UC Irvine Honors Program: One of the Best in the West

The Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) at UC Irvine is one of the best in the West, according to our evaluation in the new book A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs.

The CHP is listed as number 7 among the 50 programs we reviewed in one of the major categories, Honors Factors. This category evaluates mostly honors-specific components of honors programs, primarily honors curriculum, but also honors graduation rates, honors dorms, study-abroad programs, and priority registration for honors students.

CHP ranks number 20 in the other major category, Overall Excellence. This category includes a metric for prestigious scholarships, such as Rhodes, Truman, and Goldwater awards. The UC campuses as a group do not do extraordinarily well in prestigious scholarships because the UC system, instead of concentrating excellence in only one or two state flagships, makes it available at multiple campuses, thus diluting to some extent the number of students from each institution who may be able to earn the awards.

The University of Washington Honors Program is sixth in Overall Excellence and thirteenth in Honors Factors.

CHP began in 1988 as a small honors program, and it remains so today with about 700 students enrolled on a campus with an undergraduate enrollment just over 22,000. Admission is selective; the average SAT is 1430, and the average weighted GPA is 4.2. UC Irvine is in the same honors admission group as Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Pitt, UC San Diego, UT Austin, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The honors requirements for the various University of California honors programs are among the most difficult to sort out, but our estimate is that UCI has the best honors program of all the UC campuses because of its coherence and depth. The major components are the honors humanities core, the honors social science core, the honors science core, and the research/thesis requirement.

The strong academic departments at UCI give the university the 17th highest-ranked faculty among the 50 universities we are reviewing, with several departments ranking 36 or higher in a national survey of all universities, public or private. Outstanding departments include English, chemistry, sociology, computer science, psychology, physics, biology, and political science.

The honors housing at UCI scores 7.75 out of 10.0, and has many interesting features.
“The CHP has on-campus Honors Housing options in Middle Earth and Mesa Court residence halls (for entering freshmen), and Arroyo Vista (for non freshmen honors students). While we recommend honors housing as a great way to become involved in an Honors community, it is not required. Students may also choose a non-honors housing option.”

UCI has received national recognition for the average duration of study-abroad experiences by its students. A special page of the Study Abroad Center includes excellent advice for CHP students regarding the best time to travel, the need for a research advisor, and the importance of taking Honors Core courses before studying abroad.

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