Elite Public Business Programs: Michigan, Virginia, UNC, and UT Austin

The four pubic university undergraduate business programs that appear near the top of many rankings are those at the universities of Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina Chapel Hill, and UT Austin.

All four are highly selective, especially the Ross School of Business at Michigan and the Business Honors Program (BHP) at the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin.  These two programs differ from the other two in allowing freshmen to participate, though the freshmen “preferred” admits at Michigan only take one core business class the first year.

All applicants for preferred admission at Michigan “must first receive an offer of summer or fall admission to U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA); the College of Engineering; the School of Kinesiology (Sport Management only); the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; or the School of Art & Design” before being considered for the Ross School of Business.

The average SAT/ACT for preferred admits is 1494/34, and the high school gpa average is 3.91.  The acceptance rate for 2011-2012 was 16.25 percent; in the most recent class, a total of 89 students enrolled as preferred admits. The average UM gpa for regular admits (who must have one or more years of college) is 3.65, and the acceptance rate is 39.9 percent.  About 440 regular admits are enrolled.

Even though many preferred admits may also earn admission to the excellent LSA Honors Program at UM, they should know that combining LSA honors and the Ross regimen of business courses can be daunting.

The McIntire School of Commerce at UVA requires an even larger number of hours–at least 54–before a student can become part of the school, giving UVA business students the most expansive required background in liberal arts of any of the schools discussed in this post.  Students in the prestigious Echols Scholars (honors) program are not exempt from this requirement.

The mean GPA of students admitted to McIntire after at least 54 hours of course work at UVA is 3.65.  The average SAT for freshmen entrants at UVA is about 1395.  However, many students transfer into McIntire from Virginia community colleges or other colleges, and the average SATs for these students is between 1190 and 1280, although the GPA for transfers must be at least 3.8.

Admission to UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School requires making it through a “rigorous and selective” process that includes a year of previous study.   The average SAT is 1346, with an average college GPA of 3.56.  In a recent year, 330 students were admitted, while 236 were denied.

A small number of freshmen can qualify for the Assured Admission Program (AAP), which appears to be similar to the preferred admission program at Michigan.  The average SATs and high school GPAs for AAP are probably similar to those at Michigan and at the Business Honors Program at UT Austin.  Students can be in Honors Carolina and qualify for AAP as well.

The BHP at UT Austin differs from all three of the other programs discussed here in that it requires full freshman participation.  It is also highly selective, with the average SAT being 1480 in 2012, and the average high school class rank being in the top 2.1 percent.  In 2012, a total of 235 freshmen enrolled in the BHP, and the acceptance rate was 22.2 percent.

As in the case of the LSA Honors Program at Michigan, BHP students can also be in UT Austin’s highly-ranked Plan II Liberal Arts Honors Program, but only 11 out of 145 recent Plan II graduates also completed the BHP at the same time.








Are Florida’s Leaders Inviting Another Catastrophe–This Time in Higher Ed?

Florida, in the news once again for its election woes, is also joining Texas and Virginia in the race to see how much havoc meddling university board members can create in the name of “reform.”

In Florida, the most controversial issue is “differentiated tuition,” a business-speak term to describe a plan to reduce tuition for STEM majors and others in Legislature-designated priority fields, while allowing tuition for students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences to increase.

(See discussion and links related to Differentiated Tuition, below.)

Florida Governor Rick Scott has expressed his admiration for the conservative push by Rick Perry in Texas to transform that state’s flagship schools into productivity machines aligned with the perceived economic needs of the state and business community. Like the recent fiasco in Virginia, these efforts stem, so to speak, from the brains of libertarian and entrepreneurial types who are all agog over the latest management trends. What they claim as their goal is “value” for the state and, occasionally, for students; what they desire is instrumental education on the cheap, paid for in part by gutting those pesky academic disciplines that examine values beyond the bottom line.

Florida Higher Ed Task Force Plan is not only poorly written in its current draft form but also ill-advised. It also has a confrontational, we-know-best tone, especially in its references to “academics.”

