University of Notre Dame


For a Notre Dame first-year student, taking an “elective” means having the option to choose a course or courses that are not strictly a part of the University Requirements. Although not constrained by those requirements, an elective choice may be constrained by requirements from your intended college and major, called Program Requirements.

All first-years have a possible slot in their schedule each term for one elective, but if you receive credit for one or more of your required first-year courses through AP exams, SAT II exams, or transfer credit, you may have two spaces for which to select an elective.

Typically, First Year electives are used to:

  • fulfill a University Requirement that you would normally take after your first year at Notre Dame,
  • complete a requirement for your intended program and major,
  • begin your study of a foreign language,
  • or explore an academic area that interests you.

The College of Engineering, the School of Architecture, and the Mendoza College of Business make specific recommendations for first-year elective choices:

  • The College of Engineering recommends that first-year students who plan to major in engineering take PHYS 10310 in the spring semester as an elective. This recommendation applies to students who wish to pursue the combined Arts and Letters/Engineering program as well.
  • Students who intend to study architecture are advised to take ARCH 11011 as an elective in the fall semester. They are then expected to take ARCH 11021 and ARCH 10311 in the spring semester.
  • Students who intend to study business are advised to take microeconomics, ECON 10010 or ECON 10011, in either the fall or spring semester.

Making a decision about an elective requires input from your First Year advisor about how to make the most of your scheduling options.