The Curricula


The various curricula at Fairfield University are arranged into five general categories. The first three categories, core curriculum, electives, and majors, represent coursework that all students are required to complete. The remaining categories, second majors and minors, designate optional coursework. In addition, special features such as an honors program, interdisciplinary learning communities or clusters, independent studies, and internships are available to students.

Pathways to Integration

As a Catholic Jesuit university characterized by academic rigor, integrative ways of thinking, knowing and doing, civic engagement and social responsibility within the humanistic tradition, our mission is to educate our students to become competent, compassionate professionals who will live lives of personal integrity and contribute to the common good. 

Choice of Curriculum

Descriptions of the various curricula will be found in the college and school sections and, where appropriate, under the discipline heading. For students who desire a curriculum involving an ordered sequence of courses (natural sciences, accounting, mathematics, engineering), the initial choice of program is important; for other students, first-year and sophomore courses provide a solid basis and background for any subsequent decision to major in such areas as economics, English, history, languages, and visual and performing arts.

Students will fulfill the curriculum requirements that are in place at the time the student matriculates. Once changes are in effect, students have the option of remaining with the requirements in effect at the time of their matriculation.

University Course Numbering System


0001-0099 Introductory courses
0100-0199 Intermediate courses without prerequisites
0200-0299 Intermediate courses with prerequisites
0300-0399 Advanced courses, normally limited to juniors and seniors, and open to graduate students with permission


0400-0499 Master and Sixth Year Certificate courses, open to undergraduate students with permission
0500-0599 Master and Sixth Year Certificate courses
0600-0699 Doctoral courses, open to qualified Master's students

Core Curriculum

The goal of a Fairfield education is to develop the whole person: an intellectual being who can think clearly, accurately, dispassionately; a social being who cares about others and takes one's place in the world with them; a physical being who knows the laws, limitations, and beauty of the natural world; a spiritual being who seeks to make one's life express the truths of religion and philosophy.

Because Fairfield believes that a liberal education can achieve this goal, the General Faculty has developed a core curriculum that all undergraduates must take to acquire a broad background in all academic areas. During their years at Fairfield, students, regardless of major or field of specialization, take from two to five courses in each of five areas.

Within the framework of these five areas, students have a number of options so that fulfilling the requirement can become a stimulating and enjoyable experience while providing the breadth of knowledge necessary for further studies and for life as a well-educated human being.

Options within the Core Curriculum

Area I: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Note: Psychology majors cannot use PY 0261 to fulfill this core science requirement.

Area II: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Two semesters of history: One 100-level history course is required, plus one 200- or 300-level course.
  • Two semesters of anthropology (except for AY 0110 and AY 0115), communication¹, economics, politics, psychology (except for PY 0261), or sociology. Both courses may be in the same department or they may be in two different departments. Also includes ED 0241 for Educational Studies minors only.

Area III: Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Applied Ethics

  • Two semesters of philosophy: PH 0101 is required, plus one 200-level course.
  • Two semesters of religious studies: RS 0101 is required, plus one 200-level course.
  • One additional course in philosophy, religious studies, or applied ethics.

Area IV: English and Visual and Performing Arts

  • Three semesters of English: EN 0011 and EN 0012 are required, plus one 100-level English literature course.
  • Two semesters of visual and performing arts.
    • One semester must be in the area of art history; film, television, and media arts history; music history; or theatre history. (Attribute: VPCH)
    • The other semester may be selected from any of the three-credit course offerings in art history; film, television & media arts; music; studio art, and theatre. (Attribute: VPCH or VPC2)

Area V: Modern and Classical Languages

Diversity Requirements

U.S. Diversity

In order to help students develop a critical consciousness of self and society, all undergraduates are required to take one course that gives significant treatment to aspects of diversity and pluralism in U.S. society. Such courses will explore, in a systematic manner, connections among race, class, and gender, and will examine issues of privilege and difference in U.S. society. Additional aspects of diversity - including religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity - may also be considered. Approved courses will be designated by a special symbol in each semester's course schedule booklet. This requirement will not add credit hours or an extra course to a student's degree program; students will be able to select a designated diversity course from among core requirement courses, major courses, or electives.

