Requirements and Credits

Requirements and Credits

There are three types of academic requirements at Notre Dame: 

In some cases, one course can be used to satisfy a requirement in each category. For instance, an advanced Spanish literature course could satisfy all of the following:

  • Core Curriculum: Liberal Arts 4 requirement
  • College or school: College of Arts and Letters language requirement
  • Major or minor: Spanish major requirement

In most cases, one course cannot be used to satisfy two requirements in one category. For instance, one course could not be counted towards both the Political Science major and the Constitutional Studies minor.

Your first-year advisor will work with you throughout the year to help you understand these requirements and how they fit together.


Core Curriculum

All students, regardless of major, must complete the Core Curriculum, which is organized around 11 Ways of Knowing. The Core is designed to be integrated with other parts of your curriculum, and most Core requirements do not have to be completed in the first year.

First-Year Requirements

Only three Core requirements must be completed in the first year: the University Seminar, Writing and Rhetoric, and the Moreau First Year Experience (two semesters, one credit each semester). Students with AP or IB credit for Writing and Rhetoric do not take this course and take a Writing Intensive course in its place. This Writing Intensive course does not have to be taken in the first year and, in some cases, can double count with another Core, college, or major requirement.

College or School Requirements

After the first year, students transition to one of the undergraduate degree-granting units at Notre Dame: the School of Architecture, the College of Arts and Letters, the Mendoza College of Business, the College of Engineering, the Keough School of Global Affairs, or the College of Science. Each of the degree-granting colleges and schools has its own requirements.

Majors and Minors

Each major and minor has its own requirements. Your first year is the ideal time to explore your academic interests and select a major. You should therefore prioritize discerning your primary major over completing Core requirements, most of which do not have to be completed in the first year.

Advanced Credit and Placement

Incoming students may earn Notre Dame credit in several ways: AP or IB exams; SAT II language exams; the ND Math Credit Exam; and pre-matriculation transfer credit. The ND Calculus Readiness Test and ND language placement exams do not grant credit but are used in some situations to place students in appropriate-level courses.

What about electives?

An elective is a course that is not required for the Core, your college, or your major at the time that you take it. These courses may be in a field you are exploring as a possible major or simply in a subject that interests you.

It is possible that a course taken as an elective in your first year will count towards a Core, college, major, or minor requirement once you have discerned your academic path. Even if an elective does not satisfy any specific requirements for your chosen academic program, it will usually count towards the total number of credits you need to graduate from Notre Dame. Some first-year students have space in their schedules for one or more electives, depending on their college or school and any Advanced Credit they have received.