What is an Honors College?


What is an Honors College?

American colleges vary in size from under 1000 students to more than 50,000 students. Both small and large schools have their advantages. Smaller school offer small, discussion-based classes, close relationships with professors, and a close-knit community. Larger schools offer more majors, along with nationally known sports programs and seemingly endless social opportunities.

For students who want to combine these experiences, an honors college might represent the perfect compromise.

What are honors colleges?

Honors colleges most commonly exist within a larger public university. They provide admitted students with a variety of perks, which may include smaller class sizes (honors college courses are often capped at 20-25 students), extra advising, special freshman dormitories, and priority course registration. Honors college students may also receive additional help applying for internships, research positions, and national fellowships (such as Fulbright and Rhodes).

The Honors College dormitory at Rutgers University 

How many students enroll?

Most honors colleges have an enrollment between a few hundred and a few thousand students. 

How many honors colleges are there?

Approximately 90 schools offer honors colleges. Popular options among Future Stars students include Clarks Honors College at the University of Oregon, Barrett Honors College at the University of Arizona, and the Honors Program at UN Reno.

How difficult is it to get into an honors college?

Honors colleges were created to attract students who might otherwise attend selective private schools, and their admissions standards tend to be higher than their host schools. At the University of Arizona, for example, the average GPA for incoming Honors College freshmen is 3.86, compared to 3.3 for the overall student body. In general, competitive applicants have grades and test scores that put them in the top 25% of all admitted students.

In addition, applicants are often required to submit an additional essay and/or letter of recommendation.

Admissions averages for the University of Arizona Honors College

How much do they cost?

It depends. Some honors colleges have no extra cost. Others have an annual fee of up to $2000 in addition to the general tuition. Keep in mind, however, that honors students are also more likely to receive scholarships that will lower the cost of college. And regardless of the fee, public honors colleges may be significantly less expensive than private colleges.

Where can I learn more?

If you want to learn more about honors colleges, I recommend checking out Public University Honors, a website dedicated to the evaluation of honors colleges and programs. According to the site, some of the top honors colleges and programs can be found at Arizona State University, City University of New York, Florida Atlantic, Penn State, UT Austin, and the University of South Carolina.

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