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Public Honors Programs: An Affordable Path To a Top-Notch Education

As a way to attract top students who might otherwise attend a private university, public universities across the country have been adding honors programs or distinct honors colleges. Such honors entities vary in structure, though they typically provide students with opportunities such as research, designated classes and a residential living component. In some instances, such as at the University of Arkansas, students receive scholarships that can cover most of their cost of attendance over four years. Here are highlights of a few types of honors programs:

The Research-Intensive University Honors Programs. Universities such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas and several in the University of California system fall into this category. The faculty at these institutions are involved with world-class research and the honors students are more likely to be involved and thus mentored by these faculty members than would other non-honors undergraduates attending the same institutions. Students are not separated from their peers in class, though they have access to distinct honors opportunities.

The University of Illinois offers both campus-wide honors programs and college-level honors programs as well as honors programs offered by some academic departments.

Another category is the Strong Research/ Honors College. These include universities where most academic departments rank in the top 50 and have some departments of the highest distinction. This list includes universities such as Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pittsburgh.

Unlike the Research-Intensive group, these colleges offer distinct honors colleges versus programs. Many of the honors interactions that students have will be through the honors college though students still take most of their courses with the general population. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is opening a new facility for its Commonwealth Honors College in the fall of 2013, which will offer residential living and other amenities in the heart of the campus. Visit here for more details.

How to Apply? Honors programs can also be found at a wide range of other public universities of all sizes. Sometimes students must complete a separate essay or application for consideration or they may automatically be invited to the honors college based on their admission application.

To learn more about honors colleges and programs visit here.

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