Welcome to the First-Year Seminar!

First-Year Seminar is the cornerstone experience for incoming students at the University of Denver, serving as a bridge from high school to college, an avenue to academic inquiry, and an introduction to our institution. FSEM faculty are the face of intellectual life at DU and the person to whom students will turn for guidance during their first year. Our FSEM program is transformational for students, but also demanding and rewarding for faculty advisors. On behalf of the university, we welcome you to the FSEM program and thank you for contributing valuable time to it.​

Our topics-based academic seminar is the FSEM model favored by highly selective institutions across the country and puts us in the company of less than one third of four-year institutions offering FSEM. For students, their FSEM cohort represents a first and crucial intellectual community. It is where they will meet their first friends and encounter their first university-level assignments. Expectations established in your classroom for engagement, workload, and accountability will set the standard for their ensuing classes. While FSEM courses are designed as rigorous and challenging experiences, they are also meta-learning environments, where students can reflect on their transition to the university and develop new strategies for academic success.

Inside the classroom, FSEM faculty are expert researchers and practitioners. Outside the classroom, they are trusted guides, helping students navigate university channels and access various networks of support. Across a full year of academic advising, faculty help students make thoughtful course selections, while framing the common curriculum as an entrée to formative, integrated, and deep learning experiences. Students turn to FSEM faculty with all manner of questions; faculty provide resources that empower students to find the answers they seek.​

Research indicates that FSEM courses support inclusivity and foster persistence, particularly among underserved student populations. Our FSEM program reinforces our institutional values and builds community among students, as when our most vulnerable students thrive, all students benefit. Its success depends on your expertise, generosity, and goodwill, and we are grateful for your participation.​

Heather Martin
First-Year Seminar Faculty Director

FSEM Outcomes & Features

FSEM Student Learning Outcome: Students who complete FSEM will be able to engage in critical inquiry in the examination of concepts, texts, or artifacts; effectively communicate the results of such inquiry; and access University resources.

Program Features:

A key priority of the First-Year Seminar program is to introduce students to the value and excitement of pursuing intellectual questions, and the rewards that come from developing deeper levels of expertise. Faculty cultivate this and other program priorities through the following features:

  • Intellectual community
  • Academic expectations  
  • Active learning environment  
  • Strong advising relationships