The Honors Program supports Assumption University’s mission as a Catholic comprehensive college, one that provides a liberal education and is dedicated to helping students prepare for successful lives, professionally and personally.

A liberal education is simply an education for freedom—and it’s becoming more important.

At the professional level, today’s world requires increasing flexibility, as people must often adjust or switch careers as the economy changes. Liberal education is the basis of—not an alternative to—the pre-professional preparation that Assumption also provides. At the political level, our democracy requires civility, the ability to develop informed and balanced opinions, and citizenly courage. At the personal level, seeking to understand ourselves and others augments the meaningfulness of our lives. In all these ways, liberal education helps students prepare for success.

Assumption University is driven by a simple vision: each student is a full human being, preparing for a full human life. Each person is called to understand themselves, others, and the world and to act in the world excellently. And each of us must do this in many ways: as workers, family members, friends, thinkers, and citizens. The Honors Program and its faculty aim to prepare each student for a thoughtful, productive, and free life, one in which the student may more excellently recognize the truth and succeed by doing good in community with others.  

Honors Mission and Curriculum

  • Required Courses

    First Year A year-long Honors COMPASS linkage (4 courses)
    Sophomore Year Elective—any course with an Honors designation
    Junior Year HON300 Junior Honors Seminar
    Senior Year HON444 Senior Honors Thesis

    Students must take seven Honors courses. They are required to maintain a minimum GPA in those courses of 3.25 and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25. In addition, students are required to defend their Senior Honors Thesis to a committee of at least three faculty members.

  • All freshmen at Assumption University complete one COMPASS linkage. Each of these linkages is grounded in a core seminar in one of three primary liberal arts disciplines—literature, theology, or philosophy. The Honors Program sponsors three different linkages each year. Disciplines frequently involved in Honors COMPASS linkages include philosophy, art, literature, theology, writing, history, and political science.

    Unlike other COMPASS linkages, the Honors first-year experience continues all year. This special, yearlong experience has both academic and social benefits, as students get to know each other and their professors and develop intellectual friendships. Each Honors student takes two courses in the fall semester with a learning community of the same students. The learning community reconvenes in the spring semester with the same students. All four of these courses fulfill Honors Program requirements, and they are consistent with all majors.

    The Honors Seminar will help students identify a faculty mentor and develop a project topic for their Honors Capstone Thesis. Each student will prepare a brief abstract, a substantial description of the project, an annotated bibliography of relevant sources, and a timeline for completion of the project. Students will defend their complete project proposals to an audience of their peers and faculty mentors during the final weeks of the semester. Prerequisites: Membership in Honors Program.

    In the Honors Capstone, each student will produce an independent research thesis or creative project under the supervision of a faculty mentor. (The project is proposed and approved during HON300 Honors Seminar.) Students will meet on a weekly basis with their faculty mentor for advice and guidance, but primarily will work independently on the project throughout the semester. A summary and defense of the capstone work will be organized by the faculty mentor and completed by the end of the spring semester. Prerequisites: HON 300 and Membership in Honors Program.

    Other courses frequently taught in Honors Program include the following:

    PHY131 Honors Physics I and II
    MAT131 Honors Calculus I and II
    SOC/ENG225 The Literature of Social Responsibility
    PSY101 Honors General Psychology
    POL110 Political Issues: The Quest for Justice
    POL201 American Government
    ENG130 English Composition
    LTE140 Introduction to Literature
    PHI100 Socrates and the Search for Truth
    PHI151 Ethics and the Good Life
    THE100 Introduction to Theology
    THE153 Revelation: Ancient and Modern
    ARH160 Art: Ancient and Modern
    HIS116-117 Honors History of Western Civilization I and II
  • The goal of an Honors course is to aid Honors students to learn more, where “more” refers not primarily to quantity but to the depth of understanding and higher-level thinking. The Honors Program aspires, also, to be a community of learners, animated by an ethos of excellence and by shared practices of learning that stylistically mark its courses.

    Honors courses always seek to bring Honors students to deeper levels of understanding and higher level thinking. An Honors course may do this by covering more advanced material than a non-Honors version of the course. Professors teaching an Honors course might do this in a variety of additional ways, including the following, as examples:

    • The course may include distinctive pedagogies, projects, or activities, such as (for example) peer-teaching opportunities, additional or more advanced laboratories, oral exams, guest lectures, student research projects, student presentations, or “Reacting to the Past” role-playing events.
    • The course may do more to connect that course’s disciplinary material with other disciplines.
    • The course may do more to connect that course’s disciplinary material with broader questions of human significance, especially those beyond the realm any single discipline.
    • The course may do more to involve students in close readings of primary sources, though often more difficult than the reading of derivative sources;
    • The course may involve students in classroom discussions that are more focused and in-depth.