Courses & Programs

Apply to the honors program

Are you interested in joining the Honors Program? Use this link to apply.

Apply now


HCC honors logoHCC Honors Program Student Survey

Honors Courses

The HCC Honors Program wants YOU. The Honors Program is for the student who excels academically, plans to transfer to a 4 year college or university, and/or is interested in gaining critical skills for the workplace. The Honors Program provides challenging courses with a strong emphasis on reading, writing, and critical thinking across and within disciplines. 

Liberal Arts Major: All honors courses fulfill your six credit hours of Integrative Learning Experience. Also, Honors courses can satisfy general education requirements. 


The HCC Honors Program provides the following benefits to motivated students:

  • smaller class sizes, 
  • 1 or more free books,
  • more accessible faculty, 
  • seminar-style courses, 
  • writing and reading intensive, creative thinking and problem solving skills building, 
  • space to engage in constructive dialogue and grow as knowledge producers, scholars, and global citizens,
  • access to unique scholarships not offered to traditional students.

The ideal honors student strives:

  • To be intellectually honest and courageous;
  • For authenticity and integrity in all areas of their life;
  • To be open minded and inquisitive as well as questioning and critical;
  • To be well-rounded - both a scholar and an activist.

Note: Honors students and the Honors Program have never been - nor will they ever be - all these things all the time. What sets the program and its students apart, above all else, is the willingness to consistently attempt great things, whether or not the mark is hit.

A graphic depicting a series of overlapping circles that read, "members of a learned community," "fearlessly communicative," "active readers," "critical thinkers," and "creative risk-takers." The circle in the middle of the group reads, "HCC HONORS."

Are you Honors material? YES, you are.  

Incoming and current HCC students interested in Honors should fill out the Honors Registration form and set up a meeting with the Honors Program Coordinator ( regarding their interest in the program. Feel free to come visit the Honors Office in Frost Building Room 270.

Individual honors courses have different requirements:

  • some courses are open access meaning that you can sign up for them without worrying about prerequisites; [meeting with professor and/or Honors Program Coordinator beforehand is greatly encouraged to ensure you will be successful in the course]
  • some courses require a 3.4 or higher GPA from highschool and/or college courses
  • And Honors Colloquium courses require 15 earned credits and a 3.4 GPA

***All Honors courses allow for an override through permission of the professor(s) teaching the course. ***


Students who complete nine honors credits at HCC with a grade of B or better and who achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above may graduate as Commonwealth Honors Scholars. We strive for at least six of the nine honors credits to be earned in interdisciplinary courses (LCs or Colloquia) although this is not always possible. The remaining credits may be earned as Honors Projects or in stand-alone Honors courses.

Honors standalone courses currently exist in English 101, English 102, History 112, and Ideas that Change the World. 

Faculty interested in developing new courses are encouraged to speak with the Honors Program Coordinator and look for the Request for Proposals that are sent out to the college community every Fall semester.

An Honors Learning Community course integrates two stand-alone courses from different disciplines under a theme. First year and second year honors LC's are worth six or seven credits depending on whether the course has a lab science. Honors Colloquium is a team-taught, completely integrated theme-based course. It is not an LC that integrates existing stand-alone courses. Students contract with their colloquium instructors to receive six social studies or humanities transfer credits for their colloquium work. Colloquium students must propose and construct an integrative research project that will produce a substantial piece of scholarly or creative work. Students work on their projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor who helps them select appropriate research materials and provides guidance about writing in a specific discipline. One colloquium is offered each semester. Enrollment is limited to 15 students. The Honors Program provides students with all the colloquium's required texts at no cost to the student.

There are different ways to complete an Honors Project.

honors project 1-3 credit(s)
Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Presentation

Note: Make sure to visit the following section titled Faculty Mentoring below to print out the necessary documents for your Honors faculty mentor to fill out!

Full-time HCC faculty and regular adjunct faculty with experience at HCC make excellent mentors. The mentor should have expertise in the student's area of interest and be willing to work with the honors student from beginning of honors work to final project completion (usually regular meeting adding up to about 10 hours over the course of semester).

Guidelines for Honors Program Faculty Mentors

Faculty Mentor Form

"Learning to think critically, work diligently, and speak passionately – the lessons that I had failed to learn in high school – I found in abundance in the HCC Honors Program. The Honors Program not only prepared me to pass any class when I transferred to Amherst College, it equipped me to excel." - Winslow Dahlberg-Wright, HCC honors student and Amherst College graduate, 2014

Transfer Opportunities for Honors

The Honors Program is one of the best ways to maximize HCC's transfer opportunities. Honors courses provide students with an excellent academic experience that prepares them for transfer to selective colleges and universities in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Recent alumni have transferred successfully to: Amherst College; Brandeis University; Cornell University; George Washington University; Hampshire College; Marlboro College; Mount Holyoke College; Smith College; UMass Commonwealth Honors College; and Wellesley College.

Just as important, the honors coordinator and honors instructors serve as mentors and advisors, helping students select transfer schools and writing personalized letters of recommendation. The Honors Program also works with Pathways and other HCC departments/programs to sponsor travel to transfer events at Amherst College, Cornell University, Marlboro College, Wellesley College, and Williams College. In all these ways, the Honors Program helps students get where they want to go!

Interested in exploring UMass, Westfield State, Elms College, or another institution? Check out the transfer page.


The Pathways Program helps promising students succeed at HCC and explore transfer opportunities to selective liberal arts colleges like Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, Williams, Mount Holyoke College, and beyond. The Honors program and Pathways often collaborate on transfer opportunities for HCC students.

Apply to the honors program

Are you interested in joining the Honors Program? Use this link to apply.

Apply now