Jul 19, 2024  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
2020-2021 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Honors


The Honors Program

Macon Cove Campus (901) 333-4615
Union Avenue Campus (901) 333-5203

The Honors Program at Southwest Tennessee Community College is an academic community of highly motivated students and distinguished faculty who value intellectual inquiry and creative approaches to teaching and learning. Honors designated courses are smaller, more interactive, innovative, and student-centered, allowing students to pursue their academic interests while developing the personal and professional skills needed to become part of the next generation of leaders. By the end of the program, students not only graduate with an honors designation on their diploma, but with a strong professional network and a personal definition of success that will motivate them to succeed long after graduation. 

The Honors Difference is Your Advantage

There are many benefits you will experience as an honors student at Southwest.

  • Learn “Outside the Box”:  Working with faculty who like to experiment with new approaches means that the classroom is never dull. With an emphasis on experiential and student-driven methods, honors education challenges the idea that learning should confined to the classroom or a lecture format. In honors courses, students will find a collaborative and innovative environment that will spur their academic and personal growth. Smaller class size gives students the support they need to take those intellectual risks.
  • Be part of a campus community: In addition to courses reserved specifically for honors students, honors spaces on campus and year-round honors events help create a close-knit community that results in life-long friendships. Located in MAB 139 on the Macon campus, the HIPI lounge is a place where students can study, use computers, or relax and enjoy a free snack. At the Union campus, an exclusive honors lounge can be found in Building B Room 210.
  • Participate in local, regional, and national conferences: Honors students have opportunities to present their research on and off campus to hone their presentation skills, network with other students and faculty in their field of study, and build their résumés. 
  • Earn an honors designation on your diploma:  To graduate with an honors designation on the diploma, honors students must take at least 15 honors credits and graduate with at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA.

Eligibility Requirements

Incoming freshman, transfer students, and continuing students are all eligible to participate in the honors program. Incoming freshman must have at least a 3.25 high school GPA or a composite score of 21 or better on the ACT to be considered for admission to the honors program. Transfer and continuing students must have all academic developmental courses and at least 6 collegiate credit hours completed and have at least a 3.25 GPA.

Once accepted to the Honors program, students should begin planning their honors coursework so they can complete the program with an honors designation on their diplomas. To remain eligible and demonstrate steady progress toward graduation with an honors designation, students must:

  • take at least 6 honors credits per academic year if a full-time student.
  • take at least 3 honors credits per academic year if a part-time student.
  • maintain at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA at Southwest Tennessee Community College

Students who do not maintain this progress will have one probationary semester to return to good standing. Students who do not meet these requirements after the probationary period will need to reapply to the honors program. Students who lose eligibility after the probationary semester can appeal that decision by completing the appeals form available at www.southwest.tn.edu/honors/.

Application Process

To be considered for admission, applicants must be admitted to Southwest Tennessee Community College and complete the online application form available at www.southwest.tn.edu/honors/.

Honors Credit

There are three ways to earn honors credit at Southwest-courses, learning communities, and contracts. Providing options gives students the flexibility to optimize their learning, both through choosing preferred subjects and learning environments. Only students who have applied and been accepted to the Honors Program may earn honors credit.

Honors Courses

The honors program strives to provide a variety of unique course offerings each semester to meet our students’ needs and academic interests. These courses are exclusive to honors students, offering a smaller class size with highly motivated students and more individual attention. Honors students can take any honors courses they choose, but must plan to take Honors Inquiry their final spring semester before graduation. A listing of the offerings will be posted in Honors offices and Honors website each term.  Other classes, such as English, mathematics, or psychology courses, are listed by discipline.  Only students who have applied and been accepted to the Honors Program may register for honors courses. 

Honors Learning Communities

A learning community is a small cohort of students who take two classes together each semester. Honors learning communities offer students the unique opportunity to create lasting friendships, connect with faculty, and build a stronger honors community while earning 6 honors credits in one semester. Only honors students are eligible to participate in honors learning communities and have the option to continue their honors learning communities over multiple semesters.

