The National Collegiate Honors Council has identified these best practices that are common to successful and fully developed honors colleges.
- An honors college incorporates the relevant characteristics of a fully developed honors program.
- The honors college exists as an equal collegiate unit within a multi-collegiate university structure.
- The head of the honors college is a dean reporting directly to the chief academic officer of the institution and serving as a full member of the Council of Deans if one exists. The dean has a fulltime, 12-month appointment.
- The operational and staff budgets of honors colleges provide resources at least comparable to those of other collegiate units of equivalent size.
- The honors college exercises increased coordination and control of departmental honors where the college has emerged out of a decentralized system.
- The honors college exercises considerable control over honors recruitment and admissions, including the appropriate size of the incoming class. Admission to the honors college may be by separate application.
- The honors college exercises considerable control over its policies, curriculum, and selection of faculty.
- The curriculum of the honors college offers significant course opportunities across all four years of study.
- The curriculum of the honors college constitutes at least 20% of a student’s degree program. The honors college requires an honors thesis or honors capstone project.
- Where the home university has a significant residential component, the honors college offers substantial honors residential opportunities.
- The distinction achieved by the completion of the honors college requirements is publically announced and recorded, and methods may include announcement at commencement ceremonies, notations on the diploma and/or the student’s final transcript, or other similar actions.
- Like other colleges within the university, the honors college may be involved in alumni affairs and development and may have an external advisory board.
Approved by the NCHC Executive Committee on June 25, 2005, and amended by the NCHC Board of Directors on February 19, 2010.