counted as supplemental to the work described in the course syllabus, and satisfactory completion of the assignment will meet the Honors requirement. In this case, the assignment does not need to be graded.
  • The Honors option assignment may be an enhanced version of an existing assignment, thus effecting an amendment of the existing course syllabus. In this case, the work can be graded as part of the course material.

Do I need to tell anyone if I am unable to complete the Honors option assignment?

Yes, you must notify the Honors Program Office and the professor with whom you made the agreement. This should be done as soon as you know you will not be completing the assignment. 

What happens if I am unable to complete the assignment?

It depends upon which kind of option agreement you established with the professor. If you agreed that the project is supplemental and that the course grade is based exclusively on the original syllabus, then failure to complete the project will not negatively impact your grade. However, you will not receive Honors credit for the course. If you agreed that the project is an enhancement of the graded assignments, then failure to complete the project may negatively impact your grade. You should discuss with your professor what, if any, impact not completing the project will have on your grade.

When will the Honors option appear on my transcript?

Honors option courses are identified on transcripts in the Notes section of the appropriate course. It may take up to two months after the end of the semester for the indication to appear. After the professors have submitted their end-of-semester Honors option reports to the Honors Program, the program's office sends the Registrar's Office a list of all students who completed Honors options, requesting that their transcripts be amended to indicate “Honors Credit” beside the appropriate course. Once the Registrar's Office makes the adjustment, the indication will appear on students’ transcripts. 

I am a faculty member and would like to discuss the Honors option with other faculty members. Who should I speak with?

You may discuss ideas with the Honors Program Liaison in your department or you may contact the Honors Program Office.