Frequently Asked Questions

Who is my first-year advisor?

You will receive the name of your first-year advisor in early July. Students are assigned advisors based on their intended college, so the assignments are not made until after students have submitted the Course Preference Form. If you have questions or concerns during the summer, email First Year Advising at firstyear@nd.edu or call  574-631-7421. Once you know who your advisor is, you can email him or her directly.

When do I choose my courses?

You will be asked to complete the Course Preference Form in June. Your first-year advisor will use the information from this form to register you for your first semester courses in July, and you will be able to view your schedule online through Inside ND on August 1st. If needed, changes to your schedule can be made by meeting with your advisor beginning Monday, August 26.

Click here to read the instructions for completing the Course Preference Form.

How many courses will be on my schedule for the first semester?

Students typically take five academic courses (at least three credits each) and the Moreau First Year Experience course (one credit) in both semesters of their first year, for a total of 16 to 19 credits each semester, depending on intended major and courses selected.

I already submitted my Course Preference Form but would like to make some changes. What should I do?

In June, contact First Year Advising by emailing firstyear@nd.edu or calling 574-631-7421. In July, once you have been assigned an advisor, email him or her directly or call the First Year Advising office and ask to speak to him or her.

How do I make sure Notre Dame received my AP, IB, or SAT II exam scores?

For AP and SAT II Exams: Check the “My Test Scores” app on InsideND after July 5th. If all of your scores appear there, then you do not need to do anything. You can check the “Grade History” app on Inside ND to see what, if any, credit you have been granted for your exam scores.

If some or all of your exam scores are missing, then do the following:

For AP Exams: Login to your account at https://apscore.collegeboard.org/scores/. Click “Download score report” in the upper right corner of the page. Save the score report as a PDF, and email it to your advisor as an attachment.

For SAT II Exams (French, German, Italian, and Spanish only): Login to your account at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/scores/getting-scores, download your score report as a PDF, and email it to your advisor as an attachment.

For IB Exams: Check the “Grade History” app on Inside ND after July 5th. If you have not been granted the IB credit that you have earned, contact your first-year advisor to see if we have received your scores. If we have not received your scores, follow the directions at: https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/assessment-and-exams/requesting-transcripts/ to have your score report sent to Notre Dame. IB scores do not appear in the “My Test Scores” app.  

Do I need to submit my Course Preference Form immediately?

No, you do not. We do not register students for courses in the order that their forms are submitted. We want each student to take time to reflect on their interests and goals and to research their courses before submitting the form. Consequently, students who submit the form earlier are not given any sort of advantage during the registration process. Students are registered for courses in July in a random order. Advisors ensure that all students are registered for the courses they need, regardless of when their schedules are made.

One caveat: students who submit the form after the deadline (June 30th) are registered for courses last.

I will be out of the country for most of June and cannot submit my Course Preference Form until near the deadline. Will I be receiving last choices for courses?

No. As long as you submit the form by the deadline, you will have the same access to courses as all other students.

Can I pursue a major in the Mendoza College of Business?

Only students who were pre-approved for the Mendoza College of Business at the time of admission can select Business as their intended major on the Course Preference Form. If you were not pre-approved but are interested in Business, you must select a different major on the CPF and should write that you are considering Business in the box provided. Students not pre-approved for Mendoza will have the opportunity after the first semester to apply for an internal transfer to Mendoza, if they so choose.

I am a pre-health student. Does it matter what I choose for my major?

Students interested in a health profession should major in the discipline that most interests them. Certain majors in Arts and Letters and Science lend themselves to helping you complete the prerequisite courses for health professional school and prepare for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) or DAT (Dental Admission Test), but your major does not play an influential role in the health professional school admissions decision. All students considering a health profession should take in the first semester CHEM 10171 or CHEM 10181 and an appropriate calculus course (unless they have credit by examination for Calculus I and II).

Should I choose Writing and Rhetoric (WR) or a University Seminar (USEM) for my first semester?

All students must complete a USEM during their first year. In addition, if they do not have AP or IB credit for WR, they must take WR during their first year. Half of the first-year students take a USEM in the first semester, and the other half take WR or an elective if they have credit for WR. In the second semester, students who took a USEM first semester take WR or an elective if they have credit for WR and vice-versa.

On the Course Preference Form, you are asked to indicate your preferences for a USEM and WR. You will be registered for one of these courses based on course availability and course times.

I have AP or IB credit for Writing and Rhetoric. What course should I take in its place?

You have the option of taking a WR course (and not using the AP or IB credit) or choosing an elective. If you choose to take an elective, note in the comments section at the bottom of the Course Preference Form what course you would like to take instead of WR. You might be registered for a USEM in the first semester and take your elective in the second semester.

What advice do you have for choosing a University Seminar (USEM)?

The USEM is a unique opportunity to study deeply a special topic with an exceptional faculty member and a small group of your fellow first-year students. Choose the four USEMs that seem most interesting to you. Do not choose a USEM just because you want to be done with a specific Core requirement. Any USEM can double-count towards two requirements: (1) the Writing 1 Core course and (2) the relevant Way of Knowing. For example, a Literature USEM can satisfy either the Liberal Arts 4 or Liberal Arts 6 Core requirement in addition to the Writing 1 Core requirement.

Also, USEMs typically do not count toward major requirements. If you are thinking of majoring in political science, for example, it is best not to select a political science USEM. You would still need to take ten more political science courses to complete the political science major in addition to the USEM.

What math course should I take?

For assistance with choosing the correct math course, see the Mathematics Requirements page.

I intend to pursue a life science or pre-health major and received AP credit for MATH 10550. Can I take MATH 10360 or do I have to take MATH 10560?

Yes, you can take MATH 10360 if you have credit for MATH 10550. See the Calculus Courses page for an explanation of the various levels of calculus offered at Notre Dame.  

