First-Year Students

First-Year Student Programs

As a first-year student, you will select an academic program to help make your transition to UAlbany a successful one.



You can select one of these...
Living-Learning Communities 

A year-long enriched academic experience open to *most first-year, residential students.

Living-Learning Communities provide you with an opportunity to live and take courses with other incoming first-year students who share your personal interests, passions or intended academic major.  

You can apply when you register for Orientation.

Living-Learning Communities are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. The applications will be available in early April to deposited students.

*The World of Commuter Engagement is a Learning Community for commuting first-year students.


What types of Living-Learning Communities are available?

You can select from a wide range of living-learning communities that are divided into two groups:


Learning Opportunities


Living-Learning Community Freshman Seminar

Living-Learning Communities include a freshman seminar. UFSP 102 is a one-credit, freshman seminar on a topic related to the Living-Learning Community theme and connected to the Living-Learning Community experience.


Pillars Program

The Pillars Program is an initiative for exceptional high school students accepted to the Univeristy through the Early Action admissions process. The name of the program ties into our campus architecture (we have 1,248 pillars on the Academic Podium) but also symbolizes the support you’ll receive as a highly motivated Great Dane. 

Students accepted to the Pillars Program can apply for a Living-Learning Community in February or March, before the application process opens for the rest of the incoming first-year class.

Please visit the Undergraduate Admissions website for more information on how to apply.


How to Apply

You can apply for a Living-Learning Community when you register for Orientation. In the application, please tell us why you want to be a member of your chosen community and what you hope to gain from the experience.

Also, you must complete the housing application. You can request a roommate, but both students must be eligible for, apply to and be accepted to the same community for you to be placed together in an L-LC.  Students selecting the World of Commuter Engagement do not have to complete the housing application

You will be notified by mid-June if you have been accepted into the Living-Learning Community. This allows you to work with your advisor in the summer Orientation session to plan your fall schedule which includes two to three classes linked to the Living-Learning Community.

Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any questions about the L-LCs.

UUNI 99 Engagement Course

This zero-credit engagement course is designed to help you engage with faculty and staff, find campus resources and support offices and take advantage of opportunities to apply what you are learning. Some engagement sections are for certain populations of students (e.g., First Generation students, new transfer students) and other sections are for students directly admitted into certain Schools and Colleges at UAlbany.


Learning Outcomes 

You can set yourself up to succeed in your first semester at UAlbany by taking this transitional support course to meet a group of new students just like you, engage in an interactive classroom and be eligible to win fun raffles and prizes.


Select Your Course

Please contact your academic advisor about which UUNI 99 engagement course may be right for you.

Freshman Seminars

Freshman seminars provide an enriched academic experience and are required for all first-year students.

At UAlbany, we offer three types of freshman seminars:  1-credit classes on interesting topics, 1-credit classes on academic planning and 3-credit classes that focus on your transition to college.

  • UFSP 100 seminars cover various interesting topics (1 credit)

  • UUNI 120 seminars help you create an academic plan for your success (1 credit)

  • UUNI 105 seminars to help you transition to college and improve their academic skills  (3 credits)


UFSP 100 Freshman Seminar Course Topics

These 1-credit classes are designed specifically for freshmen to get to know each other and a member of our faculty in a small class setting. They are great opportunities to learn about a cutting-edge topic from our best faculty while getting to know more about UAlbany. They introduce you to college-level learning and provide you with an intimate learning experience designed to help you acclimate to the academics at the University at Albany. 


#6496: Getting Ahead of the Bad Guys (or Gals): Anticipating Threats and Terrorism

How can we possibly anticipate when, where or what the next act of terrorism will be? Do our past experiences with terrorism help us predict other attacks? Are there methods and models that can help us respond? Yes! In this class, we will explore how we can get better at preparing for and preventing the unimaginable. Through class discussion and hands-on activities, we will also get to know more about our adversaries, UAlbany, and ourselves and how we can help the world be more prepared.


# 6483: Philosophy of Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy, but few agree about what happiness is. This seminar focuses on different views about what happiness is, how to be happy and whether happiness is even achievable.


#6487: Latinx Food, Power and Culture

Explore the history of modern food system and how it intersects with Latinos/as living within the United States. Learn how culture, race, gender, and class shape one’s experiences with food and the complexities of food justice, health, and well-being in the process of food production to consumption.


#6263: Why Museums?

