Designating a Course as Honors

Designating a Course as Honors

Designation Form

Students may work with their professors to design honors-level curricula within general courses. 

The aim of Honors designation is that the student engages with the course material on a deeper and more individual level. Often Honors designations add research to courses that normally don’t require it; supplement assignments with longer or more frequent papers or presentations; or link the course material with another discipline. It is expected that an Honors-designated course will require about 25% more work than a regular course, but the focus should be on enriching the learning experience rather than solely on work hours.   Only one of the required four Honors Discovery courses may be an Honors-designated course.   

Designation is always at the discretion of the professor; it may not be appropriate for every course. Students who wish to designate a course should approach the professor at the beginning of the semester, or before, to discuss how the curriculum could be enriched.

Honors work may be in addition to and/or in place of the syllabus requirements.

  • higher degree of student participation and involvement in the class
  • higher standards of performance than expected of regular students
  • more advanced supplemental reading, especially of primary sources
  • more opportunities for writing, and at a higher standard
  • more opportunities for student presentations to class or campus audiences
  • stronger enhancement of skills in critical thinking, analysis and interpretation
  • greater depth and/or breadth of subject matter, especially requiring synthesis of different perspectives or points of view
  • more opportunities for research, particularly when student-conceived
  • use of resources or consultants from beyond the campus itself, such as university libraries or interactions with business or industry personnel
  • opportunities for publication or public presentation of work
  • integration of concepts and information from a variety of sources and experiences, particularly in cross- or interdisciplinary contexts, or ones that come out of the student's major field of interest
  • community-based experiences: field trips, interviews, cultural events
  • leadership in the classroom: leading study groups, leading class discussion, assisting faculty in preparation and delivery of instructional material
  • investigating an area of the discipline not covered in depth in the regular course, either through a literature search, an annotated bibliography, or a conventional research paper
  • applying the information/expertise learned in the course in a creative way
  • monitoring and analyzing current events associated with the course topic

It is crucial that both the instructor and the student fully understand the Honors expectations before the course is officially designated as Honors. It is recommended that a written document outlining these expectations be appended to the Course Designation Form. A template may be found here: .


Honors course designation is always at the discretion of the instructor. Courses eligible for Honors designation must be in-person, semester-length classes. Online courses may not receive Honors designation. Accelerated courses, such as those offered in the summer or abroad, are not appropriate for Honors designation.

Only one designated Honors course may be used toward the Honors Discovery requirement.

Each major determines which courses may be designated to count toward Honors in Major. Some specify a course level (e.g. 600 and above), while others provide a list of eligible or required courses. See specific requirements here.

Required Paperwork

Once an agreement has been reached regarding Honors work, the Honors Designation Form must be signed by the student and the instructor, then by the Honors Liaison (for Honors in Major courses) or the Honors Advisor in Nesmith Hall Room 310 (for Discovery courses). The student must submit the form to the Registrar by the end of the Add/Drop period (the second Friday of the semester).

Upon receiving the form, the Registrar will create a special Honors section of the course, and transfer the student into it. The course will be listed as Honors on the transcript. 

Once an Honors designation has been completed, it cannot be reversed. Students must complete the work they agreed to. If a student does not complete the additional Honors work, the professor should adjust her grade accordingly. In exceptional circumstances that are not academic in nature (e.g. medical emergencies), students may complete a Petition for Academic Variance to have the Honors designation removed from a course. This petition should be signed by the course instructor and the Honors Program before being submitted to the Dean of the student’s college for evaluation.