Public University Honors


For readers interested in PSAT scores by state for the NMS class of 2023, please see the data at Compass Prep.

Welcome to the somewhat wonkish, entirely independent Public University Honors site! The site was launched in October 2011. This is the only site on the web that is devoted entirely to the evaluation and discussion of public university honors programs and public honors colleges. Please visit the menu pages or put in a school name or other topic, such as “rankings,” in the Search box above, and go directly to relevant posts. In all, there are more than 400 posts and pages on this site.

Many people start out with the “Top Honors Programs” page, above, or “Rankings, Academic Departments,” or “College Value–Public Honors vs. Private Elites,” or the UPDATED post Rankings, Academic Departments: Private Elites vs Publics. You can go back and forth between these departmental rankings and the specialty rankings for business and engineering as well (below). Another helpful page, especially in the summer and fall, is Choosing an Honors Program: Twenty Questions to Ask.

Below are some recent or widely-read posts out of the 400-plus on the site:

Average and Year by Year US News Rankings for 123 National Universities, 2017-2024. BIG CHANGES!

New: US News Academic Reputation Scores vs Rankings for 99 National Universities, 2015-2023. How much does academic reputation matter? You might be surprised. 

New: Average and Year by Year US News Rankings for 125 National Universities, 2016-2023

Updated: Average and Year by Year US News Rankings 123 National Universities, 2015-2022

News! UGA Honors Program to Become Morehead Honors College with Large Endowment

Honors Merit Scholarships–A Quick Review


Top Honors Colleges and Programs 2020–and for Last Five Years!

The 2020-2021 edition of INSIDE HONORS is now available

U.S. News National University Rankings, 2008–2015

U.S. News Rankings for 57 Leading Universities, 1983–2007

PSAT National Merit Qualifying Scores Class of 2021 (lower than 2020)

Honors Completion Rates: Leading Honors Colleges and Programs

Maintaining “the Honors Difference” During the Pandemic: Virginia Tech Honors College

Some New Honors College Rankings Have Appeared; Here’s our Take

Here Are 75 National Universities Listed in Order of Average Departmental Ranking

Here Are the Honors Colleges and Programs to Be Featured in the 2020 Edition of Inside Honors

International Rankings, Engineering and Tech: Top 70 U.S. Universities

Best Major Universities for National Merit Scholarship Funding–Part Two Updated!!!

U.S. News 2020: Dept Rankings vs Academic Rep vs Overall Rankings–Plus Social Mobility

Updated: Final National Merit Semifinalist Cutoff Scores, Class of 2020

Application Deadlines for 100 Honors Programs–Updated for Fall 2020

What Are the Differences Between an Honors and a Non-Honors Undergraduate Education?

Are Apartment-Style Residences Really Better than Traditional Corridor Dorms?

University of South Florida Genshaft Honors College Receives a Total of $23 Million from Outgoing USF President

The New College Board ‘Adversity Score’ Explained

Goldwater Scholarships Are a Big Deal–and a Bigger Deal Going Forward!

Choosing an Honors Program: 20 Questions to Ask

Here’s Why We Don’t Use Test Scores in Rating Honors Programs

Are Public Honors Programs Shifting too Much Toward ‘Experiential Learning’?

Talk About Rigorous: New UT Austin Honors Program in Computer Science AND Business

 Fall Application Deadlines for 80 Public University Honors Colleges and Programs

The Academic Reputation of 155 National Universities (and What That Means for Honors)

Updated: National Merit Qualifying Selection Scores, Class of 2019

Understanding the FOUR Types of Honors Classes

Honors Completion Rates: ‘A Dirty Little Secret’ or a (Very) Complicated Issue?

Honors Completion Rates: A Statistical Summary

Here is a Formula for Evaluating Honors Completion Rates

UT Austin Announces Significant Increase in Financial Aid

Florida Atlantic University Wilkes Honors College is Full-on Honors

The Ten Qualities of a ‘Liberally’ Educated Person

Changes in Dept Rankings, 2014–2018

Will Florida Become the New Mecca for National Merit Scholars?

University of South Florida (USF) Honors College: Brand New Housing, Excellent Merit Awards

Updated: Academic Dept Rankings, PLUS Reputation Rankings, PLUS U.S. News Overall Rankings, all in One Post

Will Honors Colleges Become the Last, Best Hope for Humanities and ‘Civic Education’?

Best Undergrad Business Programs, by Specialty, Public and Private

Best Undergrad Engineering Programs, by Specialty, Public and Private

Kiplinger Best College Value Publics 2018

The SAT “Confirming” Test for National Merit Semifinalists: What Is It?

PSAT Scores and National Merit Eligibility

Rhodes Scholars 2010: More Breadth, Less Ivy Dominance

Should Honors Colleges Charge Extra? If So, How Much?

