The College

First-Year Seminars

Each year, Brown offers close to 90 special seminars for first-year students in all areas of the curriculum, from anthropology to physics to literary arts.

First-Year Seminars (FYS) aim to promote close interaction between faculty and students in a small setting that encourages pedagogical  innovation and community-building. Since its inception in 2002, Brown's FYS program has provided an entrée for incoming first-years, not only into college-level work, but into Brown's unique academic culture. They offer a welcoming environment to learn about a new field and to develop a relationship with a faculty member. Students receive regular feedback on the work they produce (most First-Year Seminars also carry the writing designation), and seminar faculty often serve as informal mentors for their students long after the class has ended.

Many students have used their First-Year Seminar as a springboard to independent, interdisciplinary work on the seminar theme, or with the seminar professor. Whether you discover your future academic path or simply find your academic voice amid the small discussion groups, First-Year Seminars emphasize active participation and discovery — what we call the Brown way.

You enroll in your First-Year Seminar by lottery the summer before you arrive at Brown. As a first-year student, you may visit these courses - even if there are no available spaces in the class - during the “shopping period” that takes place in the first two weeks of each term. If a space becomes available, or with an instructor’s permission, you may add these seminars to your course registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

Faculty with an interest in offering a First-Year Seminar might be eligible for course development funds depending on the topic of the course (information about developing a First-Year Seminar is also available on this site).