World Diversity

In addition to the U.S. diversity course, a world diversity course is required of all undergraduates. This course focuses on a non-Western culture or society, exclusive of Europe and the United States, and their literary, artistic, musical, religious, philosophical, political, economic, or scientific traditions. Though courses primarily emphasizing North American and European topics will not count toward this requirement, courses focusing on Native American, Russian, and Pre-Columbian or Latin American cultures can meet the requirement. Core language courses do not meet this requirement while literature and culture courses may satisfy it. Moreover, such a course will not emphasize international relations or business relations vis-à-vis Europe or the United States. A study abroad experience may satisfy this requirement if it meets with the spirit and letter of this mission statement.


  • Most core courses are taken within the first two years at Fairfield University. However, precisely when students should take various core courses depends, in part, upon their major. The faculty advisor will assist students in selecting a schedule that meets all core requirements. Normally, English (EN 0011 and EN 0012), mathematics, and modern and classical languages are included in the student's first-year schedule.
  • Students with majors in the Dolan School of Business are required to take specific courses as part of their core curriculum and may take two semesters of language at any level in fulfillment of the Area V language requirement. See the Dolan School of Business Core section for such course details.
  • School of Engineering students are exempt from the Area V language requirement and can take EG 0130 Engineering Graphics I as one of the courses in fulfillment of the Area IV Visual and Performing Arts requirement. Engineering students also take EC 0011 Introduction to Microeconomics as one of their Area II Social and Behavioral Science electives and AE 0287 Engineering Ethics for their Area III Applied Ethics elective.
  • Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing students take specific courses as part of their core curriculum and are required to complete either the visual and performing arts or the modern language requirement.


The major is central to a student's program of study at Fairfield University. It represents an area of specialization consisting of a cluster of related courses drawn from a single department, more than one department, or an interdisciplinary program. Normally, a student must pursue a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework to complete a major. The course requirements for each major offered by the College of Arts and Sciences are set forth within each departmental section of this catalog; information on individually designed majors is also in this section. Likewise, the requirements for majors within the Dolan School of Business, the Egan School of Nursing, and the School of Engineering are found in those sections of this catalog. In all cases, the selection of courses for a particular major must be done in consultation with a faculty advisor from one's major department or school. In each college or school, the proper work of the major is concentrated in the junior and senior years; where preparatory courses are needed, they are taken in the freshman and/or sophomore year. Majors are usually selected at the end of the freshman year or during the sophomore year. Students declare majors by going to the office of the dean of the appropriate college or school. When a major is declared, the student is assigned a faculty advisor from the major area. To change from one major to another in one's school requires completion of a Change of Major form. The Change of Major form can be obtained from the office of the dean of the student's current school. The form must be signed by the chairperson/coordinator of the major in which the student is currently enrolled, the chairperson/coordinator of the major that the student desires, and the dean of the school. The form is then forwarded to the University Registrar.

Second Major (Double Major)

A student has the option of pursuing a second major at Fairfield University. The courses that constitute a second major must meet the stated requirements for a major program and must be approved by the department or interdisciplinary program in which the second major is located.  Students declare second majors by completing a Double Major form that is available in the dean's office of their school.  A double major does not constitute a double degree.


In addtion to carrying a major, a student may exercise the option of selecting a minor outside the area of specialization. A minor is a cluster of thematically related courses drawn from one or more departments, usually in the range of 15 to 18 credits. Students electing a minor are still required to fulfill the core requirement. In addition to department-based minors, many interdisciplinary minors are also available at Fairfield: American Studies; Applied Ethics; Asian Studies; Black Studies; Catholic Studies; Classical Studies; Environmental Studies; Health Studies; Humanitarian Action; International Studies; Irish Studies; Islamic World Studies; Italian Studies; Judaic Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Peace and Justice Studies; Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Because the minor is considered to be a supplement to the student's major program of study, its completion in a given case may not have the same priority as that of a major. In order to select a minor, a student must submit a request and gain approval by the Chair or Program Director of the prospective minor no later than the Spring registration period of the student's Junior year. The completion of a minor is subject to the availability of the courses selected.


All students in BA and BS programs should have a minimum number of free electives. These electives may be chosen in any area of study, presuming prerequisites are met, and cannot be determined or required by any department or school. These electives may, of course, be part of a student's minor or second major. All students in BA programs must have a minimum of eight free electives; students in BS programs must have a minimum of four free electives, except in the Egan School of Nursing, where two are required.

University 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. Though students from all schools participate in the Program, a detailed description can be found under the Honors Program section.

