Oregon State Honors College: Growing, Always Changing

Update April 2013:  OSU students have won five Goldwater awards valued at $7,500 for undergrad research, in the last two years, making the school one of the leaders in this important category.  In 2013, all three of the Goldwater winners were students in the honors college, along with a fourth student who earned an honorable mention.

The Oregon State Honors College in Corvallis will enroll about 850 total students this Fall, including 300 new arrivals, but it won’t be long until enrollment will increase to about 1,000, a number that seems close to ideal for many universities based on our work thus far.

The Honors College is one of several programs that we may include in an expanded edition of our book, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs.

The minimum admission requirements for freshmen entrants are SAT 1820/ACT 27/unweighted GPA 3.75, but only about 54 percent of applicants are accepted; the actual averages for accepted students are SAT 2027/ACT 31/unweighted GPA 3.95.  The average GPA for transfer students is 3.83 for previous college work.

OSU is on the quarter system, and about 20 percent of the total credit hours applied toward graduation must be in honors courses or research/thesis.  The minimum requirement for freshmen entrants who will become honors scholars is 30 credits, including thesis.  The minimum requirement for transfers and upperclass students is 15 credits, qualifying them as honors associates.

Students on both tracks write a thesis and then can be eligible for the Honors Baccalaureate Degree, awarded jointly by the Honors College and the college of the student’s major.  All honors students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA  at OSU to remain in good standing.

A key element of the honors curriculum is that it changes each year, not regarding total credit requirements but with respect to the courses and emphases determined by the honors faculty.

“The University Honors College creates an entirely new curriculum each academic year featuring some of OSU’s most inspiring teachers and serving many of OSU’s most talented and motivated undergraduates,” the web site says.

Class sizes are limited to 24 students for lower-division classes, and 12 students for upper-division courses.  All courses are taught by professors and not by teaching assistants.   Graduates of the OSU Honors College enjoy a 90 percent acceptance rate into graduate and professional schools.

Honors students are eligible for a limited type of priority registration: they register first among their peers in the same class group (as sophomores, they would register before other sophomores).

In the Fall of 2012, honors students may live in West Hall, a change from previous years, when they were assigned to McNary Hall on the east side of campus.  West Hall is located near a large residential community including five other major residence halls.  It is not far from business, engineering, and forestry buildings.

West Hall features suite style rooms, a shared kitchen, and a computer lab.  For each pair of rooms, there is a shared bathroom.  West Hall is also connected to the Marketplace West dining area, which includes at least seven theme-style cafes.  About two-thirds of incoming honors students will live in West Hall.

OSU is noted for having one of the best forestry schools in the nation, and other high-ranking disciplines are ecology, oceanography, microbiology, nuclear engineering, zoology, public health, food science, and pharmacy.

Along with the University of Oregon, OSU is considered a flagship university, and the schools receives more research funding than all other Oregon colleges combined.