About the Honors Program

Are you ready for a challenge? Established in 1990, the Honors Program incites and drives CCD students who are ready for an additional academic challenge. The goal of the program is to recognize outstanding talent and provide a supportive, stimulating community. Go a step beyond the routine and turn ordinary courses into extraordinary learning experiences throughout your CCD career. The primary benefits are twofold.

  1. Enrich your own educational experience through thoughtful, self-directed study.
  2. Gain a valuable asset on your academic resumes.

In addition, your academic transcript will reflect the individual honors courses and the overall completion of the honors program, providing recognition that will serve you as you transfer to other institutions, seek scholarships, and, eventually, pursue career goals.

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  • All CCD students are welcome in the program
  • There is no fee to join the honors program.
  • To participate, you will contract with individual instructors to do work above and beyond the ordinary class requirements.
  • Complete this form to after you have spoken with your instructor.
  • Once you have completed this supplemental work and earned a B or higher, your transcript will designate the class as an “honors course.”
  • In order to receive your degree and/or certificate with honors, you must complete the honors program of 15 credits worth of honors courses and maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA.
  • As an honors program graduate, you will receive special recognition at CCD’s spring commencement ceremony.

Admissions Criteria

No formal entry application or fee is necessary. With the instructor’s approval, any CCD student registered for a transfer-level or degree-related course may attempt honors work. Only those who meet the graduation requirements will graduate with honors. Completed honors contracts and transcripts serve as official records of a student’s active participation in the program.

Criteria for Honors Credit

Honors work must be clearly and directly tied to academic course work. In most cases, this will mean being tied directly to a specific course being taken by you. In some cases, (e.g., independent study options) this could also mean work that relates to a broader program of study (e.g., a specific certificate or degree program).

  • Honors work should require you to develop analytical, creative, and critical thinking skills, to gain insights, and to apply learned principles in specific areas. 
  • Honors work should strongly emphasize verbal skills in performance criteria, including written work, oral presentations, and group discussion. You should perform and be evaluated on these skills as part of the grading criteria. These criteria should be clearly described in the honors contract. Simple “participation” in class/group activities should not satisfy these criteria.
  • Honors work should provide you with an opportunity to develop research method skills. Research may include either secondary (e.g., library) research and/or primary (e.g., experimental, observation, survey, and interview) research. Research requirements should be supported, as necessary, with instruction in appropriate methodology.
  • It is the philosophy of the honors committee that the development of research skills is more important than the amassing of facts or subject content during your first two years of college. Learning how to find answers is more useful than knowing answers.
  • Honors work may take a variety of forms, including traditional course assignments (e.g., papers, presentations, and projects), service learning experiences, student activities experiences, and Phi Theta Kappa activities.

Options for Earning Honors Credit

Honors Credit for Regular Courses (Individual Contract)

This is the current and most common method for receiving honors credit. Individual students contract with instructors to do some form of honors work related to the course in order to receive honors credit for the course. As these arrangements are made between interested students and willing instructors, all programmatic courses at the college (i.e., courses that are transferable and/or apply towards a degree or certificate) could potentially be taken for honors credit. As long as the student and instructor agree upon the work that must be completed to receive honors credit, and that work meets the above criteria, the student can receive honors credit for that course. Instructors are not obliged, however, to provide students with an opportunity for honors work in regular courses. Students must fill out an individual contract form for each course taken for honors.

Honors Independent Study Courses (Individual Contract)

For students wishing to pursue honors work outside the context of a preexisting course, it may be possible to arrange for independent study credit. Students could pursue this option through a service learning experience, certain Phi Theta Kappa and Student Activities experiences, or through an arranged course of study with a program faculty member. As with all honors work, any such independent study must relate clearly and directly to academic course work. This could mean doing advanced or focused study in a specific area for which a comparable course is not offered (e.g., Native American Literature) or some form of broad based study relating to the degree or certificate program in which the student is engaged. Independent study courses are numbered as 299, and credit hours can range from 1-6. The transcript record would look something like this: “LIT 299 Indep. Study: Native American Literature (Honors).” All independent study courses must be primarily developed and overseen by a faculty member in the relevant academic program area in collaboration with the honors coordinator and, as appropriate, with the advisor or coordinator of the relevant activity area (e.g., service learning, PTK, and student activities). Students must fill out an individual contract form for each course taken for honors.

