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Liberal Arts first-year seminar

A first-year seminar is a graduation requirement for all Penn State students. The seminars in the Liberal Arts are limited to twenty students and are offered in various Liberal Arts disciplines (English, psychology, history, philosophy, anthropology, political science, etc.). The small size of the seminars allows for more discussion in class, interaction with the professor, and attention to writing skills. In addition to fulfilling the University's first-year seminar requirement, each three-credit seminar fulfills a General Education requirement in either the humanities or social and behavioral sciences.

The goals for a Liberal Arts first-year seminar are:

  1. To introduce students to the content and methods of a broad range of Liberal Arts disciplines by encouraging "self-directed inquiry." Faculty encourage students to take responsibility for producing knowledge.
  2. To provide students with multiple perspectives on and contrasting views of the world in which they live.
  3. To help students develop intellectual skills (including reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking), which are essential for learning in various disciplines and for continued learning in life outside of the University.

First Year Seminars by Semester

I did not complete a first year seminar. What do I do?

The First-Year Seminar Substitution Process 

Liberal Arts Edge seminars

Liberal Arts Edge seminars are optional courses that aim to showcase the power of a liberal arts education by bringing multiple perspectives to bear on a timely or important topic. Past edge seminar topics include: the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO; the campaign of Donald Trump; sports ethics including concussions and compensation for student athletes; and interrogating prejudice.

The World of 1968

In Spring 2018, as part of the college's 1968 theme; the history department will offer a Liberal Arts Edge seminar looking back 50 years at one of the most consequential moments in American history. Learn more about the course and the theme at


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