“A chasm…exists between the system’s colleges and universities and those who must make the difficult decisions in appropriating scare resources,” the plan says. “Many in the academy deny or outright reject the expectations for increased efficiencies and productivity as precursors to demonstrating value that is presumed, to the detriment of the institutions and systems, as self-evident.”

Despite the inelegance of the last sentence, it is more or less clear that the task force is upset with the academy. Furthermore, the task force wants the academy to know that the state’s Board of Governors does indeed have the final word in higher education: The Board is authorized “to operate, regulate, control, and be fully responsive for the management of the whole university system.”

The plan even slips in a criticism of health care as being one of the villains in causing college costs to rise, along with “the perceived demands by students for making ‘college a life-style, not just people getting an education.’”  And the state of North Carolina also receives a gratuitous slap as an allegedly spendthrift state “widely held as a paragon for [sic] higher education systems” yet “it leads Florida by only two percentage points in…the proportion of its citizens who hold associate degrees or higher.”

The lifestyle quote also appeared in a New York Times story that correctly pointed out that support jobs in all colleges, public and private, have been growing. But not all of that growth is directed at pampering students.

“The growth in support staff included some jobs that did not exist 20 years ago, like environmental sustainability officers and a broad array of information technology workers,” the Times reported. “The support staff category includes many different jobs, like residential-life staff, admissions and recruitment officers, fund-raisers, loan counselors and all the back-office staff positions responsible for complying with the new regulations and reporting requirements colleges face.” And not a few of those requirements have to do with documenting the metric-driven results dictated by governors and legislatures.

Differentiated Tuition

But what about the merits of differentiated tuition? The task force wants to lower tuition for “high-wage, high-demand (market determined demand) degree programs, as identified by the Legislature.” This phrase appears repeatedly, verbatim, throughout the draft report. The success of the plan will be measured by the following:

1. More degrees in “strategic areas of importance”;
2. Higher percentage of grads who become employed or who continue their education;
3. More grads who attain employment at a higher salary rate; and
4. More “efficiencies” that lower the cost for institutions and students.

The draft somewhat vaguely identifies the “important” degree programs: 111 in STEM subjects; 28 in Globalization (whatever that may be); 21 in health professions; 19 in education (but only in Math and Sciences); and 9 in security and emergency services.

For perspective on these ideas, we recommend Should Science Majors Pay Less for College Than Art Majors? , an article in the Atlantic by Jordan Weissmann; More STEM Majors Won’t Solve Higher Education’s Problems, an article by Elizabeth Popp Berman that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education; and Why STEM Is Not Enough (and why we still need the humanities) in the Washington Post, by Cathy N. Davidson, Paula Barker Duffy, Martha Wagner Weinberg, and Valerie Strauss.

“First, you need to take it on faith that the government is capable of divining which majors are going to be the most marketable year after year,” Weissmann writes.  “Second, you need to believe that there are a large number of talented undergrads who could hack it in these subjects, but are choosing easier majors instead.”

“Meanwhile,” Weissmann adds, “it’s not clear that hoards of potential engineers and computer scientists are shunning the campus lab in order to go read Baudelaire instead. Though I haven’t seen state-level data, the vast majority of bachelor’s degrees awarded in this country go to students who study business, science, engineering, and health. The kids today already approach college with a fairly pre-professional mindset.”

Berman notes that “there’s no reason to think this would help Florida economically. If the state wants to align higher education with the needs of business, it should take a look at surveys of employers, who indicate, year after year, that what they most want from college grads is “the ability to effectively communicate” and “critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills”—classic hallmarks of a liberal arts education. And studies like Academically Adrift show that it’s the humanities and social sciences, as well as the natural sciences, that lead to measurable improvements in critical thinking.”

The Washington Post article cites Hunter Rawlings III, president of the Association of American Universities and the former president of both Cornell and the University of Iowa, as believing that the humanities and arts actually help contribute to alleviating our national STEM teacher and research crisis.

