Course Registration Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of our most asked questions about registering for your first year of courses at St. Thomas. We hope the answers provided help you feel more at ease about registration. Remember: you can't make "mistakes" when it comes to your first year.
1. What courses should I take?
Spend some time reading the First-Year Course Description page and pick out the five that interest you most.
University course offerings are different from high school courses, but that’s the exciting part. Your first year is about discovering new topics and ideas that inspire you.
It’s hard to know what it really means to study an academic field you don’t know a lot about, but that’s precisely why your first year at STU will be about taking introductory level courses in various academic areas.
Keep in mind that if you do end up taking a course, and after your first class or two decide it’s not for you, you will have a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year to drop it and replace it with something else without academic penalty.
2. What should I take if I already know what I'd like to major in?
You should take the introductory course in that subject, and four other courses (per semester) outside that field.
The liberal arts approach means that throughout your degree, you will study a broad range of topics from multiple perspectives. Not only does this afford you with cross-disciplinary knowledge, but it also exposes you to subjects you hadn’t considered but are more of a fit for you than you realized. Many students end up changing their major or adding a second major during their degree.
3. Can I change what I put as my subject area of interest on my application?
Yes—and, at this stage, you don’t even have to let us know.
Your “subject area of interest” is simply for planning purposes and goal setting. It’s not meant to bind you to any degree structure. At the end of your second year, we will ask you to officially declare your major by notifying the Registrar’s Office. At that time, it will be recorded on your record. It can be the area you indicated you had an interest in when you applied to STU or something totally different. After your first two years, you will be selecting your courses more intentionally to fulfill the requirements of your declared major program. Even declared majors can be changed at any time by simply notifying the Registrar’s Office.
4. Are there required courses for first-year students?
No. You can take any course listed in the 2023-2024 First-Year Course Offerings List.
We encourage you to explore courses that sound interesting to you. After your first year of introductory level courses, you will choose which subjects to pursue at an advanced level.
By the end of your second year—when you’re ready to officially declare your major—you will select upper-year courses based on the requirements outlined by department to complete a major in that academic field.
5. Are there requirements to successfully complete my Bachelor of Arts?
Yes, but don’t worry about them too much in first year.
There are Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements, but you have four years to complete them. You don’t need to worry about taking specific courses in order to fulfill these requirements during your first year. Spend your first year exploring academic fields and finding out what you love to study.
There’s absolutely no way you can disadvantage yourself from completing your degree “on-time” due to any first-year course selection decisions.
6. My first-year schedule is full. Can I take introductory courses in my second year if I can’t fit them in my first year?
We reserve space in introductory level courses for upper-year students for this very reason. Don’t panic if you can’t fit all your interests into year one. Prioritize which courses are most important to you and pick the other up in second year.
7. How do I determine which course level I should take for French classes?
FREN 1006: Total beginners
FREN 1016: Students who have studied French outside of French Immersion
FREN 1026: French Immersion students, as well as students who complete a grade 12-level, core French class with at least an 80% average
2000-level: Francophone students
Rest assured that if you end up in a French class that is not well-suited for your level of French (whether it is too advanced or too simplistic), professors will help you adjust your course registration in September, so you can get into the French course that is at the appropriate level.
8. I went on STU Self Service early (before April 18) and see some of the classes I want to take are already full.
No, they are not full; they are not officially open yet.
We don't encourage you to spend too much time on STU Self Service prior to course registration opening, because all you will be able to see until that time is the limited number of reserved spaces for upper-year students in those classes. For example, a course may say it only has 12 seats, total. However, what that actually means is that there are 12 spaces open for upper-year students right now, but the majority of seats won’t open up until course registration opens to first-year students.
9. How can I tell if a course is a year-long or a semester-long?
Course number ends with a 3 = semester long
Course number ends with a 6 = full year
Remember that if you register in a full-year course in semester 1, you will be automatically registered for the second half of that course in your second semester schedule.
10. How many courses should I take each year?
Generally speaking, you will have five classes per semester, and there are two semesters per year.
Taking five classes per semester (30 credit hours per year) would enable you to complete your four-year Bachelor of Arts degree within four years without having to take any “overloaded” semesters or courses through the summer. With that said, students only need to take four courses each semester to maintain their scholarships.
Note that students who choose to take fewer than 30 credit hours per year will have to make up the missing credit hours in a subsequent term (e.g., Intersession/Summer session, course overload in a later year, or extension of the degree beyond four years).
11. What will my week look like?
Assuming you are taking five courses per semester, your week might look something like this: Three classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday / Two classes Tuesday and Thursday.
Courses are offered …
· three times a week for 50 minutes
· twice a week for 80 minutes
· once a week for three hours
Pro tip: Do not try to schedule all your courses on two or three days. Spread them out.
12. Can I take several first-year courses from one subject?
There may be several first-year courses in certain subjects (e.g. Fine Arts, History, Philosophy) that you wish to take, but it is in your best interest to only take 6 credit hours maximum in any given subject during your first year. This is because you are limited to the amount of first-year courses you can take throughout your degree, as well as the number of courses you take in one particular subject. Taking a wide-range of courses will ensure that you get the broad-based, well-rounded liberal arts education for which STU is known while also ensuring you have the prerequisites required to take upper-level courses in a variety of subjects, not just one or two.