Honors Faculty FAQs
- What is the Honors Program?
The Mt. SAC Honors Program offers motivated students with a GPA of 3.2 or above the opportunity to take specially designed Honors courses, earn a unique certification that enhances their transfer options, and access exceptional research opportunities.
- How are Honors courses different from non-Honors courses?
Honors courses offer students an enriched classroom experience. Honors students benefit from smaller class sizes (typically 20 students) and a curriculum that emphasizes research, critical thinking, and/or communication skills. In addition, Honors courses typically include more seminar-style discussion than conventional courses
- Who decides what the enrichment should be?
Faculty are the curriculum experts. The course instructor decides the enrichment. The enrichment typically focuses on research, critical thinking, and/or communication development. However, alternative enrichment, such as classroom management or service learning, are also enrichment possibilities.
- How do students benefit from the Honors Program?
Honors classes are based on the belief that motivated students benefit from close interaction with faculty and similarly motivated students. Additional research opportunities prepare students well for upper division coursework. In addition, Honors students can achieve Program Certification, which allows them special transfer opportunities or priority consideration at desirable universities, including UCB, UCLA, UCI, and a variety of private institutions.
- What is Program Certification?
After students have successfully completed 15 units of Honors coursework, they are Program Certified and are designated “Honors Scholars.” Program Certification is a prerequisite for consideration in TAP and other transfer agreements set up by HTCC. It is also a scholarly achievement that is noted on a student’s transcript and recognized in the graduation program.
- What is the “Honors College?"
The Honors College is a learning community of 40 Mt. SAC Honors students that are guaranteed matriculation in a set of sequenced courses to achieve Program Certification within two years. The cohort, which is financed as part of a Title V grant, also receives classroom tutoring, career exploration services, and personalized academic guidance.
- What is TAP?
The UCLA Transfer Alliance Program (TAP) gives priority consideration to community college students throughout California who have completed Honors Program requirements to transfer at the junior level into the UCLA College of Letters and Science. (In the case of Mt. SAC, this means Program Certification.) Students who qualify for TAP are admitted at a significantly higher rate than non-TAP applicants. In addition, TAP applicants are eligible to receive special scholarships from UCLA. For more information, visit the UCLA Transfer Alliance Program.
- What is NCHC?
The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is a national consortium of Honors programs in both 4- and 2-year universities. The NCHC sets standards for Honors courses and programs, and sponsors an annual conference with workshop and research opportunities. Visit the NCHC website for more information.
- What is HTCC?
The HTCC (Honors Transfer Council of California) is a consortium of Honors Programs in more than fifty California community colleges. HTCC negotiates special transfer agreements linking community college Honors programs to specific universities, serves as a forum for Honors directors and counselors to share best practices, and sponsors an annual Research Conference that enables community college students to present their research and be published. Visit the HTCC website for more information.
- What is PTK?
Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is the international Honor Society of the two year colleges. PTK requires a 3.5 GPA to join the society. PTK sponsors a year-long study topic, the Honors In Action project, in which students develop their leadership, scholarship, community, and service skills. Mt. SAC’s PTK chapter, Alpha Omega Alpha, has been a top award winner in the past, and PTK officers have been recognized nationally. Visit the PTK website for more information.
- Who decides who teaches an Honors course?
Honors courses are scheduled in the same way that other courses are scheduled. Ultimately, division deans have the right of assignment. In practice, department chairs and sometimes the entire department collaborate on scheduling. If you are interested in teaching an Honors class, contact your department chair. If you have never taught an Honors course, please contact the Honors Faculty Coordinator to find out more about expectations and student learning outcomes.
- Who decides when an Honors course is offered?
The right of assignment lies with the division dean, with extensive input by the department chair. However, the Honors Program published a list of desired course rotation times to fulfill student needs and help make sure classes fill. If you are finding that an Honors course is not filling, contact the Honors Program Director, who has student surveys that indicate best time and semester to offer an Honors course.
- How do I put an Honors course through Curriculum (EDC)?
This procedure is described in the Faculty Handbook. It requires a modest update to the Course Outline of Record. Please note, like all new courses, department and possibly Advisory Committee approval is required.
- I’d like to create an Honors course although there is no conventional course offered.
Can I do this?
At this time, Honors courses at Mt. SAC must have a conventional course counterpart.
- My course is already very hard for students. How could I make it harder?
Honors courses are not meant to be harder. They are meant to enrich the experience for motivated students by incorporating greater opportunities for research, communication, and critical thinking. As the curriculum expert, a faculty may incorporate more assignments or harder problems into the course, but this is not required. Reducing lecture and enabling students to engage in and lead discussions is an Honors enrichment; so are field trips, abstract development, individualized lab experiences, and attendance at research conferences. Faculty have freedom to be creative here, as long as the course outline of record and outcomes are achieved.
- Why should I limit class size when so many students need my course?
The smaller class size of an Honors course is reflected in its FTES (Full Time Equivalent Student). At 2.1 FTES, a 3-unit Honors class with class size of 20 takes fewer FTES than a 3-unit class of 35 (3.67 FTES) or 50 (5.25 FTES). The high retention and success rates of Honors classes usually more than offsets the lower class size and can actually maintain a comparable or higher class size and FTES at census than classes with larger class size but less retention. Finally, Honors students really like to take courses with other Honors students. They feel their time is better utilized, and they benefit from enhanced faculty interaction.
- Can an adjunct teach an Honors section?
Absolutely! Many of our popular Honors courses are taught by adjunct faculty.
- How can I get more involved in the Honors Program?
Please contact the Honors Faculty Coordinator at extension 4842.
- I have a talented student. How can I encourage her to join the Honors Program?
You can refer students to Honors via the Faculty Portal. On the right side, click Refer a Student to Honors. You may add a personalized message if you wish. Both the student and the Honors Director will get an automated email. Your referral will count as the student’s letter of recommendation, so no further work is required on your part.
- Where can I find more resources on teaching for Honors?
Check the Pedagogy section of this website, or you can directly access the NCHC website.
- What are the student research opportunities?
Check Faculty Handbook for student research opportunities.
- What is the Honors Program?