Characteristics of an Honors Class

Honors classes do not simply distinguish themselves from regular classes by being harder (though they should be challenging). Instead, they should be characterized as being interactive, small, and/or innovative.

To be approved as an honors class, a course must

  • Utilize course materials in addition to or instead of a standard textbook. Primary sources may be part of these non-textbook course materials.
  • Encourage discussion and student participation instead of relying solely on a traditional lecture and test format.
  • Teach research skills, require in-depth reading, promote writing skills, and provide critical thinking opportunities.
  • Be led by teachers who are highly accessible to students, engaging in the classroom, and academically excellent.

Honors classes may also contain some of the following characteristics:

  • Utilize interdisciplinary connections or be paired with other classes.
  • Include input from students on class policies, content, and assessments.
  • Explore the history or philosophy of a discipline.
  • Involve student travel, guest presenters, or service learning.

Students may use an honors contract (with the permission of the instructor and honors director) to make one non-honors class count toward the required honors credits. If a student undertakes an honors contract, he or she must propose a project that replicates at least two of the honors characteristics listed above.

Students who wish to receive Snow College honors credit for college-level courses taught at a high school or at another higher education institution must provide the honors director with a course syllabus. To be approved for honors credit, the course must have matched this definition of an honors course and have been offered as part of a college-level honors program.