Students must take Writing & Rhetoric and one University Seminar (USEM) during their first year at Notre Dame. Students with Advanced Credit for Writing & Rhetoric must take a writing-intensive course in a discipline of their choosing instead of Writing & Rhetoric. This writing-intensive course does not have to be taken in the first year. 

Writing & Rhetoric and University Seminar are not taken in the same semester. Half of the first-year students will take a University Seminar during the first semester while the other half will take a Writing & Rhetoric course (or an elective if they have Advanced Credit for Writing and Rhetoric). In the second semester, students who took a University Seminar first semester will take Writing & Rhetoric (or elective if they have Advanced Credit for Writing & Rhetoric) and vice-versa.

Step One: Review Writing Requirements

Review the information on Writing in the Core Curriculum and First-Year Requirements pages. 

Step Two: Identify Writing & Rhetoric Options

If your AP or IB score does not grant you Advanced Credit for Writing & Rhetoric, you will take WR 13100 (Writing and Rhetoric), WR 13200 (Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric), or WR 13300 (Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric) during your first year. You can learn more about these options on the First-Year Requirements page. 

Step Three: Identify University Seminar Options

You will only take one University Seminar in your first year. If you are taking a USEM during the fall semester, you cannot take one in the spring semester.

University Seminar courses (USEMs) exemplify the core values of a Notre Dame liberal education and mark a first step toward the goal of “intellectual excellence.” With a class size of no more than 18 people, this small, writing-intensive learning environment will engage you in meaningful discussions with your instructor and peers, introduce you to the rich tapestry of theory and research within a field, and show you some of the problems and issues involved in that discipline. Each University Seminar requires students to write a minimum of 24 pages on a subject with the benefit of feedback from a leading scholar in the field and the chance to rewrite at least one paper. 

You can learn more about University Seminars and the requirements they fulfill on the First-Year Requirements page. Explore the variety of USEM sections, essential questions and themes, and descriptions via PATH Class Search by filtering to "University Seminar" under the "Any Core Requirements" filter.