Did you know UAlbany has a contemporary art museum on campus that is free and open to the public? Join Berly Brown as we examine how museums have transformed, and continue to transform, our interpretation and construction of contemporary culture. Go behind the scenes with guest artists and museum professionals to gain firsthand knowledge about how museums have become active social spaces that engage visitors in critical conversations about vital issues affecting us all. Add your voice as we imagine museums of the future.


#8910: Unlocking Your Communication Potential

Are you a good communicator? We’re often expected to just know how talk with others, but let’s face it- it’s not always easy to do. Most of us have not taken specific classes focused on developing these important skills. This course is here to change that. Get ready to unlock the secrets of effective communication! We will cover such topics as communicating your point of view, listening to others, collaborating in a team, and overcoming speaking anxiety. The skills that you will learn will help you in future classes, in your interactions with family and friends and in professional environments.


#5966: Personal Financial Planning for College Students

College is expensive but research shows it greatly increases your lifetime earning potential. How do you manage money while in college? And how do you manage it once you graduate? This course will help you learn about financial planning related to events such as 1) student loan payments, 2) credit card debt, 3) housing costs, 4) automobile payments.  You'll learn about the earning potential of different careers and what this will mean for life after college.  Learn to develop a budget NOW to be successful managing the money you will make in the future.


#7789: World of Chemistry and Scientific Careers  (You can also sign up for discussion section 7790)

Specifically designed for freshmen studying Chemistry or Biochemistry, this seminar will help you explore science as a career.  You'll meet faculty and professionals from the physical sciences and tour our work-class RNA institute and faculty laboratories.  The discussion section gives you the opportunity to have lunch in the dining hall with the professor and other Chemistry students.


#6484: Encoding the Sounds of Language 

Explore the fascinating world of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in this First-Year Experience Class! Mastering the IPA is your key to unlocking the diverse array of speech sounds found in human language. The IPA is an invaluable tool for singers, actors, speech language pathologists, forensic linguistics, natural language processing engineers, and language enthusiast alike. While honing your IPA skills, we will explore linguistic diversity, why certain accents ‘sound smart, the quirks of English spelling, and the art of transcribing undocumented languages.


#6491: An Introduction to Careers in Education

Through your own experiences in education, you have developed a notion of what it means to be a teacher, but have you ever considered teaching as a career? We will explore demographic and employment trends for instructional staff at different levels of formal schooling, from Kindergarten through higher education. In addition to readings and class discussions, we will meet and talk with people employed in the field – not only in careers in the classroom, but also in the myriad of careers in both management and support staff that facilitate and enable teachers to better perform in their roles. This exploration will include, but is not limited to, school counseling, curriculum development, guidance, and administration.


#8914: First Year Zine: Exploring UAlbany through Photography

You'll embark on a creative journey of visual storytelling—all while exploring campus and documenting their first-year experience. Together we will learn the fundamentals of photography and sequencing to capture compelling images that convey powerful narratives. By the end of the semester, you'll showcase your personal perspectives with printed “zines” (a small DIY publication).


#6482: Seeing Through Other Eyes: Building Intercultural Understanding

This course is designed to provide you with an opportunity to build intercultural understanding through increased exposure to other countries, people and cultures around the world. The class will explore culture shock and adjustment, cultural values and identity, dimensions of culture, intercultural conflict, intercultural communication, and other tools for understanding culture.

The course is divided into three major parts: Exploring and understanding campus resources for academic, social and cultural success; investigating through a critical lens place, fit and other issues within your own culture; and becoming more critically aware of countries, cultures, and people different from you. Embedded throughout the course, you'll practice research, writing and classroom presentation.

You'll learn through interactive activities in and out of the classroom, including intercultural sharing; group discussions and projects; games and simulations; presentations on cultural issues within various countries and societies; guest speakers from different countries, cultures and university departments; a group mini-research project on culture; and intercultural journaling, all aimed at raising intercultural understanding.


#8909: You’re a lying jerk!: Exploring the Role of Destructive Communication in Close Relationships

Personal relationships are often a source of satisfaction and joy, but they can also bring about feelings of frustration, confusion, and pain. This class explores some of the communicative challenges we face in starting, maintaining, and ending close relationships. Topics will include discussion of issues like deception and jealousy, as well as the ways that communication can possibly resolve turmoil in relationships.


