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First-year & Senior Seminar Programs & Guidelines

Below are the general guidelines for the First-year and Senior Seminar programs, as well as answers to many frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions or concerns, or need assistance with the proposal form, please contact April Burcham (x25855). 

First-year Seminar Program (87s)

Enrollment priority is given to first-year incoming freshmen and First-year Seminars have an enrollment limit of 20 students. There are no prerequisites for First-year Seminars.

Quarterly Seminars Listing

Senior Seminar Program (192s)

Senior Seminars are offered to juniors and seniors and have an enrollment limit of 20 students.  Prerequisites may be established for Senior Seminars.

Quarterly Seminars Listing

Faculty Guidelines

Program Information

Program Faculty

General Campus and Scripps Institution of Oceanography Senate faculty are eligible to teach in the program:

  • Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor (ladder rank appointments)
  • LSOE series (Sr. LSOE, LSOE, LPSOE)
  • Professor Emeritus *(a recall to teach form is required at time of proposal in order to process)
  • In-Residence Professor
  • Adjunct Professor (with a teaching title)

School of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty with Senate teaching titles may teach in the program without the research funds. Please email the program coordinator before submitting a proposal.

Research Funds

  • A department/program may offer Senior Seminars if it also offers at least two First-year Seminars during a quarter.
  • General Campus and SIO Ladder Rank and LSOE series faculty receive research funds of $1,000 per seminar (up to two seminars per quarter for two different First-year or Senior seminars).
  • Professor Emeritus and In-Residence faculty have a limited number of seminars per academic year that are eligible for the research funds. Emeritus faculty should see the AP/HR staff contact in their department regarding a recall to teach form to process a teaching appointment.
  • Adjunct faculty are not eligible for the research funds since these seminars are taught off-load.
  • A minimum enrollment of 10 on the first Thursday of First Week is required to receive the research payment for teaching a seminar. A seminar with fewer than 10 students may be taught without a research payment.
  • All eligible faculty to receive the research funds will have $1,000 transferred to a departmental research account of your choice. The funds are available for expenses such as travel, research supplies, seminar instruction enhancement, or any other purpose allowed by that account (but not as salary).
  • Faculty may team teach a seminar with one colleague. However, only one research payment of 1k will be given per seminar (which can be shared).
  • Research funds are awarded after the 2nd week of classes.
  • After email notification is sent to faculty and their home department’s Business Officer, the appropriate person should contact Karen Stecher (x49089) with the index number.
  • School of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty with Senate teaching titles may teach in the program without the research funds.
  • Seminars are taught off-load and may not be used to substitute for regularly assigned teaching. The seminars do not affect regular teaching assignments and department workload requirements.

Program Policies

  • Faculty may teach up to two different seminars per quarter.
  • Seminars are one-unit courses graded pass/not pass.
  • Faculty must be in residence and may not be on leave when teaching seminars.
  • Proposals to teach seminars must be submitted by the quarterly due dates. These dates are posted on the proposal webpage.
  • Proposals for new seminar topics require Department Chair and Undergraduate Council approval and April Burcham will coordinate the approval.
  • There are no course prerequisites for First-year Seminars to allow students to enroll in courses on a variety of topics.
  • First-year seminars are open first to all incoming freshman and incoming freshman with sophomore standing to allow students to enroll in courses in a small class size setting.
  • Seminars must be scheduled in rooms with seating capacity of at least 20. Departments, Programs, and Colleges are responsible for securing a seminar meeting location using department, program, or college space.
  • To receive the research payment, we ask you do not lower the enrollment below 20 to allow as many students as feasible to take one of these small class size seminars.
  • Faculty are encouraged to monitor their enrollments. The Schedule of Classes will show the number of seat available to reach the enrollment limit. The seminar program office will also monitor enrollments and will keep both the faculty and department staff contact apprised of enrollments
  • Seminars should meet for 8 to 10 hours during the quarter (excluding holidays).

