First-Year Requirements

This page outlines the Moreau First Year Experience course, the University Seminar, and the Writing & Rhetoric requirements of the Core Curriculum. These courses must be completed in your first year at Notre Dame. 

Moreau First Year Experience

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The Moreau First Year Experience is a required component of the University of Notre Dame's Core Curriculum. The course fosters your personal development by asking central human questions and discussing important contemporary topics that lead to having meaningful conversations that matter.

Through these conversations, the course inspires you to cultivate, in the words of the Notre Dame Mission Statement, the “disciplined habits of mind, body, and spirit that are characteristic of educated, skilled, and free human beings.” The vision is grounded on the belief that all human beings are created in God’s image and likeness, and therefore affirms the dignity and respect for all peoples regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability or other forms of difference. 

Animated by Notre Dame’s vision of Catholic education, the course believes that personal development is pursued in the context of community in which diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds converge to heal, unify, enlighten, and transform the world. Through the gifts of each person, you are invited to engage with practices of defining, discerning, and developing a vision of a life well-lived.

The Moreau First Year Experience course utilizes a flipped-classroom model to prioritize in-class discussion. Each week, prior to class meetings, you are required to thoughtfully and critically reflect on pertinent content materials (text, video, audio, etc.). These materials are common to all sections and seek to offer context and perspectives on the weekly focus question. These weekly focus questions are relevant to the national discourse on higher education, justice, equity, human flourishing, and virtuous living. The content materials seek to offer diverse and sometimes controversial perspectives and research. Class discussions are designed to enable you to collaboratively engage with the materials, voice concerns and questions, witness diverse perspectives, and integrate the topics, questions, and learning objectives of the course with your broader education experience and ongoing personal development. 

Learn more

Explore the Moreau course website:

Writing Requirements

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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 their first semester, half of the first-year students enroll in a University Seminar (Writing 1) while the other half will enroll in a Writing and Rhetoric course (Writing 2). In the second semester, students who took a University Seminar in the first semester will take Writing and Rhetoric and vice-versa. See below for further information about AP and IB credit for Writing & 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 first or second semester. USEMs are offered in numerous disciplines. Students are encouraged to select a USEM that sparks their interest.

All USEMs satisfy the Writing 1 requirement as well as another Core requirement from one of the following Ways of Knowing (this is often referred to as “double counting”): 

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

Because all USEMS “double count” for a Core Way of Knowing requirement and the Writing 1 requirement, it is not more efficient to take a Philosophy or Theology USEM than a USEM in another discipline.

Writing 2: Writing & Rhetoric or Writing-Intensive Course

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

WR 13100 and WR 13300 are very similar in content and expectations. Enrollment in WR 13200 is very limited and requires off-campus community engagement outside of normal class time. The various one-credit and two-credit WR tutorials do not satisfy the Writing & Rhetoric requirement.

  • Writing & 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 & 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.
  • Multimedia Writing & Rhetoric (WR 13300): These sections teach students the same skills as WR 13100 and also teach them how to make the most of a wide array of technological resources that address the challenges of composing in the 21st century.
  • Advanced Writing & Rhetoric (WR 13400): These sections are designed to help students continue refining their interpretive, analytical, and composing skills. Students can only take these sections if they have taken WR 13100, 13200, or 13300 at Notre Dame or have AP or IB credit for Writing & Rhetoric.

Advanced Credit for Writing & 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 & Rhetoric. Notre Dame does not grant credit for the AP English Literature exam.
Students with AP or IB credit for WR take a writing-intensive course in a discipline. This writing-intensive course is usually taken after the first year and, in some cases, can double-count with another Core requirement or a college or major requirement.

Learn more about Advanced Credit

Explore the Advanced Credit and Placement pages.