National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Summer 2020


Journal of The National Collegiate Honors Council, vol. 21, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2020)


Copyright 2020 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Honors education in America has undergone a process that sociologist Theodore Caplow describes as professionalization. Caplow identifies four stages whereby a developing profession transitions to a professional association: organizing membership, changing the name of occupation from its previous status, developing a code of ethics, and after a period of political agitation, beginning a process by which to enforce occupational barriers. Each of these defined stages present new challenges to honors educators. This paper examines honors education in the context of specialization, considering both the origins and growth of honors education in the last century and contemporary discourse relating to certification and systematic program review. While controversy over certification has abated in recent years, Caplow’s theory suggests that the issue is likely to resurface.