Academic Honors

The Academic Honors Program is designed to challenge students with superior academic abilities. The program provides an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of an academic area through independent study and close faculty-student association.

Academic Honors are awarded to students who:

  1. Maintain a cumulative 3.5000 GPA.
  2. Complete a minimum of nine semester hours of credit designated as taken for honors in the student's degree path.
Academic Honors Banner


What kinds of projects can be involved?

Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects
Each academic department should develop baseline standards and guidelines for honors projects within their discipline. These standards and guidelines should be forwarded to the Registrar's office where they will be posted on this website (see above link).  It then becomes the responsibility of the faculty and chairs of each department, as well as the College Academic Honors Committee to uphold the integrity of the standards and guidelines as they process the forms each semester.

Departments should be encouraged to approve projects that explore critical and creative thinking skills that truly push the students beyond the norm. This should not just be an exercise, but rather a project that will truly enhance student learning in the course.

The academic honors contract is designed to foster creativity in projects which are acceptable both to the honors student and the professor.  The examples given here are just that—examples.  While the scope and length of the project is up to the respective department/college to establish, the following list is presented to provide some historical perspective on past projects accepted by the Faculty Senate Academic Honors Committee.  The list is not in any way intended to limit the scope or nature of projects.

  • Class/Public presentation of research undertaken for the honors contract project.  Typically in the range of 20-30 minutes, accompanied by a power point presentation or some other sort of visual aid
  • Original computer program or project
  • Original musical composition, sculpture, theatrical script, or other work of art, or recital of musical work (s) that is beyond the normal scope of the degree requirements for the major
  • Additional laboratory experiments or mathematical problems, followed by written report, typically at least 5-8 pages in length
  • Research paper or written report (usually 8-12 pages) based on interviews, library resources on a topic related to the course, a biography of a famous person in the academic field, or a review of additional readings (books, articles) related to the course

In the case of all written documents and presentations, an appropriate bibliography is required.

Students who participate in the Academic Honors Program are encouraged to enter the annual Research Colloquium sponsored each spring term by the Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

How many contracts are possible in a semester?

Students are limited to one Academic Honors project per semester or summer session.  Exceptions are permitted only with special permission through the College Academic Honors Committee.

What are the procedures and deadlines?

Students must formally elect to take a course for honors during the Spring or Fall semesters by completing the Enrollment For Academic Honors form and having applications returned to the Registrar's office, Room 103 Russ Hall, by the 15th class day of that semester. Students applying to take a course for honors during the Summer semester must complete and submit the application by the first class day of the 13th week of the Spring semester. Please utilize the above linked form. The Academic Honors Committee requires that the application be typed. (You may type on the above linked form prior to printing). Handwritten forms will not be accepted.


What is an academic honors contract?

An academic honors contract is a mechanism for adding an “honors dimension” to a course within the student's degree path. The contract project should add an academic dimension to the course by introducing new material or by allowing the student to go into greater depth than normally required in some aspect of the course.  Any 300-799 undergraduate level course may be taken for honors with approval of the instructor and chair or director. A student must be enrolled in the course he/she wishes to take for honors during the current semester. The course must be in the student's degree path. Independent Studies, Investigations, Special Topics, and/or Readings courses may be taken for Academic Honors at the discretion of the department, but must meet all criteria.

Minor Courses

Students wishing to complete the Academic Honors projects within their Minor may do so, with the permission of the Minor Department Chairperson or Academic Unit Leader as well as their Major Department Chairperson.  Projects submitted must not have been previously completed.

How are honors contracts related to grades?

The honors contract does not affect the student’s grade in the course. No project/paper and/or course shall be accepted with a grade less than B.  To receive honors credit for the course, however, the student must earn a grade of “A” or “B” in the course in addition to completing the contract in a satisfactory manner. All incompletes must be finished no later than four weeks after the completion of the semester they are given.  In extreme circumstances, the professor involved with the project can request an extension of the committee, and this request must be in writing and provide a significant reason why the project needs to be carried longer than the four week window.  In any case, no project will be carried any longer than one semester. Students are not allowed to submit an application for another academic honors project until any previous incomplete has been finished.

How much work should an honors contract involve?

The honors contract project should be one that encompasses at least 20 hours of work.  In the case of courses which carry a credit hour other than three credits, the scope of the project should be adjusted accordingly so that the depth and length of the project is congruent with the number of credit hours being taken.  For instance, a seven credit hour course in Nursing should have a project at least twice the scope of a three credit hour course project.  Conversely, a two credit hour course project would then have a bit less scope than a three credit hour course project.

Reporting Honors Contract Results

Contract results are reported to the Registrar’s Office when the professor enters the student’s grade for the course.

Any exceptions to the above guidelines must be approved by the Academic Honors Committee of the Pittsburg State University Faculty Senate.

If you have questions concerning the Academic Honors Program, please contact your instructor, advisor, or the Registrar's Office (620-235-4200 or

The following are standards and guidelines developed by each department/college for Academic Honors projects within their discipline.


College of Arts and Sciences

Art utilizes the Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects listed above on this website.


Chemistry utilizes the Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects listed above on this website.


English and Modern Languages

Family and Consumer Sciences

History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

Interdisciplinary - students doing Academic Honors Projects in Interdisciplinary degree programs should follow the guidelines for the respective departments that the project is being approved through.



School of Nursing



Kelce College of Business

Accounting and Computer Information Systems utilizes the Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects listed above on this website.

Economics, Finance and Banking utilizes the Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects listed above on this website.

Management and Marketing utilizes the Standards and Guidelines for Honors Projects listed above on this website.


College of Education

Health, Human Performance and Recreation

Teaching and Leadership

Psychology and Counseling


College of Technology

Automotive Technology utilizes the College of Technology Standards and Guidelines

School of Construction utilizes the College of Technology Standards and Guidelines

Engineering Technology utilizes the College of Technology Standards and Guidelines

Graphics and Imaging Technologies utilizes the College of Technology Standards and Guidelines

Technology and Workforce Learning utilizes the College of Technology Standards and Guidelines