Incoming First-Year Registration

Please fully review materials on this page — every link contains important information.

The crucial steps are to review the first-year course offerings and to submit your course preference form by Wednesday, June 29, 2022. The other materials will help inform and guide you in identifying your preferences, particularly the Department/Program pages.

If you have any questions about the materials contained in these links, please contact the Registrar's Office ( or 315-228-7408).

Registration Timeline

June 15 Registration information posted for the Class of 2026
June 15 - June 29 Incoming first-year students review registration information posted on this page, including fall 2022 course offerings, before submitting the course preference form no later than June 29.
June 29 All course preference forms must be received by this date.
June 30 -  July 20 The Registrar's staff reviews and processes each course preference form in registration group order. (See the Submitting Course Preferences section below for group order.)
July 20 (tentative) Schedules are released to the Class of 2026. An email will be sent your Colgate email address when schedules are ready.


Submitting Course Preferences

Start by reading the Graduation Requirements and the Department/Program Descriptions so you have a sense of requirements and recommendations.

Next, review the First-Year Course Offerings to see courses that are available to incoming students. Be sure to check the Restrictions, Prerequisites, and Notes before you complete your preference form. All first-year course descriptions are available in the course offerings and linked to in the Department/Program Description pages.

Continue reading the information on this page so you have a clear understanding of the process and expectations.

The following information will help guide you while looking for preferences:

Variety is important

  • Colgate University prides itself on being a liberal arts institution. This means students must take a wide array of courses to earn a degree. In your first semester, we recommend that you try to take one course from each division (Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences).
  • Our staff members, with decades of combined experience registering first-years, have seen that students who have a schedule loaded with courses from one division have less success in their first semester than those who choose courses from across the curriculum. Providing us with a wide variety of preferences will help us create a balanced schedule with courses of interest to you.
  • If you have a particular major in mind, we encourage you to select a course in that department/program. However, in most cases, you do not have to take major-related courses in your first semester to be successful later on. The important thing is to choose course preferences that appeal to you.


  • Every first-year will take one FSEM. Enrollments are kept small (15-18 students) so it's vital to provide us with a wide variety of FSEM preferences. This will ensure we can place you in one that is interesting to you and is open and fits your schedule.
  • Keep in mind that FSEMs cover topics across the curriculum which may affect the balance of your schedule. Our staff will try to avoid registering you for more than 2 courses in the same division.
  • Example: if you plan to take PHYS 131 and MATH 161, you should avoid natural science-related FSEMs. In this case you may want to consider FSEMs that fulfill other areas of inquiry requirements (e.g., FSEMs 147-175 fulfill the Human Thought and Expression areas of inquiry).


  • Students are expected to complete the Common Core requirement by the end of sophomore year, and should not take more than one CORE course in a term.
  • Remember that some FSEMs fulfill CORE requirements (FSEMs 100-143 are CORE equivalents). You should indicate some CORE preferences in both FSEMs and non-FSEMs so we can ensure you are registered for a CORE course, whether as an FSEM or regular course.

Language Requirement

  • Students who are required to take a foreign language course will be informed by the University Registrar in the CAPE form. Please read the information carefully to ensure you understand the expectations for your first semester. You can find details about this requirement in the Graduation Requirements section below.
  • If you must fulfill this requirement it will be one of your four courses, not a fifth course. 

Health Sciences

Students who are interested in the health sciences (or pre-med) are encouraged to carefully read the Health Sciences description (link below in the Department and Program section).

If you still have questions regarding appropriate course selection, please contact Dr. Julie Chanatry (, the chair of the Health Sciences Advisory Committee.

Course load

  • First-year students will be registered for 4 full-credit courses, plus accompanying labs, if applicable, for a maximum of 4.50 credits.
  • Incoming first-year students are rarely permitted to take more than 4.50 credits in the first semester. If there is a critical educational reason for taking more than 4.50, the possibility must be discussed with your FSEM instructor/academic adviser during drop/add at the start of the term. More information about this will be available when drop/add information is posted in August. Students will not be registered for more than 4.50 credits during the summer.

Course enrollments

  • The average Colgate class size is approximately 18 students. This allows for more intimate contact with field-leading professors but also means that we may not be able to accommodate everyone's highest preferences. This is one reason we ask for a variety of preferences on the CAPE form. Even if we can't register you for a particular course, we want to make sure you are registered for courses of interest.
  • A small number of courses have larger enrollments (e.g., 40-100). These courses provide a wonderful introduction to a particular discipline; however, students are encouraged to take no more than one of these larger classes in the first semester. These courses are indicated as a "Large enrollment section" in the Notes field of the course offerings. Our staff will make an effort to not register you for more than one large enrollment course, and will not register you in more than two.

Need more guidance?

  • If you are having trouble identifying enough preferences, this is the time to start exploring courses that you might not have previously considered. You can begin reviewing course descriptions (some courses may surprise you) or look at the Program/Department pages; use the filters available on the course offerings to find courses that fulfill a certain area of inquiry; think about opportunities that may require pre-requisites that you can start now (e.g., the study group to China requires a year of language study). If you continue to struggle, you can reach out to a Summer Adviser or our office ( or 315-228-7408).

The CAPE form is dynamic and you will receive feedback if you have not chosen enough courses or rated enough in a particular category. Follow the prompts to accurately complete the form. 

Your form will automatically save your progress (no save button or log out necessary) so you can start it and come back to it at a later time, if needed. 

If you would like to give us information or guidance when we are creating your schedule, please use the Notes box provided at the end of each section. 

