Advising & Course Registration

Students engaged in an animated discussion in a Media Arts & Culture class

Start preparing for your academic journey at Oxy!

New students are able to take up to 18 units during their first semester at Occidental. Most courses earn 4 units and most students take four courses for a total of 16 units. There are also some 1- and 2- unit courses that you can add to your schedule, but as long as you average 16 units each semester you’ll be on track to complete the 128 units you need to graduate.

The registration process for first-year students begins in June with online registration for your First Year Seminar (FYS). Transfer and exchange students are exempt from the FYS requirement.

Registration for all of your other courses will take place during Orientation. Please note, Occidental does allow students to register early in some select courses after taking a placement exam or submitting a qualifying standardized test course. Check out the Placement Exam section below for more details.

Here is an overview of what to expect over the coming months as you start your academic journey at Oxy:  

Registering for your First Year Seminar (FYS)

All first-year students take two FYS courses: One in the fall semester and another in the spring semester of your first year. These are graduation requirements and cannot be waived or deferred. (Note: Transfer and exchange students are exempted from the FYS requirement.) 

While all of the First Year Seminars have the common goal of developing students’ writing skills and encouraging critical analysis, they focus on a broad range of topics.

Registration for First Year Seminars will open at 9 a.m. PDT on Monday, June 20 and close at noon PDT on Friday, June 24. Many seminars will fill very quickly, so for the best selection you should register online as soon as possible once the registration system opens. You can find step-by-step directions for registering on the FYS Registration webpage.

Special Programs for First Year Students

In addition to the standard 4-unit FYS courses, we are offering two special programs in fall 2022 that offer an opportunity to explore a topic in greater depth in a pedagogically innovative and immersive setting. The first of these programs is the California Immigration Semester (CIS), a 16-unit program that will allow students to spend their first Oxy semester studying immigration and immigrant communities in an integrated set of courses, which are designed and implemented collaboratively by three professors from three different departments, satisfying three Core Program requirements (Global Connections, United States Diversity, and Regional Focus). 

The second special program, which also satisfies three graduation requirements, is the Envisioning and Enacting Health Justice immersive course. This 8-unit course will help students conceptualize what justice looks like within the realm of health and medicine, and it will also give students the opportunity to begin enacting that vision. The course is open to all students—those planning to pursue health professions and anyone interested in the centrality of health to a just society.

For more information about how to sign up for either of these exciting programs, please see their web pages linked above!

Additionally, you can watch the recording of the online information session that was led by Oxy professors Dr. Richard Mora and Dr. Clair Morrissey on June 7, here:
Occidental Special Programs: California Immigration Semester and Envisioning and Enacting Health Justice immersive course


Placement Exams & Summer Limited Registration

Some courses require you to take a placement exam prior to registration. Most of these placement exams are available online and should be taken during the summer prior to your arrival on campus. Online placement exams are available in the following subjects starting on June 1, 2022 and should be completed prior to August 11, 2022:

  • Chemistry (online)
  • Calculus (online)
  • Languages:
    • Chinese (in-person during Orientation)
    • French (online)
    • German (online)
    • Japanese (in-person during Orientation)
    • Russian (in-person during Orientation)
    • Spanish (online)
  • Music Theory (online)

We strongly encourage students to take online placement exams early in the summer. This is particularly important for the Calculus exam, which includes online study modules and the option to retake the exam multiple times in order to improve your placement.

Take an online placement exam or find more information

Should I take a placement exam?

In general, you should take a placement exam in a given subject if you are planning to take a course in that area at any point in the future. There are, however, some exceptions:

  • Students who have not previously studied a language should not take a placement exam. Instead, they should enroll in the 101-level course in that language during registration. 
  • Students who took an AP or SAT II exam in a subject may be able to use their standardized test score in lieu of taking Oxy’s placement exam. See the Placement Exams page for more information.

Can I register for a course early after taking a placement exam or submitting AP/SAT II scores?

In some cases, your placement results or standardized test scores will allow you to register early for the course(s) in which you’ve been placed. Some courses may fill up quickly during Orientation, so registering over the summer may be beneficial. Please note that you will have the option to change your course schedule (i.e. add/drop courses) during Orientation, so there’s no risk involved in registering for a placement course during the summer.  

Please contact the Advising Center for more details.

Academic Advising

Each new student will be assigned a faculty adviser who will help guide them through the College’s academic program. You will first meet with your faculty adviser during Orientation, when they will assist you in selecting your remaining courses for the fall semester. In order to help your adviser get to know you, please be sure to fill out the online Advising Information Form by July 1.  

In addition to your assigned faculty adviser, the Advising Center provides additional support for students with questions related to the curriculum and other academic issues. The Advising Center staff is available to answer questions over the summer and can be consulted in person, by phone or by email. Learn more about Oxy's Advising Center.