First-Year Students

What is the relationship between literature and history? How does a study of critical theory inform one’s life in the world? First-year students explore these questions in an intensive yearlong seminar introducing them to the interdisciplinary study of literature and culture of the Americas. These small, team-taught seminars emphasize writing and revision, oral presentation and discussion, and the development of research skills, culminating in a long scholarly essay in the spring. The first-year seminars, HS 101/102, and the Writing Symposium, HS 103, fulfill three Emerson College requirements: the Literary Perspective, the U.S. Diversity requirement, and the Written Communication requirement. 

Note: students admitted as rising sophomores do not take HS 101/102/103 but are still required to fulfill the Literary Perspective and the U.S. Diversity requirement.


What does it mean to be a moral animal? What forms of ethical and scientific inquiry can help one live a moral life? Sophomores are introduced to the interdisciplinary study of science and philosophy with an objective of engaging in critical thinking and research. Different areas of inquiry are examined each year, such as evolutionary biology, environmental ethics, and epistemology and logic. The fall seminar, HS 201, fulfills the Scientific Perspective while HS 202 in the spring fulfills the Ethics and Values Perspective. Each of these classes may also be taken at Kasteel Well in the Netherlands.


How does an interdisciplinary approach to research transform a conversation about a topic? Juniors select an upper-level Interdisciplinary Seminar (IN 200-and above), with the goal of developing Senior Thesis research ideas. Courses range widely from Feminist Cultural Theory to Food and Globalization to Space, Race and Power, and are offered regularly each year. Juniors also take an Honors colloquium (HS 301/302)* with the Program Director, providing mentorship in the development of Honors thesis proposals. *For students entering in Fall 2020 and beyond, HS390 will replace HS301/302, providing a 4-credit focused interdisciplinary methodologies Junior seminar for thesis preparation.


What impact can scholarly research have on the world? How does critical theory inform one’s training in a major? The Senior Honors Thesis is the capstone of a student’s work in the Honors Program, allowing seniors to focus on a research question of their own design. Honors Thesis Seminars (HS 490) provide students with a cohort of peers and thesis advisor, a faculty member in the Honors Program. Students work independently on their theses, but consult regularly with their faculty advisor to evaluate and revise the work in progress throughout the year.


All Honors students are required to complete an Honors Thesis Proposal, which is reviewed by the Honors Program Director and faculty committee.

Visit the Honors Program Eligibility & Admission page or contact the Office of Admission at 617-824-8600 or admission [at] (subject: Honors%20Program) (admission[at]emerson[dot]edu) to learn more about applying.