Honors Program

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Letter From The Directors

Dear Scholar,

The Fairfield University Honors Program invites highly accomplished and motivated students to participate in an engaging and enriching course of study where intensive academic classes are connected to meaningful experiential learning.

The Honors Program frames educational opportunities that are intellectually rigorous and based on foundational and advanced work in interdisciplinary thematic areas. Our courses promote social justice, creative and critical thinking, and global awareness, and our students are empowered through resources within the Program, as well as the larger Fairfield community.

As the new co-directors of the Honors Program, we are excited to be providing a new and improved learning environment designed for students just like you. In addition to an Honors curriculum facilitated by the finest faculty at Fairfield, the program also offers dedicated housing, mentoring and advising from our advisory board members, peer mentors and a high-tech lounge for collaborating in groups, socializing or studying. You will also have access to specially designed co-curricular programs and activities, as well as internship and research opportunities with Program alumni and faculty. These opportunities include a special summer study abroad program in Athens, exclusive registration for honors classes and more.

If you are a curious, motivated, and dedicated student, the Honors Program is a diverse community of scholars. Please feel free to contact us with questions, and we look forward to meeting you at an admitted students day this spring.

Sincerely,

Dr. Laura Nash, Professor of Music
lnash@fairfield.edu

Dr. Mark Ligas, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Excellence
mligas@fairfield.edu

Program Overview

Fairfield University’s Honors Program engages talented students from each of University’s undergraduate schools in a rewarding and challenging program of study that offers an integrated series of courses and seminars. Students are encouraged to be active participants in the learning process and to develop and share emerging ideas with their classmates and professors. The program complements both the core curriculum and major fields of study, while still allowing students to pursue minor fields and elective courses.

The Honors Program teaches students to ask the larger questions that transcend any single discipline and to explore connections between disciplines. This enriched learning environment fosters stimulating class discussions and encourages a deeper level of learning that pushes the boundaries of knowledge. The program's advanced course of study culminates in a capstone experience that involves a research paper, or similar product, appropriate to each student’s discipline.

Under the guidance of the University’s most distinguished professors, the honors curriculum helps students maximize their educational opportunities while encouraging them to pursue their passions and use their talents to make meaningful contributions to society.

Maintenance of a minimum GPA of 3.33 is required for continued membership in the Honors Program for members of the Class of 2020-2022. Maintenance of a minimum GPA of 3.75 is required for members of the Class of 2023 and 2024.

Program Benefits

Honors students have access to a variety of exclusive benefits and services including, but not limited to:

  • Early move-in dates and dedicated first-year housing in the University’s Honors Living and Learning Community with resident assistants who are also members of the program
  • Personal mentoring and advising from members of the Honors Program advisory council
  • Invitations to special events and co-curricular activities specifically designed for honors students
  • A dedicated study suite with state-of-the-art equipment and kitchen
  • Innovative classes instructed by Fairfield’s most distinguished faculty
  • The opportunity to participate in a special summer study abroad experience in Athens, Greece

Student Awards

One of the strengths of the Honors Program is its emphasis on team-teaching and interdisciplinary research. To highlight that feature of the program, we have instituted student research awards, and are happy to announce this year's winners.

Best Honors Program Senior Capstone, Class of 2019:
Shannon Kelley '19

Best Honors Program Seminar Research Paper, 2018/2019 Year:
Lilah Haymann '21, Teresa Sauer '20, Kelly-Ann McAlice '22

This year's Honors Program faculty teaching awards were given to Emily Orlando for the best individually-taught seminar and Anita Fernandez and David Schmidt for the best team-taught seminar.

Several of this year's Fairfield University Awards also went to students in the Honors Program, including Elisa Castelli ’19 (St. Ignatius Loyola Medal), Lauren Hart ‘19 (Student Achievement Award), Shannon Kelley ‘19 and James Cotumaccio ‘19 (Bellarmine Medal).

Frequently Asked Questions

Fairfield’s Honors Program is designed to engage curious, highly-motivated individuals who wish to expand on Fairfield’s strong and diverse liberal arts education through a sequence of Honors courses, which are both team-taught interdisciplinary explorations and seminars. Regardless of one’s major area of study or school affiliation, a student is tasked in each Honors students read, analyze, and reflect on much broad topics/areas of information and knowledge, with the hope of exploring a series of questions. Critical thinking, communication through speaking in class and writing are paramount for successful completion of each course. The Honors experience culminates with a capstone project that is undertaken typically through additional and extensive work in one of a student’s major or minor courses in the senior year.

There are seven Honors courses:

  • ENW 100 (Honors section)
  • Three (3) team-taught courses, each of which provides students with opportunities to explore issues and topics from an interdisciplinary lens.
  • Three (3) Honors seminars, each taught by a faculty member from a specific discipline but who wishes to expand on a topic and provide greater opportunities for students to explore knowledge/meaning beyond the more traditional discipline perspective.

