National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Chapter


Miller, K.A., ed. 2020. Building Honors Contracts: Insights and Oversights. National Collegiate Honors Council Monograph Series. pp 193-220.


Copyright © 2020 by National Collegiate Honors Council.


This essay describes a strategy implemented at Emporia State University for offering high-impact honors contract courses in a collaborative environment. After considering the role of honors contract courses in our college, the chapter demonstrates the importance of guiding students and instructors in creating contract applications and shaping requirements to ensure that contract courses are true honors experiences. Our contract applications demand a collaborative effort in which students and instructors demonstrate together how core requirements will be satisfied. Each application is unique and generally involves the development of a mentoring relationship. The chapter includes examples illustrating some key value-added outcomes students can and should expect from contracts, as well as assessment data supporting this strategy and suggestions to deans and directors interested in implementing a similar approach in their honors curricula. Emporia State University (ESU) is a regional public institution located in east-central Kansas. It is one of seven public universities in the Kansas Board of Regents System. Founded in 1863, ESU currently has an enrollment of 4,493 full-time-equivalent undergraduate and graduate students. The honors college, which has a theme of adaptive leadership and community engagement, was founded by legislative action in 2014, and it became fully operational in the fall of 2015. Prior to the honors college, ESU had a much smaller honors program that was founded in the early 1980s. The honors college currently enrolls 165 students, about 25 of whom complete the program and graduate “With Honors” or “With High Honors” each academic year. Honors contract courses are an essential part of the honors experience, and most graduates have completed at least one.