Once you submit your CAPE form, the registrar's office will receive your selections. If you've submitted your form and need to substantially amend your selections, you can submit again. (Your new submission will take place of any previous submissions.) If you have a minor change, you can email If you aren't sure if your changes are substantial enough to require a resubmit, please email or call and we will help determine the best course of action.

If you have any questions or experience difficulty with the form, please contact us at or 315-228-7408.

The registrar's office will begin creating schedules for members of the Class of 2026 following the June 29 deadline. CAPE forms will be processed according to the alpha groupings listed below. (Please note: CAPE forms received after the June 29 deadline will be processed at the end of their alpha group.)


Group Last Name Range
Group 1 Last names beginning L-R
Group 2 Last names beginning S-Z
Group 3 Last names beginning A-D
Group 4 Last names beginning E-K

Note: The registration order will be different each term. The alpha groups will “roll” for each term’s registration, thereby ensuring that each alpha group has the opportunity to be first once over the next two years and first once in the two following years. For the spring term, the L-R group will register first. 

Schedule Availability: An e-mail announcement from the registrar’s office will be sent to your Colgate e-mail when your schedule is available (approximately July 16). Schedule changes cannot be made during the summer. You will have the opportunity to make schedule changes during the drop/add period (at the start of the fall semester) after you've been formally advised by your FSEM instructor/academic adviser.

Incoming students will not register on the portal for the fall term (no registration time ticket needed). Please submit the CAPE form (submit button below) and the registrar's office will begin registering students after the June 29 deadline.

CAPE forms must be received by the registrar’s office no later than June 29.

Submit Your CAPE Form

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 common core or area of inquiry 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 2026 must take three Common Core components and six courses in the Areas of Inquiry. The exact requirements are specified below.

The Common Core

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

The Common Core requirement for the Class of 2026 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:

Legacies of the Ancient World
Challenges of Modernity
Core Conversations

CORE 151 or FSEM 100
CORE 152 or FSEM 105
CORE 111 (will be offered beginning Spring 2023)

Core Sciences CORE S110-S197 or FSEM 124-143
Core Communities CORE 141C-C197 or FSEM 113

Areas of Inquiry

(6 courses - must be completed prior to graduation)

Students must successfully complete at least two courses in each of the Areas of Inquiry for a total of six courses. Within each area of inquiry, the two courses selected must represent different departments. Students must complete the areas of inquiry requirement prior to graduation. Please note that AP/IB course credit, pre-matriculation courses, and summer transfer courses cannot be used to fulfill the areas of inquiry requirement.

Human Thought and Expression:

(2 courses from different departments)

  • 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 147 - 175 (See course descriptions)

Natural Sciences and Mathematics:

(2 courses from different departments)

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

Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents:

(2 courses from different departments)

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Educational Studies
  • Geography
  • History
  • Political Science
  • Sociology
  • FSEM 178 - 198 (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.

Students who have not demonstrated competence in a foreign or classical language will be informed of their status by the university registrar in the CAPE form. Competence may be demonstrated in one of three ways: 

  • By successfully completing at least three years of study (i.e., through the third level) in secondary school prior to enrolling at Colgate University.
  • By demonstrating basic language skills as measured by tested proficiency—for example, a score of 580 or better on the SAT II subject tests in the foreign or classical language.
  • By successfully completing the study of a foreign or classical language at Colgate through at least one semester at the intermediate (201) level. This must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

Students granted writing priority status are encourage to register for an introductory writing and rhetoric (WRIT) course and are given priority in registering for a WRIT course in the first year. The CAPE form includes questions to determine writing priority status. 

All students are encouraged to take a WRIT course and/or to take advantage of the Writing and Speaking Center services.

If you have been designated writing priority access or are generally interested in WRIT courses, please refer to the WRIT course offerings.

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 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. 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.)

Summer Advisers

There are several faculty members that are available to offer guidance on course placement before the start of the semester. This special group of summer advisers welcome your questions as you plan for fall registration.


Department chair and program director contact information is also available on the Department and Program pages. 

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.

What is the summer writing assignment and when is it due?
Every year, Colgate University selects a text as part of its Community Reads program. While all members of the Colgate community are encouraged to read the selection, all incoming students are given a free copy (electronic or physical by request). Your first assignment as a Colgate student asks you to read the book and write a response to a prompt(s) related to the main themes of the book. The assignment will be submitted through an online form and shared directly with your FSEM professor who also serves as your academic adviser as well as your administrative dean. More information on the selection, how to access it, and the details of the assignment will be communicated by the director of the FSEM program. The deadline for the assignment is during the first part of August.

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 20) 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 foreign language requirement at Colgate?
Students needing to fulfill the language requirement at Colgate will be informed of their status by the university registrar. Visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for policy information.

What does Writing Priority status mean?
All students will answer a series of questions about their high school writing experiences on the CAPE form. After answering the questions, students awarded Priority status will see information about the status and will be encouraged to choose a WRIT course when indicating preferences. Students with Priority Access will be given preference when registering for a WRIT course in the first year.

How does a student fulfill the physical education requirement at Colgate?
Students must complete two units of physical education, and are encouraged to do so in the first two years at Colgate. 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 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 Common Core courses?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements section on this page for common core information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

Should students take Common Core courses in any special order?
Students may take the Common 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).

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 course preference 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, and some may count as a departmental course. Look for the statement that begins "Students who successfully complete this seminar will..." 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 228 and HIST 228 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 20. 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 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 course work 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.