University Honors Program | Course Supplements

Ideally, every course you took in the Honors Program would be with fellow Honors students, but sometimes your course schedule will make it difficult to register for Honors classes. On these occasions, the supplement system will help you move forward in the program.

Supplements are also an ideal way to enrich your education during study abroad, and for some students, Honors supplements are the backbone of their education: they use supplements because their career goals are not fully served by the university’s course offerings.

Supplements are not meant to be simply more work, but instead offer you the opportunity to challenge yourself while exploring interesting ideas and expanding either the breadth or depth of your coursework to explore the topics you find most engaging.

Rules for Supplements

There are three rules to keep in mind about supplements:  

  1. Only courses at or above the 300 level can be supplemented. The Honors Program wants supplement work to be done only in advanced courses. Courses at the 100 and 200 level are foundational and general; they are intended to be broad. Upper-level courses, however, are intended to be deep, and the Honors Program wants to challenge students to go deeper in their coursework.
  2. The deadline for submitting a supplement form is the end of the add/drop period for each semester.
  3. Professors are not required to agree to your request for a supplement. Some courses don’t lend themselves to being supplemented, and so professors must decide whether a supplement is pedagogically appropriate. In addition, supplements always require extra work from the professor, and so professors must consider their workload.

There are four types of Honors course supplements

  1. Standard Supplement (300-400 level classes and 400/600-level classes)
  2. Graduate Supplements (500-level classes)
  3. AU Abroad Supplement (AU Abroad courses)
  4. Capstone Supplement (to convert an upper-level class into an Honors Capstone)

1. Standard Supplement

A standard supplement allows you to earn Honors credit for an upper-level course by adding a challenging dimension to the course. Supplements should explore something that interests you and enhance your understanding of the topic beyond the usual course expectations.

If you enroll in a 400-level course that meets with a 600-level graduate section, you may earn Honors credit for that course simply by completing the graduate student requirements instead of other additional assignments.

BA/MA Programs  

You can earn Honors credit for graduate-level courses that you take as part of BA/MA programs so long as the course credit counts toward your undergraduate degree.

Some Examples of Honors Supplement Options

  • An expanded paper assignment with emphasis on a higher level of analysis, not necessarily length, in lieu of a regular paper assignment (i.e., using more original sources or advanced readings). 
  • In-depth class readings with summaries and reviews. Compilation of original artwork for a portfolio. 
  • Translation of a short story with analysis in the foreign language.

Advice about Asking Professors for a Supplement

  1. Ask your professor as soon as possible.
  2. Schedule an appointment and tell your professor that you want to discuss supplementing the course.
  3. In advance of your meeting, send your professor a link to the page describing the Honors supplement.
  4. Come to the meeting with two or three ideas about how you would like to supplement the course from the list of examples. In the case of a 400/600 class, ensure that your professor knows that you will be completing that graduate-level requirements in lieu of creating a supplement.

Planning for your supplement

  1. Discuss the idea with your professor as described above.
  2. Draft a supplement proposal detailing what your supplement will be, any deadlines and how it fits with the course. If you are taking a 400/600 course and completing the graduate requirements, you simply need a copy of the course syllabus instead of a proposal.
  3. Fill out and submit the Standard Supplement form. Attach your proposal or syllabus to the form.
  4. Once you’ve submitted the form your professor will receive an email asking them to approve your supplement. Note: If your professor declines your request, you will receive information on whether you need to adjust your proposal or if completing a supplement will simply not be possible.

2. Graduate Supplement

Graduate supplements allow you to earn Honors credit for a graduate level course at the 500-level. The understanding is that you will be evaluated the same as graduate students.

BA/MA Programs  

You can earn Honors credit for graduate-level courses that you take as part of BA/MA programs so long as the course credit counts toward your undergraduate degree.

Advice about Asking Professors for a Supplement

  1. Ask your professor as soon as possible.
  2. Schedule an appointment and tell your professor that you want to discuss supplementing the course.
  3. In advance of your meeting, send your professor a link to the page describing the Honors supplement.
  4. Be ready to explain to your professor that in order to earn Honors credit you simply need to complete the graduate-level requirements for the course.

Planning for your supplement

  1. Discuss the idea with your professor as described above.
  2. Fill out and submit the Graduate Supplement form. Attach your proposal or syllabus to the form.
  3. Once you’ve submitted the form, your professor will receive an email asking them to approve your supplement. Note: If your professor declines your request, you will receive information on whether you need to adjust your proposal or whether completing a supplement will simply not be possible.

3. AU Abroad Supplement

The University Honors Program allows students to take up to 8 credits total during any/all AU Abroad programs.

Beijing and Brussels Programs: You may work with AU’s onsite director to devise and complete your supplement.  

All Other AU Abroad Programs: You must work with an AU professor to complete your supplement while abroad. You will submit your supplement to that professor for grading. You are strongly encouraged to contact your D.C.-based professor prior to going abroad to facilitate the supplement process.   

Some Examples of AU Abroad supplements

  • Expanded research that involves extensive interviews with primary sources on-site. 
  • Expanded research that involves written material in the native language that is not readily available in the United States. 
  • Exploration of texts and material not readily available in the United States.
  • Visits to and written analysis of additional museums, historical centers, and/or galleries. 
  • Intensive translation of texts and material pertinent to the locale.

Advice about Asking Professors for a Supplement

  1. Ask your professor as soon as possible. In the case of Beijing and Brussels, speak with the onsite director. If you’ll be working with a DC-based professor, you may want to meet with your chosen advisor the semester before you go abroad.
  2. In advance of your meeting, send your professor a link to the page describing the Honors supplement.
  3. Come to the meeting with two or three ideas about how you would like to supplement the course from the list of examples.

Planning for your supplement

  1. Schedule a meeting with Honors staff to discuss the supplement process for studying abroad.
  2. Discuss the idea with your professor as described above.
  3. Fill out the Abroad Supplement Form. You will need to include a work plan, submission deadlines and grading procedures, all of which should be discussed with your professor.
  4. Once you’ve submitted the form your professor will receive an email asking them to approve your supplement. Note: If your professor declines your request you will receive information on whether you need to adjust your proposal or if completing a supplement will simply not be possible.

4. Capstone Supplement

See the Capstones page for more information on using an existing upper-level course to complete your capstone.