Top Honors Programs

Our evaluations of fifty leading public university honors programs are now complete. So…below please see a list of honors colleges and programs that are especially good options for talented students .

We believe that both listings below need to be considered in order to have a reasonably complete view of honors programs. OVERALL EXCELLENCE incorporates more university-wide data than the HONORS FACTORS list includes. Some of the most highly-regarded public universities will do especially well in OVERALL EXCELLENCE because of greater selectivity regarding the student body as a whole, while other public universities will excel in more specific honors features, such as those listed below. Please review our Methodology page to have a better understanding of the lists below.

Below are the top five in the category of OVERALL EXCELLENCE and the equally important category of HONORS FACTORS.

The first list below shows the programs that scored the highest when the following criteria were used to evaluate OVERALL EXCELLENCE: honors curriculum; prestigious undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships of the university as a whole; honors graduation rates; honors housing; study-abroad programs; and priority registration. Large programs with more than 1,700 honors students also receive bonus points for strong performance in curriculum, scholarships, and graduation rates. Retention and graduation rates were estimated when we received no data from universities.

The leading public university honors programs in OVERALL EXCELLENCE are the following:

1. University of Michigan LSA Honors Program
2. University of Virginia Echols Scholars Program
3. University of Texas at Austin Plan II Honors Program
4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Honors Carolina
5. Arizona State University Barrett Honors College

This next list shows programs according to their HONORS FACTORS only, meaning that the university-wide data for prestigious scholarships is not included. One reason for this second list is that some universities face a much greater hurdle in doing well in prestigious scholarships because they operate in the orbit of major private elite schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. Another reason is that some programs, especially the newer ones, are a part of universities that have not emphasized scholarship competition until recently.

The leading honors programs in HONORS FACTORS only are these:

1. University of South Carolina Honors College
2. University of Michigan LSA Honors Program
3. University of Texas at Austin Plan II Honors Program
4. Arizona State University Barrett Honors College
5. University of Georgia Honors Program

Revised, July 16, 2012.

Please see our March posts for additional lists of schools, by SAT admission requirements.