Individual Contracts

All current forms of honors credit require students to arrange and fulfill an individual contract with an instructor. The contract stipulates the work that will need to be completed by the student and the criteria by which that work will be evaluated. Students are responsible for filling out all sections of the contract.

Verbal agreements are neither binding nor sufficient. The student must sign contracts once the contract for honors is agreed upon. At that time, the instructor should keep the original contract until the end of the semester. Once the contract is completed the instructor should sign off and submit to the honors coordinator, Courtenay Avant, in Cherry Creek Classroom 313C. In the case of independent study courses, the contract must also include a course syllabus.

Requirements for Completion of Program

To formally complete the honors program, you must:

  • Maintain at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA and
  • Earn honors credit for a total of at least 15 credit hours of courses.

Formal Recognition for Honors Program Students

You will, at a minimum, receive the following forms of recognition from the College:

  • Students will have an “Honors Course” notation added to their transcript for any individual course for which they have earned Honors Credit.
  • Students completing the program will have an “Honors Program Completed” notation added to their transcript.
  • Students who complete the Honors program and who earn a Certificate or Degree will have the notation “Awarded with Honors” on their official transcript.

Graduating students who have completed the Honors Program will be recognized in the graduation program and may wear honorary cords as part of their regalia.

Is the honors program the same as Phi Theta Kappa?

The honors program and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) are not the same. PTK is part of an international organization, which focuses more on service and leadership outside the classroom; while CCD’s honors program focuses solely on academic work in the courses you are taking. Students are welcome and encouraged to participate in both. For more information on PTK contact Kate Haddon.

Which classes can be taken for honors credit?

Any transfer-level (100 prefix or higher) or certificate- or degree-related course can be taken for honors credit on an individual contract basis with the instructor’s approval.

Can I take an online course for honors credit?

Any online transfer-level course offered by CCD is eligible. Online courses offered by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) are not eligible.

Is there a minimum grade I have to earn to get honors credit in a course?

Students must earn a final grade of B or higher to earn honors credit for a course.

What does it take to complete the honors program?

Students must complete a total of 15 credit hours of honors courses (roughly 4-5 courses depending on your area of focus) AND have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better to graduate.

Can I complete honors for a course from a previous semester?

This is not an option for honors credit.

Who is eligible to receive honors credit for a class?


Any student can take a course for honors credit; however, there are specific GPA requirements to formally complete the honors program (see below).

How does a student receive honors credit for a class?

Students and instructors agree upon specific work requirements over and above the regular work of the course and fill out a contract. If the student successfully completes the course and the honors component, he or she will receive honors credit for the class.

What kind of work can earn honors credit?

Honors work must be clearly and directly tied to academic course work; it should require students to develop analytical, creative, and critical thinking skills, to gain insights, and to apply learned principles in specific areas; it should strongly emphasize verbal skills, including written work, oral presentations, and group discussion; and it should provide students with an opportunity to develop research method skills. Honors work may take a variety of forms, including traditional course assignments (e.g., papers, presentations, projects) and service learning experiences.

When should I fill out the contract?

Contracts should be filled out as soon as the project has been negotiated. The student should sign the contract and give it to the instructor who will make sure it is processed at the end of the semester. Verbal agreements are neither binding nor sufficient. A signed contract must be filled out and turned in.

When should I fill out the program completion form?

The form should be completed the semester you plan to graduate. The deadline for inclusion in the commencement program and ceremony is always the first Friday after spring break.