General FAQs - Colgate University Skip Navigation

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click on the links for the answers to these frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the registrar’s office ( or 315-228-7676) and a staff member will be happy to assist you.

First-Year General FAQs

What if I didn't receive the registration book or summer reading assignment?
Registration booklets are sent out in mid-June. If you do not receive your registration booklet or your summer reading assignment by July 1 contact the registrar's office immediately. You will still be held to all appropriate deadlines and procedures. You can contact the office by phone (315-228-7676 or 6493) or by e-mail (
Whom can I contact for summer academic advising (course placement)?
There are several faculty members that are available to offer guidance on course placement before the start of the semester.

Julie Chanatry - Health Sciences

Jeff Bary- FSEMs, University Studies, and the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum

Dan Schult - Natural Sciences/Mathematics

Georgia Frank - Arts/Humanities

Nicole Simpson - Social Sciences
When is the summer writing assignment due?
The summer writing assignment is due July 31. If you have questions about this assignment, please refer to Professor Graybill's letter regarding the writing assignment (sent with the First-Year Registration Booklet in mid-June) or contact Ginger Babich at 315-228-7256 or via e-mail at
Where do I get my books after I find out my schedule?
The Colgate Bookstore is located in the heart of downtown Hamilton on the corner of the main intersection. Along with all textbooks, the bookstore also provides anything you might need for all your academic work. You can also visit the bookstore online at

Graduation Requirement FAQs

How many Colgate courses and what requirements does a student need to complete for graduation
Students must complete 32.00 course credits (with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00) and requirements for the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum (Common Core, Global Engagements, and Areas of Inquiry), a major, and if stipulated on admission, foreign language and/or writing. Students must also fulfill the residency and physical education requirements. Consult the First-Year Registration booklet or the catalogue for more information.
What degree will be received when you graduate from Colgate?
All Colgate undergraduate programs lead to a Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree.
How does a student fulfill the foreign language requirement at Colgate?
Students needing to fulfill the language requirement at Colgate will be informed of their status by a letter from the university registrar accompanying the First-Year Registration booklet. Foreign language competency may be demonstrated in one of three ways:
  1. by successfully completing three years of study in one foreign or classical language (through the third level) in a secondary school prior to enrolling at Colgate;
  2. by demonstrating basic language skills as measured by tested proficiency (e.g., a score of 580 or better on the SAT Subject Tests in a foreign or classical language);
  3. by successfully completing the study of a foreign or classical language at Colgate through at least one term at the intermediate level.
Students are expected to complete the language requirement by the end of the fourth term at Colgate. In order to assume junior standing, students who have not completed the language requirement must register for the appropriate language course in the fifth term.

Language study is also required prior to participation in some of Colgate's off-campus study groups.
How does a student fulfill the physical education requirement at Colgate?
Students must complete two units of physical education in the first two years at Colgate. Many physical education and outdoor education activities are offered each semester; a complete listing may be found in the Course Offerings section of the First-Year Registration booklet. Athletes may earn one physical education unit for each season of participation on varsity teams. Students may earn a maximum of one physical education unit from a club sport. Questions about physical education should be directed to the Department of Physical Education by calling 315-228-7055.
What does Writing Priority I status mean?
Students designated Writing Priority I will be informed of their status by a letter from the university registrar accompanying the First-Year Registration booklet. Writing Priority I students are those who have scored a 560 or less on the SAT Writing component. If there is no SAT writing score, the guideline is a score of 590 or less on the SAT Verbal, or 24 or less on the ACT Writing examination. Writing Priority I Students are required to complete an eligible Writing & Rhetoric (WRIT) course with a grade of "C" or better during the first year. If you have received a letter stating that you are a Writing Priority I student, please select a writing course for the fall 2012 term. If you are not able to enroll in an eligible WRIT course during the fall 2012 term, you should register for an eligible WRIT course in the spring 2013 term. The WRIT courses (and their descriptions) for fall 2012 that satisfy the writing requirement are included in the Writing Priority I status letter.
What is a First-Year Seminar (FSEM)?
First-year seminars (FSEMs) are designed to introduce students to a variety of liberal arts topics, skills, and ways of learning, including the importance of academic integrity. The FSEM emphasizes all aspects of the learning process including the exploration of individual needs and strengths, interactions with classmates, and the multiplicity of resources beyond the classroom. Special emphasis is placed on improving writing skills and using the library's many resources. The merging of these elements into a single course provides a prime opportunity for the student to obtain a breadth of college-level experience and academic perspective. Some FSEMs may count toward fulfillment of requirements within the Common Core or for Areas of Inquiry requirements. FSEMs are listed in the registration booklet.
Who will be your adviser?
You will be assigned an administrative adviser/dean, and your FSEM instructor will act as your faculty adviser until you declare your major. Once you declare your major, you will choose, or be assigned, a faculty adviser from the department of your major.
What is the Areas of Inquiry requirement?
  • Human Thought and Expression;
  • Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents; and
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
A student will fulfill the Areas of Inquiry requirement by taking two courses from two different departments or programs in each area, totaling six courses. Please refer to the First-Year Registration booklet, and/or the University Catalogue for more information. Students have all eight semesters to complete this requirement.
What is the Global Engagements requirement?
Global Engagements (GE) courses provide students with an opportunity to analyze and debate the conditions and consequences of intercultural interaction, both in the U.S. and in the broader world, so that they will be prepared to confront responsibly the challenges of the 21st century. Select courses from across the curriculum receive GE credit: these courses are listed in the First-Year Registration Booklet and designated GE in the course offerings available each term. A course taken to fulfill GE credit may also fulfill area of inquiry/major/minor requirements. Students need one course to fulfill the GE requirement. Students have all eight semesters to complete the GE requirement.
What are Common Core courses?
Colgate requires students to complete the following interdisciplinary Common Core course areas:
  • CORE 151, Legacies of the Ancient World explores texts from the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world that have given rise to philosophical, political, religious, and artistic traditions that continue to influence academic and intellectual discourse and critical thought.

