Your first year at Duke should be a time of academic exploration and discovery, and you should not feel pressured to complete graduation or major requirements. The only requirements for the first year are WRITING 101 and any one credit seminar class. Any class you take this year is likely to satisfy multiple curricular requirements. You should take courses in departments that you find interesting, and you don’t need to worry about getting started on your major.

Your Fall Schedule Will:

  • Be at least four, one-credit classes. If you choose to enroll in a FOCUS cluster you will be enrolled in 4.5 credits.
  • Have either Writing 101, if you are assigned to take it, or a seminar (S) class.
  • Reflect appropriate course placement based on pre-college credit (AP, IB, and PMC).
  • Most likely be classes at the 89-200 level, though some higher-level courses are appropriate if you have pre-college credit.
  • Include any discussion sections (D) or labs (L) that are required for your courses.

All students must take WRITING 101 and a seminar in their first year.

WRITING 101: If you are assigned to take WRITING 101 in the fall, you will see a message in DukeHub, under the Message Center section, telling you this. You are required to register for WRITING 101 in the fall if you are assigned to take it then. Those who are not assigned to WRITING 101 for fall will not see a  message and will receive this notification when registering for the spring semester. Find tips for choosing a WR101 course along with detailed information about the fall courses here.

Seminars: Seminars are small-group learning experiences that allow you the opportunity to engage closely with a faculty member and other students. Students usually take their seminar the semester they are not taking WRITING 101, but you could take both in the same semester. There are special seminars designed just for first-year students, but you can also take any one credit class that has an 'S' at the end of the course number, though it's usually best to stick with courses lower than the 300 level, depending on your background in the subject. 

1. Your first year is for exploration!
The departmental and course offerings at Duke are so much broader than in high school, there's a lot to discover. The first year is your opportunity for exploration.

2. Don’t worry too much about meeting Trinity or major requirements in your first semester.
Virtually any class you take in your first semester will meet multiple curriculum requirements. In the long run, taking time to explore and try new things now will help you more than ticking off requirements. However, it's a good idea to be familiar with the Trinity Graduation Requirements.

3. Discover new courses.
Duke offers hundreds of classes in dozens of departments every semester. Browsing different majors, minors and certificate programs, is a great way to stumble upon classes you didn't know existed, and to learn about what courses different academic disciplines offer and require.

4. What about foreign language classes?
You do not have to start your foreign language requirement your first semester but it is a good idea to get started in your first year, especially if you’re interested in study away.

5. Are you considering a health profession post-graduation?
If you are considering medical school or other health professions there are required courses you should be familiar with. You can learn more about these requirements on Duke’s health professions website.You do not have to get started your first semester if you are unsure about a health professions pathway.

6. Think about balance in your schedule.
Generally, a mix of larger and smaller classes is a good idea. It is also important to take courses from different academic disciplines, or what we call Areas of Knowledge.

7. Don’t forget to leave time between classes.
Be sure you have enough time to get from one class to the next. Need to catch a bus? Grab some coffee? What about lunch?

8. Consider how your classes are spread across each day and throughout the week.
You may prefer to have your classes concentrated on a few days each week or to spread them out more evenly. You might avoid early morning classes if you are not a morning person.

Be sure to look at introductory courses, or 100 or 200 level elective courses as these are a good way to explore departments and subjects. Use Advanced Search in DukeHub to look at classes by general academic area, like the natural sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences. You can also search for fall courses in the course catalog and schedule of classes.

For an overview of the course registration process, and information on how to register, refer to the Registrar's Registration Guides or the Registration section of the Blue Book.