What is an honors optional course?

Honors optional courses are designated by a percent sign (%) in Course Guide. They are ...
  • Open to both honors and non-honors students.
  • Larger courses with an optional honors component.
  • Designed to emphasize alternative types of learning, such as presentation skills, creative writing or other nontraditional learning styles. Some courses, however, may designate a more traditional paper or problem set as an optional honors component.
  • Your responsibility! If your professor does not mention the honors project in class or on the course syllabus, you must follow-up with him or her to learn what is expected of you.
  • Not automatic honors courses, but rather count as general honors credits. They will count towards the 24 total honors credits needed to graduate with HLA, and in rare cases, they may also fulfill HM requirements, depending upon your department's curriculum.
Because honors optional courses are open to all students and do not automatically carry an honors designation, it is up to you to formally declare your intention to complete the honors project (if you desire to do so) when you enroll for these courses. This can be done in your Student Center by checking the box that says "(%) Honors Opt" -- you may do this when first registering for a course (when the box will appear) or anytime before the first twelve weeks of the semester by logging into your Student Center, selecting "Course Enrollment" and choosing the "Edit" tab to edit the class.

Should you decide to drop the honors designation and complete the course without completing the honors project, you must make this change in your Student Center before the twelfth week of class. Simply log into your Student Center, select "Course Enrollment" and choose the "Edit" tab to edit the class and de-select the honors designation.

Honors optional projects, when they are offered in a course, are not required for honors students. Your final grade will not be affected by your decision to complete or not complete the honors project. If you do not make the appropriate declaration in your Student Center by the twelfth-week deadline, however (e.g., if you complete the honors project but fail to check the "(%) Honors Opt" box in your Student Center, indicating your intent to complete it) you may receive a "Q" on your final grade report, indicating that your grade is in question. If this happens, you will need to complete extra paperwork to convert the "Q" to an actual letter grade. Directions for doing so can be found here.

Examples of honors optional courses

Please note that honors optional projects are designed by professors and therefore liable to change from year to year. While the descriptions below represent optional honors projects from previous years and may be useful indicators of what to expect from an honors optional course, they may not accurately reflect the honors optional projects currently assigned by professors for these courses.

African 277: Africa -- An Introductory Survey

In addition to regularly assigned course material, honors students attended 6-8 extra discussion sections; each student was responsible for leading a session. Students identified a course topic they were interested in and prepared for their session with additional readings and research. Honors students who were not leading a particular discussion were not required to do extra reading, but were expected to have read the course material carefully enough so as to actively participate in the discussion sections. 

History 358: The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 1685-1799

In place of the term paper assigned for the course, honors students received a longer written assignment that required extra research and a deeper engagement with primary source material. Students met with the course professor and one another to present their research in a formal setting, granting them an opportunity to comment on their peers' work and presentation style while receiving immediate, yet reflective feedback on their own.