Incoming First-Year Registration

Drop/Add and start of term information

Making Schedule Changes:

  • First-Year students are expected to discuss any schedule changes with their FSEM adviser before making schedule changes. This is particularly important for students who have been registered in courses they were not expecting. We encourage you to contact your adviser as soon as possible to discuss your planned changes. 
  • If you are registered for courses you are not expecting, it's possible you were placed into specific courses for specific reasons. This is particularly true for students planning to major in the sciences or who indicated an interest in pre-medicine or pre-engineering (e.g., students planning to major in BIOL or following the pre-med track should take CHEM 101/111 in the first semester, students interested in pre-engineering should plan to take PHYS 131 in the first semester, etc.)
  • You are encouraged to watch our video tutorials on making changes in Banner Self-Service, particularly the section on Conditional Drop/Add. (This feature allows you to drop a course ONLY if the course you are trying to add is available. It helps you avoid losing a seat in a course if you can't make the switch.)
  • Students are expected to make all changes online. However, some courses require instructor permission or have a restriction that you meet in another way (e.g., high school course work that doesn't transfer for credit but prepares you to start at an advanced level, etc.). In these cases, you may request instructor permission using the Course Restriction Override Request form (form will be active beginning Monday, August 21). If you need to use this form, we encourage you to watch our video tutorial to ensure you are completing it correctly. 


During drop/add, you should use the regular course offerings to find courses you may be interested in adding. This regular version of the course offerings includes all courses offered for the term and includes additional information, such as enrollment information and day/time information. Additionally, it includes instructional method information. New courses and sections have been added since we built your schedules so we encourage you to browse the offerings.

Because you can only add open courses, we suggest you use the "Open Courses Only" filter, in conjunction with other filters. To find this filter, click on the "More Course Filters" box to expand more options. Click the box labeled "Open Course Only." If desired, select any other filter options (e.g., certain departments, course levels, requirements) to narrow your search before clicking "Browse Courses." 

You should discuss any interesting courses with your adviser before making schedule changes. 

The registrar's office will send an email during the week of August 21 asking you to review/update your personal information as recorded by the registrar's office. Please take a moment to verify the information. If any changes need to be made, please reply to the email or update your address information, preferred name, and/or personal pronouns on the portal.

Classes for the first week will meet according to the schedule below:

  • Thursday, August 24- All classes will meet in abbreviated sessions according to the Half-Day Schedule, irrespective of their regularly scheduled days. 
  • Friday, August 25 - All Tuesday classes meet at their regularly scheduled time and location.
  • Monday, August 28 - All courses begin meeting at their regularly scheduled days and times.

Please review your unofficial transcript on the portal. If you have received Colgate credit for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores or for coursework completed at another institution, it will appear under the heading “TRANSFER CREDIT ACCEPTED BY THE INSTITUTION.”

You will be permitted a total of six (6.00) transfer course credits based on coursework completed both prior to and during your enrollment at Colgate. This means that if you are granted a total of six (6.00) course credits for work taken before your matriculation at Colgate (such as Advanced Placement), you will be allowed no additional transfer credit during your enrollment here. Prematriculation AP and transfer credit counts toward the 32.00 course credits required for graduation. It may not be used to fulfill Colgate’s Areas of Inquiry, Common Core requirements, or Global Engagements, however.

Please note also that Colgate University policy does not permit a student to receive duplicate credit for a course. Therefore, if you enroll in a Colgate course for which you already have received AP/transfer credit, the AP/transfer credit will be removed from your academic record. For example, if you received AP credit for MATH 161, then subsequently enrolled in MATH 161 at Colgate, the credit weight for that AP/transfer course would be changed from 1.00 to 0.00 and the course would be marked as a repeat.

If your AP/transfer credit does not appear on the transcript, or if you believe we have made an error in recording the credit, please contact to the Registrar’s Office as quickly as possible. Our office is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 4:30 p.m.

Please visit our Transfer of Pre-matriculation Credit page for full details on transferring pre-matriculation credit.

Graduation Requirements

Listed below is an outline of the general graduation requirements. Read each section carefully. You will be expected to complete all of these requirements prior to graduation (not in the first semester). Additionally, this information may help guide you when completing your CAPE form. Refer to the University Catalog for complete policy information, as well as additional academic opportunities.

