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Commonwealth Honors Program

777 Elsbree Street
Fall River, MA 02720

Kimberly Amaral Newton
Commonwealth Honors Program Coordinator



The Commonwealth Honors Program (CHP) at Bristol offers tremendous opportunities now, and in the future, for highly motivated students looking to challenge themselves intellectually.

honors program seal

Learn about the Honors Program

CHP allows you, no matter what your discipline or program, to create customized experiences that meet your own interests and needs. By working one-on-one with faculty, Honors will help you craft intellectually stimulating experiences and projects that point towards future goals. These mentor relationships can enhance your experience at the College and make yourself a more attractive candidate for transfer to selective four-year institutions.

The CHP offers four different types of experiences:

  • The Honors Course is an enhanced section of a general education course. These vary by semester and location.
  • The Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar is only open to students in the CHP.
  • The Honors Component Course is a regular Bristol course in which the CHP student works with the instructor of the course to design enriched personalized experiences that earn the student honors credit for the course.
  • The Culminating Honors Project is a one-credit honors project required of all CHP students to graduate as a Commonwealth Honors Program Scholar. It is directed by a faculty member and involves independent research. It could grow out of an honors course, or be developed separately. Students are encouraged to present their projects publicly at Bristol and/or at conferences.‌

Interested in trying out the Commonwealth Honors Program?

Anyone is welcome to try out any 100-level honors course to get a feel for what the work is like, without formally being in the Commonwealth Honors Program. These courses approach the material through a unique lens or focus. Once your GPA reaches 3.45 and you have completed at least 12 credits in a degree program, you would then be eligible to officially enroll in the Honors Program.

If you are interested in joining the Commonwealth Honors Program, click here to fill out an application. You will then be sent a pathway for completing the program, and there is no obligation should you decide later in your college career to not complete the program.

There are many benefits to being a Commonwealth Honors student:

  • Building community with other students of similar curiosity and desire for intellectual pursuit
  • Delving deeply into areas of study
  • Working closely with faculty members who are experts in their fields
  • A great résumé builder
  • Enhanced advisement for competitive transfer/scholarship opportunities to colleges and universities
  • Automatic acceptance to UMass and Massachusetts State Universities’ Honors Programs upon successful completion at Bristol
  • An honors-designated cord to wear with your graduation regalia
  • A $1,000 stipend upon graduation

If you choose to complete the program requirements and graduate as Commonwealth Honors Scholars, you are guaranteed admission to the Commonwealth Honors Programs at any Massachusetts public college or university. Honors students are not required to complete these graduation requirements, however, and may participate in a choice of experiences.

Other opportunities for students in the CHP:
  • Attendance at academic workshops and cultural events
  • Participation with others in community service
  • Participation in the CHP Advisory Board (with CHP faculty reference)

Interested in trying out the Commonwealth Honors Program? It's never too early, as all are welcome to enroll in one of our 100-level honors courses. 

Once you have accumulated at least 12 credits in a degree program at Bristol (or transferred in from another college) with a GPA of 3.45 or above, you can formally apply to the program. 

But your honors journey can start from day one at Bristol! Click here to see the recommended honors courses for your particular major. 

Reach out to the honors coordinator at for an individualized honors pathway if you have already started your courses at Bristol.

In order to graduate as a Commonwealth Honors Scholar, you must:

  1. Graduate from an associate degree program at Bristol.
  2. Finish with a GPA of 3.45 or better.
  3. Complete a minimum of four CHP experiences, which must include:
    1. At least one Honors Seminar: This is a course that is only open to students officially enrolled in the CHP. Generally, the class size is smaller and the work intensive in the subject area.
    2. Completing the HON 260 course: This is a Culminating Project, completed in your LAST semester before graduation. In HON 260, a student selects a faculty mentor and writes a proposal for a special project of the student’s interest at an honors level.
    3. Two other CHP experiences: Any honors seminar, course or component. 
      An honors course is open to students who would like to try out honors work but might not yet have the 3.45 GPA. Students with at least a 3.0 GPA and an “A” in English 101 are welcome to try any honors course. 
      An honors component is a way to make any course reach honors level. With the agreement of the course instructor, the student and faculty will write a component proposal that effectively makes a non-honors course honors level for that particular student. Components may be created when a particular course/ discipline does not offer honors-level work or if a student joins the program on the later side of their time at Bristol.
  4. Complete a CHP Intent to Graduate Form and turn it in to the director of the CHP in your last semester. (Notify the coordinator in the spring for a summer graduation.)

