Program of Freshman Seminars

Program Offerings

In 2023-24, the Program of Freshman Seminars in the Residential Colleges will offer approximately 75 seminars on a wide variety of special topics. The seminars are designed to introduce first-year students to the excitement and challenge of working in a small, discussion-oriented setting with a faculty member and fellow students on a topic of particular interest. While freshman seminars are not required, they count as regular courses and may fulfill distribution requirements.

The seminars are open to all first-year students, but enrollment is limited to 15 students per seminar. A full roster of seminars to be offered in a given year will be available on the program website in July.

The application process for fall term, which is described on the program website, typically begins in July. Spring term application opens in mid-October.

Goals for Student Learning

Freshman Seminars, by dint of their size and structure, are designed to ensure first-year students have access to the benefits of the learning that seminar-style instruction provides: The courses are intimate, the students and instructors work closely together, they are able to dive deeply into the topic at hand.  Given their particular audience, instructors are expressly encouraged to pause regularly to consider the disciplinary-specific aspects of the scholarly work taking place.  As such, in addition to learning the content of the course, students are exposed to the methodologies and practices of the instructor’s discipline; they leave the seminar better able to understand the distinctions among academic fields.  They also gain experience with the skillset that defines the liberal arts: they learn to discern among competing sets of claims, to evaluate the relative merits of arguments about those claims, to identify productive intellectual fulcrums within those arguments, and to effectively communicate (orally, verbally) their own ideas on these matters.


  • Director

    • Elizabeth L. Colagiuri
  • Executive Committee

    • Heather H. Howard, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
    • Simone Marchesi, French & Italian
    • Yael Niv, Psychology
    • Jason L. Puchalla, Physics
    • Howard A. Stone, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.