University of Iowa

An honors contract allows you to earn honors credit for a regular class by working directly with your instructor to enrich the learning experience. ​An honors contract is a great option for classes required for your major or minor, or for other upper-level courses you're interested in taking.

"Contracting a standard class into an honors course was the absolute best academic decision I’ve made in college yet. I’ve contracted two courses: Introduction to Human Rights as my first course, and Global Criminology as my second. For my Introduction to Human Rights class, Professor Brian Farrell had me research the politics and laws regarding life and death, nationally and internationally. We discussed heavily controversial topics and how the law defines them and changes them. He then had me present my research at the annual Iowa Human Rights Research Conference. As a second semester freshman, this was an opportunity that I could not take for granted.


"The following year, I decided to contract my Global Criminology course with Dr. Marina Zaloznaya. Here, I did research on drug trafficking in the Middle East and how United States intervention impacted the drug market, and how globalization impacted the politics of the middle east in regard to drug trafficking. I created a presentation with the professor for the course on this information, and led a class discussion regarding policies to lessen international drug trade.


"More than anything, contracting these courses helped me connect with these professionals in their field. I am now going to be undergoing a teaching practicum with Dr. Zaloznaya in the same class, Global Criminology. I would not have been able to get this opportunity if it were not for using the honors contract to my advantage." -Herbert Meisner, majoring in Criminology, Law, & Justice; Ethics & Public Policy

Student Responsibilities

As the student, you are expected to ensure full compliance with and understand the following terms of an honors contract:

  1. The project description must provide a clear distinction between honors contract work and the work required for the course.
  2. It cannot be an online course, nor can it be a course graded as pass/fail or S/U.
  3. Only one contracted class can count towards the University Honors coursework requirement.*
  4. Students are not encouraged to contract a class that already offers an honors section unless there is a scheduling conflict.
  5. Students must submit the required form through MyUI to earn honors credit.
  6. Students must earn a B- or better in the class in order for the honors designation to be valid.
  7. The honors contract project is not graded but is confirmed as completed to the instructor's satisfaction, and does not influence the overall grade in the class.

Contracts that do not meet the above criteria may be voided.

Note: Instructors have the right to decline a contract request. Some departments and colleges (e.g. Nursing) may have additional policies which apply.

*Transfer students and students who joined the program with significant coursework already completed may be granted an exception. Email to request one.

How to Submit an Honors Contract Form

Students must submit contract forms on MyUI within the first five weeks of the semester.

  1. Approach your instructor to ask if they'd be willing to do an honors contract with you.
  2. Discuss and agree on your project proposal and timeline for completion. Be sure your instructor approves this before you submit!
  3. Fill out the Honors Contract Form on MyUI (you can find the form under Student Information > Courses & Grades)

It is the student's responsibility to communicate with your professor and ensure both instructor approval forms are completed. The instructor is alerted via email about the first form after a student submits a contract via MyUI; the final instructor form for confirmation of satisfactory completion is available beginning two weeks prior to the end of the semester.

The "H" will appear (1) after the instructor has approved the final form confirming that the contract was completed satisfactorily and (2) the course grade is in final status.

Students using contracts to meet first- or fourth-semester requirements in honors should be particularly careful about contract timing and communicating with the professor to ensure all forms are completed on time. Program removals for missing requirements will begin as soon as one week after the contract deadline, and the program will not be aware of any contracts with incomplete instructor forms. Additionally, the honors notation will not be added to the course if the final instructor approval is not completed.

The Honors Contract Form will be available on MyUI under Student Information > Courses & Grades. You will also be able to access it at

Submit an Honors Contract Form

Honors Contract Project Examples

Students should review the course objectives on the syllabus before meeting with their instructor. Honors contracts should be designed collaboratively by the student and instructor so the work relates to both the course objectives and the students' own interests. There is no standardized model for an honors contract - the more individualized and imaginative, the better!

Some examples of honors contract projects are:

  • A portfolio of responses to academic and/or other forms of reading
  • listening, viewing or experiential assignments
  • a research project on a specific topic identified as an area of interest to the student
  • a significant annotated bibliography / literature review

Some examples on how students and faculty can enrich the entire class are:

  • a presentation to the class of the research conducted
  • tutoring of other students in the class
  • organizing a meaningful field trip for the class
  • showing a film and monitoring a discussion
  • leading a discussion on a pertinent topic
Field-Specific Examples

Themes in Global Art - Student will choose one method of art-making studied in the class to research more in-depth, identify a practitioner of the form that was not discussed in class, and write a 4-5 page analysis on the form itself, the artist, and one of the chosen artist’s works, focusing on how the piece reflects the social, political, and religious values of the artist and his/her culture. The student will then apply the same methodology used by this artist to create his/her own original artwork. The paper will be submitted by week 7 in the semester, and the original art will be submitted by week 12.

Intermediate French II - Student will read two short stories in French chosen by the student and instructor and translate them into English. The student will then write his/her own short story (no less than two pages double-spaced) in French that treats similar themes as the two stories he/she read, but does so with original content. Student will meet with instructor to discuss progress or problems three times throughout the semester: once after each reading of a short story, and once after submitting the final project, which he/she will do no later than two weeks before the end of the term.

Human Pathophysiology - Student will independently research a disease of his/her choice (not studied in class), exploring its etiology, symptoms, and risk factors, and, if possible, speak with a specialist on the particular disease. The student will synthesize his/her research into a 10 page paper as well as design a poster on the information obtained, which the student will have the option of presenting at FURF/SURF. If the student chooses not to present at a research festival, he/she will be required to present the research to the class, giving a 10-15 minute lecture and answering other students’ questions. The student will complete the research paper by the 10th week and present his/her research in the last few weeks of the semester.


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