What, exactly, is Messina?

A crash course in Loyola’s living learning experience for first-year students

Your first year at Loyola is bound to be one of the most exciting, liberating, thought-provoking, and inspiring times in your life. You will encounter opportunities and challenges you can't even imagine today, and Loyola is committed to helping you manage this transition successfully.

Messina is a unique first-year experience students designed to help you adjust to college-level work and forge a clear path to success at Loyola and in the life and career that will follow.

Through Messina, students will...


Explore a wide range of academic disciplines, appreciate their interconnectedness, and take advantage of the personal attention that comes with being taught by your core advisor


Enrich your college experience with out-of-class excursions designed to extend learning, build stronger communities around learning, and establish deeper relationships with faculty, administrators, and fellow students


Connect to a support network that challenges  you to think critically, discover your talents, connect your passions to the needs of your community, and learn, lead and serve our world


Live in proximity to—but not necessarily in the same room or on the same floor with—other students in Messina courses

As a concept, living learning is not new. What makes Messina different and distinctive is the Jesuit nature of the program, the holistic approach to the student experience.

It is academic, social, and spiritual. Messina affords connection among students, between students and faculty, and across disciplines.

It will help you find your place as a vital member of a community—at Loyola, in Baltimore, in the United States, in the world.

Several students running with arms linked in a grassy field Students sitting around a table and shucking corn Students standing on and looking at a mural on the ground

Course Pairings

Each student enrolls in a seminar-style year-long Messina course-pairing that is comprised of two courses, one in their fall semester and the other in the spring semester.

Each course pairing falls into one of four themes: the Visionary, Self and Other, Stories We Tell, and the Good Life.

Four colored squares with text - The Visionary, Self and Other, Stories We Tell, and the Good Life

The course pairings and professors for each theme vary, and each course pairing offers a unique social and academic experience. While there is no “typical” Messina course pairing, the majority of courses included in pairings will fulfill core requirements or introductory courses in certain majors, allowing first-year students to explore academic areas beyond their intended major—as well as to discover and pinpoint a major, if they are undecided (and many are!).

For example, a course pairing in the Self and Other theme may be taught by an English professor and a psychology professor. A pairing in the Good Life may include a chemistry class in the fall and a philosophy class in the spring.

The courses in each pairing are thematically connected, allowing students to better understand—and experience—the intersectionality of a liberal arts education.

Beyond making connections among academic disciplines, there are concepts students may learn in a statistics course that could help them better understand a concept in a non-math course. Messina course pairings are designed to help facilitate this kind of interdisciplinary learning.

Designed for your success

I can guarantee that the Messina program is an enriching and rewarding experience, one I wouldn’t trade for the world

Each course pairing has a Messina working group made up of four individuals: an Evergreen (a current Loyola upperclassman), a mentor (a current Loyola employee), and two professors, one of whom serves as the students’ core advisor.

Each group works together to help plan enrichment sessions and class trips throughout the year to help first-year students transition socially and academically to college.

Each course pairing is unique in terms of the course material and in terms of the Messina working team. There is no set Messina experience, which is one of the joys of Messina, so each student is free to make what they want out of their time in the program.

The goal of the program, which is reflected in the way that the Messina courses are linked through each theme and each working group, is to help students find—and build—their own path to success at Loyola.

A large group of students posing for a photo in front of a food truck

What students will tell you about Messina

“Messina classes begin to form relationships from the first day on campus. The students in each Messina class meet with their Evergreen after they move in, and the Evergreen guides them through the twists and turns of Welcome Weekend, their first week at Loyola, and every week to come.”

“While on paper, it can seem daunting, especially given the sheer number of choices to make before getting to campus, I can guarantee that the Messina program is an enriching and rewarding experience, one I wouldn’t trade for the world.”

“One of my favorite memories as a Messina Evergreen was when my first Messina group went to the St. Alphonsus house (a house owned by Loyola) to make and eat dinner together. Two of our students actually went above and beyond expectations and made a bacon-wrapped meatloaf together, and then brought it over to the house for dinner. Our professor was shocked by their cooking prowess, and it made for a great start to what was a fun evening (and a great meal!).”

Learn more about Messina