Honors Faculty Handbook

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Faculty Involvement in Honors

Funds available to enhance your Honors Course

Capstone Projects

Honors Contracts

What makes an Honors Course an Honors Course?

Characteristics of Honors Faculty


The Honors Program is successful when we have faculty in numerous disciplines across campus who contribute in significant ways to the success of the program. Faculty can participate in the Honors experience at CMU in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Propose to teach an Honors course
  • Advise a Capstone Project
  • Sponsor an Honors Contract
  • Invite Honors students to assist you with your scholarship/research
  • Accompany an Honors student to a professional conference
  • Serve on the Honors Council or Honors Committees
  • Participate as a reviewer in the Centralis Scholarship selection process
  • Attend Honors events (e.g. Graduation Receptions, Honors Speaker Events,  Honors Service Days, etc.)
  • Advise Honors first-year students on their Academic Plan
  • Propose Honors courses that integrate study away and study abroad options
  • Dine in the CMU residential restaurants with Honors students
  • Plan a community service project with Honors students
  • Be a guest speaker in an Honors class or host a faculty chat
  • Write an article for the award-winning Honor Bound newsletter
  • Encourage your highly motivated students to join the Honors Program
Please contact the Honors Program office at 774-3902 if you are interested
in learning more about any of the above opportunities.


A main component of an Honors curriculum is that the classes be qualitatively different from non-Honors courses. Through Honors Capstone Project tuition and vending monies, the Honors Program office is able to provide funds to assist you in enhancing your Honors course. Depending on the costs, sometimes we can fund the entire project, or sometimes just a portion.


  • The Honors Capstone Project is the culminating Honors experience. There is an expectation that the quality is such that the end result be publishable in a professional journal or worthy of presentation at a professional conference. All Capstone Projects are to be presented at CMU's SRCEE event, The Honors Exhibition, or an alternative presentation forum approved by the Honors Program Director.
  • Advising an Honors Capstone Project is usually a two semester commitment: one semester the student should plan the proposal with the guidance of their faculty advisor, and another semester working with their faculty advisor to bring the project to completion.
  • Once the proposal has been approved by the Honors Program, the student then enrolls in HON 499. Upon successful completion of the Honors Capstone Project, funds will be transferred to the faculty advisor's departmental (not personal) professional development fund.
  • Once the project is completed, faculty advisors will fill out the Honors Capstone Project Advisor Grading and Assessment Form to submit a letter grade to the Director of the Honors Program who will submit the letter grade to the Registrar's office.
Please visit www.cmich.edu/honors to download the following detailed documents:

-Honors Senior Project Proposal Guidelines
-Honors Senior Project Advisor Information


While most Honors students complete their Honors requirements at CMU by taking special H-designated Honors courses (i.e. BIO 101H), there are times when students seek to complete their Honors requirements in a non-Honors course. This is called an Honors Contract. Here are some facts to know about Honors Contracts:

  • Contracts can only be arranged for courses at the 300-level or above.
  • The deadline is always the end of the second week of the semester.
  • The student is responsible for 1) meeting with the faculty member to fill out the Honors Contract form, 2) obtaining the faculty member's signature, and 3) submitting it to honors@cmich.edu.
  • The Honors faculty member monitors the additional work the student has agreed to complete.
  • As long as the student has 1) earned a B- or higher in the class and 2) has completed the additional work described in the contract, the faculty member will submit an "H" along with the student's letter grade to the Registrar's office at the end of the semester. (ex: the professor would submit a B-H instead of a B-).
  • The additional Honors work should demonstrate initiative beyond syllabus expectations, produce a tangible outcome beyond that completed by non-Honors students, and incorporate a process of extended inquiry and/or independent research.
  • Contractual activities might include but are not limited to: supplementary readings, analyses or projects; attendance at appropriate related educational activities; independent research or self-instruction; and/or classroom or professional presentations or performances. The Honors Program recommends that contracts include a minimum of 5 pages of writing in addition to course requirements.

A copy of the Honors Contract form can be obtained at www.cmich.edu/honors

The following excerpts were presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council in Chicago, Illinois, November 2003 by the Calhoun Honors College at Clemson University.


There are many approaches to developing and teaching Honors courses. Fundamentally, however, Honors courses should be qualitatively different from non-Honors courses. In other words, they should be more challenging and demanding not by simply assigning more work, but by mining more educational value from the work that is assigned. An Honors course should be different in some, but not necessarily all, of the following ways:

  • approaching the material from an interesting or unconventional thematic perspective;
  • emphasizing written and oral communication skills;
  • emphasizing discussion and other interactive teaching/learning techniques that are generally unsuitable for larger undergraduate classes;
  • promoting learning outside the formal classroom setting (e.g., service projects);
  • encouraging creative expression and achievement;
  • fostering teamwork and collaboration;
  • applying theories and principles learned in class to "real-life" problems and situations;
  • exploring connections among various fields of study;
  • providing opportunities for independent research;
  • incorporating, where possible, opportunities for study away from campus;
  • providing opportunities for publication or public presentation of work;
  • developing assignments and exercises that require students to reconcile conflicting findings or to synthesize different points of view;
  • emphasizing the use of original or primary sources, as opposed to traditional textbooks and secondary readings.


It is generally recognized that the best practices in Honors pedagogy require special skills. The Honors Council has identified the following characteristics as those important for Honors instructors.

  • Demonstrated competency as an educator
  • A sincere interest in one's activities as an educator
  • Demonstrated competence in one's field of specialization
  • A high level of enthusiasm for one's field of specialization
  • An obvious interest to mentor students and a willingness to answer questions
  • A significant degree of professional activity

In addition to the characteristics presented above, it is desired that Honors faculty demonstrate the ability and willingness to:

  • Work closely with Honors students one-on-one or in a small group
  • Generate meaningful discussion that leads purposefully toward an objective
  • Encourage open dialogue and respect diverse opinions
  • Solve pedagogical problems creatively and spontaneously
  • Be willing to explore alternatives to the traditional classroom approach
  • Communicate the implications of a subject for related disciplines and encourage students to think critically and conduct research across traditional boundaries
  • Speak and write effectively and require students to do the same
  • Guide students to the effective use of resources
  • Prepare students for the rigors of graduate school and professional careers
  • Be available outside the classroom as a continuing source of mentorship and personal encouragement
  • Encourage students to consider the ethical implications and obligations of an academic discipline, and share their gifts in service to the greater good

Central Michigan University Honors Program, Powers Hall 137, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 
Phone: (989) 774-3902 www.cmich.edu/honors