First-Year Seminars are an array of specially designed courses offered only to first-year students. Participation in these seminars is not required, nor is enrollment in them guaranteed. All seminars have small enrollment, focus on a special topic, emphasize active and collaborative learning, and are complemented by an array of out-of-classroom experiences. They may permit students to satisfy a curricular objective; serve as an alternative introduction to the methods and problems of a discipline and count toward a major; or be interdisciplinary in scope. While the focus of each seminar is different, all seminars provide opportunities for students to advance their learning skills, such as writing, reading, speaking, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, research methods, or use of technology.

Instructors from a wide variety of disciplines teach First-Year Seminars in sections of no more than 16 students each. First-Year Seminars are offered in the fall semester. Whenever possible, students in a First-Year Seminar are housed together in the same residence hall to facilitate group work and out-of-classroom learning. The list of First-Year Seminars is published every year, in the late spring.