  • CORE 152, Challenges of Modernity explores a variety of texts that contributed to, or engaged with, the ideas and phenomena central to the intellectual legacy to which we and our students are heirs.

  • Scientific Perspectives on the World (SP) engage issues of broader social significance that require scientific literacy. These courses are multi-disciplinary in focus: the topics of the SP courses span the study of the physical world, biological processes, human behavior, mathematical methods, and technological innovations. (Students choose one course from a wide range of courses offered each semester.)

  • Communities & Identities (CI) provides students with a multi-layered understanding of identities, cultures, and human experiences in particular geographically distinct communities and regions of the world. (Students choose one course from a wide range of courses offered each semester.)
Should students take Common Core courses in any special order?
Students may take the four required Common Core courses - Legacies of the Ancient World; Challenges of Modernity; one Scientific Perspectives on the World course; and one Communities & Identities course - in any order, but must be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
What is a major?
Students investigate a body of knowledge in depth in a field of major. Most major programs are centered on a single discipline and supervised by one academic department; however, a number of interdisciplinary majors permit students to major in a subject that involves several related departments. Some even cross divisional boundaries.
How many majors does Colgate offer?
There are 54 majors offered, several of which are interdisciplinary in nature.
Where can you find information to help you choose a major?
Complete information about majors can be found in the University Catalogue and also on the Colgate University website.
How many courses will you take in your major?
Requirements for majors vary widely from one department or program to another but consist of between 8 and 13 courses. Refer to the University Catalogue for complete major requirements.
When do you declare your major?
An official major must be selected and filed in the Office of the Registrar no later than the second term of the sophomore year.
Can you change your major once you have declared?
A student may subsequently change majors with the approval of the new department chair or program director and the filing of a new declaration of major form with the registrar.
Can you declare a minor or second major?
Students may pursue a double major or a major and minor. No more than two majors, or one major and one minor, may be recorded on a student's transcript.

Students must declare a major before declaring a minor.
When do you declare a minor or second major?
Students should declare a minor or second major as soon as possible after declaring a major, but no later than the drop/add period of their first semester senior year.
What is an extended study course?
A number of courses offer short-term study components that extend the course beyond the campus and beyond the regular term. These programs offer opportunities for students to gain access to institutions and individuals relevant to their coursework that are not available on campus. Extended studies are particularly attractive for students whose schedules do not permit them to participate in semester-long study group programs. Prerequisites may exist for these courses. Extended study course segments are registered as part of either the fall or the spring term course offerings, even though the off-campus components are scheduled to precede or follow the regular academic term.
What is a Colgate study group?
The university offers a wide variety of off-campus programs, both international and domestic. A Colgate study group is lead by a member of the Colgate faculty and is comprised of Colgate students. The off-campus study program is administered by the Office of Off-Campus Study/International Programs.