The Honors courses provide a pathway through the Magis Core. In addition to taking an Honors-only section of ENW100, the first-year rhetoric and composition course, the six Honors courses are completed in lieu of six courses in the Magis Core. The Honors Program director and the student’s faculty advisor work with each student to determine which Magis Core discipline courses are replaced with Honors seminars.

Absolutely, and many Honors students pursue a double major as well as minors. Naturally, careful advising and planning with the help of one’s faculty advisor and/or an Honors Program director is essential.

Yes! The Honors Program is extremely useful for those studying in one of Fairfield's professional schools. Not only do the Honors courses provide opportunities for students to explore areas of study that, while outside of their main academic disciplines, correlate well with specific majors areas, but they also give student the ability to develop critical skill sets and explore additional areas of interest.

As is the case with every undergraduate student at Fairfield University, one has the benefit of both a faculty advisor (in one's major discipline of study) and an assistant dean in one's respective school. In addition, Honors students, have an additional advising layer exists through the Honors Directors who are keenly aware of not only the Honors curriculum, but also the Magis Core, and the requirements of all the majors and minors across the University.

Yes. We have two dedicated summer study abroad programs that count as one of the required Honors seminars. The Honors capstone functions as a special research opportunity, allowing students to create work that is mission-driven and outward facing, making it an important feature of a job or grad school application.

All the Honors courses provide opportunities to extend learning outside the classroom though, for example, a field work trip, museum outing, or outside speaker. The Student Leadership Board hosts a variety of cultural, philanthropic, and social events. We also have an Honors newsletter. All first year students in Honors may choose to live in an Honors-designated residential floor that also has extracurricular activities and events.

Absolutely not. Keep in mind that the seven Honors courses - ENW 100 and the six hour branded courses - are just seven of the 40+ courses taken as an undergraduate at Fairfield University. Although Honors students do develop a deep sense of community amongst themselves, they are also actively engaged in courses, as well as extra-curricular, social, spiritual, and cultural opportunities with the rest of the undergraduate population at Fairfield.

No. Honors students usually excel at time management, allowing them to not only do well in their courses, but also to be leaders on campus either as members of a varsity sports teams, campus ministry, community outreach, or the student government board.

All courses at Fairfield University are rigorous in their own ways. The Honors curriculum is intense with a focus on analytic reading, critical thinking, writing, and oral communication. We expect more work because you offer more ability! If one is not interested in engaging broadly on a number of topics, that is fine, but it means that the Honors Program is probably not a good fit. A student must approach each Honors course with an open mind and a motivation to push oneself beyond the bounds of traditional classroom lecture-based learning.

Honors students are required to maintain an overall grade point average of 3.75. After the first semester of study, the Honors directors will carefully review each student's academic performance to determine whether the Honors Program is a good fit for the student going forward. The purpose of the Honors Program is never to exclude a student; rather, it is imperative to assess early on in the process whether the Honors Program is the most beneficial way to nurture one's academic talents and abilities.

No one major is a better or worse fit for the Honors Program. Rather, students who are open-minded to different areas of knowledge and who have a deep appreciation for liberal arts learning and humanistic inquiry are best equipped to succeed in the Program.

First-year students in the Honors Program have the option to live together on specific floors of the first-year residence halls. This provides another opportunity for Honors students to bond and establish a sense of community. This living and learning opportunity is not required, and those who choose not to live in this community retain the same benefits of being in the Honors Program.

It may certainly be the case that one finds the Honors Program is not most beneficial for her/his learning goals, thus one is able to withdraw from the program at almost any point. Unfortunately, due to the seminar requirements and the demands for seats in the various seminars, once one steps out of the program, the opportunity does not exist for readmission.

Student Testimonials

Julianne Hulin ‘19

Nursing and Music Major
Read What Julianne Says →

“The Honors Program at Fairfield University has allowed me to take unique and innovative classes that I otherwise would not be able to fit into my schedule. I enjoy participating in thoughtful and challenging in-class discussions with my peers and am extremely grateful for the many academic and social opportunities made available to me through this program.”

Jessica Morin ‘18

Psychology and Music Major

Education Minor

Read What Jessica Says →

“The honors program has been an eye-opening experience that has allowed me to broaden my intellectual horizons. The excellent professors and discussion-driven courses have helped me grow as a student and as a person. I highly recommend being a part of such a wonderful program because it truly enhances the overall college experience.”

Gianna Llewellyn ‘19

Film Major

Management Minor

Read What Gianna Says →

"The Honors Program is for students who want more than the ordinary education. The quality and quantity of knowledge you gain is astonishing, as well as addictive. It is the only educational experience I have had where you can participate in a full-on philosophical debate with your fellow peers and learn more than you thought possible inside and outside of the classroom."

Faculty

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