Frequently Asked Questions

How do I propose a Freshman Seminar?

Please go to "For Faculty" > "Propose a Seminar" section in the navigation for information and submission deadlines. Committee meetings are held during the spring term to review proposals for the following academic year.

Who is eligible to teach a Freshman Seminar?

All Freshman Seminar instructors must hold an active Harvard University teaching appointment. Instructors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences must hold a teaching appointment at the rank of Lecturer or above. Faculty from other Harvard schools must hold an appointment of Assistant Professor or above, including Clinical Professor. Emeriti Faculty and FAS Visiting Professors are also eligible to teach seminars. At this time, Preceptors, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Visiting Fellows, Adjunct Faculty and other research (non-teaching) appointments or supervised (non-faculty) appointments are not... Read more about Who is eligible to teach a Freshman Seminar?

What if my seminar conflicts with my Expos assignment?

Because Expos is a requirement and a Freshman Seminar is an elective, you should discuss with your adviser how to schedule these two important first-year experiences. You may request a change in your Expos assignment to accommodate your Freshman Seminar.

Are there wait lists for seminars?

No, we do not keep wait lists. There will be a list of seminars with openings posted on the website after the initial online application period is over. We encourage all students who are still looking to enroll to check this list.

What if I am not accepted to a seminar?

Although we offer over 100 seminars each year, we cannot guarantee you a seat in a specific seminar. Demand for particular seminars varies widely, and there can often be too many applications for the seminar(s) in which you have expressed interest. However, not all seminars will be filled to capacity. After preliminary assignments are made, we will post a list of seminars with open seats that are still accepting students. You are welcome to reach out to the faculty member and ask permission to enroll.

How is admission to a Freshman Seminar determined?

Seminar placement is ultimately done by a matching algorithm that is run after all applications have been submitted. However, different factors influence the algorithm’s outcome: instructors can select or deny students based on their essays and other relevant information; and student rankings and preferences are also taken into consideration. You will then receive an email notifying you of your placement in only one of your seminars

Is there a limit to how many applications I may submit?

No. Each term, you may apply to as many Freshman Seminars as genuinely interest you. However we urge you to apply to at least seven seminars in order to increase your chances of getting a seat in one of your top-choice seminars. Remember to rank your choices!

Does it help my chances to apply early?

All applications will be reviewed at the same time by instructors so no special preference will be given to early applications. However, you may wish to avoid any last-minute problems due to heavy online traffic within 24 hours of the deadline. Rarely, an instructor will choose to hold interviews for selected applicants and will review the applications during the week before the deadline in order to choose and make arrangements for meeting during opening week. For those few seminars where this is the case, a note about this will be prominently included with the seminar description... Read more about Does it help my chances to apply early?

Is there an advantage to taking a seminar in the fall?

No. Although more seminars are offered in the fall term, you should apply to whichever seminars interest you most, regardless of the term in which they are offered. You may take a seminar in both terms, space permitting.