Requirements and Credits

Requirements and Credits

There are three types of academic requirements at Notre Dame: 

  1. Core Curriculum  (Also referred to as University Requirements. Some of these requirements must be completed in your first year.)
  2. College or school
  3. Major or minor 

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:

  1. Core Curriculum: Liberal Arts 4 requirement
  2. College or school: College of Arts and Letters language requirement
  3. Major or minor: Spanish major requirement

In most cases, one course cannot be used to satisfy two requirements in one type of 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.

Incoming students may earn credit or placement in appropriate level courses in several ways. Explore below to learn how AP, IB, SAT II, and other credit-by-examination help you meet requirements.


Core Curriculum

All students, regardless of major, have to complete the Core Curriculum, which is organized around 11 “ways of knowing.” Most of the Core is not intended to be completed in the first year and is designed to be integrated with other parts of your curriculum.

First-Year Requirements

The Moreau First Year Experience, Writing 1, and Writing 2 of the Core Curriculum usually must be fulfilled in the first year.

College or School Requirements

After the first year, students transition to one of the 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 credit or placement in appropriate level courses in several ways, inlcuding AP, IB, SAT II, ND Credit and Placement Exams, and Prematriculation Transfer Credit.

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 credit hours you need to graduate from Notre Dame. Some first-year students have space in their schedules for one or more electives, particularly if they have received Advanced Credit for one or more courses.