Honors Option Guide


An honors option is a special arrangement whereby one may customize a normal course into a deeper exploration of the course topic and receive honors credit.  To “honorize” a course, an honors student works one-on-one with an fulltime honors approved instructor to enhance the course to the honors level. The instructor may alter projects and assignments to be more challenging and place upon the student an expectation to analyze content in more detail.

Who can complete an honors option?

Juniors and seniors who take courses in their majors (300-499 level) should consider an honors option.

First-year and second-year students may complete an honors option ONLY IF

  • They cannot accommodate an available honors course within their schedule and academic plan AND

  • They receive pre-approval from the Assistant Director of the Honors Programs at Penn State Harrisburg. Pre-approvals for first- and second-year students must be requested via the Honors Option Pre-approval Form.

Who can supervise an honors option?

Only approved faculty can supervise an honors option. They must be listed in the approved faculty list in CANVAS.

Note: Rarely is an exception made. To request an exception, submit your request to hbghonors@psu.edu.

Important Note: Honors options are done by instructors on a voluntary basis. Students should appreciate faculty’s time and effort.

For first-year and second-year students:

Complete the Honors Option Pre-approval Form. If granted pre-approval, then continue with the procedure for juniors and seniors.  (This should be completed before the start of the semester.)

For juniors and seniors:

  1. Check the list of approved faculty to be sure the instructor of your course is on this list.

  2. Within the first week of the semester: Discuss with the instructor about the possibility and requirements for an honors option. Give the instructor a copy of the Form Guidelines and Instructions. Complete the form with the instructor.

  3. Submit the form by the deadline (which is the last day of the regular Drop/Add Period).

    a. Capital College Honors Program Students: Submit the Honors Option Form.

b. Schreyer Scholars: Submit using the Schreyer Student Records System (SRS).

How will grading be done?

The student’s grade will reflect all the student’s work in the course, including work done in common with other students as well as work done in the honors mode. Completion of the honors portion of the course cannot be deferred without deferring the grade in the course.

Can an honors option be removed?

Only faculty can request the removal of an honors option. The request must be done in writing and received no later than the 10 days after the DROP /ADD deadlineAn honors option cannot be removed after this point.

Note: An honors option is a firm commitment and a permanent modification of the student’s registration of the course being honorized.  Once an Honors Option Form is submitted and approved, unless removed by the instructor in the manner described above, the student is obligated to the expectations outlined in the form so long as the student remains registered in that course.  In other words, the student is treated as being enrolled in a fully integrated honors version of the course.

Form Guidelines and Instructions

Student and instructor should complete the form at the START of the semester in which the honors option is to take place. You will need the following information to complete the form:

[A] Student & Course Information

  • Student Info (Name, ID#, Email)

  • Course Info (Course Number and Section, Number of Credits, Semester and Year)

  • Instructor Info (First and Last Name, Email)

  • Note: Instructor MUST be on the honors approved list (see CANVAS for approved list).

[B] Project Details 

Q1) Describe specific projects or assignments that the student will undertake.

An honors option should consist of reading assignments, written assignments, or projects that help the student acquire a deeper understanding of the course material.

Q2a) Describe how the honors work will replace or enhance regular requirements for the course.

NOTE: In an honors option, the character of the work – not the quantity – should be supplemented. Be sure this is described.

Q2b) Describe how evaluation of the honor’s work will be included in the determination of the student’s course grade.

NOTE:  In other words, state the grading scheme for the course with the honors option, in a manner like that on a syllabus.

Q3)  Provide an estimate as to when meetings/deadlines might occur in the semester, and a brief statement as to what their expected outcomes might be.

NOTE: An important component of honors work is regular student/faculty contact.  Written final projects should have a first draft deadline to permit revisions incorporating instructor suggestions. The Honors Programs at Penn State Harrisburg recommends five meetings throughout the semester.

For example: the faculty member could devote two meetings early in the semester to discussing assigned reading. At a 3rd meeting at mid-semester, he/she might go over expectations for a written project. At a 4th and 5th meeting near semester’s end, he/she might review the first and second drafts of this project with the student.

Questions? Please contact the Office of Honors Programs at Penn State Harrisburg at hbghonors@psu.edu or 717-948-6062.