Top Honors Colleges

An honors progam is an advanced undergraduate degree program meant for the more accomplished students. Honors programs typically have harder entry requirements and completion criteria than regular degree programs. An honors degree is viewed favorably by employers. So if you are looking at pursuing a degree program and have had a consistently good academic record, you should consider an honors program. In this article, we discuss which are the top honors colleges of the country.

A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs is a book edited by John Willingham and released in May 2012. This book provides useful information to college counselors, educational consultants and even honors degree aspirants on which are the top honors colleges in the United States and why. John broadly uses two sets of parameters to rank the various top honors programs overall excellence and honors factors. In overall excellence he has considered factors like curriculum, prestigious undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, honors retention and graduation rates, honors housing, study-abroad programs and priority registration. In honors factors John has used the same parameters except scholarships to look at individual programs. In the latter each program is also rated for the impact it has on the parent university–that is, how does the honors program rank vis-a-vis the university of which it is a part?

The fifty top honors college programs reviewed are Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Binghamton, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stony Brook, Texas A&M, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, University at Buffalo, UT Austin, Vermont, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington State, and Wisconsin.

As per the book the top ten honors programs based on overall excellence are:

1. University of Michigan
2. University of Virginia
3. University of Texas at Austin
4. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
5. Arizona State University
6. University of Washington
7. University of Minnesota
8. Michigan State University
9. University of South Carolina
10. University of Georgia

Based on honors factors, the top ten honors programs are the following:

1. University of South Carolina
2. University of Texas at Austin
3. University of Michigan
4. Arizona State University
5. Michigan State University
6. University of Georgia
7. University of Delaware
8. University of Virginia
9. University of Minnesota
10. Pennsylvania State University

While this is not the final word on the top honors colleges, it still is an objective analysis of the top 50 universities. The list suffers from some shortcomings such as being focussed on public universities, and not including some better known names like Utah. But that does not take away from the usefulness and relevance of its findings.