Honors Contracts

In addition to taking honors courses, students also have the option of completing one honors contract to earn honors credit. An honors contract is a voluntary agreement between an honors student and faculty member that defines an independent project the student can complete in addition to required coursework in order to earn honors credit in a non-honors course. Honors contracts are a great choice for honors students who want to challenge themselves to complete honors-level work in specialized subject areas and/or with specific faculty members, and who enjoy independent work. Students interested in completing an honors contract should follow the process below:

  1. Contact your professor expressing interest in completing an honors contract in the course. In addition to honors faculty, a list of faculty who have experience with honors contracts can be found on the honors website.
  2. If the professor agrees, work together to complete the honors contract form and submit to the Honors Program for approval no later than three weeks after the beginning of classes. Honors contract forms can be found on the honors website. Completed forms can be submitted in person to the HIPI Suite in MAB 139 or electronically by email to honors@southwest.tn.edu.
  3. Students and faculty will be promptly notified of approval by email and provided copies of the approved form.
  4. At the end of the semester, your professor will notify the Honors Program of your final grade in the course and whether honors work was completed satisfactorily.
  5. If the work for the honors contract was completed, the Honors program coordinator will contact the Admissions and Records office to record the grade as Honors credit within 30 days of grades being posted.
  6. If the work for the honors contract was not completed, the course grade remains on your transcript as a traditional course with no Honors distinction.

Honors Designation on Diploma

To graduate with an Honors designation on the diploma, a student must be accepted into the Honors Program and maintain good standing, complete a minimum of 15 honors credits and have achieved a 3.25 GPA or higher. Only one honors contract will be recognized for honors credit toward the diploma; the remaining credits must be earned through honors courses and/or honors learning communities. See the Honors website for details.

Dean’s List

To qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must have completed at least 12 credits of college-level courses during the term and earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher with no grade of “F” or “I”. A Dean’s List is compiled at the end of each term and this accomplishment is noted on the student’s permanent academic record.

Graduation with Distinction


  • A candidate for graduation who has completed requirements for an associate degree may earn the distinction of graduating with honors. To graduate cum laude, a student is required to have a GPA of 3.25 to 3.49 in all college-level courses. A GPA of 3.50 to 3.79 is required for the magna cum laude distinction; and 3.8 to 4.0 GPA for summa cum laude distinction. Only grades for college-level courses earned at Southwest will be used in calculating each student’s GPA for graduation with distinction.
  • A student who has completed a minimum of 15 Honors credits may receive an Honors degree. Credits can be gained either through Honors courses or Honor contracts in regular courses.


Honorary Societies


Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa, a national honorary scholastic fraternity founded in 1918 for community and junior colleges, has established the Upsilon Delta Chapter at Southwest. Invitations to join are extended to all students at the College who have accumulated 12 or more credits toward a degree with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students who are inducted into Phi Theta Kappa have opportunities for leadership, service and fellowship.

Alpha Beta Gamma

Alpha Beta Gamma, an international business honor society established in 1970 to recognize and encourage scholarship among two-year college students in business curricula, has established the Chi Epsilon Chapter at Southwest.  Business students who have a 3.0 GPA and at least 12 hours in courses leading to a business degree are invited to join.

Lambda Epsilon Chi

Lambda Epsilon Chi, the national honor society founded by the American Association for Paralegal Education, has established a chapter at Southwest. Paralegal Studies students who have completed a total of 40 credit hours with 24 credit hours in paralegal courses and a cumulative GPA of 3.5 are invited to join.

Sigma Kappa Delta

Sigma Kappa Delta is the English honor society for two-year colleges.  Sigma Kappa Delta’s central purpose is to confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate studies.  To be eligible, Southwest students must have completed at least 12 college level credit hours, have a minimum gpa of 3.0, and have completed at least one college course in English language or literature earning no grade lower than a B in English.