I took an AP or IB exam in calculus during my senior year but don’t have my score yet. What math course should I select on my Course Preference Form?

Select the math course you would like to take if you receive credit from your exam. Your advisor will check your AP or IB exam scores before registering you for courses and adjust your selection as necessary. You can use use the comments section at the bottom of the form to explain your preferences.

I took an AP or IB exam in math but did not receive the score needed to receive credit. Should I take a Notre Dame math credit exam?

In most cases, the answer is no. The credit exams are primarily intended for students who took calculus or statistics but did not have the opportunity to take an AP or IB exam or for students who took advanced math courses for which there is no AP or IB exam. Past experience has shown that most of the students who did not receive credit from an AP or IB exam and then took a Notre Dame math credit exam did not pass it.   

I received a 5 on my Calculus BC exam. Should I take Honors Calculus?

The Honors Calculus course is required of Honors Math majors but is open to mathematically inclined students of all majors. The course emphasizes the “why” of mathematics as well as the “how”. If you are a mathematically inclined student interested in mathematical reasoning and proofs, you can request MATH 10850 (and not use your AP or IB credit).

Should I take science in my first year?

For information on science requirements and AP and IB credit for science courses, see the Science Requirements page.

Should I take CHEM 10181 instead of CHEM 10171?

CHEM 10181 is required for Biochemistry and Chemistry majors. Other students with a strong background and interest in chemistry are welcome to take it. Most students elect to take CHEM 10171.

Do you have advice for choosing electives versus Core requirements?

Students often are not interested in a subject but think that they should take a course in it because it fulfills a Core requirement. For your first year, it is usually better to prioritize exploring your academic interests rather than taking Core courses that you are not really interested in. Exploring your interests in your first year will help you decide on a major(s) and minor(s) earlier in your career at Notre Dame.   

If you are considering a double major in, for instance, economics and anthropology, it is recommended that you take courses in both disciplines in your first year.

There are great options for taking core courses in your first year including: Theology, Philosophy, History, Social Science, Literature, and Art, but you have four years to complete them. Some, but not all majors, require Quantitative Reasoning and/or Science and Technology courses in the first year.  

Should I take a language course in my first year?

If you are interested in continuing a language you studied in high school or plan to start studying a new language, the first year is a great time to take it. If you are planning to study abroad in a foreign language program as a sophomore or in the summer after your first year, you should take a language course in your first semester. In addition, students planning to study in the college of Arts and Letters or pursue a supplementary major in the Keough School of Global Affairs are highly encouraged to begin their language study as soon as possible. See the Language Requirements and Language Placement pages for more information on selecting a language course.

I am concerned about my language placement. Can I take a lower-level course?

When registering incoming students for language courses, first-year advisors must follow the results of the placement exams, which are almost always accurate. Only the relevant language department can approve a change in placement. Students who feel that their placement is not correct are strongly encouraged to attend the first class session and talk with their professor before requesting to change levels of a language course.

What if I choose the wrong course on my CPF?

Your advisor will make sure that you are registered for the appropriate courses based on your academic interests, credit by examination, and language placement exam scores. If you select courses that do not make sense for your major(s), your advisor will instead register you for the appropriate course. If you select a course for which you have AP, IB, or SAT II credit, your advisor will adjust accordingly.  

If your advisor has questions or needs more options from you, he or she will contact you at your Notre Dame email address.  

What is the Moreau course?

The Moreau First Year Experience is a required two-semester, graded course sequence (FYS 10101 and FYS 10102) that helps new students make a meaningful transition to collegiate life at Notre Dame by integrating their academic, co-curricular, and residential experiences. The Moreau syllabus, common to all sections of the two courses, is organized around multiple themes, including orientation to University life, health and wellbeing, community standards, cultural competence, academic success, spiritual life, and discernment. Moreau meets once per week and is one credit hour.

I am a bit concerned about the academic challenges I will be facing at Notre Dame. Do you have recommendations on how I can improve my study skills?

It is not unusual for students to feel worried about the rigor of a Notre Dame education, but you have already proved that you belong here. That’s why you were admitted. Nevertheless, everyone needs to adjust their approach to learning to succeed in college. Your first-year advisor can help you improve your study strategies and time management. You should also take advantage of our free academic support services, such as the Learning Resource Center, the Program in Academic Excellence, the Writing Center, and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures.

I am planning to take calculus at Notre Dame but did not take it in high school. How can I prepare myself?

Over the summer, take a self-guided, free online course in calculus through Khan Academy. On the first day of class at Notre Dame, sign up for free tutoring through the Learning Resource Center.

I did not take AP Chemistry in high school and have heard most students planning to major in the College of Science or the College of Engineering did. How can I better prepare myself?

Many students at Notre Dame majoring in Science or Engineering did not take AP Chemistry and are able to succeed in the chemistry sequence required for their major. Nevertheless, if you did not take AP Chemistry, it is recommended that you spend some time reviewing chemistry concepts over the summer. You can take a self-guided, free online course in chemistry through Khan Academy. On the first day of class at Notre Dame, sign up for free tutoring through the Learning Resource Center.

Can I study abroad? Will my study abroad plans affect my first-semester courses?

Most students will be able to study abroad during their time as a Notre Dame student. As you move into sophomore year, your advisor in your major(s) can help you figure out which study abroad locations work best with your academic program. Click here to learn more about study abroad at Notre Dame.

In general, study abroad plans do not impact first-semester courses. If you are planning to study abroad in a foreign language program in the summer after first year or in sophomore year, you should take a language course in the first semester. If you are planning to study abroad in a foreign language program after sophomore year, then you might want to take a language course in the first semester, depending on your other requirements and your current proficiency in the language.