Curriculum: First-Year Requirements


During their first year at Duke all students (including  transfer students) must meet two specific requirements:

  • First-year writing requirement. Writing 101 is the only course required of all Duke undergraduates, and it must be taken within the first year of enrollment. IF you fail to enroll in Writing 101 in the fall or spring, you will be required to enroll in Writing 101 during summer session.  If you are allowed to withdraw from or if you fail Writing 101 during the fall, you must enroll again in the spring.  If you are allowed to withdraw from or if you fail Writing 101 in the spring, you will be required to enroll in Writing 101 during summer session. Transfer students who have not transferred the equivalent of Writing 101 will be required to enroll in the course during their first semester at Duke.
  • First-year seminar requirement. Within the first year of your enrollment, you are required to complete at least one 1.0 credit seminar (marked by the code "S" after the course number). You may fulfill this requirement through participation in the Focus Program or by taking a first-year seminar (89S), a 80S-series seminar, or any other seminar for which you are qualified. If you fail to enroll in a first-year seminar in the fall or spring, or if you fail your seminar class, you will be required to enroll in a seminar during a summer session. Students who have transferred two or more semesters of course work from their previous institution will have the first-year seminar requirement waived.

You are expected to fulfill these first-year requirements before the start of the second year. If you fail to do so you may be dismissed for academic reasons for a period of two semesters.

What classes are suggested for first-year students besides Writing 101?

In addition to Writing 101, you must take at least one seminar in the first year. Seminars generally are marked with an "S" next to the course number. Beyond the requirement that you take Writing 101 and a seminar in your first year, you are free to take any courses that interest you. At least two of these courses should probably be in areas of potential interest to you as a major, so that you can get some exposure to them early on. You also have general education requirements to complete and should work steadily on fulfilling them. Above all, be sure to take one or two courses that particularly interest you, as you are likely to do well in such courses and therefore get off to a good start at Duke.
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