Appropriate Workload for Students

  • Students should typically expect two hours per week of outside class work for every one hour of in seminar work.
  • The decision regarding whether or not to give students a mid-term or final exam rests with the instructor. Seminars are exempt from required final exams during the University’s scheduled final examination week.
  • Seminars are intended to provide a small group of students an opportunity to engage in an academic experience with faculty for eight to ten hours in an informal, seminar-style setting on a topic of mutual interest absent the pressures of a letter grade.


  • Due to limitations of the WebReg system, graduate students can enroll in all courses (irrespective of system-imposed enrollment restrictions). Graduate students can be administratively dropped from your seminar. The First-year Seminar website includes the following statement, "Any student who enrolls in a First-year Seminar who does not have undergraduate student standing will be administratively dropped."
  • Incoming first-year students with advanced standing should be referred to the UC San Diego Student First-year Seminar Program website for detailed instructions about how to enroll in First-year Seminars.

Seminar Evaluations

  • Seminars will be included in the online CAPE process during Weeks 9 and 10.
  • You and/or your department may already have a separate evaluation process that you may want to use in addition to CAPE evaluations.

Program Publicity

The Seminar Program will publicize First-year Seminars in the following ways:

  • An email is sent to all incoming First-year at the beginning of the enrollment period (first year students with sophomore standing can enroll in seminars during the first enrollment pass by contacting the department offering the seminar and asking them to clear them to add).
  • An advertisement will be posted on the electronic newsletter, Student Event - Insider, at the beginning of the First-year enrollment period.
  • A seminar notice will be posted on the "Academics" page in Tritonlink at the beginning of the First-year enrollment period.
  • After first-year enroll, an email is sent to all Sophomores inviting them to enroll in seminars (the Scheduling Office will open up all seminars to sophomore so departments do not need to clear students to add at this stage -- unless they are second year students with junior status).

Most seminars will reach enrollments between 15-20 within a week after First-year start enrolling. If your seminar has not reached the enrollment minimum at the end of the initial enrollment period, we encourage you to contact your student affairs office to publicize your seminar both inside and outside of your department. Please feel free to contact the program for further suggestions on how to publicize your seminar. Many departments have found it helpful to promote seminars to student groups and organizations that are affiliated with their department.

Submitting Seminar Proposals

Department & Program Seminars

  • To submit a proposal, please use the web proposal form (single sign-on required).
    Fall 2022 Quarter deadline – Friday, March 4, 2022
    Winter 2023 Quarter deadline – Friday, June 3, 2022
    Spring 2023 Quarter deadline – Friday November 4, 2022
  • There are no prerequisites for First-year Seminars to allow students to enroll in courses on a variety of topics.
  • Please note that any prerequisites for the specific Senior Seminar being proposed must be included on the web form in the prerequisite box. Prerequisites will be included in the seminar description when posted on the Senior Seminar website. Please see the prerequisites section below for more information.
  • The professor proposing the seminar, the staff contact in the proposed seminar's department (program or college), and April Burcham in the Seminar Program Office will receive an electronic copy by email of the proposed seminar once submitted via the web form.
  • A Department Chair, Program Director, or College Provost and Undergraduate Council must approve new proposal topics after a proposal is submitted via the web form.  April Burcham will coordinate the process. Approval can take around one - two months and professors and seminar contacts will be notified of approvals.

College Seminars

  • Topics that do not logically fall under a faculty member's department or program, as determined by the Department Chair/Program Director, may be offered through their College, subject to the Provost's approval. Proposals for new seminar topics require Undergraduate Council approval and April Burcham will coordinate the approval.
  • Faculty who are not affiliated with a College (such as colleagues in IR/PS and SOM) may submit proposals through an appropriate campus department/program or through any undergraduate College.

