First-Year Core Curriculum Requirements

This page outlines the requirements of the Core Curriculum that must be completed in the first year: the University Seminar, Writing and Rhetoric, and the Moreau First Year Experience. Some colleges, schools, and majors also require certain courses in the first year. See the College and School Curricula section for more information.

Writing Requirements

The Core Curriculum requires students to take two writing-intensive courses at Notre Dame. Although these requirements are numbered Writing 1 and Writing 2, they are not sequential and can be taken in either order.

In the fall semester, half of the first-year students enroll in a University Seminar (Writing 1), while the other half enroll in Writing and Rhetoric (Writing 2). In the spring semester, students who took a University Seminar in the fall semester will take Writing and Rhetoric and vice versa. See below for further information about Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credit for Writing and Rhetoric.

Writing 1: University Seminar

All students satisfy the Writing 1 requirement by taking a University Seminar (USEM) during their first year. The USEM can be taken in either the fall or spring semester. 

All USEMs satisfy the Writing 1 requirement and another Core requirement from one of the following Ways of Knowing: 

  • Art and Literature
  • History
  • Social Science
  • Philosophy
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Theology

Students are encouraged to select a USEM that interests them. Because all USEMs can double count for Writing 1 and another Core requirement, it is not more efficient to take a Philosophy or Theology USEM than a USEM in another category. Some USEMs are offered in both the fall and spring semesters, while others are only offered in one semester or the other.

Writing 2: Writing and Rhetoric or Writing-Intensive Course

Students satisfy the Writing 2 requirement by taking Writing and Rhetoric (WR) during their first year. There are several types of Writing and Rhetoric courses. Students can choose to take whichever type interests them most. 

WR 13100 and WR 13300 are very similar in content and expectations. WR 13200 covers the same content as WR 13100 and WR 13300 but also includes off-campus community engagement outside of normal class time. The various one-credit and two-credit WR tutorials do not satisfy the Writing and Rhetoric requirement.

  • Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13100): These sections are designed to help students learn how to identify an issue amid conflicting points of view and craft an argument based on various sources of information. They stress the identification and analysis of potential counter-arguments and aim to develop skills for writing a research proposal, for conducting original research, and for using print and electronic resources from the library.
  • Community-Based Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13200): These sections teach students the same skills as WR 13100 and also place them in learning situations in the wider community in cooperation with the Center for Social Concerns. Students engage in 10-12 hours of community engagement off campus over the course of the semester.
  • Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13300): These sections teach students the same skills as WR 13100, as well as how to make the most of a wide array of technological resources that address the challenges of composing in the twenty-first century.
  • Advanced Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13400): This section is designed to help students continue refining their interpretive, analytical, and composing skills. This section can satisfy the Writing and Rhetoric or Writing Intensive Core requirement and can be taken by students with or without AP or IB credit for Writing and Rhetoric.

Advanced Credit for Writing and Rhetoric

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition exam or a score of 6 on the IB English Higher Level exam earns credit for Writing and Rhetoric. Notre Dame does not grant credit for the AP English Literature exam. See the Advanced Credit pages for more information on AP and IB credit.

Students with AP or IB credit for WR take instead a Writing Intensive course (any course that has been given the WRIT attribute). The 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.

Moreau First Year Experience

The Moreau First Year Experience fosters your personal development by asking central human questions and discussing important contemporary topics that lead to meaningful conversations that matter. You can learn more about Moreau on the course website:

Moreau is a two-semester sequence. In the first semester, you take FYS 10101, and in the second semester, you take FYS 10102. The sections of FYS 10101 are organized into neighborhoods, which are groups of residence halls located near each other. You must take one of the sections of FYS 10101 that is linked to your residence hall. See “How to choose a section of FYS 10101” for more information. When you take FYS 10102 in your second semester you may choose any section.