A guide to what college rankings don't tell you.

Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems are exceptional honors programs that focus on the study of American government or history and the Great Books of Western Civilization.  

Ashland University

Ashland, OH

Ashbrook Scholar Program

The Ashbrook Scholar Program says, "The purpose of the program is to assist students in acquiring the intellectual and moral virtues required for thoughtful citizenship. We do this through sustained reflection on the writings of those who have thought most deeply and comprehensively about human nature and political organization, and the opinions, character, and actions of those who have most remarkably practiced the political art. Ashbrook Scholars study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as well as everything from Homer and Aristotle to the Federalist Papers and the speeches and deeds of America’s greatest statesmen, and develop a deep understanding of America’s founding principles."


Belmont Abbey College

Belmont, NC

The Honors College at Belmont Abbey College

The Belmont Abbey Honors College says, "The Honors College at Belmont Abbey invites students to explore the Great Books in Western History, Science, Literature, Philosophy, and Theology which have profoundly affected contemporary life. Students experience playful camaraderie and high friendship in an atmosphere conducive to piety and principled living, grow in awareness of the foundational impacts of Classical, Christian, and Modern thought, and enter into the far-reaching disputes and controversies among some of history’s greatest minds."


Benedictine College

Atchison, KS

Great Books Program

The Great Books Program says, "The Great Books Program at Benedictine College is an option for students who want to fulfill general education requirements (which all students must take) in a more traditional Liberal Arts format. Great Books scholars at Benedictine College study the foundational works of Western thought. By entering the conversation with great thinkers about the fundamental problems facing mankind, Great Books students will be able thoughtfully to consider perennial truths, timelessly expressed, embodied in the classics of our civilization."


Franciscan University of Steubenville

Steubenville, OH

Great Books of Western Civilization Honors Program

The Great Books of Western Civilization Honors Program says, "The Great Books of Western Civilization Honors Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio is open by invitation to qualified undergraduates. As a Franciscan honors student, you will have the exclusive opportunity to participate in the study of a curriculum comprised wholly of the great books, and through analytical reading, critical discussion, and expository writing pursue a course of study that stands as an alternative to Franciscan’s core curriculum. Readings include the great books from early Greece to modern times by thinkers such as Homer, Plato, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Kant, Marx, St. John Paul II, and others."


Kansas State University

Manhattan, KS

Primary Texts Certificate Program at Kansas State University

The Primary Texts Certificate Program says, "Instead of reading only a textbook in Physics, read selections from Galileo and Einstein. Instead of an American Government textbook, read James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Obtain the intellectual flexibility to be a lifelong learner, an attribute highly valued in the workforce in today's rapidly changing economy. Primary Texts students also go on to graduate school, law school, divinity school and other programs where analytical and communications skills are highly valued."


Kentucky State University

Frankfort, KY

Whitney Young College Honors Program

The Whitney Young College Honors Program says, "The Honors Program develops intellectual skills that will help students deal with fundamental questions of human existence and make them better able to guide their own lives. The Honors Program also encourages the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, since that provides one of life’s purest pleasures. Students discuss the Great Books in Western and Eastern civilization, and learn to reason well and communicate effectively, to understand rather than accept assertions blindly, to listen carefully and respond appropriately to others, to use evidence, and to discuss controversial subjects courteously and with insight."


Mercer University

Macon, GA

Great Books Program

The Great Books Program at Mercer University says, "Mercer faculty members who teach in the Great Books Program believe that students must sufficiently engage and confront the Western tradition before they can begin imaginatively to grasp other cultural traditions or before they can critically appropriate contemporary culture and its formative texts. The Great Books Program consists of eight courses and serves as one of two general education “tracks” in the College of Liberal Arts."


Morehead State University

Morehead, KY

George M. Luckey, Jr. Academic Honors Program

The George M. Luckey, Jr. Academic Honors Program says, "The George M. Luckey, Jr. Academic Honors Program is an enriched, challenging scholastic program. Its mission is to provide exceptional students with opportunities to accelerate and broaden their personal development so that they will be prepared to achieve success and make valuable contributions as citizens in the world of the twenty-first century. Students in the program will take specially-designed options for some of their general education requirements, will participate in service, undergraduate research, and international experiences and will have the opportunity to reflect on their experiences in the program in a substantial exit essay."