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First-Year Seminars Program

The First-Year Seminars (FYS) program is designed to bring Michigan faculty together with incoming students in a small-class setting. LSA established the program in 1978 and greatly expanded it in 1994 as part of a broad effort to improve undergraduate education. First-Year Seminar courses are limited to a maximum enrollment of 18 first-year students. Each course meets an area distribution requirement. FYS are not survey courses, but they do cover material that is appropriate for distribution requirements.

The aims of the program are to provide opportunities for first-year students to:

  • Interact with the tenured and tenure-track faculty who are chiefly responsible for the University's ongoing intellectual life;
  • Join the community of scholars and participate in studying topics and issues that are engaging and important;
  • Discover the value of specialized academic knowledge and expertise in efforts to analyze and understand problems of consequence; and
  • Experience frequent opportunities to write and receive written commentary on their writing, and to present oral reports.

Faculty have the opportunity to explore a topic they are passionate about and students get a first-hand, up-front look at the process of critical inquiry. FYS also serve the function of helping ease the transition to college that new students face. The majority of FYS are taught by regular U-M faculty. Student interest and satisfaction in these courses is high. The program is also valuable in recruiting prospective students to the university. 

For further information on the program, contact Tim McKay (