Frequently Asked Questions
Majors and Minors
The recommended first-semester courseload for an incoming student is four 4-credit classes, or four 4-credit classes and one 2-credit lab.
Students must take a minimum of 28 credits per academic year. However, the average courseload for a year is 32 credits. To reach the minimum number of credits, students typically take one semester of four 4-credit classes and one semester of three 4-credit classes. It is also possible to reach the minimum of 28 credits through other configurations of credits (for instance taking a 2-credit lab sequence over the course of the year).
The maximum number of credits students can attempt is 44 credits in an academic year (22 credits per semester). Once students have reached sophomore year, they can petition to take up to 24 credits per semester for an additional tuition fee.
New first-year and transfer students are invited to register for Fall 2021 courses July 12, 10:00am EDT - July 16, 11:59pm. Open enrollment for all students will begin on Monday, July 19. More information about registration can be found on the Registrar's website.
A “pre-requisite” means that a student must have completed one or more courses prior to registering for the course in question. Pre-requisite coursework is required when students would need the knowledge or skills from previous coursework in order to be successful in the current course. Pre-requisites are typically listed in the course description (click on the blue course number link).
Generally, courses that are numbered 1-99 are primarily for undergraduate students, while courses between 100-199 are for both undergraduate and graduate students. While it is recommended that first-years take courses numbered between 1-99, each department is structured differently, and in some departments 100-level courses are appropriate for first-years to take. For example, while 100-level Biology courses are not recommended for first-years and typically require prerequisites, most American Studies 100-level courses do not have prerequisites. It is best to look at the course description and course prerequisites to determine if the course is suitable for you.
Students will register for fall 2021 courses using Workday Student. To get familiar with this system, visit the Workday Student pages where you will find videos and instructions on how to navigate the system.
The only mandatory courses for all Brandeis undergraduates are the University Writing Seminar (UWS), which must be completed in a student’s first year at Brandeis, and HWL 1 Navigating Health and Safety. There are other general university requirements which a student must complete prior to graduation, but each of these requirements can be fulfilled by a wide variety of classes.
All students are required to take courses of their choosing from a variety of academic disciplines as part of their Brandeis education. These requirements are intended to improve students' abilities to integrate knowledge from different fields; to provide opportunities for the acquisition and development of writing, oral communication, digital literacy, analytical, linguistic and quantitative skills; and to facilitate flexibility in the scheduling of degree requirements throughout the undergraduate career. Detailed information on general university requirements can be found in the University Bulletin.
In your Workday account you will be able to see your degree progress including completion of Brandeis Core requirments and major/s and/or minor/s. Use the job aid to review "view my academic record."
In the undergraduate curriculum, it is intended that courses will serve multiple purposes in a student's program. Specifically, students will satisfy some general education requirements (writing intensive, oral communication and digital literacy) in the context of completing a major.
Between and among general education requirements, the limitations on double-counting are as follows:
The three-course foreign language sequence may not be applied toward the school of thought distribution in the humanities.
No single course in a student's program may satisfy both the quantitative reasoning requirement and the science component of the schools of thought distribution requirement.
No course numbered in the 90s may apply toward general education requirements, except Senior Essay or Senior Thesis courses as approved by the major and the appropriate general education oversight committee for writing intensive, oral communication or digital literacy.
Finally, a single course may be used toward the school of thought distribution in only one school.
Health, Wellness and Life Skills is an undergraduate degree requirement at Brandeis. This requirement is satisfied by successful completion of three non-credit, six-week module courses. All first-year students will automatically be enrolled in the core Navigating Health and Safety module in their first semester at Brandeis, and students will then choose one module from Mind and Body Balance and one other module from any of the three groups.
Participation on a varsity athletics team (certified through the athletics department) will allow the student to satisfy one Mind and Body Balance module towards the requirement
The foreign language requirement is met by successful completion of a third semester course (normally numbered in the 30s) in the introductory language sequence. No more than one course (and never the final one) in the sequence may be taken on the pass/fail grading option. Individual placement decisions vary depending on the quality of high school training, the level of performance and how recently the language was studied. Students are urged to begin fulfilling the foreign language requirement as soon as they matriculate and to complete the required sequence without interruption.
For information on selecting the appropriate language level or to see if you may be exempt from all or part of the requirement, visit the placement testing page.
To complete your Brandeis degree, you’ll be required to complete a major. Your major will allow you take courses in an academic area of interest, help you to gain knowledge around the discipline, and develop skills that you may then apply towards internships and post-Brandeis plans. Brandeis students may choose from a variety of majors and minors offered in four broad areas: the creative arts, the humanities, the sciences and the social sciences. A number of these programs are interdisciplinary by design and draw faculty from several different departments.
