First-Year Seminars and Clusters
Get connected! Your first year of college is a time of exciting changes and dramatic transitions. Hofstra's first-year seminars and clusters are designed to get your college experience off to a great start. At the heart of the program are small classes taught by distinguished faculty in areas of interest ranging from art to writing. Not only will these courses introduce you to the intellectual and social life of the University, but — even if you are undecided about a major — nearly all of them will also help you satisfy the general education requirements for all majors. These are regular undergraduate courses, but they are reserved for first-year students only, so once you've looked over the seminar and cluster descriptions, please log in to the Hofstra portal (my.hofstra.edu) and give us your preferences.
Limited to 19 students, first-year seminars allow you to interact in a small setting and connect with a faculty member who may become your major advisor, depending on what major you choose. We've tried to design seminars to fit every interest, from astronomy to psychology and philosophy.
Fall semesters only
First-year clusters include two or more courses grouped around a common theme. For example, one cluster includes three courses (Philosophy, Political Science, and Composition) that examine values, politics, and policy making in the United States. All the courses in all the clusters satisfy Hofstra graduation requirements. By taking a few courses with the same group of students, you'll make friends more quickly, form study groups, and come to feel at home on Hofstra's 240-acre campus.
- Can all first-year students take seminars and clusters?
- Yes! All first-year students may take seminars or clusters in the fall semester and seminars in the spring semester of their first year. Students enrolled in Honors College may take seminars and clusters, but they should speak with their academic advisor to manage their schedule appropriately.
- What will my fall course schedule look like if I take a first-year seminar or cluster?
- If you take a seminar, it will be one class out of the set of four or five you will take between September and December. If you take a cluster, you will have two or three cluster classes — for example, philosophy, political science, and composition classes — in addition to two or three other classes, to total four or five classes for the fall term.
- I’m a psychology major. Will an economics seminar count toward graduation?
- Yes. First-year seminars and clusters help you move closer to graduation. All students at Hofstra must take distribution courses — general education requirements — and almost all first-year options fulfill these requirements. In fact, we have designed these first-year options to help you explore your major and other paths you may choose to fulfill your career goals.
- Can I change my mind about my preferences?
- Yes! When you come to New Student Orientation, you and your advisor will work out your full fall course schedule together. At that time — or when you get to campus in the fall — you are welcome to choose courses that are different from the ones you choose here.
Several of the first-year clusters and a number of seminars are aligned with the academic theme of one of the living-learning communities in the first-year residence halls. Residential students enrolled in these clusters or seminars may choose to live together in one of these living-learning communities. Visit hofstra.edu/livelearn for information. Note: Students may register for a seminar or cluster even if they do not choose to live in an associated living-living learning community.
First-Year Connections seminars and clusters help you feel more connected to the Hofstra University community and help you move closer to graduation by satisfying general education and liberal arts requirements, which all Hofstra students must fulfill. For this reason, they are appropriate for you whether you have a major in mind or are undecided. In fact, even if you switch majors, these courses will still satisfy the same graduation requirements.
If you are an incoming first-year student, please use this site to look over your first-year options. Then, log in to the Hofstra portal (my.hofstra.edu) and choose your preferences. Please express your top three choices in any order; for example, two clusters and a seminar, or two seminars and a cluster. We can't always guarantee your first choice of seminar or cluster, but we can generally enroll you in one of the top three you indicate.
Then, when you attend one of the summer orientation sessions, you'll sit down with an advisor and complete the rest of your fall schedule. At that time you're welcome to change to a different first-year seminar or cluster, or choose different courses altogether. If you have questions about fall courses now or at any time, simply call the Center for University Advising at 516-463-6770 or 516-463-7222. Email: advising[at]hofstra.edu .
Nidhi Gandhi, Writing Studies/English, Class of 2021
"I took the Drama cluster even though I was a film major, simply because I wanted to take the Early Shakespeare class. Being in the cluster was one of the best decisions I made and I think about those classes every single day. It was nice to be a part of a small classroom community where everyone was a freshman, so afraid of the world. My professors gave me the freedom to make mistakes, answered my questions, and I still keep in touch with those professors, and have taken multiple classes with them."
Sydney Frank, History Major/Fine Arts Major, Class of 2023
“The FYC Experimental Drawing was an unexpectedly fun and educational class that I am very thankful that I added to my first semester class list. I learned more about my personal style of art, more than anything else, and how to let go and broaden my horizons and open my eyes to what I perceive art to be . Through this class, I also met some great friends that I still hang out with. This FYC showed me a lot about how even though you may walk in with a certain idea or image in your mind, you will walk out with a new experience and a new perspective on your own art, and what "art" is as a whole.”
