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First-Year Seminars

Share your ideas and learn from professors who write groundbreaking books, explore pioneering research, and lead their respective fields.

First-Year Seminars provide first-year students with a special opportunity to experience a course similar in its structure to an upper-level university seminar. All First-Year Seminars are taught by tenured or tenure-track professors, doctoral-level researchers, visiting faculty members, professors emeriti, or other accomplished scholars and experts in their respective academic disciplines.

Enrollment for First-Year Seminars is strictly capped at eighteen students in order to ensure ample opportunity for those enrolled to interact with both the instructor and their fellow students. All First-Year Seminars also fulfill at least one LSA distribution requirement.

—Abilene Emerson

First-Year Seminars (FYS) Enrollment FAQ

  • How can I find out what seminars are still open?
    All seminars remain closed until Summer Orientation. Then the FYS office tries to post online a weekly list of all open seminars as of a specific date. For real-time information, refer to the Time Schedule. Most spaces are open for general enrollment, while others are reserved for participants in a Michigan Learning Community. Be sure you meet the criteria for enrolling. Some spaces are designated as “enrollment management,” which is simply a tool for keeping a number of spaces closed until later in the summer.
  • What if only certain sections of a course are open?
    Be careful to enroll in specific sections and class numbers. For almost all first-year seminars, each addresses a distinct topic taught by a different instructor.
  • What if a seminar is closed and has no wait list?
    Keep checking! Spaces are opened incrementally during Summer Orientation to save spaces for students who register later in the summer. Wait lists don’t begin until the class is fully enrolled. Many students enrolled in FYS may drop and add even after classes begin. The goals of the FYS Program make it essential to limit maximum enrollment to 18.
  • Can I take more than one first-year seminar?
    Students registered for more than one FYS will be advised to drop all but one. As an exception to the rule, a First-Year Writing Requirement (FYWR) seminar will not be counted in the policy restricting students to only one FYS per term.
  • How many seminar spaces are available each term?
    An “advanced find” in the online Course Guide for First-Year Seminars can help. Typically, about 75-80 seminars are scheduled in Fall term with approximately 1,300 available spaces. Another 55-60 seminars are offered in Winter term with approximately 850 spaces. While students may not always be able to enroll in their first choice, most are able to find space in a seminar that interests them.
  • Why does the FYS Program not include some courses or sections listed as "first-year seminars" in the First-Year Course Guide?
    The FYS Program lists only seminars that conform to specific guidelines concerning factors such as faculty rank, enrollment restrictions, class format, and size.