May 28, 2024  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The First-Year Experience


UMBC takes a special interest in making students’ first year on campus an academic and personal success.

The transition from high school or community college to a research university can be challenging. Classes are filled with other talented students, and instructors have high standards and expectations. This can be both stimulating and overwhelming. UMBC takes a special interest in supporting students so their first year on campus is an academic and personal success. Students are welcomed into a diverse community where individuals demonstrate a strong sense of respect for one another. In addition, students are expected to uphold the highest ethical standards in their work and to respect and value the work of others through a commitment to academic integrity.

Although we expect students to strive to do excellent work, we know that success is not a goal attained solely through strong academic work. Other factors that have a profound impact on student success include the kinds of personal connections students make to the campus and the level of engagement each student has with his or her own educational experience. The offerings described below are open to all students at UMBC during their first year on campus, including students just beginning their higher education and those transferring to UMBC from another institution. They are designed to help students find an intellectual and social home. Becoming involved in these activities during the first year will help facilitate the transition to college life and prepare students for a successful outcome to their undergraduate experience.

  • Dawg Days: Jump Start, A Summer Bridge Program
  • New Student Book Experience (Orientation/Welcome Week)
  • First-Year Academic Seminars (FYS)
  • Introduction to an Honors University (IHU), First-Year Success Courses
  • Transfer Student Seminars (TRS)
  • Living Learning Communities (LLCs) - Described under the section entitled “Life on the UMBC Campus”

Dawg Days: Jump Start, A Summer Bridge Program

UMBC’s summer bridge program is designed to help students get a jump start on their college experience with a solid foundation in mathematics and writing, with an opportunity to explore general education courses as well. During this six-week program, participants have an opportunity to earn three to seven credits, learn what it takes to be a successful student, and discover the UMBC campus and the surrounding area. This cohort building experience extends into the fall semester with students participating in an “Introduction to an Honors University” (IHU) seminar which is designed to address transition issues as well as support students in developing the skills needed to reach their academic goals. During the IHU course, students become familiar with the many resources and opportunities that UMBC offers. Although the summer bridge program has an academic focus which helps students get to know faculty and staff, participants also engage in on- and off-campus activities in which they get to know each other - creating a peer support system that lasts well beyond the summer experience. Additionally, participants receive ongoing support and advising throughout their first-year at UMBC. 

For more information visit

First-Year Academic Seminars (FYS)

First-Year Seminars provide new students with the opportunity to get to know a faculty member well and connect with peers through small seminar classes. Faculty, with deep commitments to undergraduate education and special interests they want to share with students, offer customized first-year academic seminars designed to introduce students to the academic excitement and rigor of a top-tier research university. First-Year Seminars are limited to 20 students, so participants have direct access to a faculty member with whom they can engage and get to know well. In this way, new students face the challenges of an academically rigorous course with the support of a faculty member committed to their success. In this active learning environment, faculty partner with students in the exploration of course material. The courses incorporate creative and critical thinking, a focus on written and oral communication skills, research skills, and significant opportunities for discussion and faculty/peer critiques of assignments.

FYS courses carry three credits and may be used to meet a general education program requirement, provided the course carries this type of designation.

  • Students may have one FYS class in their GEP profile.
  • If the course selected is in the arts/humanities (AH) or social sciences (SS) areas, in which students must complete three courses in each area, if one of the courses applied is an FYS course then the two remaining courses must come from two different disciplines. In addition, many FYS courses also meet the mathematics (M), sciences (S) and culture (C) requirements.

Examples of past FYS offerings:

  • Images of Madness (SS) 
  • Creativity, Innovation, and Invention (SS) 
  • American Orientalism (C) 
  • Truth and Invention in Photography (AH) 
  • The Godfather of Numbers (M) 

For a list of current first-year seminars, visit

Browse FYS course offerings 

Introduction to an Honors University (IHU), First-Year Success Courses

IHU courses provide an introduction to the higher education experience in a personalized setting and are open to all new students at UMBC. These one-credit experiences are often attached to introductory courses in the major and/or to courses that meet a core general education requirement. Participation in an IHU helps set the stage for academic success at UMBC. They are designed to help new students:

  • Clarify academic expectations and develop essential academic skills. In these courses students have an opportunity to develop and improve their academic skills in relationship to specific course content.
  • Improve study skills and the ability to manage time, and strengthen written and oral communication skills. Students discuss strategies for academic success that apply directly to the academic content of the core course. Students who participate in an IHU experience have a higher level of early success at UMBC than those who do not participate and the skills acquired contribute to their success throughout their academic career.
  • Become active members of the UMBC community. Complementing the work done in the classroom are the many out of class activities that broaden a student’s UMBC experience. These opportunities include participation in clubs and organizations, leadership development, internships, athletics, intramurals and a variety of other activities that can enhance personal development and students’ future success. The IHU courses assist students in learning about these campus opportunities and how to get involved.
  • Maximize personal development and self-awareness. Students will develop connections with other students with whom they will interact as they participate in campus activities, form study groups and learn about resources that are available for personal and academic support. In addition, students have an opportunity to get to know faculty and staff who have an interest in helping them to identify their goals and develop strategies for reaching those goals.

To participate in one of the “Introduction to an Honors University” seminars, look for courses that carry the letter “Y” after the course number in the Schedule of Classes.

As of academic year 2020-2021 departments that have “Y” seminars (IHU) attached to many of of their core courses include: Aging Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, Computer Science, Economics, Emergency Health Services, English, Engineering, Gender, Women’s, and Sexuallty Studies, Global Studies, History, Information Systems, Mathematics, Political Science, Science, Sociology, and PHED 202 (required for Athletes). 

For updates related to the IHU program visit

Transfer Student Seminar (TRS 201)

These one-credit seminars are designed to assist in the successful transition of transfer students from their previous college or university to UMBC. Seminars focus on familiarizing new transfer students with the academic expectations of the University and their major department while providing opportunities for students to develop further the skills needed to achieve success at an Honors University. The material covered will complement the work that is being done in upper-level courses in the major, and it will contain academic material selected by the Department that has been identified as critical to the success of transfer students in that particular major.

Examples of the departments that have worked closely with our transfer seminar program include: Biology, Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Information Systems, Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Visual Arts. An opportunity to participate in a transfer seminar is also offered at UMBC-Shady Grove. 

For updates related to TRS visit