First Year FAQs

Anth Professor

I have been assigned 3 academic advisors. Who are they?

They are: a Faculty/Staff Advisor, an Academic Advisor and a Roosevelt Fellow.  Your Faculty/Staff Advisor was assigned to you based on the information you gave us online about your academic interests.  This person is often a great introduction to a particular department or area of the university.  Your Academic Advisor was assigned to you during the summer and will stay with you during your time at Brandeis.  This advisor is a part of the Office of Academic Services and can help you with any general questions about your academic schedule, plans for a major, etc.  The Roosevelt Fellows are trained peer mentors who assist first year students with academic and personal acclimation to Brandeis.

I have heard about placement tests for math and chemistry.  Do I need to take these classes?

There is no specific math requirement at Brandeis.  Students are required to take a course in the school of science, but there are wealth of classes available for non-science majors to choose from.  Placement exams for chemistry, math and foreign languages are simply a tool we offer students, interested in those subjects, to help them find the class that is right for them.  These and other placement tests are available online at

When do I need to take UWS? What if I am a midyear?

You need to complete your UWS within the first two semesters. You may take UWS in your first or second semester.  If you enter Brandeis in the spring, you have until the following fall to complete the requirement. Note: Some midyear students may use the fall semester to complete their UWS requirement.

What is a normal course-load?  How do I know what classes to take?

A normal course load consists of 16 credits (4 classes). For students taking a course with a corresponding lab, we recommend you carry an 18 credit load (4.5 classes).  We encourage you to explore new areas, as well as take classes in a subject you already like. Don’t worry too much about the university requirements - there is plenty of time to take care of these!

I am a midyear, who can I talk with about what I am going to do in the fall?

Many midyear students have questions about their plans for fall semester before they come to Brandeis.  We are available to work with you and your family to help go through options such as; taking classes at a local school, studying abroad, working and volunteering.  Please feel free to contact the Office of Academic Services at 781-736-3470 to set up an appointment with your Academic Advisor to begin to find the the right path for you.

I took AP Classes at my high school. How do I get credit for these?  Does my AP credit allow me to skip a class?

The amount of credit you can receive and the courses that you can substitute depend on the AP Exam you took and the score on your exam. You should note that you can only claim 4 AP classes for numerical credit, but you can use others, if you have them, for what we call purpose credit if you like.  For instance, if you claim AP psychology for purpose credit, you would have completed your school of social science requirement and you would also have taken the equivalent of Psych 1a at Brandeis, our intro to psych class. If you wanted to go directly into, for example, developmental psychology in the fall, that would be okay, since it has psych 1a as the sole pre-requisite.  The University Bulletin contains a more complete description of how AP credit works and how to claim it.

How many semesters of foreign language do I require?  I have taken a foreign language in high school and feel that I can take higher than a 10-level. What should I do?

Brandeis requires you to take up to the 30-level (or third semester level) of any foreign language. However, if you have already taken the language in school, you may place out of one or both of the first levels. Keep in mind, however, that some students will need to take more than 3 semesters of a language to meet their goals, depending on their major and their study abroad plans.  The IGS Major requires at least four semesters of a foreign language.  You may also need more advanced coursework in a foreign language, depending on the requirements of your particular study abroad program. 

I know that I want to Study Abroad later on, what should I do know to make sure that I get to go away?

It is a great idea to begin preparing to study abroad early.  Some study abroad programs require advanced foreign language skills which you might need to begin in your first year, in order to be ready to go away as a junior or senior.  In addition, depending on your area of study, it may be necessary to plan the courses you take at Brandeis carefully, to ensure that you can be away from campus for a semester or a year and still complete your major(s) and minor(s). 
More Information About Study Abroad

I need a Dean's Certificate or an Advisor's Recommendation for another program.  How do I get one?

You should meet with your Academic Advisor and complete the form to request a Dean's Certification.
Dean's Certification Request Form 

I plan on pursuing the Pre-Health Track at Brandeis. What courses should I take during my first semester?

Besides taking UWS and other classes that interest you, many students choose to take General Chemistry (Chem 11a) and the corresponding lab (Chem 18a) or Honors General Chemistry (Chem 15a) and the corresponding lab (Chem 19a). Several prehealth students also opt to take Calculus (Math 10a) or another math class. There is no one formula for being pre-health, however.  The important thing is to find the right path for you. 
More Information on the Pre-Health Track 

Is it better to get a 'W' notation or keep the class, but not receive a good grade?

The 'W' notation is simply a notation that signifies that you took a class and decided to withdraw from it for whatever reason.  One or two 'W' notations during your career is nothing to be concerned about.  A "W" will not prevent you from getting into graduate school or make you less qualified for a job.  In fact, a 'W' notation is not calculated into your permanent GPA, so sometimes it is a good idea to withdraw from a class that you are struggling in (after you have exhausted available sources of support) or if you feel that a class is preventing you from focusing on your other work.  If you are proactive when choosing your classes during the add/drop period, realistic about the topic and the amount of work involved, and if you familiarize yourself with the deadlines on the academic calendar, then you have the best chance to be ready to withdraw from the class before the last day to drop without a "W" notation, should you need to do so.