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Courses & Programs

Apply to the honors program

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

Apply now


Four students smile at the camera. "We Are Honors" text over the image.
HCC Honors Program Student Survey

Honors Courses

The Honors Program offers opportunities for intellectual challenge to students in every discipline. For the student who excels academically, plans to transfer to a selective college or university, 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 disciplines. 

All liberal arts majors must complete a minimum of six credit hours of an Integrative Learning Experience to graduate from HCC's Liberal Arts & Sciences program. Honors courses fulfill this requirement, and can also satisfy the general education requirements.


The HCC Honors Program believes that motivated students benefit from small class sizes, accessible faculty, seminar-style courses, and being surrounded by other talented, hard-working students. We provide our students with the skills necessary for success in college and beyond. Honors students also qualify for unique scholarships not offered to traditional students. Skills learned in honors courses also provide students with job readiness skills, including problem posing and problem solving, critical reading and writing skills, creative thinking, and more.  

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.

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."

The HCC Honors Program seeks:

  • To expand knowledge and social inclusivity;
  • To spread knowledge as well as access to the tools for creating new knowledge;
  • To create and support spaces for constructive dialogue and positive social change.

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. This is the difference between honor and honors. Honors is about striving to improve oneself and to help others do the same; honors, the largely empty symbols of officially sanctions success, sometimes accompany honor, but only supercede it in the minds of the vain and opportunistic.

Incoming Students

Before the beginning of their first semester, incoming students will receive a mailing to their home address letting them know that based on their excellent high school grade point average and/or placement test results, they have earned a spot in the HCC Commonwealth Scholars Program.

  • Reading comprehension scores of 20 or higher and Write Placer scores of 6 or higher; or SAT verbal (ERW) scores of 600 or higher; OR
  • High school GPA of 3.4 or better
Current students

Current students will receive a mailing to their home address letting them know that based on their excellent high school grade point average and/or placement test results, they have earned a spot in the HCC Commonwealth Scholars Program.

  • 12 earned HCC credits
  • HCC GPA of 3.4 or better

If you are interested in the HCC Commonwealth Honors Program and have not yet received information about the program, apply here OR stop by the Honors Office in Frost 270 anytime Monday, Wednesday, or Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.


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. At least six of the nine honors credits must be earned in interdisciplinary courses (LCs or Colloquia). The remaining credits may be earned as Honors Projects or in stand-alone Honors courses.

Honors standalone courses exist in English, history, and nutrition with new pilot courses being developed every year.

Honors Learning Community integrates elective "topics" courses in different disciplines. The sophomore LC is worth six or seven credits depending on whether the course has a lab science. One sophomore-level LC is offered each semester. Enrollment is limited to 22 students, and requires a letter of invitation from the Program Coordinator or honors faculty. The Honors Program provides students with some of the LC's required texts.

Honors Colloquium is a team-taught, completely integrated course rather than an LC that integrates existing courses. Students contract with their colloquium instructors to receive six social studies or humanities 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, and requires a letter of invitation from the program coordinator or honors faculty. The Honors Program provides students with all the colloquium's required texts.

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!

Every year, the HCC Honors Program takes a transfer overnight trip to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Interested students will have the opportunity to network, meet key admissions people, and/or attend classes if they are interested. Please click here for more information.

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, and Mount Holyoke College. The honors program and Pathways often collaborate on transfer and career opportunities for HCC students.

Apply to the honors program

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

Apply now