Academics

Degree programs

At IU, undergraduate students can choose from more than 200 majors offered across 16 schools, and over 550 academic programs. You can even design your own degree with an individualized major. IU also has hundreds of graduate and professional programs.

You’ll find a wide variety of academic opportunities outside the classroom, including internships, service-learning projects, research, and more.

Learn more about academic programs at IU

University Division

Most incoming freshmen (first-year) students at IU are admitted to University Division for their first year of study. In University Division, you can either explore a variety of majors, or work on fulfilling the requirements for admission to your preferred school.

After one or two semesters, you will apply to the school that houses your major. Many of our programs are competitive, so you should be prepared to explore more than one area of study.

Learn about University Division

Explore two of our schools: Kelley School of Business and The Media School

American academic culture

You may find that the academic culture at IU is different from what you’re used to—in America, classrooms tend to be less formal than those in other parts of the world. Read on for some highlights of what you can expect and some advice to help you succeed at IU.

Original thought and individual work are important hallmarks of an American education. Academic integrity is a core issue at IU because it affects the overall value of every student’s degree. Students are expected to complete their assignments as individuals unless assigned to groups or given permission to work in groups by their professors. It’s also important to quote or paraphrase and properly cite any resources you use in your assignments.

Your professors might ask you to call them by their first or given name, but no matter what, it’s always safe to call them “Professor” or use the title with their last or family name (for example, “Professor Jones”).

Your professors might like to be more informal and wear casual clothes.

Your professors might be a combination of full- and part-time faculty and associate instructors who are current graduate students.

Almost all professors will have regular office hours or will tell you how to make an appointment with them outside of class. These are great ways to introduce yourself to your professor and talk about class topics that interest you or that you’re struggling with.

When emailing a professor, make sure you write the same way you would for a graded paper—don’t use slang or abbreviations.

If you make an appointment with a professor, make sure you’re on time or let them know ahead of time if you’re running late.

It’s important to arrive on time (or early!) for each of your classes.

Make sure you pay attention to the syllabus for each of your courses. The syllabus outlines classroom rules, expectations for your academic performance, grading policies, and details including important deadlines and due dates.

Your academic advisor will give you personalized advice on course registration, choosing a major, and completing your degree. Some courses are required, but you’ll have a wide variety of options during your time at IU.

American universities don’t usually have rigid sequencing for the order courses should be taken in, so your academic plan may be different than other students who are in the same major.

You’ll encounter a variety of classrooms and academic spaces during your time at IU, including computer labs, study lounges, practice rooms, and lab spaces. The type of room your class meets in can give you an idea of what format the class will take.

Lectures
  • The room seats more than 200 students.
  • The professor presents at the front of the room while students listen, answer questions when called on, or at times participate by raising their hand to ask the professor questions.
Discussions
  • The room seats 20 or fewer students.
  • Discussions involve direct interaction between students and the professor or associate instructor.

American education places high value on learning from experience, so you can expect to be assigned real-world-oriented projects to complete individually or as a member of a group. Sometimes you can even earn academic credit for internships in your area of study.

In most courses, your final grade is determined by your performance in a combination of attendance, assignments, exams, and class participation. Participation grades are often a large portion of your final grade, so be attentive and speak up during class.

The American grading scale is from 0 to 100 percentage points, and the points determine your letter grade (A through F). Individual professors might use a different scale, so check your syllabi.

Never ask a professor to change your grade unless you notice a specific rating error.

Your grade point average (GPA) is determined by adding the points from your letter grades for all of your classes together and then dividing that sum by your total number of credit hours.

Calculate your GPA

If you’re a graduate student, you’ll likely have opportunities to teach or assist in teaching undergraduate courses. Associate instructors have teaching support available to them at the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. You can also ask your faculty mentor for advice.

Remember that the other graduate students and faculty in your program are an important part of your professional network. Make sure that you get to know people and make connections that will benefit you once you begin your career. Establishing these connections may also allow you to co-author papers or provide opportunities for research that you might have otherwise overlooked.

IU faculty and staff are invested in your academic success. We offer many forms of academic support on campus, including:

If you aren’t sure which service to use, have a conversation with your academic advisor or contact the Office of International Services for advice.

Remember that learning is a process. If you have questions, get confused, or encounter difficulties as you begin classes, there are many people at IU to support you and assist you with your transition. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and gain the skills you need to grow, learn, and make the most of your time in the United States.