Yes, We Have a Book

 INSIDE HONORS 2020-2021 is now available!

The new edition, partly because of the pandemic, will feature rated profiles and reviews of 40 public university honors colleges and programs versus 50 or more in previous editions. Like all higher ed administrators, honors deans, directors, and their staffs have faced a continual flood of challenges since early spring. We are extremely grateful to those who somehow found the time to submit the extremely detailed data that we require. One theme of the new edition will be an emphasis on the quality of honors colleges in “regional” public universities. Spoiler alert: They can hang with their big cousins!

New for this edition are narrative summaries that complement the data-heavy information by giving insights into the goals, strengths, and “feel” of each honors college or program. Several programs appear for the first time, while about 60 percent have been rated previously. Each new edition features a somewhat different group of programs, thus allowing for a much broader range of coverage across all editions.

Here is a reader’s testimonial, taken from Amazon with his permission.

Please click on the cover below to purchase the paperback edition on Amazon.

You can also buy direct from Public University Press by contacting You will receive a digital Paypal invoice payable by Paypal or by credit card. The cost is $14.95, with free shipping and handling. The retail cost of INSIDE HONORS is $15.95 plus shipping costs. You should receive your copy in about two weeks.

The new edition includes profiles of honors colleges and programs in the universities listed below:

Appalachian St
Arizona St
Central Florida
City University of New York (CUNY)
College of Charleston
Colorado St
Florida Atlantic
Georgia State
Nevada Reno
North Carolina Wilmington
Oklahoma St
Penn St
South Carolina
South Dakota St*
South Florida
Tennessee Chattanooga
Texas Tech
UT Austin
Virginia Commonwealth
Virginia Tech*
Washington St
West Virginia

*Program has ratings in some or most categories but not all.

You should know that the book is very data-driven–it is “more steak than sizzle,” as one reader noted about the previous edition as well. 

Thirteen data points in each program are compared to the means for all 41 rated programs. There is considerable narrative, however, especially about unrated features such as study abroad, experiential learning, financial aid, and undergraduate research.

Counselors, consultants, and honors educators: email Wendy,, for discount information and invoicing.

Examples of media recognition for INSIDE HONORS:

In his 2017 book Campus Confidential: How College Works, or Doesn’t, for Professors, Parents, and Students, Jacques Berlinerblau, a professor at Georgetown University, wrote that “A properly administered honors program provides exceptionally good educational value for consumers. Further, these units often possess a war chest….Readers who wish to learn more can consult a work like John Willingham’s 2014 cult classic, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs.”

Columnist and consultant Lee Bierer: “John Willingham has literally written the book on Honors Colleges. INSIDE HONORS: Ratings and Reviews of Sixty Public University Honors Programs…where he shares his methodical research results. His research has demonstrated that increasingly one can find equally excellent value in the growing number of honors colleges in non-flagship institutions. But to find that value, you have to look deeply into what Willingham calls the ‘ground game’ of honors colleges and programs.”–Charlotte Observer, February 20, 2017.

Columnist and author Frank Bruni: A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs was “…first published in 2012 and updated last year. It’s linked to, which began in 2011 and, like the [new] book, provides thorough appraisals of individual honors colleges and programs and intelligent thoughts on how they fit into the higher-education landscape.”New York Times, August 9, 2015.

In his book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admission Mania,  Mr. Bruni includes the book in his “Suggested Reading” section, writing that “…honors colleges at state universities have much to recommend them and warrant serious consideration. This straightforward analysis of the best ones gives them the spotlight they deserve.”

Inside Honors 2018-2019 also has more information about merit scholarships than the 2016 edition included. The profiles in the new book are also longer, with new information about “experiential learning” offered by honors programs. The 382-page print version was published on September 25, 2018.

The book rates all honors program components on a five-mortarboard scale (similar to five-star ratings for books and films) and compares the overall honors rating with the U.S. News ranking of the university as a whole.  The 2016 edition features detailed information about honors courses, the number of honors class sections by subject, actual honors class sizes, and honors completion requirements for 41 major public university honors programs. And there is updated information about actual average test scores (not just minimum entrance requirements), actual HSGPA averages, honors graduation rates, prestigious awards (Rhodes, Marshall, Goldwater, etc.), honors housing and benefits, availability of honors dorms, priority registration for honors students, and the ratio of honors staff to students

The detailed data we have received from honors Deans and Directors has yielded profiles that are approximately 7-8 pages in length for each program.