David O'Brien, Political Science, Class of 2022
“Entering the First Year Cluster Program was the best decision I made as a freshman. The professors coordinate lessons that complement each other in order to ensure a smooth and efficient academic transition between classes. In addition to the attentive professors, the teaching assistants were very insightful on how to balance classwork and personal life at Hofstra. Through this program, I made personal connections with students who share the same interests as me right away. There was a strong bond built between all of the students that went beyond the classroom. I met some of my closest friends because of the cluster and am very grateful for this program.”
Alexa Paturzo, Political Science, Class of 2022
“I took the Political Science/Philosophy cluster my first semester at Hofstra because I had always had an interest in politics, but I was not sure if I was ready to major in it. This cluster provided me with an opportunity to experience what it would be like to study both political science and philosophy without committing to a major. Being a part of this cluster was one of the best academic decisions I made at Hofstra. It was such a rewarding experience to be part of a small classroom environment in which everyone was a freshman, meaning they were just as nervous as I was. This created a strong sense of community among classmates, we always had someone to study or get coffee with. My professors for this cluster were the pièce de résistance. They created an environment that gave us the comfort and freedom to make mistakes, ask questions, and test our academic and personal limits. We were granted the opportunity to develop lasting relationships with these professors, who cared deeply for us as both students and people. Personally, I am still in contact with the professors and students from this First-Year Cluster. FYC is an exceptional opportunity and I encourage everyone to take it. Here I found my major, my passion, and developed relationships with faculty and fellow students.”
Alma Mullalli, Political Science, Class of 2022
“I was a part of the Juvenile Justice in America FYC seminar. As a political science major, I wanted to explore what made the Juvenile Justice System so unique. Taking this FYC seminar was the best decision I made as a freshman. I was exposed not only to the content of the class itself, but also to the impact time management and different studying techniques would have on me as a student in the future. My professor made it easy for me and other freshmen to speak freely and interact with each other in this small environment. I will always look back and remember this amazing class.”
Jacqueline Kaider, Class of 2022
“My FYC seminars were the perfect way to transition from high school to college. It was a great comfort to know that everyone else in the class was also a first-year student and taking college courses for the first time right along with me. And the professors made sure to provide any necessary guidance.”
Esther Brantley, Film Studies and Philosophy double major, Class of 2023
“The First Year Seminar was a great choice. The small size really made it more comfortable to be able to express my thoughts and to analyze things with the people around me. And the seminar made me want to learn more about philosophy. I’m going to be double-majoring in Film Studies and Philosophy because of what I learned and want to continue learning.”
Senya Huda, Biology, Class of 2024
“As a commuting student, I worried about being able to make friends in my major as I wouldn't be residing on campus. However, being a part of the First Year Cluster helped me form bonds with the students in my class as we shared the same science classes. Additionally, as part of the First Year Cluster, we were able to go on a field trip to the Long Island Aquarium. This allowed for a hands-on learning experience and for the ability to know more about the professors. We even got a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium and to meet the penguins. I would highly recommend the First Year Cluster to any students looking to take their first year at Hofstra beyond just the classroom.”
Caroline Bowes, Sustainability Studies, Geography (GIS), and Global Studies; Minor in Civic Engagement, Class of 2020
“My FYC seminar was a fantastic way to start out my time at Hofstra. The passion and connection that was a common factor amongst all three classes made learning engaging and exciting. I enjoyed how my classmates were a resource for guidance and they became friends that I could count on. I feel excited to be graduating with a Sustainability Studies degree knowing that the FYC seminar solidified my love of the Earth and my love of looking at issues from different points of view.”
Ariana Teng, Major Undeclared, Class of 2023
“The First Year Seminar I took helped me ease into college, and helped me feel comfortable with complex topics. Having a small discussion-based class with other freshman was an amazing experience, and was less intimidating than my other classes. I would highly recommend taking a seminar on any of the topics that interest you. Also, the trips to NYC were some of the highlights of my first semester.”
Jacob Kurihara, BFA Dance candidate, Class of 2023
“Being a part of the freshmen Modern Dance cluster was a rewarding and welcoming experience. The first semester was extremely nerve racking, and the ability to be able to be surrounded by like minded peers was reassuring. The main benefit that I found after going through the cluster was the ability to really develop and solidify friendships with those with the same interests as myself. Coming to Hofstra from California, I was not only entering a brand new school, but I was also entering a brand new state and time zone. I was away from everything that I ever knew. This culture shock was a little overwhelming at first, but it was greatly assisted by being able to form a support system with those I spent time with during the first semester. Because I had the consistency of having classes with the same group of people, I was able to create a sense of familiarity, even in the new environment I was in.”