University of Notre Dame Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Carolina

Academics are challenging, but I believe Notre Dame prepares the student body to strive for the best from the first year.

Ann

The academics at Notre Dame are, overall, fantastic. It has a great reputation and phenomenal job placement. Interactions with professors can be varied. I’ve had a professor who invited the whole class over for dinner, and another who made kids cry for asking stupid questions during office hours. However, regardless of demeanor, all the professors and very knowledgeable and most have good teaching styles. As far as classes go, you will work a lot, though this work may manifest itself in different ways. Science/engineering students will have more homework, whereas Arts and Letters students will have more reading and studying. No matter what your major, you will put some serious time in at the library.

John

My econ professor complained about how only Neoclassical economists won the Nobel Prize. He spent fall break promoting his book in England. I love most of my professors, but some suck. I went to dinner at a professor's house, and I would love to hang out with them more if everyone wasn't so busy. Students try to do well, but would probably do anything to help another student out, which I hear is not true of other schools at our academic caliber. The first year of studies makes you take classes in a wide range of subjects, which some people don't like, but I really enjoyed. One of my sciences was astronomy. My history was on revolutions. My art was a film class, where we watched movies straight from the Oscar Best Movie nominees, like Slumdog Millionaire, Avatar, the Hurt Locker, and other obscure movies that blew my mind. You're probably afraid of our theology and philosophy requirements, but only the first one is standard (and ND theology is way better than theology in high school if you went to a Catholic school) and there are tons of interesting options for the second. There's definitely room to take random classes that interest you besides your major, and adding a second major or minor is probably more common than not. Classes are hard, but worth it. If you have a chance of getting into Notre Dame, you've worked hard before. If you're not trying your hardest, what are you doing with your life? We also have plenty of time to have fun, so don't think this is torture. Everyone loves life here, except for finals week. Haha.

Jill

Stduents study pretty damn hard in Notre Dame. The library is full almost all the time.

Amanda

The class are challenging but will be challenging and worth it. The class sizes are not terrible but it depends on what your major is and the type of class. The professors are very willing to help and enjoy talking to you.

Tristan

Academics across the board at Notre Dame are strong. While there are jokes around campus about certain majors being easier than others, pretty much every program is fairly rigorous and well respected. It does seem to be generally true that the engineers, science majors and architects spend the most time on homework and studying, but this is a generalization and has many exceptions. Classes tend to be fairly small, with the exception of the early prerequisites in the most popular majors (i.e., general chemistry or intro to international relations). It isn't very difficult to get to know your professors, and most are willing to meet with you at length to discuss both your coursework and the professor's own research and academic interests. The university requires freshmen to take some "seminar" classes that are strictly limited in size, which guarantees that you will get to know at least a few of your professors very well very early in your college career. While the coursework can be challenging, classmates are eager to work together and you would easily be able to find a study group for virtually any class, if you're so inclined. The course offerings are generally pretty good, although it varies some from major to major. Some are more flexible than others in terms of having fewer requirements and more opportunity for electives. From my own personal experience, the political science program offered a lot of opportunities to take classes that appealed to me personally, and the faculty went way out of their way to continue adding new classes that responded to changing current events (for example, I was on campus for 9/11/01. By the start of spring semester that year, the political science department was already offering a new mini-course on terrorism and the changing national security environment).

Nick

Academics here are obviously top-notch. Due to the highly selective nature of admissions, everyone here is something of an intellectual. It's nice to be able to have an intelligent, academic discussion with anyone on campus, though no one is overly-pretentious about it. I've had far more good professors than bad professors. Outside of some large pre-req classes, this isn't a college where you're getting four more years of high school classes. Probably around half of my classes have had 20 people or less, which is really nice. I'm a film major, and even though ND isn't really known for film, our department is awesome. We have some really great professors, lots of course options, and I know most of the majors in my class and the classes around me since it's not too big (nor too small). We have easy access to facilities and equipment that would be a pain to get in a larger film school since there would be so many students competing for the same stuff. We have class in an amazing new building, and everything is state of the art.