Brandeis also offers students the opportunity to create their own Independent Interdisciplinary Major and pursue a focused program of study tailored to their individual interests. Other special academic opportunities include our dual bachelor's/master's programs and our 5-year BA/MA programs offered through the Brandeis International Business School.
A minor allows for concentrated study in a field, but it requires fewer courses to complete than a major (typically 5-6 courses).
To read more about a particular major or minor’s requirements, consult the online University Bulletin and/or a department’s website.
All students have until the end of sophomore year to declare a major, allowing you to use your first few semesters to explore long-standing interests and discover new intellectual passions before deciding on a course of study. Room for exploration is built into the Brandeis degree requirements, and many students change their intended major during the first couple of semesters. Use this opportunity to get to know faculty, talk to peers and advisors, and choose a variety of classes. However, if you already have a major in mind, you may want to plan for this in your first semester by making an appointment with your program’s Undergraduate Advising Head.
Many students have a single major, and then they take courses of interest across the curriculum. While students have the option of declaring more than one major or minor, Brandeis only requires one major for graduation. Most majors require between nine and eleven classes to complete, though majors in the sciences tend to require more classes because of the co-requisite lab work. Most minors require five or six classes to complete. Students may pursue up to a triple-major and/or triple-minor.
There does not necessarily have to be a direct, linear relationship between your major and your post-Brandeis plans. You can learn what skills and knowledge are developed in each major, and how Brandeis alumni have gone on to apply those skills through the Hiatt Career Center.
If you are encountering difficulty with course material, we encourage you to feel comfortable speaking up sooner rather than later to access resources, ask questions and gain support from a number of folks on campus.
First, BUGS (Brandeis Undergraduate Group Study) offers tutoring and group study for over 70 courses in a given semester. Sessions are led by a trained, upper-class student who has previously taken the course. The BUGS schedule will be released at the beginning of the semester.
Professors and teaching assistants will be available to talk with students in their office hours; more details can be found in your course syllabi.
The Writing Center offers free writing tutorial services, in addition to helping you brainstorm and focus topics, build stronger argument skills, use MLA citations correctly and develop better drafting and editing strategies. You can schedule an appointment with a consultant.
Students can schedule an appointment with their academic advisor online or by calling 781-736-3470.
Same-day appointments are available afternoons Mondays to Fridays during the academic year.
If you have taken Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or A-Level exams, you may be eligible for some college credit at Brandeis. Read more about AP, IB, and A-Level policies and view their respective charts for qualifying scores. If you intend to use your exam scores for placement or credit, you must have the College Board report your scores to Brandeis — our school code number is 3092.
You can use them for placement before claiming your scores. For example, if you took the AP Psychology exam and scored a 4 or 5, you earned the equivalent to Psychology 10a at Brandeis. Therefore, you are welcome select a Psychology course that requires Psychology 10a as a pre-requisite course.
In some cases, students will choose to forgo AP/IB/A-Level credit in order to get a solid foundation in a subject before moving on to more advanced study. Please note that you cannot get course credit from an AP/IB/A-Level exam and from the equivalent Brandeis class.
You can officially apply your AP/IB/A-Level credit to your Brandeis record any time by contacting the Registrar’s Office at email@example.com. Qualifying AP/IB/A-Level exam scores can fulfill certain university requirements, count toward a major and/or be used as an exemption from an equivalent course. With certain restrictions, they can also be used toward the 128 credits required for your degree.
College courses taken while in high school or during a gap year can be transferred for purpose credit only (not numeric credit) when sufficient criteria are met.
Numeric credit is credit that goes towards the 32 courses/128 credits that students need for the residency requirement and ultimately to graduate.
Purpose credit is credit that cannot go towards the residency requirement (i.e., towards the 32 courses/128 credits needed to graduate), but if pre-approved can be used to fulfill a general university requirement (i.e., School of Science, Quantitative Reasoning, etc…) or to fulfill a major/minor requirement.
The Registrar's website has information about criteria for college work done while in high school.
To pursue a career in the health professions, you can major in any subject. In addition to courses for your major of choice, you will need to build a solid base in the sciences. This will include 2-4 semesters of chemistry, 2-4 semesters of biology, 1-2 semesters of math, 2 semesters of physics, plus labs as well as other required courses that will vary by health profession. Many students choose to take either general chemistry with lab or biology 14 or 15 in their first semester. As your Academic Services advisor, I can help you plan a schedule of classes in preparation for health fields.
Brandeis also offers Health Professions Advising within the Office of Academic Services. This is open to any student considering a career in the health and healthcare fields. The Pre-Health advising team will offer a presentation during New Student Orientation where you can sign up for the pre-health email listserv, meet upper-class pre-health students, and learn more about information sessions geared specifically for first-year students throughout the year.