“Whereas a high percentage of students who come to college wanting to major in science and engineering drop out and go into business-related social sciences, this is not nearly so much the case at liberal arts colleges,” the Post says.

According to the Post, in the “nation’s most selective liberal arts colleges, a higher percentage of students go on to graduate and professional degrees in STEM fields than is the case at the nation’s major research universities. Integrated liberal arts knowledge, where STEM is a vital component of a larger curriculum that includes a range of literacies, creative expression, and the arts, seems to be ideal for developing future STEM teachers, practitioners, and researchers.”

The same can be said of honors colleges and programs in larger institutions, where the curriculum and “lifestyle” reflect the best in liberal arts education. Honors education does not imitate a factory operation designed to meet an instrumental, external demand but instead embraces the words of a renowned Greek philosopher, whose own method has become a model of effective pedagogy: “Education is the kindling of a flame,” Socrates said,” not the filling of a vessel.”

John Willingham, Editor

Public vs. Private Universities: Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, Etc….

In previous posts we have written about the dominance of elite private institutions when it comes to winning prestigious national awards, such as Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Gates Cambridge, and Goldwater scholarships.  There is no question that Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a few other elite schools dominate some of these awards, especially Rhodes scholarships.

But what about the performance of other leading private universities, including those in the top tier of the U.S. News rankings?  We have analyzed the record of 20 private universities ranked 24 to 83 in the 2013 U.S. News rankings.  The average ranking for the 20 schools is 54.4.  We then compared their performance with that of the 50 universities whose honors programs we evaluated.  The average U.S. News ranking of the 50 public schools is 74.16, down from an average of 72.82 in 2012.

The 20 private universities are the following: Notre Dame, USC, Wake Forest, Boston College, NYU, Case Western Reserve, University of Miami, Boston University, George Washington, Tulane, Fordham, Northeastern, SMU, Syracuse, American, Baylor, Denver, Marquette, Tulsa, and TCU.

We analyzed the full history of Rhodes, Truman, Churchill, Fulbright, Goldwater, and Udall awards, and we adjusted for size of undergraduate enrollment in the case of Fulbright Student Scholarships because of the high number of those awards (about 1,500) in a given year.  We also analyzed Marshall and Gates Cambridge awards from 2001 through 2012.  One point was assigned for each award.

On a scale with 25 being the highest score, the mean score for the private universities was 7.21 and for the public universities it was 11.86.  Below are some interesting specifics:

  • The University of Tulsa had the highest overall score for the private universities, mainly due to the impressive number of Goldwater awards for undergraduates studying STEM subjects (51), which would place Tulsa at number 9 among all 70 universities in this comparison.  The leaders in Goldwater awards (among our 50 public schools) are Illinois (63), Penn State (61), Virginia (59), Wisconsin (56), Arizona State and Minnesota (54), and Michigan and Washington (52).
  • Overall, the mean score for Goldwater awards (raw numbers) was more than twice as high for the public universities as it was for the private schools (33.7 versus 16.2).
  • The mean score for Rhodes Scholarships was likewise much higher for the public schools, 12.16 versus 5.25.
  • Tulane led private schools in total Rhodes Scholarships with 18, followed by Notre Dame (14), Wake Forest (13), Case Western (10), Boston University (8), USC (8), and Denver (7).  The leading schools among the 50 we reviewed are Virginia (46), North Carolina (41), Washington (39), Wisconsin (31), Kansas and UT Austin (27), and Michigan (25).
  • The four private schools that had a total scaled score that was above the mean for the 50 public schools were Tulsa, Tulane, Notre Dame, and NYU.
  • The strongest performance for private schools was in earning Fulbright awards, probably because of the adjustment for size of undergraduate enrollment.  The mean score for the private schools was 7.21 versus 3 .07 for the public schools.
  • The mean scores for Truman Scholarships were close, with private schools averaging 8.8 and public schools 9.3.  American University and Wake Forest led private schools with 15 Truman awards each, followed by USC (14), SMU (13), Boston College and Tulane (12), and Syracuse and Tulsa (11).  The leading public schools are North Carolina (32), UT Austin (26), Michigan and Virginia (24), Wisconsin and Arizona State (17), and Arkansas and Delaware (16).
  • The public universities in this comparison score significantly higher in earning Gates Cambridge and Marshall scholarships since 2001.  However, NYU students have won an impressive 8 Gates Scholarships, the only private university in this comparison to win more than 3.   Illinois has 10, Penn State 7, Rutgers and Florida 6 apiece, and Georgia, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Michigan 5 apiece.
  • The public universities dominate Udall Scholarships, although American University has 10 and Tulsa 9.   Arizona State has 29, Arizona 21, Penn State 20, Kansas 16, and North Carolina 15.



