Resources for Current Honors Students

Honors Student Handbook

The Elizabethtown College Honors Program provides a handbook for students, faculty, and staff. The handbook includes information on Honors Program academic policies, benefits, and appendices of important Honors Program forms and documents.  The handbook can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking the button below:

2018 Honors Student Handbook


Academic Grants

Honors students may apply for Academic Grants for up to $1000 for their undergraduate career to cover expenses related to the student’s honors education.  The grants are competitive and there is a limited budget each year.   The Honors Committee evaluates Academic Grant Applications twice a year.  Deadlines for application submission are November 15 and April 15.


  • Expenses must be incurred during the student’s enrollment as an undergraduate student at the college.
  • Student must be in good standing with the honors program:  3.50 minimum GPA and no judicial infractions.
  • Student must have completed 16 honors credits.

Typical Covered Expenses:

  • Purchase of items directly related to the student’s senior thesis research not normally covered by departmental budgets
  • Conference travel to present student research
  • Travel expenses for study abroad
  • Exam fees for graduate school entrance or professional licensing exams:  Actuarial Exam, GRE (general and advanced), GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.
  • Tuition for GRE, LSAT, MCAT preparation courses


  • Students not applying for the entire $1000 at one time may apply for the balance in a subsequent application.
  • Students may apply for and receive multiple grants, the total not to exceed $1000.
  • Students may only use Academic Grant funds to pay for one exam administration of any given graduate entrance or professional licensing exam. Students taking multiple exams (LSAT and GMAT, for example) may submit an application for both exams.
  • Grants to pay partial tuition for GRE, LSAT, MCAT preparation courses will be funded only if there is remaining grant money after all other grants are funded that year.
  • Cost estimates may be used in an application for approval, but no funds will be disbursed without actual receipts submitted to the Honors Center. 
  • Academic Grant funds may not be used to cover the following items:
    • Tuition and fees
    • Travel not related to an undergraduate academic program or conference
    • Computer hardware
    • Computer software
    • Copying or binding of thesis

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Contract Courses

Hallmarks of Honors Level Work:

Honors students may enroll in a non-honors course and contract with the professor to convert it to honors level and to earn honors credit to fulfill honors elective requirements.  In order for the contract course to merit honors credit, the student must complete honors-level work in addition to that already required by the non-honors class.  The character and quality of the regular work should also reflect greater expectations of learning and intellectual rigor.  Simply adding more written work or more reading is insufficient for honors credit.  To compensate for the loss of high-level student discussion in small seminars of only honors students in a traditional honors class, the nature of contracted honors work includes frequent and regular meetings and close work with the professor.

 Required Substantive Elements of the Contract:

  • Critical thinking
  • Use of primary and/or secondary sources for the field of study
  • Use of multiple pedagogies and enrichment opportunities such as field trips, lab experiences, films, lectures, guest speakers, experiential-learning, cooperative-learning, and service-learning experiences
  • Clear specification of how the additional work will be graded and incorporated into the syllabus requirements
  • Frequent meetings with the professor in addition to regularly scheduled class meetings

 Desirable Substantive Elements of the Contract:

  • Use of a variety of evaluation methods and products:  written assignments, exams, oral presentations, and experiential components
  • An interdisciplinary perspective
  • A comparative perspective
  • Inclusion of issues of diversity and differences in values

  Procedural Requirements:

  • Only honors students in good standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.50 are eligible to contract a course.
  • Students may not contract 100-level courses.
  • Contracts will not be awarded retroactively. Completed Honors Contract Course Applications are due to the Honors Center by the opening day of classes for the semester. Earlier submission is strongly encouraged. Once approved, the course will be designated as Honors on the student's transcript by the Add deadline (5th day of classes).
  • Students may  void the contract honors designation/drop the contract for the course (and remain in the regular course) only up until the 4th week of the semester without it appearing on the transcript. To do so students must complete an Honors Program Contract Revocation Form, available in the Honors Center. After the 4th week, the student must drop the entire class to avoid the contract, and it will appear on the transcript as W. Students failing to complete contracted work will be graded accordingly.
  • Additional credit may only be added to courses originally awarding three or fewer credits. One credit = 15 hours class time plus outside work. Applications must specify how the extra hours/credit will be earned.
  • Students may only contract one course to count toward the required 24 Honors Program credits. Exceptions include students in a major, double major, or combination of major or minor that requires seventy or more credits. Prior approval of the Program Director is required.
  • Contract courses must be letter graded.

