First Steps

Students walking on steps at Wells Library

Step 3: Choose Courses

You have hundreds of courses available to you and flexibility in your choices.  Making thoughtful choices about your courses is one of the most important steps you can take as you develop an academic and career plan.  Use this opportunity to sample the unknown, to learn about a subject that is unfamiliar, to open yourself to new ways of thinking and to new ideas.  Be intentional!  You can find courses that are both engaging and that offer you valuable life skills. 

What courses fulfill General Education requirements?

At Indiana University Bloomington (IUB), you are expected to fulfill a set of essential, skill-building requirements that are the same for all students, regardless of major. This group of courses is referred to as the IUB General Education Curriculum (or “IUB GenEd,” for short) and, if chosen thoughtfully, will assist you with exploring majors and careers that interest you. Many of the “Recommended First Courses” chosen by departments also fulfill IUB GenEd requirements (review the lists of majors in Step #2: Explore Majors, Minors & Certificates).

IU Bloomington General Education Requirements

The following requirements apply to every undergraduate student who matriculated to the IUB campus (began studies on our campus) in the summer of 2011 or later:

Should I take courses for my major in my first semester?

In Step 2, you explored majors and looked more closely at those in which you may be interested.  Every major recommends courses that are not only appropriate for your first semester at IUB but also assist you with making degree progress.  Whether you take a major course in your first semester depends on your level of interest in that major and your academic and career goals.

To view four-year plans for the majors you’re interested in, visit the Degree Maps section of the Interactive Graduation Planning System (iGPS).  If you are exploratory, there are several Exploratory Degree Maps for you to use. 

Where can I learn more about courses that sound promising to me?

Read course descriptions!  There are many places to find course descriptions.

Click on a course on the GenEd-Approved Courses list to read a brief course description.

Find more extensive course descriptions in the iGPS Course Search.

Additional course descriptions are often found on department websites. You can find links to academic departments for each major in Step #2: Explore Majors, Minors & Certificates.

When you find a course that you think you would like to take this fall, you can add it to your iGPS Plan where it will be saved.  During orientation, you and your advisor will be able to view your iGPS Plan and have a discussion about the courses that interest you for fall.

The iGPS Plan is a good place to note whether you require accommodations.  Your advisor will use this information when making course recommendations. You should also contact the IU Office of Disability Services for Students (DSS) and request your accommodations as soon as possible. To request accommodations, visit, e-mail or call (812) 855-7578 during office hours.  

What if I already have college credits?

It's important that you inform your orientation advisor of any courses you've taken that might count (or transfer) as college credit.  Gather information about all college courses and tests you have taken and bring your documents with you.  Your advisor will help you understand how this credit may fulfill degree requirements.

If you are a transfer student, click here for important information.

Will I get credit for AP, IB, or SAT II test scores?

Check the AP and IB charts to see if the scores you have received on AP, IB (HL), or SAT II Subject tests are high enough to earn course credit (and credit hours) at IUB. The following points will help you understand what test credit means as you choose your first college courses:

  • If you have earned specific course credit and credit hours through any of these tests, then you have completed a course that will count toward degree requirements.
  • Not all exams are accepted, and in some cases, you will see the designation “-UN.” This means that the credit earned is “Undistributed,” and so it does not have a specific course equivalent at IUB.  The credit hours earned for these undistributed courses, however, will usually apply toward graduation hours.
  • Some programs (such as medical schools) may not accept SAT II/IB/AP test credit to fulfill admission prerequisites, even if you receive credit from IUB.
  • Course credit earned through such tests may not be the strongest preparation for the courses that come next toward your major or a professional program.

What can I do to be sure I am prepared for Orientation?

Prepare for your orientation advising appointment by adding courses, questions, and experiences you would like to explore to your iGPS Plan.  To view information on how to add courses and other information to your iGPS Plan, view "How to use degree maps to put classes in your iGPS Plan."

If you are a Transfer Student or a New International Student, please follow the appropriate link to important additional information about your orientation.