Some students enter the program immediately out of high school. Others are returning students who have been away from high school for some time, or who discover their excellent academic abilities while at Bristol. You must meet at least one of the following requirements, depending on your situation. Fill out the application here.

  • Current Bristol student with a minimum 3.45 cumulative GPA with at least 12 college-level Bristol credits, or
  • High school graduate within five years of high school graduation: Minimum combined SAT score of 1220 or ACT score of 25, or
  • High school graduate within one year after high school graduation: graduate in the top 20 percent of high school class, or
  • Transfer student within one year of attendance at another college: minimum 3.45 GPA from the sending college with at least 12 college level credits, or
  • Student transferring in good standing from another CHP, or
  • High score on Bristol computerized placement test (given to entering day students upon admission), or
  • Other documented experience which demonstrates the potential for honors level work.

The list of honors course offerings is always being improved to meet the needs of our CHP students in a variety of programs. Examples of courses offered as honors experiences are listed below: 

  • BIO 121 Honors: Fundamentals of Biological Science
  • COM 104 Honors: Fundamentals of Public Speaking
  • ENG 101 Honors: College Writing I
  • ENG 102 Honors: College Writing II
  • HST 114 Honors: History After 1877
  • HUM 264: Honors Seminar Remembering the Holocaust in Literature and History
  • HUM 291: Honors Seminar in Postmodern Studies
  • PSY 295: Honors Seminar in Community Leadership
  • SCI 251: Honors Seminar in Emerging Paradigms in Science, Humanities, and Culture

View Current Honors Course and Seminar Offerings

Visit the Transfer and PTK Scholarships page for more information.

Still have questions before you fill out our on-line dynamic application form? Please take a few moments to read this detailed information to determine if the Honors Program is right for you.

Do you have at least two semesters left?

The Honors Program requires you to complete four Honors courses, taking no more than two per semester. You need at least two semesters to complete the four courses. Most courses run during the fall and spring semesters.

Do you have room in your major?

Some majors have more room to allow for Honors courses than others. The ideal is to have an Honors course also be a match for something you need for your major. For example, if you need ENG 102 and you take ENG 102 Honors, that one course will fulfill both categories. For students who don’t have a lot of matches in their major, you may elect to take the courses anyway, but be aware that Financial Aid may not cover them and they may add time and cost onto your program.

What if I have no matches left?

In certain circumstances, you may be able to complete an Honors component in one or two courses. A component is where you ask a professor of an ordinary course to make that course Honors-level for you via a proposed special project that grows from the work of the course. Components are limited to those students in programs who would not be able to complete Honors otherwise. Components are limited to two maximum. If an Honors section exists, you must take that section. For example, if you wanted to do a component in ENG 102, you would be refused because we offer a whole section of ENG 102 Honors.

How do I sign up for Honors courses?

Once you enroll in Honors via the application and are accepted, you will receive an Honors course menu in your Bristol email shortly before the registration period opens up.

Which four courses do I need to complete the program?

You need:
  1. At least one 200-level Honors seminar (choose PSY 295, SCI 251, HUM 264, HUM 291, HST 260)
  2. HON 260 in your final semester
  3. A third Honors course, either 100-level, 200-level or component
  4. A fourth Honors course, either 100-level, 200-level or component

I want to join. What’s my next step?

  1. Fill out the application
  2. Once it is reviewed and processed, you may register for Honors courses
  3. You may want to consult with your assigned advisor.


Please contact Professor Kimberly Newton, Honors Program Coordinator

Honors Showcase - Students Discuss Their Final Projects

Each semester, our graduating Commonwealth Honors Scholars present their culminating projects at our Honors Showcase which is open to the public. 

View Recent and Past Showcase Projects

Honors Seminar Course Spotlight

Student Profiles: Shiv Thakur

Student Profiles_Shiv ImageShiv Kuma Thakur came to the United States from Nepal by himself at 19 years old on a lottery visa with ambition and a vision.

He quickly enrolled, simultaneously, in the college’s English as a Second Language (ESL) and college-level science and mathematics courses, in addition to supporting his education with two part-time jobs.

Hear Shiv's story here

Student Profiles: Paul Vermette II

Student Profiles Paul Vermette ImageIt was a winding road to get to college for Paul Vermette II, 23, of New Bedford. Once a high school drop-out, Paul is now ‌graduating from Bristol Community College with highest honors, numerous scholarships and a half dozen acceptance letters from prestigious institutions across the country. 

In his sophomore year of high school, Paul’s best friend died in a car accident. Paul had been struggling in school, and the loss of his friend put him over the edge. He dropped out and began jumping from one minimum wage job to the next.

Hear Paul's story here

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