Course Option (3-credit course + 1 HEC credit)

An Honors Enrichment Contract (HEC) is an opportunity to pursue focused and customized pre-thesis work in the form of a mini independent study within the framework of a regularly taught course. Students need not have a fully defined thesis topic in order to pursue an HEC, but they should have identified an area of interest that may lead to a thesis.

Requirements and Criteria of the Coursework HEC

It is the responsibility of the student to choose a course in which to pursue the HEC, to request that the faculty member supervise the HEC as a part of that course, and to negotiate the Enrichment Contact with the faculty member. Ideally, that request and negotiation will happen in the semester before the course begins (at the time of registration, for instance). In any event, a completed Honors Enrichment Contact must be received by the College of Arts and Sciences by the end of the Add/Drop period in the semester in which the HEC will be pursued.

Students pursuing the HEC option will be required to do all the work of the class in addition to the independent study activities specified in the HEC. The grade the student receives for the class will take into account only the work of the course. In order to complete the requirements of the 1-credit HEC, the student must successfully complete all the predetermined terms of the HEC by the date of the course's final examination (reflected on the transcript with an S in HCOL 3881) as well as earn a grade of "B+" or better in the course to which the HEC is attached.

HCOL 3881 will be assigned one credit and evaluated according to the S/U grade.

All contracts should account for approximately 3 hours per week of independent study and must include regular contact between faculty and student beyond the regular course time. Contact time will vary according to circumstances, but a typical HEC might involve 6-8 hours per semester of these separate contact (in-person meetings, email correspondence, etc). Meetings may be individual or with groups of students pursuing an HEC in a single course. The meetings might be directed to discussing and evaluating a variety of projects or outcomes. Appropriate contracts will, of course, vary by discipline, but should account for approximately 3 hours per week of additional independent study.

It is important to note that the "E" in HEC stands for "enrichment," not extra. Simply writing ten more pages than other students in the class does not qualify as meaningful enrichment unless the work being done in those ten pages is substantially different from the work being done by other students in the class.

In pursuit of above goals, the HEC should embody one or more of the following suggestions:

  • Mentored research project or substantial assistance with faculty research
  • The use of theory beyond that required of other students
  • A deeper and more challenging view of one aspect of the course material gained through a greater understanding of particular techniques or methods; applied, practical or field-based experience; an investigation of interdisciplinary perspectives; and/or peer instruction and public presentation

Choosing a course and a faculty mentor for the Coursework HEC

  • Courses associated with the HEC must be in the College of Arts and Sciences and must be at least 3 credits and at least at the 2000 level.
  • The course chosen will likely (but not necessarily) be in the student's major and should ideally have some relation to the area of study the student is thinking of pursuing for the Honors Thesis. The course is not an "extra" course-it will count (most likely) as fulfilling a requirement in both the student's major as well as in the Honors College.
  • In many cases, the faculty member who supervises the HEC will become the student's thesis mentor. In that context, it is important to remember that the guidelines for the Honors Thesis in the College of Arts and Sciences specify that "Only Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors in the College of Arts and Sciences can be thesis supervisors. Lecturers, Instructors, or faculty from other UVM colleges do not qualify." For that reason, students might also choose to work with a Professor, an Associate Professor, or an Assistant Professor on the HEC. Information about a faculty member's status at the university can be found by looking the faculty member up in the UVM Directory.

Students seeking to pursue an HEC should approach faculty in a timely, respectful manner and with the recognition that faculty members are not obligated to supervise an HEC.

Approval of the HEC

In the semester prior to pursuing the HEC (and at the very latest, before the end of Add/Drop of the semester in which the HEC is being pursued), students and their faculty mentors will submit the electronic HEC request to the College of Arts and Sciences.  Please submit the request via email as a word document to with HEC in the subject line.

Please read the requirements carefully.

Any and all questions pertaining to these requirements should be directed to or 656-3344

Honors Enrichment Contract Request Form

Course Option (Option #1) (MS Forms)

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