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All MICA freshmen take the same core courses, offered by the Foundation Department. This rigorous program provides the foundation for all subsequent coursework at the College. Elements of Visual Thinking I and II and Electronic Media and Culture (EMAC) focus on the principles of design, aesthetics, media, color, and critical and creative thinking.

Every freshman student chooses one elective. Students who receive advanced placement credit may have space in their schedules for an additional elective. All freshman-year schedule changes must be approved by the foundation academic advisor.

Because the foundation year at the College is so crucial, each freshman is assigned to a year-long instructor for Elements of Visual Thinking I and II. This faculty member also serves as the student’s first point of contact relating to his or her academic career.

Throughout the fall semester, freshman students are asked to participate in events sponsored by the Office of Academic Advising, the Foundation Department, the Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development, and each major department. This program is designed to help students with the process of declaring a major. Freshmen normally declare their majors in the spring semester before registering for classes for the fall of the sophomore year. Registration takes place in April.