#6492: Women in Technology

What do Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, and Hedy Lamarr have in common? They are all women pioneers in technology. Despite a long history of women “computers,” women in technology fields are typically underrepresented. This seminar is for women and men alike who want to learn more about the history of women in tech, why there is such gender disparity in the related fields and consider what can be done to reach parity in computing. Interested in gender studies, informatics, cybersecurity, computer science and engineering? You're welcome to join this seminar!


#6918: Multiculturalism  

How do your cultural and ethnic heritages influence your view of the world and your day-to-day interactions? This course helps you expand your awareness and understanding of how culture shapes and influences daily life and enhances your appreciation of different cultures within and outside of the U.S. The course offers you opportunities to heighten your awareness of your own cultural and ethnic heritages, immigrant background, and cultural values and beliefs. It will strengthen your ability to grapple effectively with issues of multiculturalism in today’s U.S. society. You will be encouraged to analyze multiculturalism concepts, issues, and themes from a social justice perspective.


#7773: Catching Killers: DNA Testing in the Brave New World

Advances in DNA technology have transformed the criminal justice system in the United States. Long dormant “cold cases” have been solved, and infamous serial and spree killers have been identified and arrested. Persons wrongfully convicted have been exonerated. However, this cutting-edge DNA technology has the potential to infringe on important privacy interests. In this class, we will explore these issues through the examination of high-profile crimes. Experts in the field of forensic science and civil liberties will share their unique perspective with you. Small projects will enhance your understanding of course topics.


#5395: Food and Our Future: Understanding Sustainability through Science Literacy

We often read and hear about scientific studies in popular media, but how do we understand and use them? In this class, you'll study basic concepts of science literacy – civic, practical, and cultural – “while learning about issues related to food sustainability, such as food supply, production, and consumption. Course activities will include examining case studies and learning basic principles of online research. Upon completing the course, you'll have gained a better understanding of food sustainability, as well as of the importance of science literacy in their academic and personal pursuits.


#6493: “I Read it on The Internet” Doesn’t Make it True

We are inundated with more news sources than any time in history. The challenge we face is how to differentiate news from opinion. In this seminar, Prof. Huber will guide you and your peers in weekly discussions of journalism, fake news, news vs. opinion, and the imperative for us all to become informed news consumers.


#6664: Using Primary and Secondary Sources to Study the Past and Present

The class will introduce you to the University at Albany community and assist them in understanding academic expectations, intellectual challenges, and personal opportunities available to them as learners. By the end of the semester, you'll identify areas of the University to improve your chances for academic success and the many information resources and opportunities available to you.  

This class is for those who are interested in learning to study the past and its relevance for understanding today’s world. You will learn how to access and analyze information sources, learn the skills of academic research, and gain an understanding and ability to summarize large amounts of information. During the semester, we will conduct a historical research project analyzing secondary and primary sources located in the University Archive. 

Using primary and secondary sources will not only improve your chances of academic success, but also provide you with research skills that are applicable in many occupations and industries, such as the fields of law, business, journalism, economics, politics. and government.


#4780: Storms, Climate Change, and Environmental Impacts

Whether it is checking the weather forecast on the way to school, saving energy on a hot summer day, or taking shelter from a severe thunderstorm, we have an important and close relationship with our planet and its future. Along with important lessons on the transition from high school to college, this course will cover major topics taught by experts in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, such as sustainability, energy and resources, hazardous weather and forecasting, and climate change. Enrolling will be a great opportunity to get to know faculty in the department and meet your UAlbany peers who share the same passion for the atmosphere and environmental you do. Recommended for those interested in majoring or minoring in Atmospheric Sciences or Environmental Sciences.


#6495: Emerging Technologies: The Future is Now

What do 3D printing, robotics, drones, and digital gaming have in common? They represent innovative areas of technology that will continue to change our lives. Join Prof. Leczinsky for hands-on experience and collaborative projects in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity’s Makerspace and Drone Lab. Students interested in STEM/STEAM and interdisciplinary fields are welcome. No prior experience necessary!


World of Performing Arts (you can also sign up for the discussion section)

Specifically designed for freshmen studying Theatre, this seminar will help you explore all aspects of the performing arts.  you'll meet faculty and professionals, tour the spaces in our Performing Arts Center, and learn how to get involved theatre productions at UAlbany and beyond. The discussion section gives you the opportunity to have dinner in the dining hall with the professor and other theatre and music major first year students.


