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What courses will I take in my first semester?

While it's impossible to answer this question in exact terms until you meet with your advisor, here is a general idea of what to expect on your first class schedule at Augustana.

How many classes will I take in my first semester?

We strongly encourage first-year students to take three four-credit courses in their first semester. This might not sound like a lot, but the workload in each of your classes will be enough to keep you busy, especially as you adjust to life at college. Four-credit courses require more work in and out of the classroom than do three-credit courses. You will also take FYI 100 or FYH 100 for an additional one credit.

Many incoming students will sign up for one or two one-credit courses as well. First-semester students commonly earn a credit for an academic skills course, a physical education course, participation in a varsity sport, music lessons, and/or participation in a music ensemble.

Most students will be taking 13-14 credits in their first semester. When you add in the four-credit J-term (our January term, required for all first-year students) course, that leaves 16-17 credits available for the spring semester. Students who start in the fall semester typically take a heavier course load in the spring. By then, the adjustment to college life and academics is well underway and the student is prepared for the increased workload. A student who takes 12-13 credits (three classes) in the spring is still on track to complete 29 credits in the first year. That is the credit requirement for sophomore status.

Which three courses should I take?

FYI 101 and companion course FYI 100 (or FYH 101 and 100)

Every incoming first-year student will take either First Year Inquiry (FYI) 101 and FYI 100, or the Honors courses FYH 101 and FYH 100. 

The FYI sequence is a two-course sequence for first-year students that is designed to introduce you to the tradition of the liberal arts and hone your foundational thinking and communication skills. FYI/FYH 101 aims to improve your writing and oral communication skills. FYI/FYH 102 will focus on responding to difficult academic texts and research-based argument. The 101 course carries four credits.

FYI/FYH 100 is a one-credit hour companion course taught by your first-year advisor. The students in your peer group will be in your 100 and 101 classes.

A Learning Perspective (LP) course or a major course

In addition to FYI or FYH, most students will take at least one course (four credits) in the six Learning Perspectives (LPs) in the first semester. The six Perspectives are the Arts, the Individual and Society, Literature, the Past, Human Values and Existence, and the Natural World.

For some students, that will be a course of their choice from the many courses Augustana offers.  For others, it may be a course that applies to their major.

One of the required steps for course registration is to complete a Course Interest Form. You'll review LP course descriptions and tell us your preferences. Final course selections will be made based on your intended major and course availability.

Here is a list of LP courses offered in your first semester.

Second language course

If you are beginning a language or were placed into the 101-course level, we encourage you to take the first semester of language in the fall. Most languages do not offer the 101-course level in the spring semester. You can learn more about the second language requirements and your options here. Most language classes carry four credits.

Chemistry 131

If you are interested in biology or the health sciences (pre-medicine, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-nursing, pre-vet, etc...), you will need to take Chemistry 131 and it's lab (CHEM 131L), the first course in the chemistry sequence, in your first semester for four credits.


Students in certain majors (biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, math, math education, engineering, or the health sciences) may need a math course, like pre-calculus or calculus, in their first semester. Your Math Index score, and your previous math classes and grades, will determine if you are ready for calculus or need to take a preparatory course. Most math classes are four credits.

Your Math Index score is available to you in Arches. Calculus courses are offered multiple times throughout the year, so enrollment in the fall semester may not be required even if you need it for your anticipated major. 

Music, music education, elementary and secondary education

Music and Music Education require a particular first-semester course (MUSC 111 for four credits) offered only in the fall. Elementary and Secondary Education do not require a particular course but do have significant requirements for a first-year student. If you are interested in these majors, be sure to note that on your Course Interest Form.

What if I have some open course slots?

As you can see, some students' schedules are largely set for their first semester: if you are a prospective biology major who would like to fulfill the foreign language requirement, for example, you will need to take FYI 101, FYI 100, Chemistry 131, and the 101 course of a second language.

The majority of students, though, will have one or two courses they can choose from a large menu of classes. How do you decide which classes to take?

There are two things to keep in mind. First, and most importantly, you should seek out a class that looks interesting. Have you wondered what an art history class would be like but have never had a chance to take one? Have you thought about political science as a major but don't really know what a political science course covers? Would you like to continue your study of Spanish or German? Are you fascinated by African culture, or do you love literature, or always wanted to learn to act?

There are many courses at Augustana that you might not have had a chance to take before -- the first year is your chance to explore your interests and ambitions, and in doing so, explore the curriculum.

Second, look for classes that fulfill a core curriculum requirement. In your first semester, almost any course that fulfills one of the Learning Perspectives will help move you toward graduation. If you can find a course that both looks interesting and fulfills a Perspective, then you are doing two things at once: broadening your experience and knowledge even as you work through the requirements for graduation.

To explore requirements for specific majors, see Areas of Study.