Before You Declare, Discover

First Year of Studies 

Your first year is about exploration. All incoming students, regardless of intended major, enter the first year of studies program. You'll declare a major within a specific college in the spring semester of your first year. In the meantime, the courses you take in your first year at Notre Dame will give you the tools and experiences to help you clearly define your interests and goals while building a foundation of skills and knowledge for advanced study. You may enter intending to major in accounting and find that graphic design suits your interests better, or you may add a minor you hadn't even considered.  

All students are assigned a designated faculty advisor. Your first year advisor will help you identify academic opportunities that fit your goals and needs. You will meet with your advisor by midterm of your first semester to discuss what you hope to achieve at Notre Dame and together you'll begin to develop a plan that will help you get the most from your undergraduate education. Your advisor can also help with issues that may arise as you make the transition to college life.

By the end of the first year, all Notre Dame students complete:


All Notre Dame undergraduates take two writing-intensive courses as part of the core curriculum. One is the University Seminar, required for all first-year students. The other is Writing and Rhetoric.

University Seminar

With a class size of no more than 18 people, this small, writing-intensive learning environment will engage you in meaningful discussions with your instructor and peers, introduce you to the rich tapestry of theory and research within a field, and show you some of the problems and issues involved in that discipline.

Writing and Rhetoric

Writing and Rhetoric courses introduce students to principles of academic discourse and ethical argumentation. Students are taught how to frame a claim, conduct research, provide evidence, consider alternative views, and write in language appropriate to the intended audience. We teach these as necessary constituents of academic writing and as ethical practices—the foundations of responsible public discourse.

Two Courses in the Moreau First Year Experience

This two semester sequence helps new students to make a meaningful transition to collegiate life at Notre Dame by integrating their academic, co-curricular and residential experiences. The focus is on health and wholeness, cultural competency, academic success, spiritual development, and personal discernment. Students learn through a variety of methods such as large lectures, on-line modules, and weekly small group discussions.

Learn more about First of Year Studies