Skip to main content

Seminar Classes

Kelly provides information on our advanced 300 level courses at Carleton.

Kelly provides information on our advanced 300 level courses at Carleton.

100, 200, 300—What’s the difference?

Looking at the courses offered at Carleton, you will notice that each title is accompanied by an abbreviation of the department name and a number. For class selection, the number matters very little beyond denoting if the class is a 100, 200, or 300 level course. While you can take any class as long as you have the necessary requirements, it may be helpful to think of the courses offered in terms of difficulty, complexity, and time required.

The most basic classes will be your Argument and Inquiry Seminar (A&I) and 100 level courses. These are followed by 200 level courses, 300 levels, and senior comps projects. Obviously, the level of difficulty and expertise required varies between classes, but this is the typical order. In this post, I will be focusing on our advanced classes here at Carleton—our 300 levels.

course search
Our course search.

Due to Carleton’s liberal arts curriculum, we do not declare majors until the spring term of our sophomore year. Furthermore, minors do not need to be declared until fall term of our senior year. This means that your first two years at Carleton are meant for exploration by taking introductory classes in a variety of fields. This exploration period is followed by consuming more complex content in 300 level courses and the senior comps process.

What do 300 level classes look like?

300 level classes at Carleton are seminar based with small class sizes. Picture ten to fifteen students and a professor seated around a circular table discussing niche aspects of the subject of the course. It is common for 300 level classes to involve a research project or literary analysis, allowing students to explore topics of interest and to produce research or writings that can be useful for comps exploration, graduate school, and job applications.

outside class fall
A class outside. Photo by Kallie Rollenhagen.

To take a 300 level class you must first take the necessary prerequisites, typically an introductory course and possibly a 200 level class in the department. Because you are expected to have some prior knowledge, less time is spent in class reviewing information. Rather, students come together to discuss and expand on readings and problem sets. 

Tate Russell presents linguistic trees as part of a talk given at CULC 16.
My friend Tate ’23 presenting in his LING 315 Topics in Syntax seminar course. Tate is a Linguistics and Music double major with a minor in Cognitive Science.

Unique aspects of upper level courses

Because 300 level classes specifically focus on a subset of a field and the students taking these courses are uniquely qualified and interested in these topics, more opportunities are available in these classes. Frequently, 300 level courses involve field trips, speakers, and collaborations with other departments.

For example, my Music as Heritage course took a field trip to a venue in the Twin Cities, hosted speakers from the traveling gothic singing group Capella Romana, and went on an ice cream trip to The Blast with a fellow music course. The class also involved interviewing professionals in the field of music venues. This required extra time outside of the typical class time. It also exceeded the time spent on homework for a 100 or 200 level course.  

In my experience, 300 level classes are no more difficult than 100 or 200 level classes. They are often academically easier because you are already familiar with the field from the introductory courses. The two hardest classes I have taken have been Foundations of Neuroscience with Lab and Music Theory, both 100 level classes. What makes 300 level courses more challenging is the extra time required outside of class to attend field trips, conduct research, and coordinate group projects. 

Geo fieldtip
The Geology 360 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy and Lab class on a field trip courtesy of my Geology major friends Maya ’23 and Mattison ’22.

List of 300 level courses I have taken and when:

Fall Sophomore Year: PE 334 Beyond Happy 3 credits 

Spring Sophomore Year: EDUC 344 Teenage Wasteland 6 credits

Fall Junior Year: PSYC 300 Social Psychology Research 2 credits 

Fall Junior Year: PYC 354 Counseling Psychology 6 credits 

Winter Junior Year: Off Campus Studies PE 338 Global Athletics 6 credits

Winter Junior Year: Off Campus Studies PE 340 Introduction Coaching Practicum 4 credits 

Spring Junior Year: PSYC 300 Social Psychology Research 2 credits 

Spring Junior Year: PSYC 386 Intervention Science 6 credits 

Spring Junior Year: MUSC 338 Music as Heritage 6 credits

300 level courses I plan to take: 

Fall Senior Year: PSYC 300 Social Psychology Research 2 credits 

Fall Senior Year: PSYC 390 Advanced Readings in General Psychology 6 credits 

Fall Senior Year: PSYC 399.03 Capstone Seminar (comps) 6 credits

Winter Senior Year: CCST 398 The Cross-Cultural Panorama: A Capstone Workshop 2 credits 

Winter Senior Year: PSYC 300 Social Psychology Research 2 credits

Winter Senior Year: PSYC 400.03 Integrative Exercise (comps) 3 credits

Spring Senior Year: PSYC 300 Social Psychology Research 2 credits

Spring Senior Year: PE 332 Foundations of Sport Psychology and Performance Mentality 6 credits

As you can tell, most of my upper level classes fall under my major, Psychology, or one of my two minors, Music and Cross Cultural Studies. You can take upper level courses outside of your main academic interests, which I have also done, but due to the extra time and work involved I reserve the more involved courses for my main academic interests.

Kelly (she/hers) is a rising Senior from Downers Grove, IL. She is a Psychology major with minors in Music and Cross-Cultural Studies. Kelly has explored her academic and personal interests at Carleton by participating in the Social and Personality Psychology Research Lab, playing the cello in the Carleton Orchestra, and studying abroad on the Carleton-run Sports and Globalization Program in London and Sevilla. Outside of the classroom, Kelly spends her time working as a Resident Assistant, playing rugby and soccer, volunteering with Project Friendship, and reading books. Meet the other Bloggers!