Honors Program

The Honors Program at Fairfield University is an interdisciplinary course of study open to invited freshmen and sophomores from all of the University's undergraduate schools. Since the program offers a curriculum of team-taught courses and small seminars, it is highly selective. Students who pursue Honors study at Fairfield are highly motivated, passionate about learning, and willing to engage their professors and fellow students in lively discussions about the great ideas that have shaped our culture and world cultures. Honors students at Fairfield also are invited to attend intellectual and cultural events outside the classroom such as Broadway plays, guided museum tours, operas, and faculty-led colloquia on a variety of topics.

The Honors curriculum challenges students to achieve the following educational goals:

  1. Identify major intellectual questions about the past and present.
  2. Write coherently about the history and methods of research into those questions.
  3. Design a research project on a major question in their field of study.
  4. Implement and report on the results of that research project.

Students who complete the Honors Program in good standing have their achievement noted on their final transcripts. Those who complete the program with an average grade of B+ in Honors courses receive the designation "University Honors Program Completed with Distinction." Those who complete the program with an average of A in Honors courses receive the designation "University Honors Program Completed with High Distinction."

New Curriculum

This curriculum applies to students in the Class of 2022 and later.

The Honors Program comprises 18 credits earned through six Honors courses completed in the first three years of the program. The program also requires a senior capstone project, usually undertaken as an independent study in the student's major during their senior year.

HR 0104Enduring Questions3
HR 0202Honors Seminar (x3)9
HR 0204Emerging Questions3
HR 0304Finding Answers3
Seniors Honors Project
Total Credits18

Previous Curriculum

This curriculum apples to students in the Class of 2021 and earlier.

The Honors Program comprises 20 credits earned through six Honors courses completed in the first three years of the program. The program also requires a senior capstone project, usually undertaken as an independent study in the student's major during their senior year.

HR 0100Ideas That Shaped the West4
HR 0101Minds and Bodies4
HR 0200Challenges to the Western Tradition3
or HR 0201 Non-Western Culture
HR 0202Honors Seminar (x2)6
HR 0300Interdisciplinary Inquiry3
Senior Honors Project
Total Credits20

Honors and the Core Curriculum

Students who complete the Honors Program are exempt from 21 credits in the core curriculum.

Students who enter the program as first year students are exempt from the three English core courses (9 credits). They also may exempt themselves from 4 courses chosen from the following 6 areas or disciplines, with no more than 1 exemption claimed in any area or discipline: Natural Science, History, Social/Behavioral Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts (4 courses, 12 credits). In choosing to fulfill their remaining core requirements in Applied Ethics, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, Honors students may enroll in 200-level courses without having taken the stipulated prerequisites.

Students who enter the program as sophomores and who have completed EN 0011 and EN 0012 are exempt from the third English core course (3 credits). They are also exempt from 1 course in each of the following 6 areas or disciplines: Natural Science, History, Social/Behavioral Science, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Visual and Performing Arts (6 courses, 18 credits). In choosing to fulfill their remaining core requirements in Applied Ethics, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, Honors students may enroll in 200-level courses without having taken the stipulated prerequisites.

Senior Honors Project

The senior honors project provides an opportunity for students to engage in mature research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The senior honors project is not a course in its own right but an independent study of three credits, typically conducted in the student's major field of study, which is recognized toward the completion of honors requirements. In the humanities, the project should be a paper of at least 25 to 50 pages in length. In studio art and creative writing, the project should take the form of a significant portfolio. In the natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, nursing, and in the various areas of business, the finished project should conform to the discipline's acceptable format and length for publication.

HR 0100 Ideas That Shaped the West4 Credits

This team-taught lecture/seminar course examines selected ideas or themes from Western intellectual history, focusing on developments in philosophy, society, science, and the arts. The ideas selected vary from course section to course section.

HR 0101 Minds and Bodies4 Credits

This team-taught lecture/seminar course examines constructions of the human person, and the social reflections of these constructions, in Western culture. The ideas selected vary from course section to course section.

HR 0104 Enduring Questions3 Credits

This team-taught course explores major questions persistent throughout human history. It provides an interdisciplinary opportunity to ask about the nature of humanity and reality, the meaning and purpose of existence, and the relationship between the individual and the wider world.

HR 0198 Special Topics3 or 4 Credits

This course offers an in-depth investigation of a significant topic or question, conducted in a seminar format. The professor(s) teaching the course choose(s) the topic. This course is generally limited to first year students, with exceptions made as needed.

HR 0200 Challenges to the Western Tradition3 Credits

Attributes: UDIV U.S. Diversity

This course examines alternatives to the configuration of knowledge, art, power, and justice in the classical, majority culture of the West by considering critical voices traditionally marginalized in that culture.

HR 0201 Non-Western Culture3 Credits

Attributes: WDIV World Diversity

This course examines alternatives to the configuration of knowledge, art, power, and justice in the classical, majority culture of the West by investigating the history, worldview, and assumptions of a non-Western culture.

HR 0202 Honors Seminar3 Credits

This seminar, offered in one of the traditional disciplines, seeks to cultivate the skills of critical thinking, cogent argumentation, and effective writing, all by attending to a particular subject matter. Honors students earn six credits in HR 0202 by completing one version of the seminar in their second year of honors coursework and another version of the seminar in their third year of honors coursework. A complete title, reflecting the seminar's particular subject matter, appears on the student's transcript. Students may not enroll in any section of HR 0202 offered in a discipline in which they major or minor.

HR 0204 Emerging Questions3 Credits

This course explores new questions emerging in changing modern contexts. It invites students to consider how new paradigms change human relations, how new discoveries change our understanding of the world, and how these changes are shaping our future.

HR 0298 Special Topics3 Credits

Prerequisite: HR 0100.

This course offers an in-depth investigation of a significant topic or question, conducted in a seminar format. The professor(s) teaching the course choose(s) the topic. This course is generally limited to sophomores, with exceptions made as needed.

HR 0300 Interdisciplinary Inquiry3 Credits

This team-taught course stresses the value of interdisciplinary approaches to scholarly inquiry by investigating a wide-ranging theme from the perspective of at least two disciplines. Possible themes treated in a given year are progress and its critics, genius and creativity, and the city in the American imagination.

HR 0304 Finding Answers3 Credits

This team-taught course offers a survey of theories of knowledge, research methodologies, data collection practices, and analytical methods from disciplines across all undergraduate fields. It aims to arm students with a wide array of techniques for engaging in their own original research.

HR 0398 Special Topics3 Credits

Prerequisite: HR 0200 or HR 0201.

This course offers an in-depth investigation of a significant topic or question, conducted in a seminar format. The professor(s) teaching the course choose(s) the topic. This course is generally limited to juniors, with exceptions made as needed.

Co-Directors

Nash (Music)
Ruffini (History/Classical Studies)

Advisory Board

Alphonso (Politics)
Bayne (Philosophy)
Byun (Biology)
Davidson (Religious Studies)
Harper-Leatherman (Chemistry)
Lee (Accounting)
Massey (Accounting)
Scheraga (Management)