#6522, #7251: College Success for the Student-Athlete (2 sections)

The transition from high school to college can be challenging and balancing your academic schedule with the increased workload of your college classes can be tough. However, athletes also need to balance their training, practice, and competition demands for their respective sport. What are the unique challenges that athletes face and how can you develop the academic practice, training, and skill building plan you need to “win” in your classes? This seminar will help freshmen set and achieve academic goals, create relationships with faculty, utilize UAlbany resources, and be a successful STUDENT athlete.


#6490: Be a Better You: Keys to Good Health in College

Entering college requires some adjustment and forethought to keep yourself in optimal physical, mental and emotional health. In this seminar, you will learn how to practice mindfulness meditation for stress management, create your own exercise program for balanced physical fitness, and find healthy eating options on campus.


#6227: How the Sausage was Made: Events that Revolutionized Higher Education in America

What does a woman from Hawaii have to do with gender equality in higher education? What does the existence of so many public universities and colleges have to do with the Civil War and U.S Department of Agriculture? In this seminar we will explore the drama and plot twists of American higher education while paving the way for an incredible experience at UAlbany.


#6521: Law and the Human Experience

How is law portrayed in, and influenced by, film, books, religion, and medicine? This freshman seminar will focus on the way literature, the arts, social sciences, and psychology all contribute to the legal field. Sample topics include the origins of law; the lawyer-client relationship; lawyer-writers; knowledge, power, and subjectification; and children in the legal system.


#4549: World of East Asian Studies (you also sign up for discussion section 6258)

Specifically designed for freshmen studying Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, this seminar will help you understand the culture and background for these East Asian languages. You will meet faculty members from across the department of East Asian Studies and benefit from their expertise, learn study skills, understand study abroad opportunities, and connect with other freshmen interested in East Asian studies. The discussion section gives you the opportunity to have lunch in the dining hall with the professor and other students interested in East Asian cultures and languages.


#6485: Liberty and Justice for All

This course focuses on liberty and justice through a moral and ethical lens with special attention given to the system of criminal justice.  you'll be introduced to matters of justice that encourage a deep analysis of driving and restraining forces while considering how to contribute to liberty and justice for all.


#7972: Growing up Bilingual 

This course will discuss linguistic, literary, and cultural aspects of growing up as English/Spanish bilingual speaker in the United States. We will examine how both languages are acquired and how they are used in natural interactions and in creative works by member of Latinx communities.


#6656: Digital Forensics/Cyber Investigation 

This seminar is designed for incoming freshman wanting to major in the fast-growing field of digital forensics. Learn how to follow digital “fingerprints” to investigate and track activities in the electronic domain and understand how hackers work. In this class, you will also meet key faculty and staff from the Digital Forensics major who can help you get started in this hot new field.


#6486: Plagues, Monsters, and Mayhem

In this class, we will go on an historical and pop-culture journey that surveys the intersections of infectious disease, social unrest, and the monsters we fear. Special topics include the zombie apocalypse, witchcraft, and vampires. Class materials: warm bodies and open minds. Garlic and Pitchfork are not required.


#6262: How Does Your Brain Decide?

This freshman seminar will look at the psychological and neuroscience principles of how people make decisions ranging from buying a stock in the stock markets during a bubble to the more moral decisions about choosing between alternatives as in the famous trolley dilemma. 

The idea we will pursue is that these decisions come out of a part of the brain that underlies your current awareness of who you are, about which you can talk; and a part of the brain that is outside of this awareness but shapes your response through emotion and skill learning. 

We will further look at ways a college education that is grounded in classical academic learning and deep experiences in one’s chosen or expected field, can develop maturity and professional knowledge that greatly help you succeed after you graduate from college.


#8549: Exploring Cybersecurity

Exploring Cybersecurity is a one-credit course designed exclusively for freshman, providing them with a comprehensive introduction to the exciting field of cybersecurity. Through this course, you'll gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals of cybersecurity, including the principles, technologies, and practices used to secure digital systems and data. Additionally, you'll explore cybersecurity as a potential college major and a promising profession, delving into the diverse career paths available, both technical and non-technical. By the end of the course, you'll have a well-rounded perspective on cybersecurity and be equipped with the foundational knowledge to make informed decisions about pursuing further studies or careers in this rapidly evolving field.


UUNI 120: Building your Academic Plan

1-credit Freshman Seminars are available that focus on Building your Academic Plan. Fully explore your passions and set goals for your time at UAlbany. In order to reach those goals, what skills do you need to develop and what support will you need to be successful? In this class, you will reflect on your skills and goals and build an academic plan to ensure you get the most from your college time.