Kristin

Academics are hard but worth it.

Brian

Academics are great. I have been in one class over 100 people, and its Psychology 101. All of my other classes have had between 15 and 40 people, which I love. Most professors are really eager to get to know you, but you have to make the effort. I had a professor who came to lunch in the student dining hall once a week to have lunch with his students. Although not typical, this is also not uncommon by any means.

Nicholas

Notre Dame focus is on undergraduates. That means there is undergraduate research available everywhere for science majors. As a sophmore I didn't know what I wanted to do for the summer. I simply asked my favorite teacher if there was room for a chemical engineering undergrad in his research group. He simply said yes and that was it. It is so easy to get a research job here. All my friends who wanted to do research have a research position here. The rest of my engineering friends have internships as sophmores. Professor's here are great and helpful. All of my professors know my name and I routinely talk to them outside of class. I have never had a class taught by a TA or someone that doesn't have a Ph.D. In the college of engineering students are extremely intelligent. The nice thing is that we are not competitive with each other. We are encouraged by our teachers to do our homework in groups. I always do my homework sets in a group of at least 4 people. It typically takes 2 to 4 hours to solve 1 problem in chemical engineering and most problem sets have 4 to 5 problems. So doing the homework sets in groups to split of the workload is extremely helpful because it reduces the time taken on homework greatly.

Eileen

The academics at Notre Dame are very high quality. Professors are good and generally open to meeting with students who need help. People take studying seriously, but there is not too much of a competative atmosphere. The majors at ND tend to be very broad. Unlike a big state school there are not as many specific major options.

Matt

All my professors know me personally. Kids study anywhere from an av erage of 1 hour (business majors) a day to 14 hours a day (for the hard sciences, engineers and architects). Class participation is very common and students very often discuss intellectual topics at meals or in the dorms. Pre-med students are competitive, the rest of the students like to see classmates succeed and professors help foster this attitude. My most unique class was either Latin dance, fencing, or a class on J.R.R. Tolkein. Often professors invite students over for meals (especially thanksgiving and easter if the students have no where to go)

Lexie

Classes are very difficult-professors are top quality and offer challenging courses. Students like to engage in intellectual discussion at all times.

Joey

Academics are taken seriously at Notre Dame, but I have never felt overwhelmed by the expectations, even though I was a chemical engineering intent. Classes vary from large lectures to small seminars; more of the freshman classes are lectures, whereas upperclassmen get to take more smaller classes. In the lectures, professors usually don't know who you are, but they are still accessible if you want to talk to them. Professors in small classes are very friendly and you can get to know them pretty well. My favorite class so far has been my University Seminar, a class freshmen are required to take. The classes are a variety of subjects, but they are all small, discussion-based classes with significant reading and writing portions. Mine was called "The Self and Society in American Poetry." Some of the discussions blew me away. We also got to write our own poetry and everyone shared their poetry with the class in some of the coolest moments of the semester. The professor also had our whole class (about 15 students) over to his house for dinner one night. This class was one of the reasons I decided to switch into the Program of Liberal Studies, a Great Books major in which all the classes are in the seminar format. I realized that I thrive off discussion of big ideas with other people, as opposed to just sitting in a chair and having a professor talk at me for the next 50 minutes. The Program of Liberal Studies is a unique opportunity at Notre Dame; it is a cross-disciplinary major in which students read the "Great Books" and various other primary texts, discussing everything from philosophy to political science to literature to psychology in the classes. This is one of the majors that is geared more towards learning for its own sake, along with most of the other Arts and Letters majors. The engineering, business, and pre-professional tracks are more geared towards just getting a job after graduation.

