NCHC Conference: UC Irvine Develops Exemplary Transfer Option for CC Honors Students

Already recognized as a leader among major public universities for the quality of its Campuswide Honors Program (CHP), the University of California-Irvine has also made a success of the “honors to honors” program that helps to guide high-performing community college students to CHP.

Before honors to honors, the number of community college transfers into CHP was extremely low, in the range of one or two students a year.  Now, 20 to 30 community college honors students are welcomed into CHP, and the best news of all is that they perform as well as, or in some areas better than, the “native” students in the program.

Successful transfer students into CHP must be nominated by their community college honors program.  At first, the CHP pilot honors to honors program had partnerships with only eight community colleges in California, but now the number has risen to 14.  To be nominated by one of these institutions, students must have a 3.7 g pa.  Then, since they are nominated in the middle of a term, CHP does an additional review when the student’s final grades for the term are available.

The honors transfer students fall into two basic types: students who are about the same age as juniors who entered the program as freshmen, and students who are older or “non-traditional” students.

CHP has tried with varying results to find ways to connect the freshman entrants with the transfer students, especially with the non-traditional students, but there can be significant differences between the groups.  On the other hand, the transfer students are themselves a part of the honors experience for freshman entrants because of the special experiences the non-traditional students have had.

Over the past few years, CHP has learned that the factors below are often involved:

–The quarter system can be confusing to transfer students who have been on the semester system.

–Study and writing skills for some transfer students may not be fully developed.

–The family responsibilities of transfer students are often very demanding.

–Transfer students may be more stressed, upset, or even depressed.

–They are also more likely to have job responsibilities.

Yet despite these differences, Lisa Roetzel, associate director of CHP, says that transfers perform as well and graduate as promptly as freshmen entrants, and they tend to be even more receptive to the thesis requirement, in part because many have already made plans for graduate school.  Transfer students also take full advantage of the increased faculty contacts afforded by CHP.

CHP advisor Mary Gillis has created a special schedule for transfer advising, including the use of paid peer advisors who are successful transfer students themselves.  The special advising also includes GRE preparation and counseling for degree planning.

The first semester advising is generally focused more on support, encouragement, and efforts to make the transfer students a part of the overall honors community.  Transfers are eligible for honors housing and priority registration, just like freshman entrants.

Since about half of UCI’s students now are first-generation college students, the matchup with outstanding community college scholars may be more feasible, as many of them too are the first members of their families to attend college.

One result of UCI’s close partnership with community colleges is that many of the best honors students from the two-year schools are choosing UCI honors instead of honors or regular admission at other UC campuses.

Univ of Oklahoma Honors College: Not Only about the Money

The University of Oklahoma at Norman is well-known for the generosity it shows to National Merit Finalists and other applicants of exceptional ability, and the McClendon Honors College at the university appears to be as generous while offering enhanced living and learning opportunities as well.

Although the honors program at OU goes back to 1962, a series of reorganizations that resulted in the Honors College did not occur until 1997.  We estimate that the college now enrolls approximately 2,000 students, placing it in the category of “large” programs with enrollments greater than 1,800.

The college requires a minimum SAT of 1330 or a score of 30 on the ACT, along with a GPA of at least 3.75 or a high school class rank in the top 10 percent. Freshman applicants must also submit a 400-500 word essay. Transfer students and those with more than 15 hours of credits at OU may apply if they have a college GPA of at least 3.40.

The honors college is unusual because of the extent of financial grants that it can bestow on especially talented students. Among the scholarships available (even to out-of-state students) through the OU Scholars office are the Award of Excellence Scholarship and the Regents Scholarship, each of which provides a tuition waiver of $2,500 per semester, up to eight semesters, for a total value of $20,000. The awards also provide up to $1,250 for summmer school tuition.

The Honor Scholars awards provide tuition waivers of $1,750 per semester for eight semesters, for a total value of $14,000. University Scholars can receive a $2,500 tuition waiver for one year.

