Information for Parents

Frequently Asked Questions from Parents of Prospective Students

1. What activities are available to students on weekends?

The Offices of Student Life sponsor on-campus activities and off-campus excursions. Student organizations plan, publicize and run events, rounding out a full and varied calendar of activities. Many events are subsidized by the University and are either free or offered at a minimal cost. Recent events have included Homecoming and Family Weekend, Springfest, music, comedy, films, fashion and talent shows, and socials. Students may cheer on athletic teams, take part in intramural games, attend religious services or enjoy theater productions. Activities vary by campus and reflect the interests of students who live and study there.

2. How accessible are the professors at FDU?

Very! With a student-faculty ratio of 14:1 and an average class size of 18, learning at FDU is interactive and personal. Like it or not, students will find that our professors know them by name. Nearly 80 percent of our professors hold a doctorate or the highest degree in their field, but their first priority is teaching students and getting to know them. They will meet after class to talk about studies or make time to listen to what ever is important to students.

3. How safe is FDU?

The safety of our students – commuters and residential students – is a top priority at FDU. Our public safety program focuses on both prevention and education, because student involvement and awareness are key to ensuring a safe and secure campus. Services and resources available on our campuses include an after-hours escort service for students, emergency call boxes located at key points around campus, public safety officers on patrol by foot and by car 24/7, fire alarms and sprinkler systems installed in all residence halls, a card access system for admission to residence halls, security cameras located at all entrances/exits of major campus buildings, emergency alarms on all residence hall entrances/exits that sound when doors are left propped open, and orientation and training sessions for students on public safety issues.

4. What do commuter students do in between classes?

Students study, use the library and computer labs, get a snack or a meal in the campus eateries, relax in the game room, work out in the Fitness or Recreation Center, meet with faculty or friends or even work on campus. They may become involved in the commuter student club activities as well. Comfortable commuter student lounges are maintained in the Fitness Center on the Metropolitan Campus and in the Stadler/Zenner Academic Building at the Florham Campus.

5. How diverse is FDU?

Diverse enough to be ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 20 schools for “Most International Students” and “Campus Diversity” among comprehensive universities offering master’s degrees in the northern United States. Our students come from 37 states throughout the United States and more than 82 countries around the world.

6. What if my student isn't sure what he/she wants to study?

Many students aren't sure what they want to study. Almost half of our students start out as undecided rather than choosing a major. Because students have to complete general education requirements, they usually have at least a year before they need to choose a major. In fact, we encourage students to take their time and investigate some fields they may find interesting or have never studied before attending college.

7. Does FDU encourage study abroad?

As part of its commitment to educating students "of and for the world", FDU firmly believes that its students should have the opportunity to study abroad. While on our domestic campuses, students are exposed to the world via coursework, Global Virtual Faculty, extracurricular activities (including our programs with the United Nations) and sharing the FDU experience with students from around the world.

These activities bring the world to us, but at FDU, we believe that is is equally important for us to go out to the world and experience it firsthand. There is a big difference between being told about the world versus actually seeing and experiencing it. A study abroad experience will change a student's life. It gives a student the opportunity to see the world from a totally different viewpoint — from outside the United States. Fairleigh Dickinson has international campuses in Wroxton, England and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada  — but students can work with our Study Abroad Office to travel to virtually any country of interest.

Our various departments arrange overseas study opportunities at a variety of venues every year. For example, business students studied the banana and tourism industries in Costa Rica, modern language students participated in immersions studies in Argentina, Italy and Uruguay, and math students journeyed to Egypt, the birthplace of mathematics. Students in our International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management program have the chance to attend the annual European Seminar in Switzerland, visiting some of the world’s leading hotels, wineries and restaurants. Marine biology majors spend a semester at FDU’s own marine field station – Samana, located in the Dominican Republic.

8. Where may parents park when visiting their student on campus?

Relatives or friends may park on campus but should first register their car with the Office of Public Safety to obtain a visitor’s pass. Non-registered vehicles are subject to parking violations and tickets.

9. What is "financial aid"?

There are several types of monetary aid your student may be eligible to receive. To be eligible for any type of financial aid, all students must complete an application to Fairleigh Dickinson University.

By filing your FDU Application for Admission by Jan. 15, you will automatically be considered for our full range of scholarship opportunities, which vary in amount of award. Applications can be filed online at: To apply for need-based aid, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

  • Scholarships: Merit-based awards recognizing outstanding performance in high school, as well as exceptional leadership and service in your school, church and community. Scholarships do not need to be repaid. At FDU, students who apply early receive maximum scholarship consideration with awards made on a first come, first-served basis. There are no separate scholarship forms to complete. Separate scholarships may also be awarded by private companies or organizations. Our Financial Aid Office would be happy to discuss these with you, or you may talk to your high school guidance counselor.
  • Grants:  Need-based awards and other special funds. Grants, unlike loans, do not need to be repaid. Grants are available only to undergraduates working toward their first bachelor's degree.
  • Loans:  Money loaned to students and parents, much like the loan you may have for your house or car. Education loans often offer different guidelines and interest rates.
  • Work Study: Federally funded jobs for students on campus. Students must qualify for this need-based aid. Work study positions are not guaranteed; students must apply for specific jobs. Students normally use these funds to pay for school costs, such as books.

