Honors courses and programs are designed to offer students an enhanced community college experience based upon establishing and maintaining a minimum grade point average. California community colleges structure their honors programs in a variety of ways. Institutions may offer honors sections as a part of regular course offerings, have students contract to work with instructors while taking “traditional” courses, or do a combination of the two. In addition, many institutions are affiliated with Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, an international honor society for students at schools offering associate degree programs. Students who participate in honors programs have stronger transcripts which can increase their chance to transfer to the institution of their choice.
Curriculum committees must approve the Course Outline of Record (COR) for separate honors level courses. If some sections of a course are designated as honors, then the COR for the course remains the same, and the instructor of record will select more challenging reading materials, assignments and other expectations of students in that section of the course. An honors coordinator at the college may help provide direction to faculty teaching honors sections so that a minimum standard of coursework at the honors level can be maintained. If there is no honors coordinator, then a subset of the curriculum committee may consider reviewing the syllabi of the faculty teaching the honors sections for consistency. The same review for consistency may be necessary when faculty contract with an individual student within a regular section of the course.