As for non-resident National Merit Finalists, the term “free ride” comes to mind.  Here is what OU offers:

“The following scholarship package is guaranteed to every non-resident National Merit Finalist who names OU as his/her college of first choice with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation:

“Oklahoma Academic Scholars Programs $22,000

  • $2,750 per semester/$5,500 per year for four years to help offset the costs of fees, books, room & board
  • Funded by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
  • Funds will be deposited into billing account
  • Can be used toward any graduate/professional program at OU if funds remain after completion of undergraduate degree
  • Must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA and be enrolled full-time

“Non-Resident Tuition Waiver (estimated) $55,000

  • Waives 100% of non-resident tuition
  • May be used for five years (fall, spring and summer)
  • Can be used toward any graduate/professional program at OU if funds remain after completion of undergraduate degree
  • Must maintain a 2.8 cumulative GPA and be enrolled full-time

“Resident Tuition Waiver $10,000

  • $1,000 each fall and spring semester/$2,000 per year for five years
  •  Can be used toward any graduate/professional program at OU if funds remain after completion of undergraduate degree
  • Must maintain a 2.8 cumulative GPA and be enrolled full-time
  • National Merit Cash Stipend $5,000

But once the dollars stop swirling about our heads, the honors college itself has many advantages.  The curriculum requires about 25 hours of honors credit, including a thesis.  Honors students can choose to live in Boren Hall, where many honors classes are also held and where the honors college offices are housed.  Honors classes are generally limited to 22 students or less.

Boren Hall is a traditional double-room, corridor bath dorm, a part of Cate Center, which also has dining facilities.  Honors students may also choose to live in the Global Community, in Couch Center; in the National Merit residence in Walker Center; or in the Scholastic, Quiet Lifestyle, Co-ed Upperclass halls.  All but Boren appear to be suite-style.




Transfer to Honors: Delaware, Washington, UT Austin

In our continuing series on the transfer requirements of public honors programs, this post will list the requirements of the University of Delaware, the University of Washington, and the University of Texas at Austin.  A previous post discussed the transfer requirements for honors programs at Arizona State, Penn State, Georgia, UC Irvine, and Michigan.

Delaware: Transfer students with outstanding academic records from another institution apply for Honors through the University’s application for admission. For more information, call the Admissions Office at (302) 831-8123.

Students at UD who did not apply or who were not admitted to Honors as incoming freshmen are eligible to take honors courses on a space-available basis if they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 or higher in at least 12 credits at UD.

For full admission to the honors program, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.40 and must also have completed at least two honors courses with a grade of B or better.  Two letters of recommendation from UD faculty are also required.  The committee reviews applications twice a year; the deadlines for submitting applications are October 15 and March 15.

Washington: Transfer students who have been admitted to UW and have either participated in honors programs at their previous institution or who have strong college academic records are eligible to apply to Interdisciplinary Honors. Transfer student admission to the Interdisciplinary Honors Program is selective, due to limited space availability.

“Because Interdisciplinary Honors requires students to complete 47 credits of general education coursework, students who have already earned an Associates degree, or who have fulfilled the UW’s Areas of Knowledge requirements through their transfer credits are not eligible to apply. In order to determine this, those interested in entering the Honors Program must wait until they have been admitted to the University of Washington and had their transcript evaluated for UW credit before applying to Honors. Those not eligible for Interdisciplinary Honors may instead be eligible to apply for Departmental Honors in their chosen major(s). Contact the Departmental adviser for admission information and requirements.”

Applicants may be able to enroll in some Honors courses before they are formally accepted into the Program. See an Honors advisor regarding which Honors courses might be available to you.

UT Austin Plan II: Unfortunately, over-enrollment issues have forced Plan II Honors to suspend transfer admissions for the last four semesters and onward.   There is a very strong chance that Plan II Honors will NOT reinstate transfer admissions.

If Plan II does reinstate transfer admission in the future, “it’s important for prospective transfer applicants to note that Plan II is, primarily a four-year freshman program.”  Therefore, any transfer policy would exclude students who have completed 45 or more (classroom) credit hours at the time they would begin Plan II if admitted.

“The 45-hour maximum is because Plan II Honors has a core curriculum which is front-loaded.  More Plan II requirements are scheduled in the the first two years of the program than the second two years.  Additionally, the core curriculum requirements progress from year to year and course to course.  We do not accept substitutes for our core courses.  That maximum applies to classroom hours, not to hours earned through testing.”

However, the separate Dean’s Scholars Honors Program at UT Austin and the Health Science Honors Program do consider a small number of transfer applicants each year.  Dean’s Scholars are extremely gifted students who want to study science and mathematics.

The Health Sciences Honors Program is for those interested in medical careers.   Both of these programs consider applications from second and third semester students.

Finally, the Business Honors Program at UT Austin admits a limited number of students who have completed their freshman year of college.  The BHP accepts applications from students currently enrolled in UT’s McCombs School of Business, other UT colleges (internal transfers), or students enrolled at a university other than UT-Austin (external transfers).

All students interested in applying as a sophomore transfer need to complete a BHP Sophomore Application.  External transfer applicants must also apply to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin.  Internal Transfer students must also apply for acceptance to the McCombs School of Business.

