Stacked Courses

Stacked courses are a great way for PNW Honors College students to dive deeper into your major (or other) courses and earn Honors credit at the same time.

What Is a Stacked Course?

An Honors stacked course is:

  • A course taken outside the Honors College, usually (but not necessarily) in your major
  • Designated “H” (Honors) on your permanent transcript
  • Counted towards your Honors 24 credit hour graduation requirement

An Honors College Student in the Classroom


To “stack” a course, you and your course instructor agree on a special assignment, project or other coursework that goes beyond the normal requirements of the class. The additional assignment should fit with the content and focus of the course.

However, the exact nature of the assignment is determined jointly by you and the instructor. The instructor has sole and final authority to approve a proposed stacked course project.

Examples of this additional work include (but are not limited to):

  • A research paper of length and depth beyond the usual course paper assignment
  • A research project in a lab that goes beyond what other students are assigned
  • An additional research assignment or project in addition to usual coursework
  • A creative work
  1. The instructor and student agree upon the additional assignment or project for the stacked course. Some instructors expect students to take the lead in suggesting a stacked project that fits with the course; others may have projects already in mind that they assign to students. In all cases, instructors and students should work together to define a stacked project clearly. As stated above, the instructor retains that ultimate authority to approve a proposed stacked course project.
  2. By the end of the fourth week of the semester, the student submits to the Stacked Course section of the Honors Brightspace page:

    a. The Stacked Course Contract completed by the student and signed by both the student and instructor
    b. A brief written description of the additional work to be carried out in the class

  3. By the end of Finals Week, the student submits a copy of the final project, paper, or other assignment to the Stacked Course section of the Honors Brightspace page.
  4. The course instructor notifies the Dean of the Honors College whether, in his/her judgment, the student has completed the agreed-upon project and stacked course contract successfully. Final approval of a stacked course assignment is solely at the discretion of the course instructor. No grades–on the project or in the course overall–are reported to the Honors College.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no separate or additional course grade for a stacked course that is reported to the Registrar or placed on a student’s transcript. The grade the student receives in the course itself is the only grade that will be reported on his/her transcript. Stacking a course simply adds the “H” (Honors) designation to the course on the student’s transcript.

No. Stacking a course does not involve enrolling in any other course. It simply designates the course the student is already taking as Honors. Therefore, stacking a course does not cost anything additional.

No. Students earn the credit hours the course carries normally. Stacking a course designates it as Honors, but does not affect, earn or change any university credit hours earned.

Whether a stacked course project counts in any way towards a student’s course grade is solely determined by the instructor. Moreover, the instructor does not report any grades to the Honors College. The instructor simply reports to the Honors College whether the stacked  course assignment/project as specified in the contract was completed successfully, in his/her judgment.

The number of credits earned in a stacked course are applied towards the Honors College 24-credit-hour graduation requirement. For example, if a student successfully stacks a 3-credit-hour course, 3 credits will be counted to that student’s 24-credit-hour requirement for Honors graduation.

Any questions or concerns about stacked courses should be directed to Jonathan Swarts, Dean of the Honors College (, 219-989-8371).