First-Year Seminars

Welcome to Mount Holyoke College!

The first-year seminar program introduces students to the idea of the liberal arts, which is central to the academic and intellectual life of the College. The courses themselves form the core of the program. They are taught by faculty across the curriculum—in the humanities, natural sciences, and the social sciences. These seminar-style courses are small, discussion-based, and foster critical inquiry and intellectual discourse, while also encouraging the development of some of the academic skills necessary to a student’s liberal arts education at Mount Holyoke—thinking critically and creatively; reading with interpretive skill; evaluating evidence (visual, textual, and scientific); and communicating effectively with the written and spoken word. Most of the seminars are also writing- or speaking-intensive and are structured to demonstrate connections between the disciplines.

Some recently offered first-year seminars include, “Sherlock Holmes,” Forensic Science,” “Encountering the Sacred,” “On Forgery, Fraud, Bunk, and Bad History,” “Keyboard Instruments as Technology,” and “Politics of Inequality.” For a complete listing of first-year seminars in the coming semester, please consult our online course registration system, ISIS.

All entering students --except those who enter with sophomore or junior standing  as transfer students or as Frances Perkins scholars -- are required to register for a first-year seminar in one of their first two semesters at the College. It is best to think of your first-year seminar as an opportunity to broaden your education, so pick a course on a subject about which you have always wondered, but never had the opportunity to explore. At the same time, first-year seminars fulfill some of the College’s learning goals, which can help inform a new student’s exploration of the College’s liberal arts curriculum.

My very best wishes as you embark on your college career this coming fall!