International Studies & Programs

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First-year Seminars Abroad (FSA) are designed to provide you with an introductory first-year experience that combines the academic engagement characteristic of first-year seminars and the cultural and experiential learning characteristic of education abroad.

These seminars are specifically designed to advance your understanding of the world in support of MSU’s undergraduate learning goals and the following course-specific goals:

  • introduce students to scholarly and academic life at MSU;
  • expose students to education abroad, global and cultural learning, and a content area;
  • help students develop a meaningful relationship with peers, faculty, and staff to support their personal and academic success; and
  • help students gain confidence and skills related to their college transition.

Through your program, you will earn three (3) credits for UGS 102 and receive a numeric (4.0-scale) grade for your work.

Credit in UGS 102 counts toward your graduation requirement of having 120 credits and will contribute to your GPA.

Integrative Studies Substitutions


FSA courses are approved as substitutions for specific university requirements called Integrative Studies.  These courses are part of the broader general education requirements at Michigan State University that all students must fulfill in the Arts & Humanities, General Sciences, and Social Sciences.

Students can have UGS 102 substituted for one, approved Integrative Studies course depending on what is approved for their track.  Approvals can include the following requirements:

  • 200-level ISS;
  • IAH B (second-tier), 211 or higher and
  • ISB course.

Once approved by the Integrative Studies Directors, specific Integrative Studies substitutions will be listed on the seminar’s webpage under the “description” tab for each track and on the FSA Integrative Studies Substitutions PDF. In addition to Integrative Studies requirements, some tracks may count toward MSU specializations.


STEP ONE: During New Student Orientation (NSO) or early fall semester, talk with your academic adviser about how you want to use the UGS credit. It’s imperative you let your adviser know which integrative studies option you wish to select to ensure you don't enroll for a class you do not need to take* and in some cases, because your track might offer multiple options for a substitution.

STEP TWO: After talking with an adviser, submit your selected substitution by going to the "FSA 2021: Pre-orientation, Re-entry, and Honors Modules" D2L community and clicking on the "Integrative Studies Substitution" Dropbox folder. Substitution requests will be shared with advisers by October 2021. If you don't submit a substitution request you will have one selected for you.

Once you submit your request in D2L, MSU staff will make a notation in your Electronic Student Academic Folder (ESAF) that says "UGS 102 course will count as XXX course." They will also enter a waiver in Degree Navigator that allows you to use the three-credit course to count toward a four-credit integrative studies class. You DO NOT need to make that credit up elsewhere.  Also, please be aware that UGS 102 will not turn into the other course on your transcript; it will always show as UGS 102.

*NOTE: Certain majors use alternative courses to fulfill integrative studies. For example:

  • Science majors do not take ISP or ISB and take courses in biology, chemistry, etc. instead.
  • James Madison students take classes in their major that substitute for both their ISS requirements.
  • RCAH students take classes in their major that substitute for both their IAH requirements.
  • Honors and Academic Scholars typically take higher level classes and do not take the ISS, IAH, or ISB. Honors students who want the FSA to fulfill a requirement must complete additional work to receive an Honors Option for the seminar.

Always consult with your academic adviser about the best substitution.