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Northwestern University

The First-Year Seminar Requirement

You must complete two seminars in your first year, one in the fall and another in either the winter or spring as scheduled by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising. (There is one exception to this general rule: students in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences take only a single seminar in either the winter or spring.)

About first-year seminarS

You will take two different first-year seminars: a College Seminar in the fall and a First-Year Writing Seminar in either the winter or the spring. Both are small, discussion-oriented classes in which you will explore a single topic or theme. The College Seminar, though, will also foreground the differences between high school and college and introduce you to skills such as time management and help-seeking that you need to thrive at Northwestern. College Seminar instructors also serve as their students’ first advisers in the College. The First-Year Writing Seminar builds on that base and pays special attention to the process of writing and revision.

First-year seminars do not count toward Weinberg College’s distribution requirements, and most departments and programs exclude them from counting toward major and minor requirements.

Rules for fulfilling the requirement


You must earn a grade of at least D in your first-year seminars in order to count them toward the seminar requirement. If you are not able to complete two seminars with at least Ds during your first year, meet with your Weinberg College Adviser to discuss how to fulfill this requirement. If you are enrolled for the entire first year as a Weinberg student and fail to complete the seminar requirement, you will be required to fulfill it in other ways in your remaining time at Northwestern. If you interschool transfer out of Weinberg in your first year without completing both seminars and then return to Weinberg, you will need a substitute for the missing seminar(s). You will NOT, however, be permitted to register for a seminar after your first year.

Exceptions for some students

Students who transfer into Weinberg College from another school at Northwestern or from another institution have different ways of satisfying the seminar requirement. If you fall into this category, learn about how to fulfill your first-year seminar requirement after transferring into Weinberg.

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