Suggestions for Selecting Courses

The suggestions on this page are meant to guide you as you complete the academic portion of the New Student Form, which is the first step in the registration process. You may also want to refer back to this page in preparation for entrance advising sessions, if necessary for you, which will take place in June and July. The Associate Dean of the College, the Registrar, and entrance advising faculty and staff will be registering students for classes before you arrive for Orientation. Students will not need to take any additional steps unless requested to by phone or St. Michael’s email. All students will be notified of their fall course schedule before you arrive on campus.

Here are some documents that may be helpful as you read below and complete your form:

First-Year Seminar Course Descriptions
First Steps in Your Major

Course Selection Overview

At Saint Michael’s, students typically take four four-credit courses each semester. We also offer a number of half-courses (two credits each). Full-time tuition allows students to take four or four and a half courses each semester, or a maximum of 18 credits. Students who take at least three full courses (12 credits) are considered full-time students. Students need 128 credits to graduate (which is the equivalent of four courses per semester for eight semesters).

If you have taken Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate program courses, you may also want to review our policy for rewarding credit for those courses, as detailed on this Registrar’s Office page. In almost all instances, students who receive AP credit for a course should not request to take that course at Saint Michael’s.

In their first semester, most students take four courses, though for many reasons students choose to take only three or three and a half. Please let you entrance advisor or the Registrar’s Office know if you wish to start with fewer than four courses.

A typical student schedule will include a mix of courses that fulfill major requirements (or potential major(s) if you are Exploratory), those that fulfill core curriculum requirements (more below), and other courses of interest. The best first-semester schedule for you will be one that introduces you to ideas and information that will create a foundation for future success, one that balances modes of academic inquiry (i.e., not all courses in the sciences or not all writing-intensive courses), and, most importantly, one that is interesting and engaging. Follow the guidelines below to work with us in crafting such a schedule for you.

Your Major

We begin first step in setting your schedule is choosing the major you plan to pursue at Saint Michael’s. You can review majors and their requirements on this page. If you’re still not sure about a major or want to spend some time as a college student before choosing, that’s great: about one-quarter of first-year students enter Saint Michael’s as Exploratory students. Exploratory students should look over majors they are considering, and enter some as options on the academic portion of the New Student Form. Those who have chosen a major on your New Student Form will be registered for appropriate courses to get your started; you can also indicate other areas you’re interested in on the Course Interest Form, too. (Note: with the exception of education students, a first-semester student can declare only one major. Students who earn a 3.0 GPA after their first semester (or later) may declare a double major.)

Some majors have very specific first steps, and others are more flexible. The Registrar and Associate Dean will make sure your first semester courses in your major start you off on the right foot.

First-Year Seminar, Core Curriculum Courses, and Other Electives

Depending on their major, some students will have the majority of their schedule taken up by major requirements, and others will have only one course in their major. Most new students will have a First-Year Seminar and one of the college’s foundation courses in either Philosophy or Religious Studies. Take a look at the descriptions of all this fall’s this fall’s First-Year Seminars and find out more about this important class (and our Common Text program) on this page of the SMC website. You should list your top five choices for First-Year Seminar on your New Student Form.

The College’s Core Curriculum (description linked here) requires all students to take one course in Philosophy and one course in Religious Studies within their first three semesters, if possible. Some students will be registered for one of those courses in their first semester in addition to their major courses and possibly First-Year Seminar, as availability allows. There are many other courses available which also advance your learning and fulfill Core requirements, and you will be registered for such courses to round out your schedule, allow you to explore areas you’re interested in, and to provide balance in the subjects and the styles of courses you’re taking.

Second Language Placement and Calculus Placement

Calculus Major Requirements and Placement Test

The Calculus Placement Test is an important part of the registration process for any student who wishes to take calculus at Saint Michael’s or for whom calculus is a major requirement. This includes anyone majoring in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Data Science, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics, Pre-Pharmacy, or StatisticsBusiness majors should also take the Calculus Placement Test if you have any calculus or pre-calculus experience. Exploratory majors with an interest in the natural and mathematical sciences also need to take the test. In addition, anyone preparing for medical, veterinary, dental, or pharmaceutical school should take the test. There are no negative results of taking the test.

To take the Calculus Placement Test, please go to this page and follow the detailed instructions for accessing and taking practice tests and the official placement test. You should allow at least one hour to take the exam, and you must complete the Calculus Placement test before registration begins in July. No student will be placed in MA-150: Calculus I, MA-130: Elements of Calculus, or CH-110: General Chemistry I until they have taken the placement test.

Second Language Requirement and Placement Tests


Saint Michael’s requires students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts to complete or place out of the equivalent of two semesters of college-level language learning. Students can meet the requirement in five ways:

  1. Pass the first-semester and second-semester level courses in any language offered at Saint Michael’s (101 and 102 in French or Spanish; 101 and 211 in Latin; 101 and 201 in Greek).
  2. Score a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement language exam (4 or higher in Latin).
  3. Achieve the following scores on an SAT Subject Test: Modern Hebrew – 510; Chinese – 590; Italian, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish – 600; French – 610.
  4. Complete two semesters of transferable college coursework in a language other than English.
  5. Test out of either one or both semesters of the requirement via the Saint Michael’s Placement Process (information below).



The placement process for Latin consists of an online test administered through Canvas, our learning management system. There is a Language Placement “course” in Canvas corresponding to the academic year in which a student first enrolls at Saint Michael’s.

French and Spanish:

The placement process for French and Spanish includes both an online grammar test and a separate written component that can be submitted online.


Please find the instructions for and access to the placement test on this page.

After taking the online test, preliminary placement for French or Spanish will be indicated based on your score.


Preliminary Placement

Written Component


FR/SP 101



FR/SP 101

Required to finalize placement


FR/SP 102

Required to finalize placement


FR/SP 203 (if desired)

Required to finalize placement

370 and above

FR/SP 206 (if desired)

Required to finalize placement


Students who score above 240 on the online test must also take the written portion of the placement test to confirm and finalize their placement. This consists of responding in writing to a broad, generic question that asks you to describe yourself and compare yourself to another person in order to demonstrate your range of vocabulary (attributes, preferences, family, activities, emotions, etc.) and which verb forms you can use. Students are allowed up to one hour for the written test.

  • If you are entering SMC in academic year 2020-2021, to complete the written test please see the instructions for the appropriate language in the Canvas course Language Placement 2020-2021.

Other Languages:

Mastery of other languages at the level equivalent to two college semester may also fulfill the language requirement for Bachelor of Arts students. Please find the instructions for and access to the placement tests for Chinese, Italian, and German on this page. Please contact Jane Viens ( in the Office of the Associate Dean of the College with any questions about other languages.