Amy

I love studying at Notre Dame. The classes are challenging, but in a good way. If you don't like to work or don't like to learn, you really don't belong here. Students study a lot, but there is still plenty of time for extra curricular activities and relaxing with friends, especially on the weekends. Professors do learn your name, and class participation is almost always required. Most of my classes are small, which I love, but you do have to attend class, do the assignments, and be ready to answer questions/discuss the readings/voice your opinion. The intellectual conversations often carrry on outside of the classroom too, either with your peers or with your professors. Most of the professors I have had are very open and love talking to students outside of class.

Nicole

There are a lot of small, individualized classes which is great for learning. I would say most professors learn all the students' names unless the class is a very large lecture (which aren't too common to begin with, which is great) There is a lot of academic competition but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It can help people grow and not just be content in their comfort zone.

Jules

my professors do know my name and i have not had any really huge classes. my favorite classes are my architecture classes because they are very interesting to me. my least favorite was my first math class that was hard and very impersonal. there are tons of intellectual conversations outside of class and it is clear that everyone her cares about their grades and works hard at school. I don't think that many people are competitive, and many people like to talk and contribute. i have never felt threatened in either of these respects. My major is AWESOME. the architecture program is so unique in that everyone travels to rome junior year to learn.

Steph

Intimate classes, no matter how large teachers tend to know everybody. Most classes are challenging, they require a lot of work but teachers reward you adequately. I always feel like the work is worth it. I'm in the business school which was recently ranked #3 undergrad business program in the nation, which is awesome.

Amanda

Obviously, we are held to really high standards.

Pat

Not many of my profs know my name, but that's because I'm still in large base courses that everyone takes (ie Bio, Orgo, etc.). Class participation is very common. The most unique class I've ever taken was my first semester freshman year, called "Love in Traditional Chinese Culture."

Meg

The academics at Notre Dame are very tough, especially in the engineering and science fields. Class sizes range from large lecture halls where class partisipation is difficult to small seminar style classes of 12 people. Each freshman is required to take a writing seminar and a university seminar which give 1st year students the ability to have small classes in the introductory level. I think the Notre Dame education will be very helpful once I graduate and search for jobs because employers respect the academic rigor or Notre Dame.

Madison

As an Arts and Letters major, I have pretty good interaction with my professors and am able to take advantage of many of the learning beyond the classroom opportunities my two fields of History and Film offer.

Celia

i have both large lectures and smaller classes. the majority of my professors know me by name. my favorite class was a lit seminar by father malloy, president emeratus of nd. it was an awesome class, and he was a fantastic professor. my least favorite class is calc, becuase i dont like math and my professor is dry and not the best. students study alot. sundays and during the week, especially before tests. students are not too competetive academically. we like seeing each other suceed as well. the most unique class was my community based first year comp, based in service learning. i dont spend alot of time with professors outside of class, except office hours during studying before tests and exams. nd's academic requirements are good, well rounded. except i dont think science majors should have a foreign language requirement

Katie

a lot of the profs do know my name. they're all really intelligent and friendly. students aren't very competitive. they want to help each other.

Elise

The academic experience at Notre Dame depends heavily on your choice of major. Generally, legitimate science majors (i.e. not Pre-professional majors), architectural majors, and engineering majors have the toughest courses of study in terms of sheer time commitment. As a science and art double major, I get to see both ends of the spectrum - if you can finish a project on time in an art class, you are guaranteed an A, which is nice because Biology takes up the brunt of my study time. On the other hand, I've never had an art class with more than 20 students whereas all of my non-laboratory science classes have been large lectures. This doesn't deter the professors from making a very sincere effort to get to know all of the students. Particularly in large lecture classes, going to visit a professor during office hours can lead to fascinating side discussions that make the visit well worth your time. Notre Dame likes to tout the fact that they are a liberal arts college, but I often feel that the credit requirements limit you to focusing on what you need in order to get a job later. The Career Center on campus is fantastic as far as helping you to prepare for interviews and job/graduate school applications.

