Many colleges and universities throughout the U.S have Honors Colleges or Honors Programs that are worth investigating. Such programs offer advantages to students that are in the top tier of the college’s applicants. Honors programs may have the best professors, smaller classes, early registration, better housing, more school events, and unique classes, and a cohort of like-minded students, all at the same cost of the school’s normal tuition. Actually numerous colleges give significant merit aid to attract these accomplished students to the school and program.

Being one of the top students at a college can be very beneficial not only financially, but also academically and personally, as more opportunities are available to them for field trips, internships, study abroad, research with professors, and mentorships. In many cases it is worth investigating what is offered, and what the criteria is for admission into these selective programs. The honors program at UVA offers special Honors Seminars that emphasize intensive study and discussion, culminating in a senior-year capstone project of interdisciplinary independent work. Honors students completing the program not only gain the skills associated with advanced study, they also earn the distinction of graduating “With College Honors.”

In order to be eligible for these advantages, one needs strong grades and test scores. Some schools require a separate and early application to qualify, but many do not. Since these programs are limited in size it is advantageous to apply early.

For instance University of Maryland has an honors college and offers multiple honors programs such as Honors Humanities, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Living-Learning Programs, University Honors, Gemstone, ACES – Cybersecurity, Design Cultures & Creativity, Integrated Life Sciences, and Departmental & College Honors Programs.   (Learn more from the below links). Beyond the academic perks, being a part of a more specialized program makes this very large university feel a bit smaller. Be aware that it does require an early application for consideration.

George Washington University has an Honors Program, but has other alternatives also. They offered one of our students $80,000 in merit scholarship aid as well as the opportunity to participate in a Women’s Leadership Program in which students attend symposiums, special classes, and participate in events during which they meet prominent women in different careers.

As you tour, ask colleges if these programs are available, and about the benefits and criteria for their students. Campus Review Sheet

Some schools also schedule Honors College information sessions that students can attend during a campus visit. Virginia Tech has a STAMPS SCHOLARS program: The Stamps Scholars are a group of students supported by the Virginia Tech Honors College and the Strive Foundation with a four-year scholarship. Christina McIntyre, the director of professional development and national and international scholarships and head of the Stamps program at the Virginia Tech Honors College, said what the Honors College looks for in Stamps Scholars is “not only strong academics, but … people who care about their community.” McIntyre said service is central to the program. “I want there to be a sense of stewardship,” she said.

UMD also has 2 new programs that you may want to research: Beginning in fall 2022, the Honors College welcomes two new living-learning programs: Honors Global Communities, a program centered on current global affairs, and Interdisciplinary Business Honors, a program offering a big-picture view of business and the future of work.

You can find valuable information about Public Honors Colleges at public university honors, but also look at private college programs through Google and on the websites for admissions, merit aid and scholarships, and within’ certain programs/majors/concentrations.

Here are some great questions to ask when on a college visit: Questions to ask. 



Salisbury University

Towson University

University of Maryland Baltimore College

University of Maryland

St. Marys College- Maryland’s Honors College


Washington, D.C.

American University

Catholic University

Georgetown University

George Washington University



Christopher Newport University

College of William and Mary

George Mason University

James Madison University

University of Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University