The following forms are available for download:  

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Stacked Contract Courses

Stacked courses are similar to contract courses, in the sense that students will engage in Honors-level activities to elevate a non-Honors course to honors status. However, unlike a contract course where a student initiates the proposal, the design for a stacked course is determined by the professor in advance. These courses are approved by both the honors Committee and the Honors Director. Stacked courses do not count toward the limits placed on contract courses or study abroad semesters. Students wishing to take part in a stacked course must sign a stacked course contract and adhere to all the requirements and deadlines contained in the contract. The stacked courses that are offered each semester will vary, and any member of the Honors Program may enroll in a stacked course on a space-available basis (registrations are taken first-come, first-served). The current list of approved stacked contract courses includes:

BA 197 - Introduction to International Business with Prof. Varamini
FBE 384 - Family as Entrepreneur with Prof. Sandu
BIO 112- Principles of Evolution, Ecology, and Evolution of LIfe with Prof. Bridge
CH 207- Chemistry and Politics of Cancer and AIDS with Prof. Hagan ( counts towards interdisciplinary requirement)
EN 102 - Western Literary Culture- Modern Shakespeare  with Prof. Martin
EN 103 - NonWestern Literary Culture- Arab and Israeli Film and Poetry (NWCH core)
FBE 380 - Entrepreneurship- with Prof. Sandu
GER 370 - Advanced Grammar and Composition in German with Prof. Snyder
IC 203- Foundations of Modern Physics with Prof. Stuckey and Silberstein (counts towards interdisciplinary requirement)
OT 223-
Childhood Development & Active Learning Lab
OT 332-
Enabling Occupations- Cognitive & Perceptual Dimensions
PHY 202
College Physics II with Dr. Stuckey
PS 111 - American National Government with Prof. Kopko
PS 245- International Relations with Prof. Dursun-Ozkanca
PSY 125-Introduction to Neuroscience with Prof. Pretz (counts towards interdisciplinary requirement)
PSY 220 - Health Psychology with Prof. Dalton
SP 305 - Advanced Spanish Conversation with Prof. Linares

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Honors Senior Thesis

Honors Thesis Projects may be (1) traditional primary research in the lab (usually natural and social sciences);  (2) major creative or translation projects (usually Fine and Performing Arts, English or Modern Languages); or  (3) synthesizing research or applying theory to analyze texts, data or other phenomena to develop one’s own conclusions (often Humanities and Social Sciences).  Students may not use collaborative team projects to fulfill this honors requirement.

Honors Program Students may fulfill their 4-credit thesis requirement a number of ways.  Each of these requires prior Honors Program approval before enrolling in the thesis credits to ensure your credits are transcripted appropriately as Honors Credits. This process cannot be done retroactively because that would invalidate any previously issued official transcripts such as those you send in graduate school, professional school, grant, scholarship, or other applications. 

Honors 301 Thesis Preparation (1 thesis credit, P/NP) is offered every spring should be taken in the Junior year.  For most students this course is optional, but is highly recommended to those who struggle with writing, those intimidated by planning and completing a year-long major project, those whose departments offer a flexible number thesis credits, or those who know (or suspect) they do not meet qualifications to be invited to Honors in the Discipline in their major department. Business majors are required to take Honors 301 to get the full 4 thesis credits because BA 400 is only 3 credits.

Honors in the Discipline (HID) of the major department is the simplest and most common vehicle to fulfill the Honors Program requirement.  Typically most departments process invitations to eligible students to participate Honors in the Discipline in the spring semester of students’ junior year.  

Departmental qualifying requirements vary, so students should investigate the specifics of their department guidelines in fall semester of junior year in order to plan accordingly. For example, some departments’ GPA cut off is 3.50; others require 3.60 in both cumulative and major GPAs.  If students know or suspect they are not eligible for HID participation, they should enroll in Hon 301 in spring of their junior year.

MAY 1 of the Junior year (after students have accepted their departmental invitations to participate in HID) is the deadline for students to file a signed thesis contract and the proposal with the Honors Program and enroll in departmental thesis coursework in the senior year.  Some departments require students submit a somewhat formal proposal in the spring upon acceptance of the invitation (e. g. Religious Studies, English, Communications).  Some departments have later proposal deadlines, for example, the Business Department thesis proposal deadline is in October of senior year,  so those students will file the contract in May and the proposal (to both department and the Honors Program) by their department deadline. 