10. What is the schedule for the academic year?

Although most students start school in the fall, students can start during any of the semesters that constitute an academic year. A semester is about 15 weeks long. Students will often have exams or receive evaluations from their faculty half way through the semester, or mid-term. Graduation, or commencement ceremonies, is held at the end of spring semester, usually in mid-May.

FDU has an intensive, one-month term call Winter Session. Many students will go on school-sponsored trips to study abroad during this term. For more information, please see the Study Abroad Office.

FDU also offers three Summer Sessions beginning in May and continuing through August. Click here for the current Academic Calendar.

11. What is the difference between the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees?

  • An associate degree is completed after two years of college. While Fairleigh Dickinson only offers a few associates degrees, we have many students who transfer from community or junior colleges with an associate degree to complete their bachelor degree at FDU.
  • A bachelor’s degree is traditionally considered a four-year degree (although some students may graduate faster or slower) that focuses on a specific field, otherwise known as a major. Students fulfill general requirements with classes covering many different fields of study, then specialize in their major. Students may also minor in a particular area, meaning they take classes that are more in-depth and specialized in a specific area than their general classes, but not as many classes as needed for a major.
  • The master’s degree is completed at the graduate level after students have eared their bachelor's degree. Whether it is law, medicine, business, or psychology, for example, a master's degree is a specialized continuation of the bachelor's program.
  • A doctorate is the final step in the academic process. Doctoral students will complete independent research specific to their field culminating in a dissertation.

Visit Academics for information on the more than 100 academic programs offered at FDU.


Terms and Definitions

Credit hours:  Each class is assigned a number of "credit hours" according to how difficult the class is and how many hours a week the student is in the class. For many undergraduate courses, a class with a laboratory requirement is 4 credit hours, and a class without a lab is 3 credit hours. Students must acquire a specified amount of credit hours (often determined by their major) before they can graduate. The average full-time student will take between 12-16 credit hours per semester.

FAFSA:  Any student seeking need-based aid must fill out The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). New and returning students are expected to file the FAFSA no later than Feb. 15. The FAFSA must be filed EVERY year.

The Fairleigh 1Card: FDU’s “all in one” ID card gives students access to all essential services and facilities, including dining halls, campus buildings, their residence hall, libraries, events, recreation centers and more. Most services can be accessed with a simple swipe of the card through readers placed around the campus.

Florham:  The Florham Campus in Madison, NJ, is located on 178 acres, on the former country estate of early 20th-century socialites Florence Vanderbilt and Hamilton Twombly. Florham is a contraction of the first names of the couple. FDU has owned the campus since 1958.

Metropolitan: The name given to Fairleigh Dickinson University’s suburban campus in Teaneck, NJ, reflecting its close proximity to New York City and the metropolitan area.

RA:  Resident Assistants are students who live on campus and are on-call in the residence halls for emergencies or just as someone to counsel other students. RAs are a vital part of our residential campus community helping students adjust to college life, such as coordinating alcohol and drug awareness programs or organizing fun activities for students on campus.

SGA:  The Student Government Association of Fairleigh Dickinson University -- the student-run organization on campus serving as a voice for students within the administration and organizing student activities.

University Core Curriculum:  Four core classes required of all undergraduate students at FDU, regardless of academic major. FDU’s University Core Curriculum has attracted national acclaim for its innovative, interdisciplinary approach and is one of only nine programs nationwide to be selected by the prestigious Association of American Colleges and Universities as a model for other educational institutions.

Vancouver: FDU’s campus located in scenic British Columbia, Canada. FDU-Vancouver offers undergraduate students one of the few opportunities to earn an American college degree (currently a B.S. in business management or a B.S. in information technology) while studying in Canada.

Wroxton:  FDU’s overseas campus in Wroxton, England, offers students an opportunity to study abroad in an intensive environment. Wroxton is located in Oxfordshire in the heart of rural England but is still only 70 miles from London.

Whether you are just beginning the college search with your student or you already have a student in college, you probably have a pile of acronyms and forms to sort through – and lots of questions. Here you'll find answers to basic questions and definitions for common academic terms.

FDU's website includes Parents Pages in two groups. This page is part of the Undergraduate Admissions section and is primarily intended for parents of prospective FDU students: students who are considering applying to FDU. There is another section of Parents Pages for parents who are already "part of the FDU family:" parents of current FDU students. That section is found at the Parents and Families page or by clicking the Parents and Families link on the FDU main page.

If you have any questions and can’t find the answers here, you're more than welcome to call us at 800-FDU-8803.