What About Berkeley and William & Mary?

Submitted on 2011/11/16 at 10:26 am

Why aren’t the University of California at Berkeley and the College of William & Mary included in the list of fifty universities whose honors programs are under review?

Berkeley considers itself an honors university as a whole, and even though it has departmental honors and other programs, it does not offer a separate honors college or program with its own curriculum and separate requirements. Having said this, a prospective student should be confident that Berkeley without an honors program remains the nation’s leading public university. Of the fourteen subject areas (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, business, etc.) being listed in the narrative portion of our guidebook, Berkeley is one of only four public universities that have elite rankings in all fourteen subject areas. (The other three universities, which are covered in the guidebook, are Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin.)

William &Mary is a unique case. With fewer than 6,000 undergraduates, it is by far the smallest of the major public universities in the country, and it is certainly among the best. Even though William & Mary has special honors offerings, the fact that the enrollment is low makes the distinction between being in honors and not being in honors relatively minor. A big part of the appeal of a public honors program is that it makes a big campus seem smaller, more like a liberal arts college planted in a large research university. William & Mary is not, primarily, a research university, and its small size already yields the benefit of more collegiality. W&M, though certainly larger than Wesleyan or Colgate, probably resembles them more than it does the typical research university/liberal arts hybrid.

Finally, if a visit to either Berkeley or William & Mary feels “right” for you, and you are accepted, either one is an excellent choice, regardless of honors programs.