“The following criteria are used to evaluate sophomore candidates:

    • Number and academic challenge of courses taken (min. 24 hours)
    • Earned (non-placement) GPA for the first year courses
    • Evidence of college-level extracurricular activities and leadership
    • Personal statement
    • Professional resume
    • One letter of recommendation
    • Phone interview with BHP alumnus ( by invitation only throughout June)”



Transfer to an Honors Program: Possible, but Be Prepared

Honors colleges and programs allow transfers from other universities, but high GPAs in challenging courses must be a part of the transfer plan. Some programs also require at least one interview for prospective transfer students.

We will write a series of posts on the varying transfer requirements, and the next edition of A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs may include transfer requirements as a part of each profile.

In this post, we will look at the transfer requirements of the honors programs at Michigan, Penn State, Georgia, Arizona State, and UC Irvine.

Michigan:  The LSA Honors Program does not list a required GPA, but based on GPA requirements for transfers at similar programs, we estimate that the GPA would need to be in the 3.75 range in challenging courses.  An interview, by appointment, with a representative in the major department is required.

“Students who transfer to University of Michigan and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) with junior standing (55 credits or more) may be considered for the Honors Program by their concentration (major) departments. You should contact the department early in your first semester in LSA and ask about making an appointment with a concentration advisor. Make sure you mention that you are interested in doing an Honors concentration.”

“During your appointment with the concentration advisor, you and the advisor will consider your background, academic preparation, and your interests and decide whether an Honors concentration is right for you. If you do declare an Honors concentration, you will be a member of the Honors Program, and we urge you toschedule an appointment with an Honors general advisor to discuss your academic plans and your opportunities as a member of the Honors community.”

Penn State Schreyer Honors College:  Transfers who have at least one full semester at Penn State may be eligible to apply to Schreyer through the college’s Gateway Program.

“The SHC requires Gateway applicants to have:

  1. at least one full-time semester of study completed at Penn State
  2. a minimum of four full-time semesters of study remaining before graduation
  3. a cumulative GPA of 3.70 or higher at the time of application
  4. an application-semester GPA of 3.50 or higher for rising juniors and 3.70 for rising sophomores

“The criteria stated here are minimums set by the SHC.  In some cases, additional criteria for Gateway entry have also been established by the academic unit (e.g., higher cumulative GPA, specific courses, declaration of major, etc).   The online application form includes additional criteria for your academic unit.  In all cases, the department or academic college reviews applications and makes decisions which are communicated to applicants by the SHC.”

Georgia:  “To be eligible for Honors, transfer students must have completed at least 30 transferable hours of graded academic credit and must have at least a 3.75 transfer GPA. Transfer acceptances will be determined on a space-available basis.

“Transfer students must apply to the Honors Program prior to their first term at the University of Georgia. Transfer students must submit a complete application by the postmark deadline specified on the application to be eligible for acceptance.”

Arizona State, Barrett Honors College: Transfers from other colleges should have at least a 3.60 GPA.   The average SAT for freshmen admits is 1310, and the ACT average is 29.

“Lower Division Entry is generally reserved for students who apply to Barrett during the fall of their senior year of high school seeking enrollment as incoming freshmen. Those individuals already in their first semester at ASU and students in their first semester at another university or college looking to transfer to ASU may also seek Lower Division Entry for the second semester of their first year. The Lower Division honors curriculum is designed for students spending four years at ASU and Barrett.

“Upper Division Entry is specifically designed for those individuals who have completed approximately half of their undergraduate degree program and is geared at enrollment during the start of what is traditionally considered the junior year. The Barrett Upper Division academic requirements are designed for completion over the course of a student’s final four ASU semesters, not including winter and summer intersessions.”

UC Irvine: The Campuswide Honors Program (CHP) at Irvine makes specific provision for the possible transfer of some community college students into the program.

“Students eligible for Honors to Honors must attend a participating community college, have a GPA of 3.7 or better, and have successfully completed their community college Honors Program. Participating community colleges in this pilot program are: Cerritos College, Citrus College, Cypress College, Fullerton College, Golden West College, Irvine Valley College, Long Beach City College, Mt. San Antonio College, Orange Coast College, Pasadena City College, Rio Hondo College, Saddleback College, Santa Ana College, Santa Barbara College, Santa Monica College, and Santiago College.

“All other transfer students are invited to apply to the CHP prior to matriculation at UCI, or after they have completed at least one quarter at UCI. To apply you must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.5. (Please note that students who are admitted to the CHP often have GPAs higher than the minimum required for consideration.)”