The Catholic University of America

University Honors Program

Peter Shoemaker, Ph.D., Director

Jennifer Paxton, Ph.D., Assistant Director


Andrew Abela, Ph.D. Economics, University of Virginia
Maria S. Aguirre, Ph.D. Economics, University of Notre Dame
William Barbieri, Ph.D. Religion, Yale University

Aaron Barkatt, Ph.D.

Chemistry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Claudia Bornholdt, Ph.D. German, Indiana University

Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D.

Theology, University of Notre Dame
Deborah Clawson, Ph.D. Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder
John J. Convey, Ph.D. Education, Florida State University
Dennis Coyle, Ph.D. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Jean DeGroot, Ph.D. Philosophy, Harvard University
William Dinges, Ph.D. Religion, University of Kansas
Gregory T. Doolan, Ph.D. Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
Thérèse-Anne Druart, Ph.D. Philosophy, Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium
Sherif El-Helaly, Ph.D. Mathematics, McMaster University, Canada
Kevin Forbes, Ph.D. Economics, University of Maryland
Kerstin Gaddy, Ph.D. German, Georgetown University
Daniel Gibbons, Ph.D. English, University of Wisconsin
Michael Gorman, Ph.D.

Theology, Boston College; Philosophy, State University of New York, Buffalo

Tobias Gregory, Ph.D. English, University of Michigan
Sidney Griffith, Ph.D. Semitic Languages, The Catholic University of America
Nora Heimann, Ph.D. Art History, City University of New York
Tobias Hoffmann, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Fribourg
Katherine L. Jansen, Ph.D. History, Princeton University
Glen Johnson, Ph.D. English, Indiana University
Sister Margaret Mary Kelleher, O.S.U., Ph.D. Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America
Michael C. Kimmage, Ph.D. History, Harvard University
William Klingshirn, Ph.D. Classics, Stanford University
Angela McKay Knobel, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
V. Bradley Lewis, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Mary Cusimano Love, Ph.D. Politics, Johns Hopkins University
Michael Mack, Ph.D. English, Columbia University
John McCarthy, Ph.D. Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
William J. McCarthy, Ph.D. Greek and Latin, The Catholic University of America
Rev. Paul McPartlan, S.T.L., Ph.D. Theology, Pontifical Gregorian University, Oxford University
Dr. Robert Miller, O.F.S, Ph.D. Theology, University of Michigan
Jerry Muller, Ph.D. History, Columbia University
J. Michael Mullins, Ph.D. Microbiology, University of Texas at Austin
Timothy B. Noone, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Toronto
Taryn Okuma, Ph.D. English, University of Wisconsin
Jennifer Paxton, Ph.D. History, Harvard University
Kenneth Pennington, Ph.D. Ecclesiastical and Legal History, Cornell University
Michael Rohlf, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Texas
Philip H. Rousseau, Ph.D. Study of Early Christianity, Oxford University
Alexander T. Russo, Ph.D. Media Studies, Brown University
Stephen Schneck, Ph.D. Political Science, University of Notre Dame
Marc Sebrechts, Ph.D. Psychology, Yale University
Prasad Senesi, Ph.D. Mathematics, University of California, Riverside
Peter Shoemaker, Ph.D. French, Princeton University
Leslie Tentler, Ph.D. History, University of Michigan
Matthais Vorwerk, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Munster, Germany
David J. Walsh, Ph.D. Political Science, University of Virginia
Andrew Weaver, Ph.D. Music History, Yale University
Joshua Westgard, Ph.D. History, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Kevin White, Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Ottawa
Rev. Michael Witczak, S.L.D. Theology, Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome
Stephen K. Wright, Ph.D. English, Comparative Literature, University of Indiana
Ernest M. Zampelli, Ph.D. Economics, University of Maryland



The University Honors Program provides special intellectual challenges for undergraduates with motivation and outstanding academic promise. The program hones skills in critical thinking and supplies a solid foundation in the classical liberal arts. The core of the program is interdisciplinary: it provides an integrated world view based on the interrelation among the disciplines of knowledge, while stressing the traditional values of our Christian heritage.

Undergraduates in the program have access to the university's best scholar-teachers and to small seminar-style classes that allow intensive exchange among teachers and students. Special attention is paid to the development of writing and communication skills. Students also have access to research projects and enrichment programs outside the classroom.

The University Honors Program was developed with support from a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The core curriculum consists of five integrated sequences of four courses each in the classical liberal arts tradition. University Scholars complete three of the five sequences and, in addition, present a senior honors research project in the Senior Honors Capstone Seminar.

The core sequences of the University Honors Program cross disciplines and form an integrated liberal arts curriculum. Interconnections with requirements in each student's area of concentration are established on an individual basis.

The School of Arts and Sciences has established guidelines for acceptance of University Honors Program courses in fulfillment of distribution and departmental requirements. The Schools of Architecture, Business and Economics, Engineering, Music, NCSSS, Nursing, and Philosophy allow students to use honors courses to fulfill liberal arts requirements.

A Liberal Studies option, which combines courses from multiple sequences, is open to students in Architecture, Engineering, Music, and Nursing. 

Rules and Regulations

Admission to Program

Freshmen are selected for participation in the program after they have been accepted by the Office of Admissions. Selection is based on the results of the standardized college entrance examinations (combined Verbal and Math SAT of at least 1300 or at least 29 on ACT), and upon secondary school achievement (minimum 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale). Transfer students and advanced students with a 3.5 GPA may also apply for admission to the program by passing a brief application process.