Senior Seminars Topics

  • Senior Seminars can be topical seminars that have made the First-year Seminar so successful; but now approached from the perspective of the students being seniors and with three years of university course experience.
  • A few creative ideas for Senior Seminar topics from departments:
    • a seminar that would look at a single work in great detail – a symphony, a painting or a collection of paintings, a collection of contemporary short stories;
    • a senior seminar that dealt with scientific writing or phenomena within a particular discipline;
    • a capstone type seminar that would post a particular problem (perhaps a social issue such as public policy issue) and would have students examine that issue from a disciplinary base.

Prerequisites (Senior Seminars Only)

  • Senior Seminars may have prerequisites. For example, any individual seminar may require that a student be a senior or a major in a specific course.
  • These “conditions of enrollment” will not be computer enforced (but can be enforced by the department). Only prerequisites that apply to the department's XXX 192 as a whole (as opposed to a particular seminar) can be computer enforced. The responsibility for checking “conditions of enrollment” will rest with the department and/or individual instructor.
  • Please note all seminar 192 courses require department pre-authorization. If you receive any questions from students about enrollment, please direct them to reach your department Student Affairs office by using the Virtual Advising Center.

Best Practices

Encouraging Student Participation

Feedback from faculty and students consistently indicated that student participation was split 50/50 in many seminars – half of students actively participated and the other half did not. Lack of participation may occur for several reasons, however, the common factors for that were indicated by faculty and by students were: shyness, awkwardness, and the transitioning process from high school where in some instances students appeared to have been more accustomed to a lecture-style format.

You may want to consider some of the following suggestions to actively engage students in seminar discussions:

  • Consider basing a percentage of grading on participation.
  • Consider giving credit/points for participation.
  • Consider assigning oral presentations.
  • Consider having students work in small groups on a project and have each group member take turns presenting the group’s findings.
  • Consider letting students know that you plan to call on non-participating students for their contributions throughout the course of the seminar.

Staff Guidelines

Scheduling Seminars

  • Seminar Program approval is required to offer freshman seminars. Once a seminar is approved, the Seminar Program will request a section ID from the Scheduling Office and the department will be informed to begin the scheduling process. Seminars are held in department meeting space in rooms with capacity of at least 20 seats.
  • Seminars have a maximum enrollment of 20 students.
  • Seminars are required to meet between 8 and 10 hours during the quarter (excluding holidays). Most seminars meet once a week but faculty have the flexibility of offering seminars at various times.
  • The program office will follow the Schedule of Classes: Publication Schedule when scheduling seminars.
  • Please provide standard scheduling information (room, day, start and end times) to the Scheduling Office prior to or during the last look phase of the scheduling process. The program office will download the scheduling information you submit to Scheduling through a data query to populate the First-year Seminar website.
  • If standard scheduling information is missing after the last look phase of scheduling, please email the Scheduling Office directly and copy April Burcham to update the seminar website.
  • The Seminar Program has an agreement with the Scheduling Office to maintain a website with class meeting dates -- this is required since seminars do not all meet on a regular schedule. The Scheduling Office does not list the meeting dates in the Schedule of Classes. 
  • The Seminar Office will contact you for the meeting weeks during the last look scheduling phase. Meeting weeks can be listed as dates or by weeks (i.e, Weeks 1-10, 2-9, 3-8 and etc.). Please note, when scheduling Thursday or Friday seminar meeting dates for fall to double check if the seminar starts zero week or first week.
  • Please note: if a faculty member is teaching a college seminar because the topic does not fit within your department, all the colleges do not provide support for scheduling the meeting room and often this seminar will be scheduled in your department meeting space.
  • Providing complete scheduling information by the time the Schedule of Classes is posted is essential to optimizing enrollment in seminars.
  • Faculty and staff should use the web proposal form to submit First-year Seminar Proposals. Proposal due dates are posted on this page.
  • The instructor proposing the Seminar; the Seminar staff contact for the proposed seminar’s department, program, or college; and April Burcham receive an electronic copy by email of the proposed seminar once submitted via the web form.

