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The University of Maryland offers an extraordinary array of living-learning and other special programs.

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You'll find your people.

We encourage students to explore their passions, make connections with others, and develop interests beyond what they learn in their majors.

Most living-learning programs are designed for incoming first-year students. These communities are led by faculty members and focus on an academic theme. Many students live together in the same residence hall, where they can make connections and meet new friends within their cohort.

UMD pioneered the living-learning concept more than 30 years ago, and remains a national Top-10 leader today.


What you'll love    

Students have the opportunities of an innovative research university near the nation's capital and the experience of connecting in smaller communities with students from diverse backgrounds.

  • All
  • Academics
  • Student Life
  • Traditions
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Explore big questions

Tackle grand challenges and big questions that matter to the world.

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Give back

From service days to community service projects, students make meaningful contributions.

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Students design, direct and conduct significant research.

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You'll explore creative outlets beyond your academic major.

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Live together

Many programs offer the option to live with your classmates in residence halls.

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Have fun!

Kick ball. Dance parties. Field trips. It's all part of the experience.

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One of the most important skills you'll learn is problem-solving in unique and unexpected ways.

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See the world

You'll have a chance to travel -- locally and globally.

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Experiential learning

Our proximity to Washington D.C. means students have access to unique internships and learning opportunities.

Participating in one of our living-learning
or other special programs is part of the Maryland experience.

If you apply by the early action deadline of Nov. 1, you'll automatically be considered for invitation to one of them.



In order to be considered, do I need to include extra materials in my application?

No. The applications of all students who are admitted early action are considered for living-learning and other special programs such as FIRE: The First-Year Innovation & Research Experience. If you are a prospective Terp, please use your application to tell us as much as you can about who you are and about your interests and dreams, so we can find the right program for you.

What if I'm undecided about my major?

Students from all majors are invited to participate, including students who have not yet decided on or declared a major.

Can I choose which program I wish to be part of?

Based on the materials you submit in your application for admission to the university, you may be invited to participate in a living-learning or other special program. If you receive such an invitation, you will have a chance to learn more about it and to indicate a preference for a particular community within the larger program.

Where will I live?

In most programs, students live together in the same residence hall, where they can make connections and meet new friends within their cohort.

Does participating earn a special distinction?

Students who successfully complete the program earn recognition of their work on their transcript.


Meet the programs.

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BioFIRE is a one-year living-learning program designed for highly motivated students with interests in the chemical and life sciences and limited previous exposure to scientific research.

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Carillon Communities

Carillon Communities is a one-year living-learning program where students use creative problem solving and teamwork. In 12 communities, students work with faculty to ask Big Questions that matter to our world.

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College Park Scholars

College Park Scholars is a group of two-year living learning programs for academicallly talented students. Each of the 13 programs has a distinct thematic focus with opportunities in research, service-learning or study abroad.

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The First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) provides a one-year, inclusive faculty-mentored research experience.

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Flexus / Virtus

These two-year communities aim to promote diversity, inclusion, and social justice in the engineering field.

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Honors College

The Honors College offers eight highly acclaimed living-learning programs, ranging from one to four years. Each one provides close-knit communities of students and faculty at a premier public research university.

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Jiménez-Porter Writers' House

The Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House provides a literary center for the study of creative writing across cultures and languages.

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Language House

The Language House provides an international community atmosphere for students to develop language fluency under the direction of a mentor and a faculty liaison.

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* Tied for #8 with Princeton University; National Ranking by U.S. News & World Report

By the Numbers

Program options led by faculty from all twelve colleges and schools at UMD

Courses offered exclusively to students in living-learning and other special programs

Community service hours are given by first-year Scholars each Service Day

National Scholarship Recipients including Fulbright student grants, Marshall, Gates-Cambridge, and Churchill Scholarships

headshot of Zoya Naseem

Zoya Naseem '26

FIRE Student

Joining FIRE has been one of the best decisions I made while entering UMD. FIRE has not only provided me with a strong foundation to thrive as a researcher but also connected me to a wonderful community of other students and faculty who are passionate about innovating and discovering new solutions to real-world problems.

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Alexandra Curry '22

College Park Scholar

I have been challenged to think differently, work cooperatively, embrace creativity and, most importantly, go beyond the limits I have set for myself. Because of this program, I can confidently say I feel infinitely more prepared for the “real world,” and for that confidence and growth, I could never be more grateful.

headshot of Jahnavi Kirkire

Jahnavi Kirkire '25

Honors Humanities student

I love the community and the people I’ve met! It has been so rewarding to meet so many different people and have so many different experiences all with an incredible group over the last few years.

Josh Starling holding medal

Joshua Starling

College Park Scholar

Being in Scholars gives you great chance to make this big school feel smaller.