UUNI 105: The Freshman Year Experience (3 Credit)

The purpose of this course is to help you become an effective student. It focuses on the academic skills that will help you succeed at UAlbany (e.g., time management and study skills).

You will learn about the college experience, including experiences unique to first-year students, transitional stages that you may undergo and coping strategies that can help you pass through this phase of college life.

In addition, you will learn how to use and locate important campus resources and learn about who you are and how that information helps you choose a major and a career.


How to Learn More About Course Options

You can search the freshman seminar course topics through the schedule of classes by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Select a Semester or Term to search the Schedule of Classes 
  • Step 2: Select Undergraduate only for Level (Graduate/Undergraduate) 
  • Step 3: Select UFSP 100 to see the different Course Subjects offered or UUNI 120 for the scheduling options available
  • Step 4: Leave everything as it is in the other fields 
  • Step 5: Select submit

Work with your academic advisor on your First-Year Experience choice for your first semester.


Selecting Your Course

You will select a course when you submit your Orientation registration form. If you have any questions, please contact your advisor or Academic Advising to select the best option for you.

Honors College

A four-year enriched academic experience for invited students.

The Honors College is a small community of scholars who seek a more engaging academic experience to challenge and develop themselves.

As an Honors College student, you’ll enjoy small Honors-only classes, Honors housing and priority course registration and weekly academic, cultural and social events. You’ll also be supported by faculty members, Honors academic advisors, an Honors librarian and Honors peer mentors.

All high school seniors who apply for admission to the University at Albany are automatically considered for the Honors College. Eligible transfer students are invited to apply.


How to Apply

Please visit the Honors College website for more information.

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at the University at Albany provides admission opportunities for economically and educationally disadvantaged undergraduate students who are residents of New York State.


How to Apply

To qualify for admission to EOP, you must be a New York State resident, possess a high school diploma or its equivalent and meet academic and financial eligibility requirements.

Please visit Undergraduate Admission’s EOP page for detailed information on eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Information For
Two students study together while sitting on a bench


Once you're here...
Writing and Critical Inquiry

A required enriched academic experience for all first-year students. 

The Writing and Critical Inquiry Program (UUNI 110) is a dynamic learning environment that first-year students benefit from with small class sizes and one-on-one interactions with their instructor. 

This is a required course for all incoming first-year students and fulfills the general education requirement for Writing and Critical Inquiry. You will take this course in either the fall or spring semester of your first year at UAlbany. 

If you have any questions about when to take this course, contact your advisor in the Academic Support Center.

Please visit the Writing and Critical Inquiry Program for more information.

Munch with the Majors

Our Munch with the Majors program allows you to learn more about academic majors and minors, different career paths stemming from those majors, research opportunities, co-curricular activities, clubs that relate to your chosen majors and more.

Each September, meet with faculty and staff from the majors that interest you and learn how to get the most from your field of study.

Food for Finals

We partner with Student Affairs and University Auxiliary Services to offer students a special meal served by faculty, staff and administrators before finals begin. We encourage students to take a study break and connect with the campus community to discuss helpful study tips and receive words of encouragement. 

Every year, we witness firsthand just how appreciative students are of having our campus community there for encouragement and support as they prepare for their final exams. 

We offer the following each semester:

Fall Semester features faculty, staff and administrator "celebrity servers" in student dining halls serving up Late Night Breakfast.  

Spring Semester features "celebrity servers" on the Academic Podium for a Late Night BBQ the night before final exams begin.

Peer Educators

Student Engagement offers a two-credit peer education course (UUNI 350) designed for excellent students to learn about the theory and practice of peer education while actively supporting the teaching and mentoring of students in first-year seminar courses.

Peer Educators can provide a student-centered perspective on learning and mentoring, while also building their ability to communicate and assist in a leadership role. They can play a key role in assisting faculty by helping with classroom management, office hours and tutoring, in addition to mentoring and working directly with other undergraduate students.


Requirements for peer educators

  • Rising junior and senior status at the time of application, with exceptions made on a case-by-case basis
  • A minimum of a 3.0 GPA
  • Good academic standing

Eligible students will be e-mailed about the opportunity to be a peer education each spring semester



Please contact Leah Scognamiglio for more information.

First-Year Student Program


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