Honors Program

The Honors Program at Fairfield University is an interdisciplinary course of study open to invited students from the College of Arts and Sciences and all of the University's undergraduate schools. The program consists of a curriculum of team-taught courses and small seminars and 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. Honors students at Fairfield also are invited to attend intellectual and cultural events outside the classroom and faculty-led colloquia on a variety of topics. Students may enter the program during their first or second years.

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. Students who complete an honors thesis have the designation “Honors Program with Honors Thesis” on their final transcripts.

Current Curriculum

This curriculum applies to students in the Class of 2025 and later.

Honors Orientation
ENGL 1001Introduction to Rhetoric and Composition (Honors-Only Sections)3
HONR 1101Enduring Questions3
Honors Exploration
Select three seminars in different disciplines from the following list:9
Honors Seminar: History
Honors Seminar: Literature
Honors Seminar: Mathematics
Honors Seminar: Natural Sciences
Honors Seminar: Philosophy
Honors Seminar: Religious Studies
Honors Seminar: Social and Behavioral Sciences
Honors Seminar: Visual and Performing Arts
Honors Capstone
Select one of the following options:1-3
Honors Mini-Seminar
Honors Thesis
Total Credits16-18

Honors and the Core Curriculum

HONR 1101 Enduring Questions satisfies the Interdisciplinary signature element requirement of the Magis Core. Other Honors courses may fulfill signature elements of the core at the same time that they fulfill Magis Core and Honors Curriculum requirements, if the honors course has that signature element designation.

For team-taught classes (HONR 1101 and any team-taught sections of HONR 2202), faculty teaching the course will collegially determine which Magis core area the course will fulfill.

Each section of HONR 2202 Honors Seminar satisfies a designated Magis Core requirement based on the discipline of the course. In the case of History, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, the seminar may satisfy a Magis Core requirement in either the Orientation Tier or the Exploration Tier. Professors will be encouraged to team-teach. When this is not possible, they will be encouraged to invite colleagues to join their course as guest-lecturers for one or multiple classes.

Students may take additional sections of HONR 2202 beyond the three required, with the permission of the program directors. Honors students may satisfy a Magis Core requirement in History, Literature, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Visual and Performing Arts by enrolling in a non-honors section, but they must take at least three sections of HONR 2202 Honors Seminar. As such, each honors student will take at least six courses designed specifically for honors students. Students may take additional HONR 2202 sections with the permission of the Honors Program directors.

Honors Capstone

Honors Mini-Seminar

Faculty-Designed: A seminar of no more than 10 students that meets five times during the semester. Single instructor or team-taught, 1 credit. Students register for HONR 4990 Independent Special Topics.

Student-Designated: A self-selected group of 5-10 students will design, in conjunction with one or two faculty mentor(s) that the students themselves will recruit, a seminar that meets five times during the semester. Single instructor or team-taught, 1 credit. Students register for HONR 4990 Special Topics (Shell).

Transcript Designation: Honors Graduate

Honors Thesis

Students register for an Independent Study through the advisor’s department. Single instructor, 1-3 credits.

Transcript Designation: Honors Graduate with Honors Thesis

Previous Curriculum

This curriculum applies to students in the Class of 2023 and 2024. Students in the class of 2022 should consult the Catalog Archive.

The Honors Program comprises 21 credits earned through six Honors courses and an Honors-only section of ENGL 1001. The program also requires a senior capstone project, usually undertaken in the student's major during their senior year.

ENGL 1001Introduction to Rhetoric and Composition (Honors-Only Sections)3
HONR 1101Enduring Questions3
HONR 2201Emerging Questions3
HONR 2202Honors Seminar (x3)9
HONR 3301Finding Answers3
Senior Honors Project
Total Credits21

Honors and the Core Curriculum

Students in the Honors Program will take one class in one of these seven areas and six classes in the Honors Program to fulfill this portion of the Magis Core. The remaining eight courses required in the Magis Core remain unchanged for students in the Honors Program.

Students may elect to apply their Honors Program courses to six of the following seven areas:

  1. History
  2. Literature
  3. Natural Science
  4. Philosophy
  5. Religious Studies
  6. Social Science
  7. Visual and Performing Arts

Students in the Honors Program will fulfill their History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies requirements in either Tier I or Tier II. Which courses fulfill which requirements and at which tier will depend on each student’s specific enrollment choices.  No more than one course per area.

Honors Capstone

The honors capstone 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 either an independent study of three credits, typically conducted in the student's major field of study, or an enhancement of a course, 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.

Magis Core Signature Elements

Honors Program courses may fulfill signature elements of the core at the same time that they fulfill core requirements in the seven areas listed above.

All team-taught Honors Program courses (i.e. HONR 1101, HONR 2201, and HONR 3301) fulfill the Interdisciplinary Signature Element requirement.

Progress in the Honors Program

Students entering must remain in good academic standing in order to remain in the Honors Program.

HONR 1101 Enduring Questions    3 Credits

Attributes: MSID Magis Core: Interdisciplinary

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. Previously HR 0104.

HONR 2201 Emerging Questions    3 Credits

Attributes: MSID Magis Core: Interdisciplinary

Prerequisite: HONR 1101.

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. Previously HR 0204.

HONR 2202 Honors Seminar    3 Credits

Prerequisite: HONR 1101.

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 nine credits in HONR 2202 by completing three seminars throughout their studies. Previously HR 0202.

HONR 2202H Honors Seminar: History    3 Credits

HONR 2202L Honors Seminar: Literature    3 Credits

HONR 2202M Honors Seminar: Mathematics    3 Credits

HONR 2202N Honors Seminar: Natural Sciences    3 Credits

HONR 2202P Honors Seminar: Philosophy    3 Credits

HONR 2202R Honors Seminar: Religious Studies    3 Credits

HONR 2202S Honors Seminar: Social and Behavioral Sciences    3 Credits

HONR 2202V Honors Seminar: Visual and Performing Arts    3 Credits

HONR 3301 Finding Answers    3 Credits

Attributes: MSID Magis Core: Interdisciplinary

Prerequisite: HONR 2201.

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. Previously HR 0304.

HONR 4990 Independent Special Topics    3 Credits

Prerequisite: HONR 2201.

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. Previously HR 0398.


Keenan (Philosophy)
McClure (Psychology)