Mary

All classes are taught by professors--it's really fantastic! Most of them have a desire to know their students, though some are better at remembering names than others. Most of them love teaching and will join their students for lunch at the dining hall or even invite students to their houses for dinner.

Kelly

Classes at Notre Dame hold students to a high level of expectations, and students spend a good portion of their time studying, although many students find that they are also able to balance other activities well with the amount of classwork. The vast majority of Notre Dame's professors care deeply about their students and the learning process, even if it is a professor of a large lecture. The business school is currently ranked #3 of undergraduate business schools in the country, and prepares its student well for future careers.

Pat

Students are competitve but that's true everywhere. The classes are great and the professors really care about how you do in and out of the class. The requirements are all pretty good except the required theology and philosophy (both seem pretty useless with theology being worse than philo).

Brian

Challenging, especially as an engineer. I work my ass off. Not too competitive, at least not in any cutththroat sort of way.

Brennan

In engineering, I only knew a couple of professors. In PLS, I know them all. My favorite class is Great Books Seminar. My major, PLS, is very participatory.

Tom

Academics at ND are very involved and all the professors know how to teach to the student body. Overall, academics play a very large role at ND both inside and outside the classroom. Kids are genuinely interested in learning.

Allison

My professors are AMAZING. Hands down, the most intelligent people I have ever met and ever hope to meet.

Harper

Classes range in difficulty. Like any college you can find your "easy" classes, but if you want to be challenged intellectually Notre Dame can support that easily. Every student is required to take a freshmen year seminar. In these classes you get to know a small group of people very well, and get a break from the giant freshmen lacture classes. As you become an upperclassmen, classes get smaller and you get more individual attention. As a business student, I have found that the average ND student is more competitive with themselves than with others. There is a lot of teamwork in in the business and engineering schools. You are pushed academically, but in comparison to other schools, the competition is not cut throat. There is the occasional letdown with some intro classes. But at the same time, you do find a few gems. My theology seminar has so far been one of my favorite classes at ND. Also, as an ND student, you can take classes at Saint Mary's. However, it is a bit difficult to get the right credits for them.

Elizabeth

I had a terrific Intro to Finance class during the spring semester of my sophomore year - my teacher was Carl Ackermann, and he had memorized facts about everyone of his 400 students (whom, after a week of class, he had memorized each and every one of our names). His class was interesting, and you could tell he was putting in 200 percent everyday that he taught. Fantastic memory.

Casey

Yes, most of the professors know your name. It depends though, in the larger lecture classes they might not. Although I have had professors in huge lecture classes that made it a point to still know every student´s name. My favorite class was probably Survey of Spanish American Literature II. It was with the best professor ever, and it really made me love Spanish American literature and it made me want to study and learn as opposed to it being something I simply had to do. Students study fairly often, but it depends on the student. We study hard, but we play hard too, and I make sure to have fun and not study all the time, but I still get my work done. Class participation is fairly common, although it depends on the structure of the class. Some classes are formulated to emphasize and require class participation. Yes, students do have intellectual conversations outside of class. It´s really common to hear people in the dining hall debating politics or Dante or religion or discussing anthropology or explaining some theory or another. I have intellectual conversations with my friends every day, and it´s something that I love about Notre Dame, that the students engage in these kinds of conversations outside of class. I love the academics at Notre Dame; I love being challenged intellectually. I love the faculty and I love my classes.

Quinn

challenging but extremely high quality and rewarding

Alex

relationships with professors are entirely possible, you just need to initiate the contact. You freshman year, you're always in at least one or two small classes. Class participation is usually common in the Arts and Letters track, but the bigger biology classes are lectures with small tutorials.Students intellectually discuss things outside of class, but they're not very competitive. I once took an African Francophone class which I thought I'd hate, but actually loved!

Erin

I feel that academics at Notre Dame are very well set up. Freshman cannot declare a major- instead they enter the College of First Year of Studies. There are a lot of general requirements- math, science, history, literature, theology, philosophy..., so there are normally larger classes and the professor is not quite as familar with all the students, however, in smaller classes, the professor does know students by name. Obviously, being a strong academic school, a lot of outside class time is required.

