Honors Contracts

Honors Contracts enable motivated students to develop, under the guidance of a professor, an enriched curriculum in some of their upper division courses.

What is an Honors Contract?

  • Honors Contracts demand that students achieve “greater depth and rigor” than what is required of their classmates. Think of it as a personal challenge and a primer for graduate study.
  • “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.

  • 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 course

  • Learn about Honors Contracts with Jacques in a great "How To" video created by SMC Honors students Justher Gutierrez, Emily Sutfin, and the Honors class of 2014
  • For Contract ideas and examples, contact honors@stmarys-ca.edu or one of your Commissioners


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 contact the Honors Program at honors@stmarys-ca.edu, or come to an Honors Contract Workshop the first week of each semester.


Before the semester begins

Begin brainstorming courses you might wish to complete a contract in along with possible contract ideas. If you are unfamiliar with the contract process, then review our Honors Contract presentation, which outlines the process in greater detail! 

First week of the semester 

Approach the professor in whose class you wish to create an Honors Contract and politely solicit their help. Be sure to educate your professor on the requirements and commitment of such an undertaking (which means you first need to educate yourself!) Submit a request to create an honors contract to the course professor.

First and Second weeks of the semester

In collaboration with your professor, develop the contract, write and submit a proposal (Form available on the website). Proposals are due the Friday of the second week by noon.

Third week of the semester

Contract Proposals are distributed to Honors Contract 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. By the end of the third week the Director notifies each student whether their proposal has been accepted, rejected or whether the Board recommends revisions. Revisions are due by the date specified by the Director (you will be notified of it if revisions are recommended for your proposal). If you need to alter your contract, notify the Honors Director immediately.


If the Honors Contract requirements are met to the satisfaction of the professor, the professor notifies the Director and the student receives honors course credit on their transcript.

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