Sample Class of 2016 Admission Stats, Public Honors and Private Universities

Below are selected admission stats, mostly for the class of 2016, including public and private universities.  We list both public and private schools in this post so that readers can get an idea of comparability.  All of the stats for private schools are for the class of 2016; some of the public school stats are for the class of 2015, and will be listed with an asterisk.  Please note that even though public and private admission stats are often comparable, the acceptance rates may vary greatly and are typically much lower at most private institutions.  The public university stats are for honors programs only, except in the case of UC Berkeley, William & Mary, and the University of Virginia.

Georgia: SAT middle 50%=2110–2240; ACT middle 50%=31–33

Penn: SAT middle 50%= Reading 660–760; Math 690–780; Writing 680–770; ACT 30–34; acceptance rate 12.3%

UC Berkeley: Mean SAT=2068; acceptance rate 21%

Stanford: Median SAT=Reading 730; Math 740; Writing 730; acceptance rate 6.6%

Delaware: SAT middle 50%=2020–2170; mean ACT=33

Wesleyan: SAT average=Reading 730; Math 740; Writing 730; ACT 32; acceptance rate 20%

North Carolina: Mean SAT=1455; Mean ACT=32.5; top 9% of university applicants

MIT: SAT middle 50%=Reading 680–780; Math 740–800; Writing 690–790; acceptance rate 8.9%

Indiana (Hutton): Mean SAT=1372; Mean ACT=31.38

Vanderbilt: SAT middle 50%=1470–1590; ACT middle 50%=33–35; acceptance rate 12%.  (Note: these are sharply higher than 2011 stats.)

Washington*: SAT total average 2070; acceptance rate 26.3%

Davidson: SAT middle 50%=Reading 620–720; Math 640–720; Writing 620–720; ACT middle 50%=29–32; acceptance rate 24.8%

William & Mary: SAT middle 50%=Reading 620–740; Math 630–720; Writing 620–720; ACT middle 50%=28–32; acceptance rate 32%

Dartmouth: Mean SAT: Reading 736; Math 741; Writing 743; Mean ACT 32.5; acceptance rate 9.4%

UT Austin Plan II*: Average SAT=Reading 718; Math 715; Writing 722 (2155 combined); middle 50% ACT 32-33; for class of 2016, acceptance rate was 31%.

Cornell: Mean SAT=Reading 675;  Math 717 (total of 1402); Mean ACT 31; acceptance rate 16.2%

Virginia: Mean SAT=1395; acceptance rate 27.4%

Colgate: SAT middle 50%=Reading 660–740; Math 670–750; ACT 30–33; acceptance rate 29%

Mississippi (Barksdale Honors): ACT average 30.1

Boston University: SAT average 2005; ACT 29; acceptance rate 45.5%

Penn State Schreyer*: SAT average 2070; ACT 32; estimated acceptance rate 10–12%

Tufts: SAT middle 50%: Reading 670–760; Math 680–760; Writing 680–760; ACT 31; acceptance rate 21%

South Carolina*: SAT average 1427; High school GPA (weighted) 4.6



Forbes College Rankings 2013: A Mild Shift to Publics

The annual Forbes best college rankings have not been friendly to public colleges, but this year, because of changes in methodology, the rankings include six public institutions among the top 50 colleges, up from five in 2012 and only two in 2011.  If the service academies are included, the three major academies are also in the top 50.

