Top Honors Programs!

Below are the highest-rated honors colleges and programs that are included in INSIDE HONORS: Ratings and Reviews of Sixty Public University Honors Programs. A total of 50 programs were rated, while 10 received unrated summary reviews.

You may also be interested in these additional ratings.  INSIDE HONORS represents our best effort (the third one) to rate public honors colleges and programs. Until we learn of changes that would significantly affect our ratings, we do not plan to publish another review.

Here are the honors colleges and programs that received the highest overall rating of 5.0 “mortarboards,” listed in alphabetical order:

Arizona State, Barrett Honors College
Clemson, Calhoun Honors College
CUNY, Macaulay Honors College
Georgia Honors Program
Houston (U of H) Honors College
Kansas University Honors Program
New Jersey Inst of Technology (NJIT), Albert Dorman  Honors College
Oregon, Clark Honors College
Penn State, Schreyer Honors College
South Carolina Honors College
UT Austin Plan II Honors Program

Although we do not individually rank the honors colleges and programs, all of the the 11 honors colleges and programs above rank in the top 10 group, including ties.

Honors colleges and programs that received 4.5 mortarboards include the University of Central Florida Burnett Honors College, New Mexico Honors College, the Oklahoma State Honors College, Temple Honors Program, Ole Miss SMB Honors College, Arkansas Honors College, Delaware Honors Program, UC Irvine Campuswide Honors Program, and Honors Carolina at UNC Chapel Hill.

CUNY Macaulay, Houston, and NJIT were not rated previously. Oregon’s Clark Honors College and Clemson’s Calhoun Honors College have moved up to a 5 mortarboard rating. In the 2014 edition, the Michigan LSA Honors Program and the Echols Scholars Program at the University of Virginia were rated, and both received an overall rating of 5 mortarboards. They are not rated in INSIDE HONORS, but the book does have summary reviews of both.

They are undoubtedly great choices for those who can gain acceptance, but the (mostly) public data we used in the past two editions to rate these programs is no longer sufficient now that we have much more actual data on hand from other programs.

Along with these two programs, we will not rate UCLA and Wisconsin as well because we lack internal data from UCLA, and the data we have from Wisconsin does not match our revised format.

All of the above programs are an excellent addition to their universities; but UVA, UCLA, and Michigan are already flooded with extremely well-qualified applicants, and for many the presence of an honors program might not be a deciding factor. Wisconsin is completely in line with other public elites such as Illinois, UT Austin, and Washington, all three of which we are rating. For these schools, honors can contribute to the decision to attend by the most able applicants. Along with Wisconsin, they are somewhat less selective than Michigan, etc. We wish we could include Wisconsin, but such is not the case.

Like Michigan and UVA, Wisconsin receives a “summary” review in the new book, with full descriptions but no ratings; nine other programs will also have summary reviews.

That a program is included among the fifty DOES NOT mean the program is among the “top fifty in the country,” though many of them surely are. Each year we select a somewhat different group of programs to review.

It is also important to note that programs not listed above can still have 5 mortarboard ratings in one or more of a dozen rating categories.  A relatively high number of programs are roughly equivalent overall, but typically have highly significant differences in financial aid, and in category ratings (class size, range and type of honors courses, graduation rates, priority registration, honors dorms, etc.).  There are many outstanding public honors colleges and programs in all sections of the nation, and some of the best programs are in universities that are not ranked extremely high by U.S. News, making those programs strong “value-added” options.

INSIDE HONORS also has much more information about merit scholarships than the 2014 edition included. Since 2012, we have either ranked or rated 84 public university honors colleges or programs. (Of the 84 programs, 28 have been ranked or rated in all three editions.) After the 2012 edition, we began using ratings instead of rankings. It is not that our present methodology could not be used to rank programs–in fact, it is more in-depth than that used by other college rankings and ratings, given that its focus is on a relatively small number of programs.




Leave a Reply