What is an Honors Course?
Honors courses are offered through the Honors College at Cal State LA and through individual departments and programs at the university. While the definition of an honors course must be flexible enough to accommodate courses in everything from the arts and humanities to the sciences and professional programs, honors courses typically:
Are qualitatively different from non-Honors courses
Honors courses explore subjects in greater depth and at a higher level of academic rigor; they do not necessarily require more reading or the completion of more assignments; Honors courses inspire students to do additional reading on their own, outside of class, and expect students to bring their own knowledge and research to bear on the readings and class discussion.
Expect greater student participation
Honors courses emphasize student-centered and collaborative learning and create more opportunities for student-faculty interaction. Students might be expected to work in teams and to play active roles in discussion and presentation of course materials. Students are engaged in the process of knowledge creation and encouraged to pursue independent research.
Have fewer students
To enable greater participation and interaction honors courses generally have fewer than 25 students.
Emphasize primary texts
Honors courses often supplement or replace textbooks with primary source readings in the discipline, giving students the opportunity to encounter directly the words and ideas of key thinkers. Honors students critically engage and constructively challenge primary and secondary source material.
Offer enriched learning experiences
Honors courses often promote learning outside the classroom through community engagement, independent research, and co-curricular activities, such as field trips or guest speakers.
Encourage interdisciplinary connections
Honors courses often focus on the core principles of a discipline, helping students understand how that discipline makes and adjudicates knowledge claims. At the same time, honors courses can help students make connections across disciplines and develop a broad and integrated perspective on human knowledge.
Involve more speaking and writing
Honors courses usually take advantage of smaller class sizes to provide more opportunities for students to develop as speakers and writers through a wide range of special activities, including class discussions, debates, simulations, role-playing, small-group work, oral examinations, journals, reports, essay writing, research projects and portfolios.