Cornerstone Courses

The Cornerstone Program accelerates and intensifies the academic engagement of undergraduate first year students into the living and learning community of Fairfield University. The Cornerstone Program is designed to increase academic engagement for first year students by promoting active and collaborative learning with peers and greater interaction with faculty in the first semester of college. Through foundational core and major courses, the Cornerstone Program intensifies the intellectual experience, impacts positively students' academic success and retention, and promotes campus community based on academics. Cornerstone courses promote faculty and student interaction around scholarly and creative inquiry, foster active and collaborative learning, and connect students to enriching educational experiences across the curriculum.

Independent Studies

The independent study option is available in most departments to students who wish to examine a subject in depth for which no course is available. Such guided studies are designed and pursued by students under the tutelage of a faculty member. This option is restricted to students in their junior and/or senior years of study.

Students should apply to the professor under whose direction they wish to study no later than the normal registration period of the preceding semester. The Independent Study Application form, available from the office of the college dean, must be completed and filed with the Registrar before the project may begin.

For projects of less than a semester's equivalent course work, one or two credit hours may be assigned. For projects of a semester's equivalent coursework, three credit hours, or, with a laboratory component, four credit hours may be assigned.

If students undertake more than one independent study project during their college careers, the total credit hours for all projects may not exceed nine credit hours toward the undergraduate degree.

Student Internships

Students at Fairfield University have an opportunity to earn academic credit and gain practical, on-site work experience by pursuing internships in their major fields of study. Through placements in appropriate businesses, corporations, laboratories, law firms, government offices and agencies, nonprofit organizations, etc. students apply and test principles and theories they have acquired in their coursework. In a typical internship carrying three semester credits, students work 10 to 15 hours per week on site. Internships are coordinated by Fairfield University faculty and on-site supervisors. Through such experiences students can enhance their learning and explore potential careers. Upon graduation, students are frequently offered positions with corporations and agencies sponsoring their internships.

Internships are available on the University's job and internship platform, Stags4Hire. Stags4Hire offers opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni of the University. Internships may be secured through Stags4Hire or independent networking and may be undertaken for credit, for pay, or for both credit and pay. When pursuing an internship for academic credit, students must be in good academic standing and must meet all prerequisites prescribed by the major department (e.g. GPA, prior coursework). To register for an internship, a student must obtain prior approval from the faculty member who coordinates the internship program in his/her major department.

A maximum of six academic credits can be earned for internship experience. An internship will not substitute for any other stated course(s) in the student's major field. Further information about specific internship opportunities can be obtained from the departmental chair or the internship coordinator of the specific department.

Options for Graduate Level Courses

Fairfield University undergraduates with permission from their faculty advisor and from the Dean of the school in which the course is offered may take a graduate course for undergraduate credit and as part of their undergraduate load, appearing on their undergraduate transcript. A student may later petition to have those courses provide advanced standing in their graduate program and it would be up to the faculty to determine if the credits should apply to the graduate program at that time. Students might receive credit for these courses as part of a graduate program if the student did not apply the credits to complete the undergraduate degree.

An undergraduate student who has advanced beyond degree requirements and also has permission from the Dean of the school in which the course is offered may take a graduate level course for graduate credit as part of their regular undergraduate load. The number of graduate courses a full time undergraduate may take is limited to two. The five year pre-structured programs follow their own required sequence.

Registration for graduate courses is on a space available basis, with preference given to graduate students. Undergraduates with permission to enroll in a graduate course may petition to register in late August for the fall and early January for the spring.

Fifth-Year Master’s Programs

Fairfield offers several dual or integrated degree programs for undergraduate students who are interested in studying toward a master’s degree while an undergraduate, with an additional year at Fairfield for continued graduate coursework after the student has completed their  bachelor’s degree. Interested students should discuss and determine coursework options with their academic advisor during their sophomore year so that the required admission process and course selection can begin. More detailed information can be found on specific 5th Year Programs in the school sections of this undergraduate course catalog.

College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (Fifth-Year Programs in Partnership)

More details about these programs may be found in the College of Arts and Sciences section of this catalog.

School of Engineering

More details about these programs may be found in the School of Engineering section of this catalog.

One-Year Master’s Programs

Undergraduate students in the Dolan School of Business who excel academically are strongly urged to consider applying to one of the school’s graduate programs in business (MBA, MS in Accounting, Business Analytics, or Finance). Beginning the application process and sitting for the standardized entrance exam (GMAT or GRE) can occur as early as the summer prior to the start of one’s senior year of undergraduate study. If accepted, and contingent on first completing one’s undergraduate degree, a student can begin the Master’s program immediately after Commencement in the summer (MBA, MS Accounting) or in the following fall (MS Finance).

