National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 2016).


Copyright © 2016 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


As the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) celebrates its fiftieth year, the organization has an excellent opportunity to reflect on how honors education has spread during its history. Tracking growth in the number of institutions delivering honors education outside of its membership has not been a priority for NCHC or for researchers in honors education. Most information has been anecdotal, and when researchers have mounted surveys, the results are frequently non-comprehensive, based on convenience sampling. We propose a demography of honors to fill the lacuna with systemic, reliable information.

Demographic studies describe the size, structure, and distribution of human populations, general or targeted. While the purposes of demography can be far-ranging, effective public policy requires sound data that come from demographic methodologies. Now, honors researchers would face a monumental task if they were to identify, count, and describe the structure and distribution of all faculty members and students involved in honors education. That information would be useful, but too many honors administrators are stretched so thin that keeping tabs on the number of honors students at their own institutions is not taking place, owing in no small part to the fact that half of honors administrators have served less than three years in the position (Scott). Consequently, we are not likely to soon see a systemic demography of the people in honors education. Instead, our study focuses on the population of institutions. Specifically, we analyze the population of institutions delivering traditional undergraduate education in the United States to determine the size, structure, and distribution of honors education across institutional types.