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Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to 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.

Graduation Requirement FAQs

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How many Colgate courses and what requirements does a student need to be eligible for graduation?
Consult the University Catalogue or the first-year graduation requirements page for degree requirements and more.

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. Visit the first-year graduation requirements page for policy information.

What does Writing Priority status mean?
Students designated Writing Priority will be informed of their status by a letter from the university registrar. Visit the first-year graduation requirements page for policy information.

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 on the Physical Education web page. 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.

Who will be your adviser?
Colgate University has a unique dual-advising system for students. All students have an academic (faculty) adviser and an administrative dean.

Your FSEM instructor will serve as your faculty adviser until you declare your major. (As part of the major declaration process, you will choose a faculty adviser from the department of your major.) He or she will assist you with your academic career at Colgate (course registration planning, signing forms, etc.).

Your administrative dean is a professional staff member who is available to help you with issues or concerns that may not be strictly academic in nature (extended absences, deans certifications, policy questions/concerns, disciplinary issues, etc.).

What is the Areas of Inquiry requirement?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements page for areas of inquiry information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

What is the Global Engagements requirement?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements page for global engagements information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

What are Common Core courses?
Please visit the first-year graduation requirements page for common core information (under the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum heading).

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?
Colgate offers 56 majors. See the University Catalogue for more information.

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 (prior to registration for that term).

Can you change your major once you have declared?
Yes. 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 one major; a double major; one major and one minor; or one major and two minors. No other combinations will be recorded on a student's transcript. Note: Students must declare a major before declaring a minor.

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 led 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. Visit the Off-Campus Study/International Programs web page for more information.

What is an Approved Program?
Approved Programs are similar to a Colgate study group but are run by another university, program, or provider. Student’s coursework will be recorded as transfer credit. Approved Programs are administered by the Office of Off-Campus Study/International Programs. Visit the Off-Campus Study/International Programs web page 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.

Registration FAQs

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How will you register for your first-semester courses?
Carefully review the information on the How To Register page, then submit the registration form (available on that page) with your preferred and alternate course selections by the deadline specified. After the deadline, the registrar's office staff will use your form to register you for fall courses. Schedules are not final until late July. An email will be sent with information on how to access your schedule and other information when schedules are ready.

How many courses will you be registered for?
First-year students will be registered for four full-credit courses. The normal course load is 4.00-4.50. If none of your courses have a lab co-requisite, your course load will be 4.00. If one or two of your courses has a required lab, your course load will be 4.25-4.50.

It is recommended that you also register for at least one PHED unit in addition to your four academic courses. PHED units do not carry academic course credit. Sign-ups for PHED units occurs at the beginning of the semester and are administered though the Department of Physical Education. Please see the physical education web page for more information.

If you are taking a course with a lab, how do you indicate which lab section you prefer?
A number of courses (particularly in the natural sciences) have required laboratory sections. The labs are designated by the course number followed by an L (e.g., CHEM 101L is the required lab associated with CHEM 101) and, in most cases, carry 0.25 course credits. On your registration form, when you enter a lecture CRN that has a lab co-requisite, the corresponding Lab field will activate and you'll be able to choose your desired lab from the drop down box. This means you'll enter your lab preference on the same line as the lecture. If a course does not have a lab, you won't need to complete this step. Please note that labs should never be entered on their own line (preferred or alternate). Your lab preference should always be entered in the Lab CRN column on the same line as the lecture.

What is a First-Year Seminar (FSEM)?
First-year seminars (FSEMs - pronounced "F-sems") are designed to introduce students to a variety of liberal arts topics, skills, and ways of learning, including the importance of academic integrity and are true academic courses. Please visit the first-year graduation requirements page for more information about FSEMs.

Does my FSEM count toward anything else?
All FSEM course descriptions include a statement indicating what the FSEM counts toward. Many count as CORE courses, others fulfill the areas of inquiry, and some may count as a departmental course. Look for the statement that begins "Students who successfully complete this seminar will..." to determine what each FSEM counts toward.

What is a crosslisted course?
A crosslisted course is one that is offered under two or more subject codes. For example, ALST 228 and HIST 228 are crosslisted. Regardless of whether students register for the course as ALST or HIST, they will be in the same classroom and complete the same assignments and exams.

If you are interested in taking a crosslisted course, you should register for either subject code, based on availability. If you need to change the designation later on (whether to have it count for a certain requirement or another reason), you may do so in the Office of the Registrar.

