Procedure for an Honors Option: Behrend Honors Program

A regular course can earn honors credit through what is called the honors option. In consultation with the course instructor, elements are incorporated into the student’s coursework to qualify for honors credit. Those elements will vary based upon the course subject but may include and are not limited to: a) literature reviews, b) lab experiments, c) compilations and analyses of quantitative or qualitative research, and d) original creative works.

Ideally, the honors option should delve more deeply into methodology, structure, and theory; address more sophisticated questions; and satisfy more rigorous standards than is generally expected by the non-honors syllabus. Upon fulfilling those agreed upon elements and completing the course, the student will earn honors credit. In all cases, it is strongly recommended that the honors option include some comparative analysis of several pieces of scholarly literature on a particular topic (i.e., a literature review). The review should require the student to summarize multiple works, analyze and critique them (going beyond "compare and contrast" to assessing the extent to which they ask the most important questions and get reliable answers), and suggest next steps for research.

The honors option modifications should fit within the existing course's content. They should be an alternative to some of the regular course assignments (e.g., replace a set of 4 quizzes worth 5 points each with a semester long literature review research paper worth 20% of the final course grade). Simply increasing the volume of work required or the hours spent on it does not constitute an honors option. The time required for honors assignments should remain commensurate with a comparable honors course having the same number of credits.

The honors option should include meetings throughout the semester between the faculty member and the student to discuss and review progress on the agreed upon honors components. Specific deadlines should be identified for staged completion of the honors option. The student's grade for an honors option course should reflect all the student's work in the course, including work done in common with other students. The student must earn a final course grade of C or better to receive honors credit for the honors option. If the student does not complete the honors option elements of the course, the instructor and student must notify the honors office, and the student will not receive honors credit for the course.


To create an honors option, the student must:

  1. Register for the course in the usual way.
  2. Receive instructor permission to honors option the course (ideally before the semester begins).
  3. Meet with the instructor to identify the required elements and timeline for the honors option.
  4. Submit the completed honors option form using the online submission system

After submission, the instructor will receive an email containing a link to review and approve the honors option. If the option is rejected, it will be sent back to the student for revision and resubmission. The honors office will automatically receive a record of all submitted honors options.

Honors options play an important role in helping students complete their required honors credits. Supervising an honors option is a voluntary effort. Although most faculty agree to supervise them, they are under no obligation to do so. Furthermore, some faculty (e.g., adjunct faculty) are typically not permitted to supervise honors options.


Schreyer Scholars must use the Schreyer Student Records System (SRS) to submit honors options.