  • MBA degree: Students who excel in their undergraduate business core courses may be able to finish the MBA degree on a full-time basis in one year. The MBA provides both a greater breadth of knowledge in key business disciplines, as well as advanced studies in at least one area of concentration.
  • MS in Accounting: This one year, full-time cohort program begins each summer, at the end of May and concludes at the end of the following spring semester. One of the major benefits of the program is the opportunity for the student to amass additional course credits in order to be “150 ready” for public accounting positions.
  • MS in Finance: This highly specialized program of study can be completed on a full-time basis in one year, beginning each fall semester. Students seeking both advanced theory and practical applications/skill sets within the field of finance are strongly encouraged to consider this degree.

Students interested in any of these programs are encouraged to make an appointment with the Associate Dean and Director of DSB Graduate programs (x2843).

Scholastic Honors

Dean's List

To qualify for the Dean's List at the conclusion of each semester's work, a student must have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours, have no outstanding or incomplete grades for that semester, and have attained a semester grade point average of 3.50 or better.

Graduation with Honors

Honors at graduation are awarded for the following weighted grade point averages computed on four years' work:

Summa Cum Laude 3.85
Magna Cum Laude 3.70
Cum Laude 3.50

Alpha Sigma Nu

Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society, serves to reward and encourage scholarship, loyalty, and service to the ideals of Jesuit higher education. To be nominated for membership, undergraduate students must have scholastic rank in the top 15 percent of their class, demonstrate a proven concern for others through involvement in extracurricular activities and service to the University, and manifest a true concern and commitment to the values and goals of the society. The Fairfield chapter was reactivated in 1981 and includes outstanding seniors who are encouraged to reflect scholarship, promote service to the University, and provide greater understanding of the Jesuit ideals of education within the University community.

Beta Gamma Sigma

Beta Gamma Sigma is an international honor society recognizing the outstanding academic achievements of students enrolled in collegiate business programs accredited by AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. With more than 440,000 members worldwide, the Society's membership comprises the brightest and best of the world's business leaders. At Fairfield University, the top 7 percent of juniors, the top 10 percent of seniors, and the top 20 percent of graduate students are eligible for membership in the University's Beta Gamma Sigma chapter, which was established in 1998. Each spring, an induction ceremony is held at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business to welcome new members into the Society.

Phi Beta Kappa

Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most widely recognized national academic honor society in the United States. Founded in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, the society's aim is to encourage academic excellence in the broad range of the liberal arts. Membership is restricted to students who complete most of their coursework in the liberal studies curriculum; typically those are students who pursue B.A. or B.S. degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences. Fairfield's Zeta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was established in 1995. Each spring it installs new members from among the most academically talented upper-class students. Election to this chapter is based on scholastic standing and academic accomplishments and is limited to seniors and a highly select group of juniors.

Sigma Theta Tau

Sigma Theta Tau was founded by innovative thinkers who looked forward to a profession that recognizes and uses knowledge and learning to lead in service to others. Founded in 1922 by six students of nursing at Indiana University in the United States, the honor society began with one chapter and six members. During the past 85 years, it has evolved to more than 480 chapters across the globe, with more than 125,000 active members. As one of the most distinctive organizations in professional nursing, the honor society influences and changes the health of people by engaging the intellectual capital of nurses around the globe. By developing and building connections with diverse people and entities, we enable nurses to collectively and individually develop, create, use and apply their knowledge to make a difference for the greater good of people’s well being.

Other National Honor Societies

Discipline-based national and international honor societies with chapters at Fairfield University include:

  • Alpha Epsilon Delta - pre-medical
  • Alpha Kappa Delta - sociology
  • Alpha Mu Gamma - foreign languages
  • Alpha Sigma Lambda - adult higher education
  • Beta Alpha Psi - financial information
  • Chi Sigma Iota - counseling, academic and professional (international)
  • Lambda Pi Eta - communication
  • Omicron Delta Epsilon - economics
  • Phi Alpha Theta - history (international)
  • Pi Mu Epsilon - mathematics
  • Pi Sigma Alpha - politics
  • Psi Chi - psychology
  • Sigma Iota Rho - international studies
  • Sigma Pi Sigma - physics
  • Sigma Tau Delta - English (international)
  • Sigma Tau Theta - nursing
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society - scientists and engineers (international)
  • Theta Alpha Kappa - religious studies