During the fall semester, one of your four courses will be a first-year seminar (FSEM). These courses are designed to introduce students to a variety of liberal arts topics, skills, and ways of learning. Each emphasizes the nature of the learning process, the exploration of individual needs and strengths, learning from classmates, and learning from the multiplicity of resources beyond the classroom. Special emphasis is placed on improving writing skills and using the library’s many resources.

All FSEMs are true academic courses, their demands are high, and each counts toward the general graduation requirement of 32.00 course credits. In terms of actual content, FSEMs vary. In some cases, faculty design courses specifically to serve as FSEMs. Such courses offer students opportunities to study topics that are not represented elsewhere in the curriculum. Others serve as introductory courses in particular disciplines, and still others serve as core components, area of inquiry, or liberal arts prcatice requirements. Refer to the bottom of each course description to see what each FSEM counts toward. 

FSEM Offerings

Additionally, your FSEM instructor will serve as your academic adviser until you declare a major. You will be well advised of academic requirements regardless of your FSEM instructor’s specific area of expertise. Thus, it is not necessary to take an FSEM based on your intended major. By the spring of your sophomore year you will declare your major and select a faculty member from that department/program to serve as your new adviser.

Colgate’s Liberal Arts Core Curriculum is structured so that students take advantage of the diversity of a liberal arts institution. The Class of 2027 must take three Core Components, three courses in the Areas of Inquiry, and five courses in the Liberal Arts practices. The exact requirements are specified below.

The Core Components

(3 courses - must be completed by the end of sophomore year)

The Core Component requirement for the Class of 2027 is completed by successfully taking 3 CORE courses (one from each area). Students may take these courses in any order, but are expected to successfully complete the requirement by the end of the sophomore year. Students are expected to take no more than one CORE in any given semester.

Common Core Course Areas:

Core Communities CORE C132-C199 or FSEM 112-119
Core Conversations CORE 111 or FSEM 100-102
Core Sciences CORE S102-S199 or FSEM 120-30

Liberal Arts Practices and Areas of Inquiry

(8 courses, at most - must be completed prior to graduation)

To ensure a well-rounded liberal arts education, students must engage with disciplines throughout the curriculum and across the full reach of the academic program at Colgate. Thus, to fulfill the Liberal Arts Practices and Areas of Inquiries requirements, students must successfully complete the eight requirements with at least seven courses (the Process of Writing course may also count for one other Practice or Area if the course taken also carries another tag), and students must have at least six unique subjects codes across the eight requirements. Please note that AP/IB course credit and pre-matriculation courses cannot be used to fulfill the areas of inquiry requirement or the liberal arts practice requirement.

Liberal Arts Practices

The Liberal Arts Practices is comprised of five requirements to develop important skills and competencies: comprehending action that matters in the face of urgent world questions, attention to the process of writing, familiarity with quantitative and algorithmic reasoning, insight into the ways languages work, and the capacity to practice and interpret visual, literary, and performing arts.

Courses can carry up to two tags from the five Liberal Arts Practices and an Area of Inquiry, therefore, students taking the same course may end up using it to fulfill different requirements. For instance, a single course may count toward the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry, the Confronting Collective Challenges liberal arts practice, and the Quantitative and Algorithmic Reasoning liberal arts practice. Based on other courses taken, a student may use this course to fulfill any one of those requirements.

Courses tagged with a Liberal Arts Practice may be taught at any level from any department or program and may also count toward a student’s major or minor. As such, students will find that they easily begin to fulfill these requirements in the first few semesters simply by taking courses of interest. 

Artistic Practice and Interpretation

The study of the arts, whether through practice or interpretation, exposes students to unique pedagogies and learning experiences, and enhances their understanding of the diverse modes of creative expression. This engagement not only deepens students’ appreciation for the arts, but also has the potential to nurture their creativity and increase their openness to experimentation, risk taking, and innovation.

Confronting Collective Challenges

Courses in this Practice are devoted to studying and addressing urgent, highly complex problems that call for purposeful, collective action. Confronting Collective Challenges courses provide durable ways of looking at large-scale challenges while teaching students to become open-minded problem-solvers capable of taking action in the world around them. Topics include social inequity and inequality; climate change; systemic and structural racism; disinformation; the challenge to democratic norms, institutions, and practices; the rise of authoritarianism; immigration and statelessness; and environmental degradation. Issues studied may span multiple geographies, nations, species, and nonhuman phenomena.

