Director's Welcome: Our Mission & Our Approach to Honors

From the Director:Brian Murphy

Welcome to the Honors College at Rutgers University–Newark! We are a 300-student strong honors college that enrolls students from across the schools at Rutgers–Newark who have attended high schools and community colleges throughout the state and nation.

We're always looking for curious, talented, motivated students to join our student cohort – if you want to learn more about us and what we offer, browse our site and feel free to email or phone us, or drop by for a visit.

If you are a graduate of Rutgers or the Honors College, I hope you enjoy seeing what this program has become since it started in 1972, and what our students do on a daily basis to enrich the intellectual life of this University.


Brian Phillips Murphy, Ph.D.

Honors College Director and Associate Professor of History

Our Mission


The mission of the Honors College at Rutgers University–Newark is to lead the way in inclusive excellence in higher education by delivering to every one of our students a liberal education and undergraduate research opportunities where students can work individually and collaboratively to put their emerging knowledge into practice in real world contexts. Every Honors College student graduates having been mentored by a member of our faculty and having worked on a meaningful in-depth project that they are excited to communicate about to people outside their field of study. Our students are competitive applicants for national fellowships, top graduate schools, and to employers in fields that can offer fulfilling careers.

Our Approach


Our team starts out from the fundamental belief that every one of our students is important. Not because they have special talents, aced their SATs, or earn high GPAs, but because they’re our students and chose to join our Honors College. 

In an era of unbundling in higher education, when colleges and universities are challenged to offer diversity, inclusion, and equity – not just access in terms of admission, but access to excellent educational experiences and outcomes often reserved only for students at exclusive, elite institutions – we feel an ethical, moral commitment to deliver an inclusive, integrative education to our students in the Honors College.

All of our graduates finish their degrees having made a connection with a faculty member who they know cares about them, and having worked on a sustained project that challenged them to solve problems and deploy their accumulating capacities for learning, critical analysis, leadership, collaboration, and communication. As a first-generation college student myself, I worked with faculty to design our program to deliver those experiences to a racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse cohort of students who come from families with disparate educational backgrounds. Our curriculum offers a liberal, interdisciplinary education and deep engagement in research in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Our senior thesis capstone pushes students to produce original knowledge. And we are committed to making sure they access the full range of opportunities offered at a university of Rutgers’s scale: our accelerated 5-year BA/MA programs, a 3/3 BA/JD program with Rutgers Law School, early admission to medical schools, innovative minors and special degree programs, seminars with prize-winning researchers and scholars, and attentive career guidance and fellowship advising. We are uncompromising in our pursuit of inclusive excellence for our students.

Our team attracts well-prepared, curious students to Rutgers–Newark. We deliver high retention and graduation rates because we make data-informed decisions based on a combination of proactive advising and actionable institutional research. Our students are advised by our Honors College team, faculty associates, pre-professional advisors, and peer advisors. We use surveys and EAB risk models to intercept transfer and completion risks. We are the primary point of contact for our students, and we shoulder that responsibility to them and the University with great care. We urge our recent alumni to stay engaged with the Honors College and with Rutgers, as mentors and young professionals. And we are always looking for ways to re-connect with all of our graduates for whom the Honors College (and prior Honors Program) was a formative educational and social experience.

Finally, we strive to be good partners with good intentionality on and off campus. We build relationships with integrity and trust with faculty and other units at the University, and we work together to make Rutgers–Newark a great urban, public university worthy of its history and the support of the generous, hard-working people of our state.

Curiosity. Integrity. Mobility. Excellence.


About our Director


Dr. Brian Phillips Murphy is an prize-winning scholar and teacher of American history who joined Rutgers University–Newark in 2016 and is a tenured member of the faculty of the Federated Department of History. He is the author of Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), which shared the James A. Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.  The book links the development of the business corporation to state formation in the early American republic by looking at the creation of banks and transportation enterprises by well-connected and financed political entrepreneurs. A portion of the book appeared as an article in the April 2008 William and Mary Quarterly. Titled “‘A very convenient instrument’: The Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr, and the Election of 1800,” the article won the 2009 Richard L. Morton Award from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Professor Murphy is a member of the Board of Editors of the Gouverneur Morris Papers and has been a guest curator at the Museum of the City of New York. He is currently a contributing editor at Talking Points Memo and has been an MSNBC Contributor.

Professor Murphy is currently at work on a book about corruption in American history. He is also leading a public history project with the Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service to help develop the Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson, N.J. 

Born in Paterson and raised in Clifton, Professor Murphy studied at Haverford College and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Before joining Rutgers he taught at Baruch College–CUNY, where he won a Whiting Fellowship for excellence in teaching and was a member of the faculty of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. Prior to his graduate studies, Professor Murphy was a reporter at Money magazine, national political correspondent at George magazine, and managing editor of He has worked as a legislative aide in the New Jersey legislature and written extensively on New Jersey politics for publications that include Politico magazine, the New York Times, Business Week, and Vanity Fair. Some of his writing and television appearances can be found at his personal website.