Ryan

most professors don't know names, but a good number do. students study often, but there are also some who dont study at all. class participation is generally high as a result of the academic nature of the student body. the academic requirements are rigorous but not so much so that there isnt room for electives. sometimes i think that education at notre dame (for some students and professors) is more about getting a job than learning, even though the university posits itself as a liberal arts school.

Harper

F**** HARD, INCREDIBLE, PASSIONATE, STIMULATING, AMAZING

Kaitlyn

At Notre Dame, students are known by name rather than number. Introductory classes that are held in lecture halls incorporate small tutorial sessions into their curricula. Professors open their doors to students on a regular basis, whether it be to discuss an assignment, a career opportunity, or personal issues. Overall, the education that a student receives at Notre Dame occurs both within and beyond the classroom.

kelly

professors are generally pretty fair and definately very intelligent..unless its a large class and even sometimes in a large class professors will try to learn names of their students

Greg

The classes are very demanding, and taking 5 classes at one time can be extremely demanding. I often am very stressed to get all my work done, but the classes are very rewarding and I've grown immensely intellectually. The students are smart, but it's not a cuthroat atmosphere in terms of competition. In general, I've been a little dissapointed in how available the professors have been outside of class.

Andy

Love my classes for the most part. My anthro class is fabulous - Professor McKenna is a genius. Everyone here is really smart. My major, architecture, is hell! I have so little time to do anything. I wish i could bemore involved on campus, but i have virtually no free time.

Harper

I have been pleased with my professors so far, and I like feeling challenged to think about things in different ways. I like the learning and research atmosphere on a college campus. Everyone seems to have some area where their passion shows through. I'm looking forward to taking business classes to see if my passion comes through in them.

Liz

It seems the professors here are either fantastic or exceedingly lame. There really is no mediocre. The grad students as a whole a little hard to take sometimes. They either can barely even speak English or are on the biggest power trips of their lives. But when a professor is good, they are amazing. They will help you out in anything that you need, even if it has absolutely nothing at all to do with the class. They love to talk, but in a good way, and will give you advice whenever you need it, and sometimes even when you don't realize you even need it.

Jill

One of my favorite classes I've taken at Notre Dame was a Business Law Class, with Margot O'Brien. I'm an English and Spanish major, so Business Law was a class that I just elected to take and I'm so glad I did. I didn't know much about the class or anything about the professor, but I wanted to take a class through the Business School...I'm also thinking about attending Law School, so I figured this class would be perfect--and it was. The actual business majors in the class weren't too thrilled with our teacher and thought she was too demanding for a class that didn't necessarily help them in their future profession...but I thought she was INCREDIBLE! She knew the law inside and out. She would hand out notes for every chapter and she'd basically be able to recite EVERY detail on those sheets without having to look at them herself. I was blown away by how incredible she was as a teacher, but also how kind and funny and helpful she was outside of class. She really cared about her students and wanted us to do well. Business Law is a class I know I will never forget.

Kris

Its a bunch of smart people working together. Some majors (pre professional and others) are very competitive, but most of them are very supportive. alot of classes involve discussion, and more than 3/4 of my teachers know my name. academics go well beyond the classroom... meals, parties, or just chilling out are all valid places for intellectual discussion.

Emily

Notre Dame strives to be a research based university. For the most part, it seems to be true. The sciences are continually rising to the top as well as the college of engineering. The business school is one of the best you can find in this nation and the connections this campus can give students is often more valuable then the degree they receive. The professors really do care about the students and most are readily available. Notre Dame wants each of its students to suceed and the support system through professors and advisors is excellent. The students strive to suceed both in and out of the classroom and try to relate their talents and knowledge from class to all aspects of their lives.

David

Classes and Prof's are great - but extremely challenging!

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