Language Study

The experience of being introduced to a different way of ordering ideas through language and the ability to communicate in another language are key ways of bridging difference. College language courses help students learn new languages and encounter new cultures. Even students who enter Colgate conversant in more than one language can benefit from such courses, either by studying that language at an advanced level, a new language at the introductory level, or a language course that develops literacies in a heritage language.

The requirement cannot be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency or fluency in a second language. Students who have previously studied a language should complete the Language Background survey as soon as possible.

The Process of Writing

The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a critical part of every liberal arts education, transcending individual disciplines. Writing is a skill developed over the course of a lifetime, and it takes many forms, depending on purpose and audience. For that reason, this curriculum entails a focus on writing in both the First-Year Seminar and also in another class later in a student’s Colgate career.  (Therefore, FSEMs do not fulfill this requirement, even if they are the equivalent of a regular course that would normally satisfy it.) Process of Writing courses are offered in many departments in addition to the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. All courses that count toward the Process of Writing practice emphasize the iterative nature of composition, the importance of revision, and the value of clear communication beyond the standard rules of grammar and mechanics.

Quantitative and Algorithmic Reasoning

It is essential that each student be able to understand, interpret, and apply algorithmic or quantitative methods. Quantitative and algorithmic reasoning form the basis of knowledge in a variety of departments and programs across Colgate’s academic divisions. Quantitative and Algorithmic Reasoning courses emphasize themes such as how numerical evidence can facilitate the analysis of a problem; how to locate, collect, or interpret quantitative data; how to recognize the limitations of particular algorithmic or quantitative methods; or how to communicate algorithmic or quantitative arguments.

Areas of Inquiry

Students achieve greater breadth of knowledge by taking courses in each of the University’s three predominant areas of intellectual inquiry. These courses expose students to disciplinary modes of thinking and the opportunity to discover their majors, minors, and unexpected passions in new fields of study. Certain courses offered by interdisciplinary programs in the University Studies Division are included in these Areas of Inquiry.

Human Thought and Expression:

Courses in this area develop an understanding of what it means to be human: they focus on cultural and intellectual expressions throughout time. The departments listed below generally satisfy the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry:

  • Art and Art History
  • Classics (Greek and Latin)
  • East Asian Languages and Literatures (Chinese and Japanese)
  • English
  • German
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Religion
  • Romance Languages and Literatures (French, Italian, and Spanish)
  • Theater
  • Writing (See course descriptions)
  • FSEMs 150 - 173 (See course descriptions)

Natural Sciences and Mathematics:

Courses in this area apply theoretical and empirical methods to the study of living organisms, the physical world, and abstract and practical mathematics. The departments listed below generally satisfy the Natural Sciences and Mathematics area of inquiry:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Psychological & Brain Sciences
  • FSEM 177-178

Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents:

Courses in this area expose students to the study of social order and human behavior in societies of the past and present. The departments listed below generally satisfy the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry:

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Educational Studies
  • Geography
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • FSEM 179-196 (See course descriptions)

In general, courses from the departments listed above count toward the area of inquiry specified. Exceptions will be noted in the individual course description (found in the University Catalog, the First-Year Course Offerings, and the Department/Program Description pages).

Courses within the Division of University Studies also count toward the areas of inquiry requirement when crosslisted with a department. For instance, MIST 252 AX, Muslim Societies in Motion, is crosslisted as ANTH 252 AX and therefore counts toward the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry. If a non-crosslisted course within the Division of University Studies counts toward an area of inquiry requirement, it will be noted in the course description. For instance, FMST 200/200L, Introduction to Film and Media Studies, counts toward the Human Thought and Expression area of inquiry.

Students are required to complete a major in an academic department or program. Requirements for majors vary widely from one department or program to another but consist of between 8 and 13 courses. There are 56 majors from which you may choose. It is even possible to develop your own interdisciplinary or topical major in consultation with academic advisers and division directors. Students must declare a major in their fourth semester. Please refer to the University Catalog for requirements and guidelines for specific majors.

Colgate uses a course credit system (rather than semester or quarter hours). Most courses are 1.0 course credit, however, there are some courses that award fractional credit (0.50 or 0.25). In addition, some courses have required co-requisites that carry fractional credit. An example is General Chemistry I. If a student registers for CHEM 101 (1.0 credit) they will also register for the laboratory section, CHEM 101L (0.25 credits). 