The 2013 rankings continue a welcome trend on the part of the magazine that now yields a more sensible list with fewer wild variations.  A list of public universities in the top 100 appears at the end of this article.

Some observers of college rankings accept the Forbes position that the magazine’s rankings, put together by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), under the leadership of one of the most outspoken critics of public universities, Richard Vedder, are better than others because they focus only on “outputs” rather than on subjective data, such as academic reputation.

One of the main problems with the Forbes rankings has been their high variability from one year to the next.  It is surprising, for example, that the University of Wisconsin ranking would change from 316 (in 2011) to 147 (in 2012) and to 68 (2013).   Not to mention that it was ranked number 212 in 2010.  On the other hand, the continuing methodological changes at least are moving toward a more equitable consideration of the public institutions and appear to be indicative of more stability in the overall rankings.

In 2011 only the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary barely cracked the Forbes top 50.  In 2012, the top 50 included UVA (36) William & Mary (40), UCLA (45), UNC Chapel Hill (47) and UC Berkeley (50).

For 2013, UC Berkeley has jumped all the way to number 22; UVA to 29; UCLA to 34; and UNC Chapel Hill to 38.

More indicative of the positive developments is that for 2013, the University of Michigan also appears in the top 50, at number 30, a big leap from 57 in 2012. (In 2011, Michigan ranked 93rd.)

Other public universities shared in the upward trend in 2013, with a total of 18 now ranked in the top 100.  Illinois has moved from 147 in 2011, to 86 in 2012, and now to 53 in 2013.  UT Austin, a particular target of Richard Vedder in recent years, has risen from 185 in 2011, to 104 in 2012, and to 66 in 2013.

The original Forbes methodology was clearly biased, using data from Who’s Who listings as one indicator.  Now the methodology appears to have settled into the following pattern:

–37.5% for post-graduate success, measured by salaries on Payscale.com, listings in “power” profiles, and winners of Nobel, Pulitzer, National Academy of Science, Guggenheim, MacArthur, and other awards, including Oscars, Emmys, Tonys, and Grammys;

–22.5% for student satisfaction, with two-thirds of the measure coming from RateMyProfessor.com and the other third from the percentage of students being retained after the freshman year;

–17.5% based on student debt load and loan default rates;

–11.25% based on four-year graduation rate;

–11.25% based on attainment of prestigious student awards, including Rhodes, Fulbright, National Science Foundation, and other scholarships, and on the percentage of graduates who earn PhD’s.

One interesting feature of the rankings is that they combine national research universities and liberal arts colleges into one large group.  This allows readers a direct rather than implied comparison, the latter being the option with the U.S. News rankings.  Therefore, while Stanford is ranked number 1 by Forbes this year, tiny Pomona College is ranked number 2.

Because Forbes has focused on four-year graduation rates rather than five- or six-year rates, renowned public engineering schools such as Purdue and Georgia Tech have risen gradually in the rankings but remain lower than they would be if six-year grad rates were used: Georgia Tech was 397 in 2011, improved to 135 in 2012, and now ranks 83 under the new methodology; Purdue ranked 311 in 2011; 195 in 2012; and now ranks 106.

A final comment: Forbes is applauded for not using subjective data, such as that for academic reputation.  Nevertheless, our own work has shown a significant correlation between academic reputation and Fulbright and NSF awards, and academic reputation and the percentage of bachelor’s students who go on to obtain a Ph.D., the latter a new metric for the magazine.  Academic reputation also has a positive correlation with graduation rates.  Therefore, the influence of academic reputation is present in the Forbes rankings, though indirectly, just as it is in our own rankings.

7–U.S. Military Academy

22–UC Berkeley

28–U.S. Naval Academy



31–U.S. Air Force Academy


38–UNC Chapel Hill

44–William & Mary



66–UT Austin




83–Georgia Tech


93–Penn State

96–UC Santa Barbara


99–UC Davis

Faculty Productivity Requirements: A Challege for Honors

Public universities are increasingly subject to productivity measures as a means of justifying continuing revenue support, such as it is, from the states. One such measure is “credit hour productivity,” which represents the ratio of total student credit hours taught per faculty member.

