University of Iowa

First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars at the University of Iowa

First-Years Seminars are taught by tenure-track faculty and senior administrators on a variety of topics. With an average class size of 16-20 students, these graded, discussion-based courses help build community among the students, as well as provide an interactive setting for communicating the University’s academic expectations to first-year students.  Participation in a First-Year Seminar has been linked to gains in persistence, particularly for students who are more likely at-risk for attrition. 

First-year seminars are one semester hour courses that meet for 750 minutes, for a minimum of 8 weeks and a maximum of 15 weeks. Course work includes class participation, writing assignments and presentations; no quizzes or exams. The emphasis is on active and interactive learning.

Topics can be narrowly focused on a subject of interest to the instructor, or can be more broadly focused. Past seminars can be found by searching "first-year seminar" in MyUI during any fall semester. 

First-Year Seminars Are...

A classroom environment that:

  • Inspires students to reflect on their values and beliefs
  • Encourages students to ask questions that are both academic and motivated by personal growth
  • Advances students' intellectual and interpersonal growth

An introduction/orientation to intellectual life and academics at the University of Iowa

  • Designed to help students make the transition to college-level learning through active participation in the direction of the course
  • Facilitate students’ transition to college and develop skills in critical thinking, writing, and effective communication

Questions about First-Year Seminars can be directed to Angie Lamb,