All students must successfully complete a minimum of 32.00 course credits (including pre-matriculation and transfer credits) to be eligible to graduate. See the University Catalog for the complete policy on academic credit.

Matriculated students entering as first-year students are required to complete seven terms in academic residence at Colgate. A Colgate study group and/or participation in one off-campus Approved Program will also count toward this requirement.

Students must complete two units of physical education, and are encouraged to do so by the end of their sophomore year. Physical education units do not bear academic credit.

PHED 000 A, Physical Education, will be added to your fall schedule. You will need to sign up for specific course units through the physical education department at the start of the term. Please visit the Physical Education web page for detailed information regarding course units and sign-up options. (Fall offerings will be available in late August.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Whom can I contact for summer academic advising?
There are several faculty members that are available to offer guidance on course placement before the start of the semester. See a full list of summer advisers here.

Where do I get my books after I find out my schedule?
Schedules are not final until you have received an e-mail from the registrar's office (approximately July 19) saying schedules are available. Do not purchase books until you receive this notification. 

You can visit the bookstore online at The Colgate Bookstore is located in the heart of downtown Hamilton on the corner of the main intersection. Along with all textbooks, the bookstore also provides anything you might need for all your academic work.

How many Colgate courses and what requirements does a student need to be eligible for graduation?
Consult the University Catalog or the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for degree requirements and more.

How does a student fulfill the physical education requirement at Colgate?
Students must complete two units of physical education, and are encouraged to complete at least one during the first two years at Colgate. To facilitate this, you will be registered for PHED 000 in the fall. You'll then need to sign up for specific PHED units at the start of the semester. Many physical education and outdoor education activities are offered each semester; a complete listing may be found on the Physical Education web page. Athletes may earn one physical education unit for each academic year of participation on varsity teams. Students may earn a maximum of one physical education unit from a club sport. Questions about physical education should be directed to the Department of Physical Education.

Who will be your adviser?
At Colgate, we believe in layers of support, and it can sometimes be confusing to make sense of all the people who are here to help you achieve your goals. Two of your primary contacts will be your faculty adviser and your administrative dean. You’ll find out later this summer who these people are because your faculty adviser is also the instructor of your first-year seminar and your administrative dean is usually connected to your Residential Commons. 

Your faculty adviser will help you design a program of study that lets you take full advantage of the range of educational experiences offered by Colgate, while exploring potential majors, meeting the general education requirements, and completing prerequisite courses for particular majors, extended studies, study abroad programs, and pre-professional programs. Your administrative dean is available to advise you on personal matters, including developing strong study skills, improving your time-management as you adjust to the new demands of being a college student, as well as helping you access the many resources available to you as a Colgate student. Your faculty adviser and administrative dean are key partners in your success, and we encourage you to utilize their experience and expertise. They will both help open doors for you and help you to expand your network. Your administrative dean will stay with you throughout your four years at Colgate, and you will select a new faculty adviser once you declare a major (generally in the spring of sophomore year). 

Your faculty adviser and administrative dean will often be your first point of contact, but your advising network will quickly develop over the course of the first semester, and you’ll help to personalize that network to align with your interests. In addition to pre-professional advisers and Career Services, you may find additional support through the ALANA Cultural Center, Athletics, Counseling Services, Health Services, LGBTQ+ Initiatives, Religious and Spiritual Life, Residential Life, and the Shaw Wellness Institute, to name a few.

What is the Liberal Arts Practice requirement?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for liberal arts practice information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

What is the Areas of Inquiry requirement?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for areas of inquiry information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

What are Core Component courses?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for core component information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

Should students take Core Component courses in any special order?
Students may take the CORE courses in any order, but must be completed by the end of the sophomore year. 

What is a major?
Students investigate a body of knowledge in depth in a field of major. Most major programs are centered on a single discipline and supervised by one academic department; however, a number of interdisciplinary majors permit students to major in a subject that involves several related departments. Some even cross divisional boundaries.

How many majors does Colgate offer?
Colgate offers 56 majors. See the University Catalog for more information.

How many courses will you take in your major?
Requirements for majors vary widely from one department or program to another but consist of between 8 and 13 courses. Refer to the University Catalog for complete major requirements.

