General Program FAQ


Must I be a freshman to take a Freshman Seminar?

Yes, Freshman Seminars are open to freshmen only. Any student who enters Harvard College as a freshman may apply to any Freshman Seminar during the first two terms of residence.

How many Freshman Seminars may I enroll in?

A student may enroll in only one seminar per term. We encourage instructors to give spring term seminar preference to those students who have not enrolled in a fall term seminar.

Who teaches a Freshman Seminar?

In 2016-2017 we will offer 149 seminars taught by members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as well as the graduate schools of Design, Divinity, Education, Government, Law, Medicine, and Public Health.

Why should I take a Freshman Seminar?

A Freshman Seminar ordinarily brings together one instructor with twelve students to study a topic of keenly shared interest. It frees its participants (instructor and student) from the usual constraints of lecture courses such as letter-grades and exams. Instead, students in a seminar undertake readings, discussions, essays, and presentations toward a SAT/UNSAT grade. Seminars also feature special instructional activities such as guest speakers, concerts, exhibitions, studio or lab work, and field trips that enhance the learning experience for freshmen. Students often cite a Freshman Seminar as their best learning experience at Harvard, not only in the Freshman Survey, but in the Senior Survey as well.

May I shop or audit a Freshman Seminar?

No, a Freshman Seminar is a small, limited enrollment course that may not be shopped or audited. Class size is 12-15 freshmen.

What is the Harvard College Honor Code?

The Harvard College Honor Code (adopted May 6, 2014 by vote of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences):

"Members of the Harvard College community commit themselves to producing academic work of integrity – that is, work that adheres to the scholarly and intellectual standards of accurate attribution of sources, appropriate collection and use of data, and transparent acknowledgement of the contribution of others to their ideas, discoveries, interpretations, and conclusions. Cheating on exams or problem sets, plagiarizing or misrepresenting the ideas or language of someone else as one’s own, falsifying data, or any other instance of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community, as well as the standards of the wider world of learning and affairs."


What kind of credit is awarded a Freshman Seminar?

Beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences adopted a credit system whereby a one-semester course is worth four credits. Freshman Seminars count as one-semester course and are taken as part of a full semester’s course of study. All seminars count towards non-letter-grade credit. If you successfully petition a department to receive concentration credit for a freshman seminar (see below), then the seminar would count for letter-grade credit.

Can a Freshman Seminar count for concentration or secondary field credit?

Some departments will count a Freshman Seminar for department credit. Please consult either the information on a department in Fields of Concentration or the Head Tutor or Director of Undergraduate Studies in a given department for more information. Remember to save a copy of your Freshman Seminar syllabus for reference.

Can a seminar count for credit towards General Education?

Currently, Freshman Seminars do not count for Gen Ed credit.

How are the seminars graded?

Freshman Seminars are not letter-graded: a student's work in the seminar is evaluated as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. A grade of Satisfactory includes letter grades from A to C-. A grade of Unsatisfactory represents work below C- and is considered a failing grade. Students who neglect the work of the seminar or do not perform satisfactorily will be excluded from the seminar and/or denied credit.