The Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University is the best pubic university honors program in the northeastern United States, providing the strongest state school option for top students in a region that is loaded with elite private colleges.
In fact, Schreyer is among the best public honors programs in the entire nation, according to the recent book, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs. In the major category of Overall Excellence, Schreyer is ranked 8th nationwide and 4th among large honors programs that have more than 1,800 students. Schreyer also ranks 9th in Honors Factors, a category that is more program-specific.
The University of Delaware Honors Program is another great choice in the Northeast, ranking 16th in Overall Excellence and 10th in Honors Factors.
Schreyer is one of only five large honors programs to receive size/quality bonus points for scoring above the median in all three of the most important categories in the book—honors curriculum, prestigious scholarships, and honors graduation rate.
Schreyer has an enrollment of almost 1,900 students, out of a total Penn State undergraduate population of almost 39,000 students. Admission to Schreyer is much more selective than for the university as a whole. The average SAT/ACT for Schreyer is 2070/32, and the average GPA is 4.0.
What makes Schreyer such an excellent option?
- The book (affiliated with this site) cites the extensive, coherent honors curriculum at the college, which requires 32 hours of honors credits taken across all four years and includes an honors thesis.
- The strength of academic departments is another factor. “Especially outstanding departments include earth sciences (6), and engineering (17). Other departments ranked in the top 30 nationally are business and sociology (20), chemistry (21), physics (23), education (26), math, economics (27), computer science and political science (28), and English and psychology (29).”
- Support for undergraduate research is strong. “…the most impressive accomplishment is ranking number one among our sample [of 50 major programs] in Udall Scholars and number two in Goldwater Scholars, adding two more in 2012 alone. These undergraduate awards are evidence of the College’s success in mentoring highly qualified undergraduates interested in research.”
- Funding. Schreyer provides a $4,000 scholarship to all students, not counting the other scholarships they can earn. Schreyer has $55 million in reserve, and can spend about $2.75 million a year of scholarships and programming.
- Satisfaction. Penn State as a whole has a strong record of retention and graduation; Schreyer is even better.
- Credibility. Penn State and Schreyer are recognized for their support in career services and graduate placement rates, with the Princeton Review ranking Penn State career support at number 3 in the country. Schreyer reports that it “is well known and well regarded for the strength of program and quality of our graduates. Our students have a 100% placement in graduate and professional schools and the vast majority get into their first choice.”
- Honors Residential Community. The college says that “Schreyer Scholars also talk about the Honors College being a small community within the larger university. We call it the living-learning community with Atherton and Simmons halls, part of the South Halls residence complex, being what anchors the Schreyer Honors College on campus.””The two halls are located on South Campus, right by College Avenue, a great location for social activities and the closest residence halls to downtown. On College Avenue, students can find bookstores, theaters, pharmacies, pizza and hamburger joints, restaurants, and pubs.”The halls are traditional, meaning that residents share rooms, mostly doubles, and also share corridor bathrooms. Atherton has a 24/7 computer room that has a printer and 29 computer terminals for student use. The Schreyer Honors College administration offices are also in Atherton. The mail room for both halls is in Simmons. Some students consider Simmons to be the best dorm on the entire Penn State campus. Both halls also have a grand piano.”