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Landscape image of a small grassy mountain in the distance with a group of people standing in a field in the front of the imageUndergraduate (UGS) Seminars 

First-year seminars introduce students to social and academic life at the University, providing a small-group experience to support students' transition. These are considered high-impact practices by AAC&U, and are offered centrally in Undergraduate Studies, as well as within the colleges.

MSU has a range of seminar offerings, including special topic seminars, college transition seminars, off-campus and global seminars, as well as seminars offered by academic colleges and majors. These options allow for incoming students to engage in small learning communities designed to help them succeed in college. Some of these opportunities are specialized and offered in departments and colleges, and other seminars are open to everyone and offered by the university.

Get going! Choose a first-year seminar that is right for you! Spartans roll up their sleeves and delve into learning with a passion. First-year seminars provoke your thinking and stimulate big ideas for your experience as a Spartan.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. James M. Lucas, assistant dean, Global Education and Curriculum at

First-Year Seminars Abroad (UGS 102) and Away (UGS 103)

Students are able to begin their academic experience in a variety of exciting locations around the world. UGS 102/103 seminars are led by faculty the summer before students begin at MSU. These courses allow students to explore global and domestic issues, connect with faculty, and develop confidence in the transition to MSU. This course can also be substituted as an Integrative Studies Course. 

The goals of this program include: 

  • Introduce students to scholarly and academic life at MSU; 
  • Help students develop confidence related to the college transition;
  • Expose students to global learning and opportunities at MSU;
  • Introduce global problem-solving in preparation for integrative studies coursework; and
  • Introduce students to multiple ways of knowing and problem-solving.

The learning outcomes of the course include (See Academic Goals and Model for detailed outcomes): 

  • Transition to college
  • Analytical thinking
  • Cultural Understanding
  • Integrative reasoning

For more information, including a list of current programs and the application process, please visit the Office of Education Abroad website. Please email any inquiries you may have about first-year seminar abroad programs to or contact Dr. Sheila Marquardt at 517-884-8977 or

First-Year Seminar Transition Course (UGS 110)

UGS 110 seminars are offered in the Fall for newly admitted students and are primarily taught by Academic Advisors. This seminar focuses primarily on facilitating adjustment to college. 
  1. Create an academic success plan that includes strategies, campus resources, and support systems that are relevant to achieving your goals. Includes emphasis on self-awareness and self-advocacy in the following areas:
    1. Organizing for learning 
    2. Seeking help 
    3. Building relationships 
    4. Careers & majors 
  2. Create a social engagement plan to help facilitate your involvement in the university community, expand your network, and enhance your sense of belonging at MSU. Includes emphasis on self-awareness and self-advocacy in the following areas:
    1. Sense of belonging
    2. Building relationships 
    3. Getting involved 
    4. Expanding your cultural horizons 
  3. Create a plan for using strategies and campus resources to further develop awareness of, to promote, and to maintain your health and wellness in college. Includes emphasis on self-awareness and self-advocacy in the following areas:
    1. Time management 
    2. Stress management 
    3. Financial management / literacy 
    4. Mental health 
    5. Physical health 
    6. Other health and wellness areas as individually relevant

“Big Ideas Seminar” Series (UGS 201)

First-year seminars provide an opportunity for testing and challenging ideas, as well as connecting with faculty who will continue to have an interest in you and your studies here at MSU. Seminars may be used as elective credits toward your degree and are offered both fall and spring semesters for first-and second- year students.  Examples include:

At one point in time, distance learning in higher education included sets of cassette tapes with recorded lectures, assignments submitted and returned through the postal service, and exams proctored by a local liberation. Learning outside of the physical classroom takes shape very differently in the age of the internet and amidst new sets of challenges, a pandemic included. The transition from a physical classroom to learning in an online environment is not just a matter of sitting in front of a computer instead of sitting at a desk in a classroom. This course will address the complex academic, personal, and professional components of learning in online environments.
This course provides opportunities for engaged learning in which students come together across differences to develop critical consciousness and experience vibrant community building. Participating in this course will assist you in (1) reflection: contemplating who you are, where you come from, and how that influences your perspectives; (2) perspective taking: engaging with people with different experiences than yours; (3) relationship building through critical consciousness: building friendships with diverse peers through socio-cultural conversation that matter; and (4)institutional navigation: working collaboratively to identify and use campus-based resources, services, and systems that support your success in college and beyond.

Second-Year Seminar (UGS 210)

Students in this course focus on self-reflection and focused exploration of issues related to the second-year of college; consideration of one's personal identity, career possibilities, academic and social engagement, college involvement; design of pathways to achieving academic and career aspirations; and planning a fulfilling college experience.

This seminar is for second-year students to engage in self-reflection and focused exploration in order to:

  1. evaluate what you have learned about yourself as you consider the larger questions of “Who am I?” and “What do I want my life to be?”
  2. evaluate your academic engagement, social engagement, and involvement in college;
  3. create plans for making new or developing deeper levels of social engagement and college involvement that align with your values, interests, and aspirations;
  4. expand your awareness of career possibilities;
  5. narrow your career aspirations and identify pathways that align with them; and
  6. begin developing a detailed graduation plan, including curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences.

Career and Professional Development (UGS 250)

This seminar is open to sophomores and juniors. Students in this course focus on the connection between academic majors, professional skills, and careers; development of skills needed to identify, obtain, and maintain a fulfilling career; and engagement with employers, alumni, and professional organizations. 

  1. Examine scholarly literature and research related to career myths and the linearity of career paths 
  2. Identify and examine career paths that are relevant to your core interests, values, and skills for employment
  3. Identify and examine academic pathways that align with your potential career paths 
  4. Define the scope of experiences needed to advance toward a career path 
  5. Participate in and reflect upon professional development related experiential learning activities (e.g., career fair, employer panel, informational interview) 
  6. Create and begin making measurable progress on a professional development plan, which could include experiences like: 
    1. preparing for successful internship and employment applications (e.g., resume development, social networking, mock interviews) 
    2. participating in student-led organizations and activities 
    3. securing employment while in college 
    4. using a diverse set of resources to research companies and industries of interest 
    5. completing an internship 
    6. studying abroad or away
    7. initiating professional relationships with potential mentors in your prospective career paths 
    8. exploring, preparing, and applying to graduate/professional school 

Experiential Learning in Undergraduate Studies (UGS 292)

This seminar is open to freshman, sophomores, and juniors with the approval of their department. Students in this course engage in supervised high impact educational experiences for early career undergraduate students. Exact course objectives will depend upon the format and modality of how the course will be implemented. Course objectives may include: 

  • To apply classroom learning to real-world experiential engagements
  • To interact ethically, professionally and in culturally sensitive ways with culturally diverse others
  • To outline ways that college can prepare them for their future goals and careers
  • To engage in appropriate and ethical behavior for a given context
  • To work independently and collaboratively to solve problems and address contemporary real-world issues