The National Merit Journey: What You Need to Know, Part One

The National Merit Journey Part Two: The Parent’s Role

PSAT Qualifying Scores for Class of 2018, by State, Compared to 2017 Scores

UPDATE: Support for National Merit Scholars Shifting to South and West

Best Universities for National Merit Scholar Funding, Updated!

Here Are the Public Universities That Award the Most Non-need-based Aid

How Much Should Public Universities Spend on Merit Aid?

Honors Plus Merit Aid: Alabama Honors College

Honors Plus Strong Merit Aid: ASU Barrett Honors College

Honors Plus Merit Aid: Ohio State Honors

Stamps Scholarships Are Only for Certain Colleges, and They Are Not Need-Based

The Curious Case of U.S. News and the High School Counselor Metric

U.S. News Rankings, Minus the Financial Padding Metrics

This is the Best Analysis of U.S. News Rankings Ever Written (with a political slant, but the analysis of ranking factors is excellent).

Based on Academic Reputation Alone, Publics Would Be Higher in U.S. News Rankings

The Academic Reputation Ranking in U.S. News: What It Means for Honors Students

U.S. News Rankings at Odds with Quality of Academic Departments

New U.S. College Rankings: Wall St Journal Partners with Times Highered

U.S. News Publication: Honors Programs Are Good for “Families Too Rich for Financial Aid”

Georgetown Prof on Finding Best Teaching, Mentoring: Consider an Honors College (with a nod to INSIDE HONORS)

Top Honors Programs

Top Honors Programs, Honors Components Only

Ah, the Choices: Private Elite, Liberal Arts, Public Honors–One Family’s Story

Inside Honors: Class Sizes, Classes by Discipline, Sections Per Student

How Many of Those Honors Classes Are Restricted to Honors Students Only?

Does Participation in an Honors Programs Lower GPAs?

Here’s a List of Business Honors Programs

Honors Colleges, Honors Programs: Differences Revisited

Honors Education: An Antidote to the “Neo-liberal,” Vocational Trends in Higher Ed

The Issue of “Elitism” in Honors Colleges and Programs

The New Yorker on the Real Value of a College Education

Estimated Class Sizes for More than 90 National Universities

Q and A with Inaugural Dean of Lewis Honors College at U of Kentucky

This Site Claims That Elite Colleges Are “Desperate” for History Majors, a New “Preferred” Group? (Click on video at site.) For another view please check out this piece:

“Can Applying Under a Certain Major Affect Your Chances of Admissions?”

Here is the best source of admission stats you can find for Fall 2016, at Higher Ed Data Stories.

Top 25 Universities for Silicon Valley Hires: 17 Are Public

Money Best Values 2017: CUNY Baruch, Michigan, UC’s, UVA Lead Publics

Goldwater Scholars 2017: Alabama, Iowa State Lead Publics but Regional Publics Do Well

UC Berkeley, UT Austin Lead Publics in 2017 NSF Graduate Research Grants

Is It True that 80% of Elite Students Are Accepted by Elite Colleges?

Here’s The Business Journals’ Top 100 Public Colleges–and our Analysis

‘Reformers’ Cite Productivity as the Reason for Higher Ed Cuts: Here’s What They Don’t Understand

Florida, Maryland, Washington Will Soon Use Only the New Coalition App

Never Mistake an Elite [Honors] Education for Elitism

Most UT Austin Forty Acres Scholars Major in Plan II or Business Honors

Virginia Tech Will Move from Honors Program to New Honors College

UT System Chancellor Opposes Top 10 Percent Admission Rule

Iowa Student, with Honors Mentoring, Wins Rhodes, Truman, Boren, and Udall Awards

UGA Honors Student: Honors Mentoring, Research Lead to 2016 Marshall Scholarship

Do Elite Colleges Really Offer Better Courses? Probably Yes, in Some Ways

We Vote for the U.S. News Global Rankings vs the Times Higher Ed World Rankings

Kentucky to Open New Lewis Honors College with Gift of $23 Million

International Higher Ed Expert: “Un-Excellence Initiatives” Aimed at Public Universities Harm U.S. Standing in the World

Best Colleges for Pell Grant Support and High Grad Rates for Recipients

UT Austin Business Honors Program: A Great Launching Pad

Thoughts on NY Times Letters about Honors Colleges

Texas A&M BBA Honors Program: Selective and Rigorous

Is Class Rank a “Disappearing Metric” for College Admissions?

Honors and Career Success

The Top Ten Percent Rule in Texas: Highly Questionable Results

Here Are 23 Reasons for College Choice–and a Note on Honors Options

Once Again, The New Republic Weighs in on the Ivies, and Here’s our Response

Note to Parents: Changes in Major, Uncertainty about Careers Are Common

Gallup and Purdue Study: Well-Being for Grads Requires More than Income

Honors Programs with Lots of Honors Courses–and Small Classes

Honors College, Honors Program: What’s the Difference

Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League–from The New Republic

“Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League”–Our Response


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