For Students

Information for Students

Information for Students

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.

FAQs

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.

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. You may need a copy of the Freshman Seminar syllabus from the course website to submit to the department for their review.

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 Open Days 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?

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.

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!

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.

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. If you haven’t been admitted to a seminar, however, there may still be hope. Not all seminars will be filled to capacity, and we will post a list of seminars that still have open spaces on our website after preliminary assignments are made.

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.

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...

Read more about What is the Harvard College Honor Code?

What kind of credit is awarded a Freshman Seminar?

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has 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.

Who teaches a Freshman Seminar?

In 2019-2020 we will offer 129 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... Read more about Why should I take a Freshman Seminar?

More Questions?


Working Remotely

Summer Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Contact us by the Email below or Zoom

Email: seminars@fas.harvard.edu
Tel: 617-495-1523