National Collegiate Honors Council

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The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) is a professional association of undergraduate honors programs, colleges,[1] directors, deans, faculty, staff, and students. NCHC has 1,342 members in the United States and abroad, providing support for institutions and individuals to develop and expand honors education. The organization has its national headquarters at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Through its annual conference, professional networking, and publications, NCHC provides a platform for honors curriculum development,[2] program assessment, national and international study opportunities,[3] internships, honors advising, scholarships, independent research, program assessment and job listings. NCHC also maintains links with regional and state honors organizations.


The National Collegiate Honors Council promotes academic opportunity for honors students and faculty at two-year and four-year undergraduate public and private colleges and universities. In recent years honors models have been developed in several countries, and international membership in the organization has expanded. Keyed to high-end students, it fosters an intellectual environment that values scholarship, creativity, and social engagement. NCHC is one of the few academic organizations in which students, faculty and administrators participate equally in shared experiences [4] . It has evolved developed several hallmark programs that bring participants from diverse institutions together expressly for integrative learning: City as Text™ (shared explorations of urban settings), Honors Semesters (study abroad as a cohort of honors students and faculty), and Partners in the Parks (week-long adventures in American national parks). All have evolved as experiential—out-of-classroom—models of teaching and learning.


The concept of an honors education in the western university tradition can be traced to the establishment of ‘pass’ and ‘honors’ degree designations at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in 1830. Harvard was the first American institution to offer a degree with honors. By the 1920s liberal arts colleges had developed honors curricula, and many departmental majors offered honors designations. By the late 1930s, over 100 honors programs existed in the United States, a number that remained stable until the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957; the “space race” that followed gave American educators the thrust needed to support enriched education for high-end students. In 1957, the Inter-University Committee on the Superior Student (ICSS) was formed as a clearinghouse for information on honors activities. ICSS received funds from the Carnegie Corporation, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Office of Education to help establish honors programs at colleges and universities across the United States. In 1965, ICSS disbanded when its external funding expired.

Spearheaded by people committed to maintaining a professional association of honors educators, the National Collegiate Honors Council was formed in 1966. NCHC continues to grow as a resource and network for those involved in undergraduate honors education. Although honors programs and colleges are specific to individual institutions, all share a common philosophy of academic enrichment based on the theory that students profit from close contact with faculty, small courses, seminars or one-on-one instruction, individual research projects, internships, foreign study, and campus or community service.

Officers and governance[edit]

NCHC is a non-profit (501c3) organization governed by a 24-member Board of Directors:[4] President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Immediate Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, and eighteen members at large elected by the membership, including six student members. The Executive Director is Dr. Hallie Savage[5] who works from the organization’s national office located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


NCHC publishes two refereed journals and a monograph series. The Journal of the National College Honors Council (JNCHC) publishes scholarly articles on honors education. Honors in Practice (HIP) features articles on nuts-and-bolts operations and current practices in honors teaching and programming. The monograph series includes a variety of handbooks and texts addressing specific aspects of honors learning, teaching, and administration. These publications are indexed full-text in the following library databases: EBSCOhost, Gale and H.W. Wilson and are archived in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Digital Commons repository.

Annual Conference[edit]

Each fall, NCHC holds its annual conference in a major city in the United States. Honors educators and students gather for a variety of workshops and committee meetings as well as the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas. The conference is also open to non-members with an interest in honors education, such as high school college advisors seeking to place qualified students in honors programs. Among the workshops, Beginning in Honors, Developing in Honors, and Best Honors Administrative Practices are useful to people at particular stages in their career. Each conference also features student master classes in the arts, plenary speakers, City as Text™, an experiential-learning exploration of the host city, and a Partners in the Parks exploration of a local National Park Service site.


In addition to workshops offered at the annual conference, NCHC also hosts intensive workshops and institutes throughout the year on faculty development and on assessment and evaluation. Faculty development workshops are keyed to culture and environment in specific site locations. Recent workshops have taken place in Las Vegas/Death Valley, Kentucky Cave Country, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Recommended Site Visitors[edit]

NCHC maintains up-to-date listings of faculty and administrators willing to provide consulting services as external reviewers of honors programs and colleges. All site visitors have completed an NCHC Faculty Institute in assessment and evaluation.

Honors Semesters[edit]

Honors Semesters are designed to immerse highly motivated students in field studies, research, internships, and seminars at a host site. Past Honors Semesters have been in Washington, D.C., the Grand Canyon, New York City, El Paso, Appalachia, the Maine Coast, Iowa, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greece, the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Southeast coast of the United States, on topics ranging from local culture to global concerns. Plans for another Grand Canyon Semester and a semester on Sustainable Development and Social Justice in Chile are in progress. Most recently, winter mini-semesters (winterims) have become popular, the latest taking place in the Peruvian Amazon.

Notes and references[edit]

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