When do you declare your major?
An official major must be selected and filed in the Office of the Registrar no later than the second term of the sophomore year (prior to registration for that term). Deadlines are published on the Academic Calendar

Can you change your major once you have declared?
Yes. A student may subsequently change majors with the approval of the new department chair or program director and the filing of a new declaration of major form with the registrar.

Can you declare a minor or second major?
Students may pursue one major; a double major; one major and one minor; or one major and two minors. No other combinations will be recorded on a student's transcript. Note: Students must declare a major before declaring a minor.

What is an extended study course?
A number of courses offer short-term study components that extend the course beyond the campus and beyond the regular term. These programs offer opportunities for students to gain access to institutions and individuals relevant to their coursework that are not available on campus. Extended studies are particularly attractive for students whose schedules do not permit them to participate in semester-long study group programs. Prerequisites may exist for these courses. Extended study course segments are registered as part of either the fall or the spring term course offerings, even though the off-campus components are scheduled to precede or follow the regular academic term.

What degree will be received when you graduate from Colgate?
All Colgate undergraduate programs lead to a Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree.

How is your fall schedule created?
Carefully review the information on the Submitting Course Preferences section on this page, then submit the CAPE form (available in that section) by the deadline specified. After the deadline, the registrar's office staff will use your form to assemble a fall schedule for you. Schedules are not final until mid-/late July. An email will be sent with information on how to access your schedule and other information when schedules are ready.

How many courses will you be registered for?
First-year students will be registered for four full-credit courses. The normal course load is 4.00-4.50. If none of your courses have a lab co-requisite, your course load will be 4.00. If one or two of your courses has a required lab, your course load will be 4.25-4.50.

What is a First-Year Seminar (FSEM)?
First-year seminars (FSEMs - pronounced "F-sems") are true academic courses designed to introduce students to a variety of liberal arts topics, skills, and ways of learning, including the importance of academic integrity. Please visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for more information about FSEMs.

Does my FSEM count toward anything else?
All FSEM course descriptions include a statement indicating what the FSEM counts toward. Many count as CORE courses, others fulfill the areas of inquiry, liberal arts practices, and/or some may count as a departmental course. Look for the statement that begins "Students who successfully complete this seminar..." to determine what each FSEM counts toward.

What is a crosslisted course?
A crosslisted course is one that is offered under two or more subject codes. For example, ALST 281 and HIST 281 are crosslisted. Regardless of whether students register for the course as ALST or HIST, they will be in the same classroom and complete the same assignments and exams.

If you are interested in taking a crosslisted course, you should indicate your preferred subject code on your preference form. If your preferred subject code is unavailable, we'll attempt the other subject code before moving on to another option. If you need to change the designation later on (whether to have it count for a certain requirement or another reason), you may do so by contacting the Office of the Registrar. 

If you have any questions about registering for a crosslisted course please contact the registrar’s office.

When will you know your fall schedule?
You will receive an e-mail (to your Colgate email address) when schedules are available, approximately July 19. Instructions on accessing your schedule will be included in the email.

Will you have the opportunity to change your schedule?
You will be able to make schedule changes during the drop/add period in the fall. This will be after you've had the chance to meet with your FSEM instructor/adviser during orientation. Detailed drop/add information will be available before the start of the term. No schedule changes will be made during the summer.

What happens during the drop/add period?
During the drop/add period (at the start of the term), you will have the opportunity to make changes to your schedule using the online registration system. Some courses may require you to obtain instructor permission prior to being eligible to register. More information regarding drop/add and drop/add procedures will be available online closer to the fall term.

What if I want to take five classes my first (or second) semester?
As a first-year student, you are expected to take 4.00-4.50 course credits (four full courses) and may only deviate from this plan with the permission of your academic adviser (FSEM instructor) during the drop/add period. First-year students will not be registered for five courses during the summer.

What if a class is in the Catalog, but not in the First-Year Course Offerings? Can I take the course?
The University Catalog lists all courses offered by a department. Not all courses are available each semester. You should select courses available to first-year students from the First-Year Course Offerings page.

Students who have taken AP or IB exams should refer to the relevant Credit Summary chart for details on credit and/or refer to the relevant department page for details on placement.

Students who have taken coursework at a college or university prior to enrolling at Colgate should refer to the Transfer and Pre-matriculation Credit web page for details on applying for Colgate credit.