L&S Curricular Connections

Freshman & Sophomore Seminars

For Schedulers

Table of Contents

Seminar Types

FSSFreshman SeminarsFreshman & Sophomore SeminarsSophomore Seminars
Course number2439A-Z (contact FSS staff if you are uncertain which suffix to use)84
Unit value11.5, 2, 3, or 41 or 2
ScheduleUsually one hour a week; can meet 2 hours a week for 7 weeks or 3 hours a week for 5 weeks (etc.) if a departmentally controlled classroom is availableOne hour a week per unit. Partial semesters also possible if total hours for semester come out right and a departmentally controlled classroom is available
Expected student workload3 hours (one contact hour plus two homework hours) a week3 hours (one contact hour plus two homework hours) per week per unit
InstructorSenate faculty and emeriti only; others by very rare exception
Intended audienceFirst-year students in the intellectual exploration modeUsually seat 1/2 freshmen and 1/2 sophomoresSophomores only
Suggested enrollment limit15-1818-30 (depending on contact hours per week)15-18
Suggested enrollment settingsUnder 'Reserve Capacity Requirement Group' in Campus Solution use "Requirement Group" 000004: 1-2 Terms in AttendanceUnder 'Reserve Capacity Requirement Group' in Campus Solution use "Requirement Group" 000014: 1-4 Terms in AttendanceUnder 'Reserve Capacity Requirement Group' in Campus Solution use "Requirement Group" 000031: 3-4 Terms in Attendance
Suggested waitlist limit5-15 (set it on the high side if you anticipate serious attrition or other enrollment problems)
Waitlist settingsYour waitlist settings are up to you. Once classes start a manual waitlist is usually preferable: it allows you to add only those who are attending.
Grading optionsInstructor may choose letter grade (individual students may choose P/NP) or P/NP. Please be sure to set the grading option to match instructor preference
Prerequisites allowed?No (except high-school courses)Yes
Instructor approvalOption is normally not availableAvailable but not encouraged. If instructors choose this option, please let us know what the procedure and criteria for approval will be.
Cross-listingNot recommended. If a seminar is cross-listed, please work closely with the other department scheduler and FSS staff to insure consistency in scheduling and enrollment settings.
L&S breadth?NoneMost 3 and 4 unit seminars do count for breadth (see below)None
Characteristic atmosphereInteractive, low pressure, excitement of learning for its own sakeInteractive, excitement of exploring a topic of mutual interest with a faculty member
Grants for Senate facultyYes, if overloadYes, if overload (usually only 1.5- and 2-unit seminars)Yes, if overload

Changes to Courses Numbered 39A-Z

Effective spring 2017, there was a change to the way Freshman and Sophomore Seminars, specifically the courses currently numbered 39A-Z in every department, are approved. These changes were occasioned by the advent of the new Student Information Systems, a fully integrated system that will work only if we are not maintaining separate shadow systems outside of the Course Management System (CMS) and the Campus Solutions (CS) system. 

If you wish to teach or offer a 1.5- or 2-unit Freshman and Sophomore Seminar, you will be asked to use a simple 39 course number, without a suffix, for this course. Courses bearing fewer than three units no longer count for breadth, so there is no reason to track the topics in a centralized system. If your department does not have a simple, generic 39 course approved for 1.5, 2 or a range of 1.5-2 units, we ask that your departmental staff please submit one to the Committee on Courses of Instruction, entering the information at the end of this page into CMS. This should be done in advance of spring 2017, so the course number is ready whenever anyone in your department wishes to teach such a course.

For the 3- or 4- unit Freshman and Sophomore Seminars, we will continue to assign suffixes to these seminars, starting with the next suffix for your department. (For instance, if your department offered a 39J in fall 2016, your spring seminar would be a 39K.) If the seminar has been offered before, please use the same suffix it has had in the past.

The big difference is that each 3- or 4-unit seminar needs to be reviewed and approved by COCI. Some of the implications of this change: you will need to plan ahead to meet the COCI deadlines; and each seminar will have its own title, description, unit value and syllabus approved, so you need to prepare all of these items to submit. This means that every 3- or 4-unit seminar offered from spring 2017 forward will need to be submitted to COCI, whether it has been offered before or not. Please use the seminar’s specific title, description, and unit value when submitting these through CMS, as opposed to the generic title and description and variable unit value.

After the course has been approved by COCI please submit it to the L&S Executive Committee for breadth credit review.

These changes will make it possible for your seminars to appear with their own title, descriptions and accurate unit values in the Berkeley Academic Guide and the Schedule of Classes. Additionally, it will be easier to both track and award breadth credit for them.

The seminars numbered 24 and 84, none of which count for breadth, are not affected by this change.

Information to enter into CMS when submitting a proposal to create a generic 39 course (without suffixes):

  • Course number: 39
  • Course title: Freshman and Sophomore Seminar
  • Unit Value: Choose 1.5, 2, or 1.5-2.
  • Instructional format: Seminar
  • Work hours: Select as appropriate for the course’s unit value
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Course description: Freshman and sophomore seminars offer lower-division students the opportunity to explore an intellectual topic with a faculty member and a group of peers in a small-seminar setting. These seminars are offered in all campus departments; topics vary from department to department and from semester to semester.

COCI Policy

The following course numbers are not governed by Academic Senate regulations but are reserved for specific purposes at UC Berkeley:

24 Freshman Seminars
39 Freshman/Sophomore Seminars
84 Sophomore Seminars

2.2.2 Additional Restrictions on Course Numbers

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact Aileen Liu, Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives, or Heather Mäkiharju, Academic Engagement Policy Analyst.

Three women smiling
Jeannie Adams, Alix Schwartz, and Aileen Liu at the Freshman and Sophomore Seminar Program's 30th Anniversary Reception (Credit: Brittany Hosea-Small, 2022)