Honors Program - FAQs

For Students Considering Applying to the Honors Program

Should I Consider Studying in the Honors Program at Fairfield?
How Do I Apply to the Honors Program?
Who Is Invited to Apply?
Some Colleges Just Offer Seats in their Honors Program to Good Students. Why Don't You?
How Can Students Enter the Program as Sophomores and Still Complete the Program?
Fairfield University has a big core curriculum, so how can I fit in Honors courses?
I'm in a major or school with lots of requirements. Can I still participate in the Honors Program?
What Kind of Research Do Students Conduct for the Senior Honors Project?
Can I Complete the Honors Program and Also Study Abroad?
I'm planning on doing multiple majors and/or minors. Can I still be in the Honors Program?
I'm a varsity athlete with daily practices. Will I be able to participate in the Honors Program?
How Difficult Are Honors Courses? What is the Workload Like?
What Benefits Do I Gain By Completing the Honors Program?

For Students Currently in the Honors Program

Where do I find the class lists for next semester?
I started the Program as a freshman. What core courses am I exempt from?
I started the program as a sophomore. What core courses am I exempt from?
Within a core area where I'm taking an exemption, which course am I exempt from?
I took an Honors seminar that focused on issues of U.S. diversity. Can it fulfill my U.S. diversity requirement?
I took an Honors seminar on a topic in Natural Science. Does that mean that I'm exempt from a Natural Science core course?
I started the Program as a freshman. Can I study abroad and stay in the Program?
I started the Program as a sophomore. Can I study abroad and stay in the Program?
I'm an Education minor, how do I fit in my student teaching?
How do I start defining my thesis project?
How do I register for HR 399?

For Students Considering Applying to the Honors Program

Should I Consider Studying in the Honors Program at Fairfield?
Yes, if you are a strong student and if you are inquisitive and passionate about ideas in a range of disciplines. These two qualities do not necessarily go together. Sometimes students who earn high grades do not find the ideas they study to be intellectually exciting. The Honors Program is for students who are intellectual self-starters - students who explore ideas on their own, who delight in knowing, and who are open-minded enough to question their assumptions and participate in and learn from engaged debate with faculty and fellow students.

How Do I Apply to the Honors Program?
Students are invited to apply to the Program by the Honors Director.

Who Is Invited to Apply?
Some applicants to the incoming freshman class who have been offered the Magis Scholarship are invited to apply. Members of the current freshman class who have excelled academically in their first semester at Fairfield are invited to apply for entry to the Program as sophomores.

Some Colleges Just Offer Seats in their Honors Program to Good Students. Why Don't You?
There are two reasons. First, many Honors Programs that offer seats without an application process have a structure that allows them to do this. Often, such programs simply designate sections of their required courses as "Honors" sections, and so there is no limitation on places in that kind of program. The more students offered seats, the more Honors-labeled sections. Fairfield's Honors Program has its own curricular structure consisting of interdisciplinary team-taught courses and small seminars reserved only for Honors students. This structure functions as a unique path in the Fairfield educational experience and requires us to limit each Honors class to 60 students, typically 30 freshman and 30 sophomores.

The second reason is that we want to know that students in our Honors Program really want to be a part of it and will be committed to it. So we require all students, even our very best, to apply by writing an essay and, in the case of sophomore entry, to sit for an interview.

How Can Students Enter the Program as Sophomores and Still Complete the Program?
The Honors Program requires the completion of 6 courses, typically one course each semester for three years of coursework. Students who enter the Program as freshmen complete their coursework at the end of their junior year, and those who enter as sophomores complete their coursework at the end of their senior year. In addition, all Honors students complete the Senior Honors Project, which involves extended, intensive research defined by the student in consultation with a faculty mentor and usually conducted in the student's major.

Fairfield University has a big core curriculum, so how can I fit in Honors courses?
Honors students are exempt from some core courses to allow room for their Honors courses.

I'm in a major or school with lots of requirements. Can I still participate in the Honors Program?
Yes. All Fairfield undergraduates have basically the same core requirements, so the core exemptions described above allow room for Honors courses, regardless of school or major. Some majors are so highly sequenced that there is limited flexibility in scheduling required courses. That's why we offer at least two appropriate Honors courses at different time codes each semester, and if necessary, we will let you take your Honors courses out of sequence.

What Kind of Research Do Students Conduct for the Senior Honors Project?
View the projects completed by last year's graduating seniors. It is important to remember that these students defined their projects from their own interests, based on experience gained through years of study. The Senior Honors Project can seem daunting to students at the beginning of their college career, but later on its research is usually a labor of love based on an interest that has been growing for some time. Since the Senior Honors Project is typically done in the student's major, it is not an "extra" course required by the Honors Program but counted too for the completion of major requirements.