For example, a faculty member who teaches large lecture classes will receive “credit” for teaching hundreds of student hours, while some faculty who teach small honors seminars may receive credit for hours earned by, say, 15 students. In many public universities, funding for departments and even larger divisions is based in part on the total number of credit hours that are taught.

Sometimes, credit hour productivity is also a factor in tenure and promotion evaluations, providing yet another source of pressure to apply the productivity model to instruction.

Unfortunately, this model is inimical to what is probably the strongest feature of honors education: small, interactive classes, similar to those at the best liberal arts colleges and elite private institutions.

Therefore, a big challenge for many honors directors is to find a way to persuade deans and department chairs to utilize weighted systems as a way of giving approximate productivity credit to faculty for teaching honors classes.

Many research institutions already weight their systems so that faculty who teach graduate courses, which typically feature small, seminar-sized classes, receive augmented credit for teaching the courses, based in part on the time and supervision required when working with advanced students who are engaged in research and in-depth writing or laboratory assignments.

Alternatively, some universities give the same productivity credit for teaching lower-division honors courses as they do for teaching upper-division courses, and also give the same credit for teaching upper-division honors as they do for teaching graduate courses.

In the end, the decision to use productivity weighting comes down to the willingness of the institution to acknowledge the value-added impact of honors programs to the university as a whole–and then reward that value by implementing sufficient productivity credits to induce faculty and departments to participate fully in honors education.

The absence of such support is, sadly, evidence that the students who choose a university because of the honors program are far more subject to the mass production model in higher education than they would ever expect to be.

In a broader sense, the inadequate support gives many critics of public universities, who often disparage research and excellence in the interest of this very same productivity, yet another victory on their way to reducing the quality and influence of public universities.

Tennessee Honors: Another Great Option in the Southeast

We have written previously about the Southeast, referring to it as the “land of great honors programs.”  Like some other programs in the region, the one at the University of Tennessee actually has two honors programs that are interrelated: the Chancellor’s Honors Program (CHP) admits about 420 extremely talented students each year, and another 15 extraordinarily fortunate students become Haslam Scholars, who receive the most generous support of any undergraduate scholars on campus.

While the CHP does not list a definite minimum set of requirements, the average freshman entrants score 32 on the ACT and have a 4.0 GPA.  This equates to about the top 10 percent of freshmen who enroll at UT.

The required curriculum for the CHP is 25 semester hours, including two courses in the freshmen year (total of 1 credit hour) and another seven courses in the remaining years (21 additional hours).  The final requirement is a 3-hour thesis or “approved substitute,” which can be within the department or related to an honors topic.  Continuation and completion in the CHP require a cumulative GPA of 3.25.

About 75 percent of freshmen honors students live in Morrill Hall, which, though not centrally located, features appealing double suites with one adjoining bath for only four students to share.  It does not appear to be the case, however, that only honors students can live in Morrill, so choosing the right roommate could be extremely important.

Haslam Scholars at UT (similar to other elite undergraduate scholars at Alabama and Georgia, for example) receive scholarship packages worth more than $17,000 a year–and out-of-state students receive a waiver that allows them to enroll at the in-state level.   Haslam Scholars also receive a free laptop, a grant ofg $4,500 for studying abroad, and special mentoring for research and thesis work.

The Haslam Scholarships are funded through a $5 million grant from the Haslam family.  While the university does not list specific requirements, the likelihood is that Haslam Scholars would need to have credentials approximating National Merit Finalists (in regard to test scores), extremely high GPAs, AP/IB results at the highest levels, and other evidence of superior accomplishment in leadership, service, and cultural activities.

Haslam Scholars must complete at least 28 semester hours of honors work, including 6 hours of research coupled with a presentation, and 3 hours of service or executive internships.

Haslam Scholars are essentially a part of the CHP as well, and are eligible to live in Morrill Hall and participate in CHP programs and activities.



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.




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.



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.