2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    May 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The College

History of the College

Founded in 1880 by Charles Wesley Emerson, noted preacher, orator, and teacher, Emerson College has grown into a comprehensive college enrolling over 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 50 states and several dozen countries. The original concentration on oratory has evolved into specialization in the fields of communication studies; marketing communication; communication sciences and disorders; journalism; performing arts; visual and media arts; and writing, literature and publishing.

Since Emerson’s founding, the elements of human communication-the spoken word, the written word, the gesture-have changed in both form and substance, and the media through which they flow have evolved and multiplied. Radio, motion pictures, television, and the sciences of speech pathology and audiology have all developed during the past century.

Throughout its history, Emerson College has shown the capacity to respond to and meet the needs of education in communication and the arts. Emerson was the first college in New England to establish an educational FM radio station (WERS in 1949), one of the first colleges in the nation to establish a program in children’s theater (1919), and one of the first colleges in the nation to offer undergraduate programs in broadcasting (1937). Among its other pioneering achievements, Emerson offered professional-level training in speech pathology and audiology (1935); established a closed-circuit television broadcast facility, WERS-TV (1954); and created a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film (1972).

Today, Emerson continues this tradition of innovation in communication and the arts. For example, since 2016, the College has offered a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Comedic Arts-the first such program in the nation specifically designed to integrate comedic writing, performance, literature, media, and production across all comedic formats. The College is organized into two schools and an institute: a School of the Arts, a School of Communication, and the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Concurrent with programmatic evolutions and academic reorganizations, Emerson has continued to upgrade the technology and the facilities necessary to support the curriculum. Emerson’s radio and television stations both offer webcasts in addition to traditional broadcasts, and the state-of-the-art Tufte Performance and Production Center opened in Fall 2003. In Spring 2010, the College opened the multi-use Paramount Center, which includes a 596-seat live performance theater, performance development facilities, the Bright Family Screening Room, and a residence hall.

In March 2014, Emerson College Los Angeles celebrated the opening of its new facility in Hollywood. Designed by award-winning architect Thom Mayne, the sustainable 10-story structure can house up to 217 students and includes wired classrooms, an open-air screening and live-performance space, a Dolby Surround 7.1 audio post-production suite, a 4K screening room, computer labs, mixing suites, and a planned green screen motion capture stage.

In Summer 2017, the College opened a new Dining Center and a new residence hall at Boylston Place. At more than 18,000 square feet, the multipurpose Dining Center has seating for 530 and provides much needed social spaces for the urban campus, including a performance stage area and a meeting space for faculty and staff. In 2019, the College opened the renovated Little Building residence hall that now houses 1,035 students and provides them with 16 lounges and 6 kitchenettes.

Emerson’s expansion into Boston’s cultural district has brought it within a few city blocks of the site where the College was first located in 1880. This return to the College’s roots has been accompanied by a renewal of its commitment to foster innovation and excellence in communication and the arts.

In 2020, Emerson and Marlboro College completed their planned alliance, through which Marlboro moved its academic programs to Emerson. Emerson welcomed a number of Marlboro undergraduates to matriculate and a number of Marlboro tenured, tenure-track, and emeritae faculty to teach starting in the Fall 2020 semester.

Emerson College is fully accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools.

Honorary Degrees and Awards

Emerson College awards the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Laws, Doctor of Humane Letters, Doctor of Literature, and Master of Arts. In addition to honorary degrees awarded through the College, the Musical Theatre Society confers the annual Leonidas A. Nickole Award of Distinction to an individual or individuals who have distinguished themselves as a role model in the field of American musical theater.

Phi Alpha Tau, the oldest communication arts honorary fraternity in the country, presents the Joseph E. Connor Award to any individual or individuals who have distinguished themselves in the field of communication.

The following is a partial list of recent recipients of honorary degrees and awards through the College.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Alan Alda
Debbie Allen
Edmund N. Ansin
Joseph R. Biden
Cheri Blauwet
Ian Bowles
Kevin Bright
Tom Brokaw
Carol Burnett
Michael E. Capuano
Christopher B. Cerf
Clifford Christians
Janet Langhart Cohen
Billy Collins
Bernard Cornwell
Ted Cutler
Elspeth Cypher
Rita Dove
Jean Picker Firstenberg
Miloš Forman
Tom Freston
Fred Friendly
Danielle Legros Georges
David Gergen
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Juan Gonzalez
David Gregory
Henry Hampton
Anne Hawley
Doug A. Herzog
Anita Hill
Leo J. Hindery Jr.
Gwen Ifill
Shoo Iwasaki
Gish Jen
James Earl Jones
Deeyah Khan
John Kerry
Stanley Kunitz
Tony Kushner
Richard LaGravenese
Eugene M. Lang
Sherry Lansing
Norman Lear
Denis Leary
Dennis Lehane
John Lewis
Jacqueline Liebergott
Thomas Lux
David McCullough
Peter G. Meade
Mayor Thomas Menino
Melvin B. Miller
Sue Miller
Patricia Edenfield Mitchell
Walter Mosley
Max Mutchnick
Soledad O’Brien
Eduardo J. Padron
Nell Irvin Painter
Rod Parker
Thomas Payzant
Tom Perrotta
Dith Prahn
Hal Prince
Claudia Rankine
Fernando M. Reimers
Robin Roberts
Walter V. Robinson
Mark Samels
Isabel Sanford
Andrew Sarris
Gerald Schoenfeld
Alice Sebold
Terry S. Semel
Rod Serling
Robert F.X. Sillerman
Robert A. Silverman
Lesley Stahl
Robert Steele
Evan Thomas
Donald Thurston
Natasha Trethewey
Kathleen Turner
Liv Ullmann
Blair Underwood
John Updike
Jose Antonio Vargas
Charles V. Willie
Henry Winkler
Janet Yuen-Mei Wu
Marillyn Zacharis

Leonidas A. Nickole Award of Distinction (Presented by the Musical Theatre Society)

Beatrice Arthur
Christine Baranski
Ann Baxter
Michael Bennett
Jerry Bock
Ray Bolger
Carol Channing
Martin Charnin
Victoria Clark
Betty Comden
Barbara Cook
Ken Davenport
Fred Ebb
Scott Ellis
William Finn
Peter Gennaro
Jack Gilford
Adolph Green
Adam Guettel
Sheldon Harnick
Shirley Jones
John Kander
Michael John LaChiusa
James Lapine
Carol Lawrence
Lotte Lenya
Norn Lewis
Patti LuPone
Joe Masteroff
Donna McKechnie
David Merrick
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Jerry Mitchell
Robert Morse
Donna Murphy
Leonidas A. Nickole
Janis Paige
Bernadette Peters
Harold Prince
Ann Reinking
Stephen Schwartz
Sherri Rene Scott
Stephen Sondheim
Susan Stroman
Charles Strouse
Julie Taymor
Ben Vereen

Phi Alpha Tau Joseph E. Connor Award

Yul Brynner
Walter Cronkite
Hugh Downs
Arthur Fiedler
Robert Frost
David Hartman
Elia Kazan
Thomas Leahy
Dennis Lehane
Keith Lockhart
Jack Lemmon
Chris B. Montan
Edward R. Murrow
Carl Reiner
Robert Sarnoff
John Williams