Honors Education at UCA: Our History

Founder Dr. Norbert Schedler

Honors at UCA has been providing enhanced educational opportunities for students for more than forty years. Beginning with the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College in 1982, Honors at UCA has developed a national reputation for its many accomplishments. As the first honors college in the state and one of the first in the country, the Schedler Honors College has inspired numerous start-up honors programs and a growing number of honors colleges. In 2018, UCA introduced the University Scholars Program in an effort to expand its honors programming to a greater number of students.

In Decade One the Schedler Honors College put into place a unique, challenging curriculum, designed by founding director, Dr. Norbert Schedler (pictured above), which focused on developing skills for any profession. It is an “education with a future,” learning how to inquire, converse, and collaborate—skills that never go out of date.

In Decade Two we were known as a destination for students of extraordinary ability. Drawn by small, discussion-based seminars, close student-faculty relations, funding for travel abroad and internships, and honors residence halls with private rooms. By 2002 enrollment tripled, and student quality by all available measures improved.

In Decade Three our theme was “educating leaders of the next generation.” With more than 1,600 alumni, we have seen leaders grow when an innovative curriculum meets extraordinary students. Leaders not only excel in class—they push beyond their comfort zones (studying overseas or doing research); they complete college (more than 80% of Schedler Honors Scholars complete the four-year minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies); they seek advanced training (over 80% of our alumni continue in graduate schools or in medicine or law); and they receive national recognition (our alumni include Truman, Rhodes, Goldwater, Fulbright, Rotary Ambassador Scholars, and Cooke Fellows).

In Decade Four our emphasis is on developing citizen-scholars capable of authoring their own lives and leading social change that benefits the community. We seek Schedler Honors Scholars from student leaders who value education and are motivated to work at it. University Scholars are trained in skills that will prepare them to be leaders in our community. For both programs, we want people who expect to author a life that makes a difference in the world. We aim for all of our graduates to experience what Aristotle called “human flourishing.” Put differently, we want people of good intellect and good will, who are generous and kind, and who will dedicate themselves to developing sound judgment in service of the common good.

With the addition of the University Scholars Program and a greater emphasis on the Honors in the Major departmental programs, UCA students now have more opportunities for honors experiences in formats that best fit their diverse backgrounds and education plans.

Check out our website, and you will find a lot of information about who we are and what we do. Better yet, come visit us in person, and let’s begin the conversation.

National Collegiate Honors Council logo


The University of Central Arkansas Honors College is a proud member of the National Collegiate Honors Council and Honors Arkansas.