If you have any questions about registering for a crosslisted course please contact the registrar’s office.

When will you know which courses you have been registered for?
In late July you will receive an e-mail (to your Colgate email address) when schedules are available. Instructions on accessing your schedule will be included in the email.

Will you have the opportunity to change your course schedule?
You will be able to make schedule changes during the drop/add period in the fall. This will be after you've had the chance to meet with your FSEM instructor/adviser during orientation. You will receive an e-mail with detailed drop/add information before the start of the term. No schedule changes will be made during the summer.

What happens during the drop/add period?
During the drop/add period (at the start of the term), you will have the opportunity to make changes to your schedule. Depending on the status of the course, you may make changes online or by obtaining the instructor's signature and bringing it to the registrar's office for processing.

More information regarding drop/add will be emailed, and available on the drop/add web page, closer to the fall term.

What if I want to take five classes my first (or second) semester?
As a first-year student, you are expected to take 4.00-4.50 course credits (four full courses) and may only deviate from this plan with the permission of your academic adviser (FSEM instructor). First-year students will not be registered for five courses during the summer.

What if a class is in the Catalogue, but not in the First-Year Course Offerings? Can I take the course?
The University Catalogue lists all courses offered by a department. Not all courses are available each semester. You should select courses available to first-year students from the First-Year Course Offerings page.

Advanced Placement FAQs

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What Advanced Placement (AP) credit does Colgate accept?
Please visit the Transfer of Pre-matriculation page for the Advanced Placement Credit Summary (a complete list of the exams and scores Colgate accepts). If an AP exam/score is not listed on the Summary, it is not accepted at Colgate.

May I submit an AP score report that I have at home?
Student copies are not accepted. All AP score reports must be sent directly from the College Board to Colgate University. To request official score reports, visit the College Board website or call 888-CALL 4 AP and reference Colgate University's college code, 2086.

What if I receive AP credit for a course but wish to forfeit the AP credit and take the same course at Colgate?
You may repeat a course at Colgate for which you received AP credit.

If you intend to repeat it in the fall, you should indicate so on your registration form. This will ensure that the registrar's staff knows it's an intentional decision rather than not realizing it's the same course.

Upon successful completion of the Colgate course, the AP credit will change from 1.0 to 0.00 but will remain listed on your Colgate transcript. Please be aware that the course will be indicated as a repeat on your transcript.

Pre-matriculation and Transfer Credit FAQs

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What is pre-matriculation credit?
Pre-matriculation credit includes any college coursework, AP, and/or IB completed prior to attending Colgate. For complete pre-matriculation information, see the Transfer of Pre-matriculation Credit web page.

What are Colgate's guidelines for accepting coursework that has been completed prior to attending Colgate?
Pre-matriculation coursework will be considered for Colgate credit if the coursework was completed on a college or university campus, in competition with degree candidates and taught by a regular member of the faculty. Courses completed at your high school are not eligible for transfer to Colgate. Please refer to the Transfer of Pre-matriculation Credit page.

What types of courses are eligible for transfer to Colgate?
Liberal Arts courses that are similar in content to courses offered at Colgate are eligible for transfer credit. Business or marketing courses, etc., are not transferable.

Can pre-matriculation course credit be used to fulfill the university areas of inquiry or global engagements requirement?
College courses, AP, or IB completed prior to matriculation may not be used to fulfill the common core, university areas of inquiry, or global engagements requirement.

What is the maximum number of courses a first-year student can transfer to Colgate?
Matriculated students may receive Colgate credit for a maximum of six transfer course credits. This limit includes all courses taken as a visiting student elsewhere, courses taken at other institutions during the summer or during a leave of absence from Colgate, AP or IB credits, and college credits earned prior to entering Colgate as a first-year student.

Can a Colgate student take courses at other institutions during the academic year or in the summer and transfer the credit to Colgate?
Once you are a matriculated student, you must receive prior approval for any courses taken away from Colgate. Matriculated Colgate students may receive Colgate credit for a maximum of six transfer courses. This limit includes all courses taken as a visiting student elsewhere, courses taken at other institutions during the summer or during a leave of absence from Colgate, AP or IB credits, and college credits earned prior to entering Colgate as a first-year student. Courses taken on a Colgate Study Group are not considered transfer credit.