Submitting Seminar Proposals and Approvals

  • Faculty can use the web proposal form to submit Seminar Proposals. Proposal due dates are posted on this page.  It is linked to Single Sign-On so only faculty teaching the seminar may use the form.
  • Fall 2022 Quarter deadline – Friday, March 4, 2022
    Winter 2023 Quarter deadline – Friday, June 3, 2022
    Spring 2023 Quarter deadline – Friday November 4, 2022
  • The instructor proposing the Seminar; the Seminar staff contact for the proposed seminar’s department, program, or college; and April Burcham receive an electronic copy by email of the proposed seminar once submitted via the web form.

New Seminar Approvals

  • Approval is required by the Department Chair, Undergraduate Council (UGC) and the Seminar Program.
  • The Department Chair (or equivalent) must approve new Seminar proposal topics the first time they are offered and the Seminar Program will coordinate UGC approval (this approval is standard for topics courses).
  • The Chair/Director/Provost should review the proposal from two points of view:
  1. Is the level appropriate for freshman (first-year seminars) or seniors (senior seminars)?
  2. Is the content appropriate to be offered in your department?
  • We ask that the department staff email April Burcham after they have acquired department chair (or equivalent) approval. Please maintain your chair's approval in your department in the same manner you do for any new course.
  • If a Department Chair finds that the proposal is not appropriate for offering as a department/program Seminar, but thinks that it would be appropriate to be offered as a College Seminar, please contact April Burcham.
  • The seminar program office will acquire UGC approval for new seminar topics and will notify faculty and staff contacts once this approval is acquired. UGC approval can take one to two months.
  • The Seminar Program will coordinate UGC approval for new seminars and will notify departments when approval is acquired so you may start the scheduling process.
  • Please note for Senior Seminars: in addition to the “department stamp” prerequisite included on the Course Approval Form, prerequisites may be implemented for a specific Senior Seminar by including them on the web form in the ‘Prerequisite’ box. Prerequisites will be included in the seminar description when posted on the Senior Seminar website. Some examples of prerequisites that might apply to a specific seminar are: course co-requisites, department majors only, etc.

Repeat Seminar Approval

  • Once a seminar has acquired department chair and UGC approval this approval is not needed again to repeat the seminar in future quarters. If a faculty member is teaching outside of their department, additional approval is also required.
  • The program office will email faculty and staff contacts when repeat seminars are approved by the program. This approval will take place when the Scheduling Office starts the course building phase of developing the quarterly schedules.

Creating a Course Approval

Most Departments, Programs, and Colleges have an approved (XX87) and (XX192) course. If your unit does not have an approved (XX87) or (XX192) course approval, you will need to use eCourse to initiate the process.

  • Please refer to the XX87 course approval template when filling out the online eCourses Approval Form for First-year Seminars. This template has been approved by UGC and will ensure timely processing. Only the highlighted areas on the template should be completed by each department, program, and college.
  • Please contact April Burcham for guidelines and an example form for XX192 Senior Seminars.
  • Normal approvals are required to setup the course approval form for a Seminar (i.e., department chair, senate, registrar's office) and can typically take one quarter to finalize.
  • Please note prerequisites included on the xx192 Course Approval Form will apply to all 192s offered by a department, program, or college and may not vary by seminar.


  • Why are these seminars offered? To provide students with the opportunity to engage in a small class experience. This allows first-years to interact with faculty and peers in a small academic setting. First year seminar experiences are highly praised thoughout educational groups.
  • When will faculty receive their teaching payment? Second week of the quarter providing the seminar met the enrollment minimum of 10 on the first Thursday of First Week.
  • What can I do to help increase enrollment? Contact your majors and minors or students in majors and minors that are related to the topic being offered. Refer to the "publicity" section of the faculty guidelines for more information. Most seminars reach enrollment close to capacity about a week after the first-year enrollment period ends.
  • Why are seminars scheduled in department rooms? Faculty need the flexibility to offer the seminars when it fits into their schedules and regular campus classrooms are usually scheduled on a week 1-10 basis at the same time.

For Students

Student Website in Tritonlink