Honors Contracts

Honors Contracts enable motivated students to develop, under the guidance of a professor, an enriched curriculum from an existing upper division course.  Honors Contracts demand that students achieve “greater depth and rigor” than what is required of their classmates and might well be viewed as a primer for graduate study.

Learn about Honors Contracts with Jacque in a great "How To" video created by SMC Honors students Justher Gutierrez, Emily Sutfin, and the Honors class of 2014.

To graduate from the Honors Program, students must complete 60 points stemming from a combination of Honors Contracts and/or Independent Studies, and Senior Theses. Students may choose to develop an honors contract or independent study in major, non-major, or elective courses. 

Breakdown of Contract, Independent Study, and Thesis Requirements

If your major does not have a senior thesis:

  • 1 Honors Contract (20 points, in an upper division major, non-major, or elective course)
  • 1 Honors Contract or Independent Study (20 points, in an upper division major, non-major, or elective course)
  • 1 Independent Study in place of Senior Thesis (20 points, in major)

If your major has a senior thesis:

  • 1 Honors Contract (20 Points, in an upper division major, non-major, or elective course) 
  • 1 Honors Contract or Independent Study ( 20 points, in an upper division major, non-major, or elective course)
  • 1 Senior Thesis/Capstone (20 points, in major)

For more information about Honors Contracts, Courses, and Credit, contact the Honors Program at honors@stmarys-ca.edu , or come to an Honors Contract Workshop the first week of each semester.

“Greater depth and rigor” may be achieved by:

  1. Integrating a more challenging and sophisticated content matter into the existing course curriculum. 
  2. Integrating an allied emphasis into the existing course curriculum.
  3. Integrating a social justice emphasis into the existing course curriculum.


After registration:

After enrolling for the next semester’s classes, approach the professor in whose class you wish to create an Honors Contract and politely solicit his/her help.  Be sure to educate your professor on the requirements and commitment of such an undertaking (which means you first need to educate yourself!) Begin brainstorming contract ideas. 

First week of the semester 

Submit a request to create an honors contract to the course professor (they should already know by this time!) and the Honors Program director.

First and Second week of the semester

Student, in collaboration with the professor, develops the contract, writes and submits the proposal.  (You would be wise to begin developing your contract before semester begins.)

Third week of the semester

Contract Proposals are distributed to Honors Academic Mentors who determine if the objectives, outcomes, and methods necessary to achieve greater depth and rigor have been clearly articulated.  All contracts are then reviewed by the Honors Advisory Board.

Fifth week of the semester

All Contract Proposal revisions due in to the Honors Program Director.


Professor submits a candid evaluation of the student’s progress (form provided by Honors Program Director) and recommends that the student drops, alters the contract, or continues the Honors Contract as planned.  Any revisions or modifications to the contract will be submitted for review to the honors director.


If the Honors Contract requirements are met to the satisfaction of the professor, the student receives honors course credit on her transcripts.

Click on the sublinks under "Honors Contracts" in the upper left hand corner for more information

For Contract ideas and examples, contact Director David Bird or one of your Honors Student Commissioners today!