Department Thesis Courses:

  • Biology 491-492
  • Business 400 (only 3 credits, requires student takes Hon 301 Thesis Prep in spring of junior year  for first credit)
  • Chemistry 491-492
  • Communications 498-499
  • Computer Science  495
  • Education 399-400  Education majors must file an honors thesis contract when enrolling in Ed 399 in December of the Junior year when they have been approved to participate in HID. These students will file their proposal as an addendum to this contract in May.
  • English 498-499
  • Engineering and Physics:  ENGR 480 (IS), or Physics 491-492
  • Fine and Performing Arts: MU, TH, ART 490
  • History 400
  • Mathematics  400
  • Modern Languages 496-497
  • Occupational Therapy 492-494
  • Political Science, Philosophy and Legal Studies--PS 498-499 or Philosophy 490
  • Psychology 490
  • Religious Studies 490-491
  • Sociology and Anthropology:  SO, AN 400
  • Social Work SW 400

Independent Study  is the primary method for students who may not meet the minimum qualifying standards to be invited to participate in HID, usually minimum 3.60 GPA, but sometimes higher, but still have the required 3.50 Honors Program GPA.  It is highly recommended students take Honors 301 to develop the IS proposal.  Sometimes students who do not wish to participate in HID in their department, but who would like to do thesis work in their minor department opt for Independent Study.  In either case, students who suspect they may not be invited to their department’s HID process or those who know they want to work with their minor department should enroll in Honors 301 Thesis Preparation (1 credit, P/NP), which is only offered in the spring of the junior year.  The remaining 3 credits will form the independent study project.  Students enrolled in Hon 301 complete a proposal as part of the class to submit by the May 1 deadline.

Departmental Thesis courses not taken for HID is a rare optionSome departments combine thesis and HID students into one class (Religious Studies), or they do not wish to overload faculty schedules with Independent Study supervision.  These departments often have Honors Program students run through their research or thesis course while making clear the student will not be eligible for HID.

Thesis Contracts the agreed upon details of a student's coursework to fulfill the thesis requirement.  They may be filed provisionally without an attached proposal only in special cases.  These situations are dependent upon the student’s departmental proposal deadline and must be approved by the Honors Program Director in advance of contract submission, with a submission date for the proposal indicated on the contract.  In all cases contracts must be signed prior to submission. Contracts with incorrect information may invalidate the student’s honors credits.  All contracts must be filed prior to enrolling in the thesis credits to ensure proper honors designation on the transcript and credit for completion of requirements. Some departments maintain rigorous standards for thesis proposals and become the first segment of the thesis document.  However, not all disciplines are so detailed at the early stages.  To help in your planning and writing, consider the following guidelines.

Thesis Proposals outline the student's qualifications to do the work, research questions, methodology to be employed, brief literature review, etc.  They run anywhere from 5-10 pages or longer depending on level of detail required by the discipline.

For most projects, including laboratory, field, historical document, textual, theoretical, or statistical research proposals include

  • A brief background of the issue/texts/theory you are planning to examine/analyze/apply, etc., including the fundamentals of the scholarly debate about it
  • A clear statement of the purpose, objective or goals of your thesis project
  • Research questions and/or hypotheses
  • A statement of rationale for your conducting this work
  • The proposed design, plan, or methodology of your project: if appropriate, how will you analyze your data and present the results?
  • Intended outcome(s) of your research: what results do you anticipate?

For creative projects, performances, and translations the proposal should address the following:

  • A narrow theme or topic and approach to the theme (fiction, sculpture, music composition,  etc.)
  • A background statement of your experience with and qualifications in your chosen medium/genre/languag
  • A statement of how you plan to include a component of research or meta-analysis to supplement the creative element
  • A description of the proposed design, plan or methodology of your work
  • A description of the final form of the project. 

 Proposals for all types of projects should also contain the following information:

  • Working bibliography
  • What contributions, conclusions, or applications do you anticipate as a result of your thesis?
  • What plans for dissemination beyond a library copy of the thesis document to you have? (publications, exhibits, conference presentations, performances, etc.),
  • Projected budget (estimated costs) for your project (only necessary if  supplies and materials will be requiring application for Academic Grant funds to cover these costs.
  • Time table for completion of the research, writing, and presentation of the thesis at Scholarship and Creative Arts Day.
  •  A rationale for your selection of thesis committee members.  You may have more than two members on your committee, but you may have no less than two.  You should first look to qualified secondary advisors in your department or a relevant department if you are doing an interdisciplinary project.  All committee members should be full-time faculty members of the college.

  Human subjects research

  • Plans for handling Institutional Review Board requirements, including timeline of IRB mandatory training, submission and approvals.

Senior Thesis Contract (pdf)

Honors Senior Thesis Assessment Form


National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC)

Advising Check Sheet (pdf)

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