The University Honors Program — What’s it all about ?

Above all, it is about Great Questions. More specifically, the University Honors Program is an intellectually lively, interdisciplinary program in the liberal arts. At the heart of the program is a series of four six-credit courses that follow and explore the story of human civilization and thought from the ancient world until today. The Honors Program is truly interdisciplinary and global in orientation. The Honors curriculum includes the study of history, world literature, philosophy, religion, theology, economics, political science, and other aspects of the social, behavioral, and natural sciences. In addition to western civilization and thought, the program gives serious attention to Chinese and Islamic civilization. Participation in the program is open to students from every school within the university, and can be combined with any major program.

We call this series of courses colloquia because we come together to learn, to discuss, and to exchange ideas. Specifically, we come together to comprehensively consider Great Questions:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • What is the best way to live?
  • What can we know?

And how have the answers to each of these questions shaped the lives of individuals and communities in various historical contexts? In other words: Why is the world the way it is today, and how did it become that way?

Prompted by questions such as these, the Honors Program’s students and faculty alike are moved to explore possible answers together. The program offers an almost unparalleled opportunity to undertake this exploration with significant depth and breadth. It is the centrality of the Great Questions that distinguishes the Honors curriculum from that of a typical Great Books program. The Great Questions provide a framework and a set of guiding principles for inquiry, helping students to integrate their own questions and answers into a coherent, comprehensive worldview. We encourage our students to follow their innate sense of wonder; not only as an essential part of their undergraduate education, but as part of their development as persons with a life-long commitment to learning.

Students who participate in the Honors Program will receive an excellent liberal arts education grounded in a careful reading of primary texts. We emphasize reading primary texts because we think it is important to read the authors and thinkers themselves (rather than reading what others have said about them) in order to form your own judgment in conversation with classmates and teachers. No topics are off limits and no area of human knowledge is excluded from discussion.

The colloquia are normally team-taught. The reason is simple: any truly in-depth discussion requires multiple voices in order to flourish. A genuine exchange of views implies diversity among those leading the conversation. We do not assume that our faculty have all the answers; but we do assume that they have a head start in considering the questions.

If you think you might be interested in the program…

Please familiarize yourself with what we actually do by taking a look at our course schedules. If you like what you see, feel free to check out the requirements for admission and, if you believe you meet these requirements, we encourage you to apply.

Our students participate in the four colloquia during their first two years at Seton Hall. Each class section of the colloquia consists of approximately 30 students and two professors discussing primary texts on mornings for 2 ½ hours twice a week. Students enroll in a section of one of these double-sized courses (six credits) each semester for four semesters. The first colloquium explores the ancient world. Subsequent colloquia explore the middle ages and renaissance, the early modern era, and the contemporary world. The syllabi, readings, and course requirements are the same for all sections of the course.

Once they have completed the four Honors colloquia, students are encouraged to pursue their own interests for the remainder of their time at Seton Hall. Two additional seminar-type courses are required. The choice of these is largely left to the student.

During junior year students also give serious thought to the topic for their Honors capstone project/thesis. Students choose their topic based upon their interests and in conjunction with the faculty mentor with whom they will be working. Before the end of junior year, students must submit a proposal for their project or thesis to the Honors Program for approval. Their Honors experience culminates with the completion of their project or thesis.

For benchmark admission requirements and application…

Application Form
Due to a generous grant from Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Sharkey, the Honors Program is able to provide opportunities for students to attend a variety of cultural events, excursions, and dining experiences. These are designed to correlate with the cultures, histories and artistic/literary traditions discussed in the colloquia.

Resident Honors students live in certain sections of student housing reserved for them. This helps to form a supportive community where discussion continues beyond the classroom. In addition, all of our Honors students are automatically members of the Honors Program Student Association, which provides academic support, a sense of community, student-organized trips, and opportunities for socializing.

Participation in the Honors Program is compatible with all 4 year undergraduate majors and programs at Seton Hall and with nearly all dual-degree programs.  The only dual-degree program that is not compatible with Honors is the B.S. Biology/DPT Physical Therapy Program.