Can I Complete the Honors Program and Also Study Abroad?
Yes. If you enter the Program as a freshman, you can study abroad for an entire year and complete your Honors coursework in your senior year. If you enter the Program as a sophomore, you can study abroad for one semester (and potentially the adjacent summer) and double-up on Honors coursework in one of your remaining semesters.

I'm planning on doing multiple majors and/or minors. Can I still be in the Honors Program?
Yes. Fairfield requires only that you have one major. If you decide to do one or more minors and/or a second major, you are making a choice about how to spend your electives. Students in the Honors Program receive exemptions from some core courses to make room for Honors courses, so you don't have to spend electives on Honors courses.

I'm a varsity athlete with daily practices. Will I be able to participate in the Honors Program?
Yes. We offer at least two appropriate Honors courses at different time codes each semester, and if necessary, we will let you take your Honors courses out of sequence.

How Difficult Are Honors Courses? What is the Workload Like?
Honors courses are challenging, but reasonably so, and are entirely within the ability of the students who are admitted to the Program. Honors students have already proven themselves as students and have developed skills in time management. In fact, Honors students are usually the most involved Fairfield students who combine academic success in all their studies with involvement in a vast array of student organizations and volunteer work.

What Benefits Do I Gain By Completing the Honors Program?
The most important benefit, of course, is becoming more of a person through devoted and sophisticated study. The Honors Program highlights the skills of critical thinking, graceful writing, and cogent argumentation, skills that are crucial to success in any field. Students who complete the Honors Program have their achievement duly noted on their university transcript, along with the title of their Senior Honors Project.

For Students Currently in the Honors Program

Where do I find the class lists for next semester?
The class lists are posted online on "Blackboard." There should be a listing for "Honors Program." Click that link and you will find that the seminar descriptions and class lists are posted there.

I started the Program as a freshman. What core courses am I exempt from?
You are exempt from all 3 English core requirements, along with 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. That's 7 courses in total.

I started the program as a sophomore. What core courses am I exempt from?
You are exempt from the third core English course along with 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. That's 7 courses in total.

Within a core area where I'm taking an exemption, which course am I exempt from?
If you're taking an exemption in History, Philosophy, or Religious Studies, you're not bound by course prerequisites at the 200-level in fulfilling your remaining core requirements. For example, you could take PH 235 without having taken PH 10 or a 100-level PH course. If you take an exemption within Visual and Performing Arts, it's up to you whether you exempt yourself from the course with a history component.

I took an Honors seminar that focused on issues of U.S. diversity. Can it fulfill my U.S. diversity requirement?
No. In your second year of Honors coursework you will fulfill either the U.S. diversity requirement (HR 200) or the world diversity requirement (HR 201) depending on the course you take. Apart from fulfilling 1 diversity requirement and replacing 7 core courses, Honors courses cannot be double-counted to satisfy any other curricular requirement.

I took an Honors seminar on a topic in Natural Science. Does that mean that I'm exempt from a Natural Science core course?
No. The core exemptions are designed to leave you room in your schedule to fit the Honors courses. Apart from HR 200 and HR 201 (diversity courses), your Honors courses do not necessarily map directly onto your core exemptions. You may, for example, exempt yourself from a Natural Science core course without ever having had an Honors course emphasizing Natural Science, or you may choose to take 2 Natural Science core courses in addition to a Natural Science Honors seminar.

I started the Program as a freshman. Can I study abroad and stay in the Program?
Yes. You can study abroad for a semester or a year, and then finish up your coursework with the students from your year who began as sophomores.

I started the Program as a sophomore. Can I study abroad and stay in the Program?
Yes. You can study abroad for a semester (and possibly the adjacent summer), and then take two Honors courses in another semester. Be sure to let Susan know as early as possible of your intentions to study abroad so that we can figure out the best semester for you to double up. Note, if you began as a sophomore you cannot take a full year abroad and remain in the Program.

I'm an Education minor, how do I fit in my student teaching?
If you began as a freshman, just make sure to do your senior project no later than the Fall of your senior year. If you began as a sophomore, you'll also need to take two Honors courses during one semester. Be sure to let Susan know as early as possible so that we can figure out the best semester for you to double up. Education minors should also request HR 201 rather than HR 200 in the second year, because you will fulfill the U.S. diversity requirement with a required education course anyway.

How do I start defining my thesis project?
First, take a look at the types of projects previous students have done. Then, no later than Spring of junior year, start talking to faculty in your areas of interest about how to go about defining a reasonable research question, and about who might be interested in working with you on such a project.

How do I register for HR 399?
You don't. Sign up for the appropriate independent study course number in the appropriate discipline (e.g., PY 398, IL 300). Once you complete the Program, the Registrar will list HR 399 on your transcript with the title of your project.