First Year Learning Communities


Above: Architecture Learning Community students as they prepare to participate in a ReBuild Philadelphia event. 


Developing “civic professionals” is at the center of the Learning Communities program at Philadelphia University. Each program emphasizes active and engaged learning while participating in a collaborative academic and service component, and bringing students together as a community. By enrolling in our Learning Communities program, your major course is paired with SERVE-101, a hybrid course with an innovative approach to promoting civic engagement.

Students should consider participating in a Learning Community if they appreciate the academic advantages of belonging to an exceptionally close, caring community of peers and dedicated faculty who share a commitment to community service. Participation in any of our Learning Communities is competitive, and selection is based on the quality of a brief online application which must be completed and submitted by early May for full consideration.


Did you know that students enrolled in Learning Communities:

  • Achieved higher first semester GPAs then those who did not enroll in a learning community at all levels of academic preparation.
  • Were more successful in getting to know faculty.
  • Were more successful in adjusting to academic demands of a University.
  • Were more likely to study with other students outside of class.

What participating students have said:

 “It was nice to have two classes with the same group of people.  Going through my first college semester was easier and I got to know people really well by having design as well as community service events together.  I enjoyed connecting with my class both in the studio and outside of class.”

“I became more adjusted to my environment at school and the community surrounding me.”

“It made the transition smooth and I was glad/relieved to have a professor and a community of classmates to ask questions to.”

“[My upper-class mentor] was helpful and easy to talk to about other issues involved with being a college student. It was great to have an upper-class peer mentor to ask questions and help with assignments.”

“Having an upper classman at my fingertips was so helpful. I was comfortable to ask him questions about school or ask for advice. We even hung out outside of class.” 


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Service-Learning Community?

A select group of first-year students who …

  • share a common academic interest.
  • take two of their classes together in small sections reserved just for them with an upper- class mentor who is also shares their major or area of interest in social and educational activities.
  • interact with accomplished and caring instructors and get to know them personally.

Is the Learning Communities program for you?

If you can appreciate the academic advantages of belonging to an exceptionally close, supportive community of successful students and dedicated faculty with a common commitment to community service, then yes! Participation in the service-based Learning Community program is competitive and based on the quality of a brief application which is due in early May, 2012.

What are the linked courses in each of the Learning Communities?

Each Learning Community includes an innovative hybrid seminar linked with either a course in your major, for program based Learning Communities, or a first year College Studies course which is part of the general education curriculum for all first-year students.  For specific course information, please review the descriptions of both program based and special interest Learning Communities.




Program specific Learning Communities include:

  • Architecture and the Built Environment: Open to students majoring in Architecture, Environmental Design and Visual Studies, Interior Design or Landscape Architecture. Students will be co-enrolled in Design I: Interdisciplinary Foundation Studies and may be working with Habitat for Humanity, Women’s Community Revitalization Project, or Rebuilding Philadelphia. View photos from the 2011 Architecture and the Built Environment Learning Community >>
  • Fashion Business:Open to students majoring in Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Industry Management. Students will be co-enrolled in Management and Marketing Foundations and might help operate the Philly AIDS Thrift Store, or guide women to rejoin the workforce with such organizations as Career Wardrobe or Dress for Success. View a reflection video from the 2010 Fashion Business Learning Community >>
  • Business and Entrepreneurship: Open to students enrolled in the School of Business Administration which includes undeclared Business, Accounting, Finance, International Business, Management, Management Information Systems, and Marketing. Students will be co-enrolled in Management and Marketing Foundations and might work with Entrepreneur Works, a microenterprise development organization focused on growing businesses and jobs in our local communities.
  • Health Care Professions Open to students majoring in Health Sciences, Physician Assistant Health Sciences, Occupational Therapy Health Sciences, Pre-Medical, or Occupational Therapy/ Psychology.  Students will be co-enrolled in Biology and may be working with American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, or other health related agencies in the city of Philadelphia.
  • Design Learning Community:  Open to students majoring in Animation, Fashion Design, Graphic Design Communication, Interactive Design and Media, and Textile Design.  Students will be co-enrolled in Drawing and may be working with Mural Arts Program or other design related agencies in the city of Philadelphia.
  • Engineering Learning Community: Open to any student majoring in engineering. Students will be co-enrolled in the Introduction to Engineering course and may be working with organizations such as the Franklin Institute or other engineering related community projects in the city of Philadelphia.

Special Interest Learning Communities are open to students in any major:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Learning Community: This learning community is open to 10 men and 10 women in any major who are interested in mentoring young boys and girls at a local elementary school through our Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter.  This learning community requires a commitment of one hour a week for both Fall and Spring semesters and participating students must be 18 years old to participate as of September 1, 2012.

Reminder:  Online Applications to participate in any of our Learning Communities are due in early May, 2012.


Contact Information:

First Year Experience
Kanbar Campus Center, Suite 317
phone: (215) 951-2634
fax: (215) 951-2644


Campus address: 
The Kanbar Campus Center, Suite 317

Mailing address: 
4201 Henry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144-5497