Miami of Ohio Honors Program: Flexibility and High Achievement

In our continuing series of profiles on honors programs that we would have liked to include in our book, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs, we will discuss in this post the well-known honors program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

An early post complimented Miami Honors for their up-front stats showing the achievements (in the form of placement percentages) of their most recent class of graduating honors students.   So before describing the details of the program, we are listing the Miami web site stats for placement rates for the 2011 class below:

Law School: 100% placement (national average 69%)

Medical School: 85% placement (national average 45%)

Acceptance to Grad School: 94% (national avg not listed)

Job Prior to Graduation:  86% (national avg <56%)

Four-year Grad Rate:  98% (national average <56%)

The Miami program does not list a rigid set of admission requirements, but the average test scores are SAT 1340/ACT 30/GPA 4.0.   A few students, however, are admitted with significantly lower test scores, if they have outstanding qualities in other areas, such as leadership, academic awards, and volunteer activities.

Like some other honors curricula we have reviewed, the Miami requirements are extremely flexible, with credit assigned for “honors experiences” rather than  honors courses alone, although honors courses are the basic elements of honors experiences.  And, following a trend in honors education, students have to prepare and submit for review annual online portfolios that organize and summarize what they have learned.

Honors experiences include small, interactive seminars, research, study abroad, undergrad teaching assistantships, graduate courses, leadership projects, and internships.  Honors portfolios must demonstrate progress in six areas: written communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, intercultural understanding, and reflection (self-understanding). Students must complete at least nine experiences.

Note: Readers may want to see our recent post on “College Learning Assessment (CLA): Rationale for Honors?” in which we discuss the ways that honors curricula already enhance critical thinking and writing skills that college reformers often advocate.

Honors housing is important at MU because students are required to live on campus during the first two years.

“Although members of the University Honors Program eventually move all across campus, most have one thing in common: they spent their first year living in Tappan or Emerson Hall,” one student reports.

Tappan Hall is located on South Quad and is close to Harris Dining Hall, an all you care to eat location, and Scott Hall, which houses Encore and Ovations food courts.  South Quad is not  the most central location on campus, but, as another student says, the “location is great…for all the ‘good stuff’ (Rec Center, Hamilton Dining Hall, Shriver  Center, Western Campus…”

Most rooms are corridor style with communal baths and shared double rooms.  It appears that at least some of the rooms are air-conditioned, and there are a few suite-style rooms as well.