Students who complete sequences in the University Honors Program with grades of B- and above and graduate with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 receive special designations on their transcripts:

University Scholar - Successful completion of three of the University Honors Program four-course sequences, supplemented by a senior honors research project in the Senior Honors Capstone Seminar. Students in the professional schools and those majoring in the natural sciences may also be designated University Scholars if they complete two of the University Honors Program sequences and either a) four additional honors courses approved by the University Honors Program or b) a senior honors research project bringing a liberal arts perspective to a topic in their profession.

Honors in the Humanities - Successful completion of all four courses of The Christian Tradition.

Honors in Classical Philosophy - Successful completion of all four courses of An Aristotelian Studium.

Honors in Social Sciences - Successful completion of all four courses of Critical Approaches to Social Reality.

Honors in Environmental Studies - Successful completion of all four courses of The Environment, Energy, and Policy.

Honors in Theology and Religious Studies - Successful completion of all four courses of Tradition and Renewal in Contemporary Catholicism.

Honors in Liberal Studies- Successful completion of four approved courses in three different tracks.  Only open to students in the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Music, and Nursing.  See restrictions below.

Courses of Instruction

The Christian Tradition

Faculty members from Early Christian Studies, English, Greek and Latin, History, Modern Languages and Literatures, and Politics teach in this interdisciplinary four-semester sequence. The sequence presents major topics and themes in the history of Christian culture from its origins in late antiquity to the present. The Christian Tradition courses fulfill Literature and Humanities requirements.

Core Courses

HSHU 101

Jesus to Muhammad: The Early Christians in the Mediterranean World

HSHU 102

Charlemagne to Chaucer: Christian Life in the Middle Ages

HSHU 203

The Age of Discovery

HSHU 204

Christian Culture/Secular Age

An Aristotelian Studium

Faculty members in the School of Philosophy present this four-semester sequence. The Studium focuses on the original Aristotelian texts, which offer a coherent system of knowledge and provide tools for inquiry still useful in the present day. The readings in Aristotle are supplemented with works by philosophers responding to his "great questions." Courses in the Aristotelian Studium fulfill  Philosophy requirements.

Core Courses

HSPH 101

The Desire to Know

HSPH 102

Human Action and Government

HSPH 203

Nature & Human Nature

HSPH 204

Ultimate Questions

Critical Exploration of Social Reality

Faculty members in Economics, History, Politics, Psychology, and Sociology present this cross-disciplinary sequence, which explores crucial social topics and provides an introduction to theories and methods from the social sciences. Courses in the Critical Exploration of Social Reality fulfill Social Science and Math requirements.

Core Courses

HSSS 101

Person and Community in the Social Sciences

HSSS 102

Economic Reasoning and Social Science

HSSS 203

Social Data Analysis

HSSS 204

Families, Markets, Cities: Social and Scientific Perspectives

The Environment, Energy, and Policy

In this four-course sequence, faculty members from Economics, Engineering, Politics, and Religion bring the expertise from their fields to bear on one of the most troubling policy issues facing modern society: the challenge of meeting the world's need for energy while protecting the environment. Courses in the Environment, Energy, and Policy fulfill Natural Science, Religion, and Social Science requirements.

Core Courses

HSEV 101

Environmental Science and Engineering

HSEV 102

God, Ethics and the Environment

HSEV 203

The Economics of Energy and the Environment

HSEV 204

Environmental Politics and Policy

Tradition and Renewal in Contemporary Catholocism

Faculty members from The School of Theology and Religious Studies teach in this four-semester sequence grounded in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.  Courses fulfill TRS requirements.

Core Courses

HSTR 101

Scripture: God's Word in Human Words

HSTR 102

Liturgy and the Christian Life

HSTR 203

The Church: Community and Institution

HSTR 204

The Church in Dialogue with Contemporary Culture

Honors in Liberal Studies

Open to students in the Schools of Architecture, Engineering, Music, and Nursing.  This option provides students in the professional schools with multiple perspectives on human nature, community, ethics, public policy, and other areas of academic inquiry broadly relevant to the practice of their professions.  The exact combination of courses is flexible, in order to accommodate students' schedules and interests, but students must take courses in at least three different tracks and consult with the director of the University Honors Program in order to deveoop a coherent plan.  One Learning Community Philosophy course or Theology course can be counted toward the track.

Honors Senior Capstone Seminar

HSCP 490 From the vast quarry of the Western Tradition, this seminar excavates and examines fundamental concepts that have informed generations of peoples. The topics are multidisciplinary and allow students to integrate and connect the knowledge acquired in their various disciplines to the traditions of thought that inform Western history.

Series Courses

Some departments contribute special courses to the University Honors Program. These courses are open to all juniors and seniors as well as all students in the University Honors Program.

Sample Courses

ECON 103, 104

Principles of Economics I, II (UH)

MATH 230

Mathematical Topics in the social sciences I (UH)

MATH 330

Mathematical Topics in the social sciences II (UH)

PHIL 211

The Classical Mind (UH)

PHIL 212

The Modern Mind (UH)

These courses fulfill distribution and liberal arts requirements for students in the School of Arts and Sciences and in the professional schools.