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1. What is the difference between EXCEL and COMPASS? Which program should I apply to?

The EXCEL and COMPASS programs are both run by the Center for Initiatives in STEM at UCF. Whether in EXCEL or COMPASS, students participate in the same learning community and receive the same level of support, such as common mathematics classes, a center for tutoring and group study, and opportunities for undergraduate research.

EXCEL is for students that have already declared a STEM major. EXCEL students take STEM Seminar, which provides students with the information and tools necessary for a smooth transition to university life, as well as academic support in the STEM courses. The COMPASS program serves incoming first year students who are undecided in their major, but are interested in exploring STEM disciplines. COMPASS students take STEM Explorations (MHS 2330), which expands on the curriculum found in STEM Seminar I and II to include an exploration piece aimed to guide students to determine, clarify, or confirm your major and career options. Transfer students are not eligible for COMPASS.

In addition to all of the resources that EXCEL participants receive, COMPASS participants also enjoy the benefits of a peer mentor, an upper division STEM student who has been through the program. After the first semester, COMPASS participants declaring a STEM major are classified as EXCEL students.

If you are interested in more information about the COMPASS program, please visit

2. My science major is not listed as a supported EXCEL major. Why is my major not STEM?

The backbone of the EXCEL program is increasing student success in STEM by creating a strong foundation in mathematics. We provide this support through the cohort-based math courses. For this reason we support only Calculus based STEM majors.

3. I have completed the math courses needed for my intended STEM major, am I still eligible for EXCEL?

FTIC: No, you would not be eligible because you have completed the math for your major. We would never require students to take a math course that was not needed for their major. For example, students pursuing a biology major that have successfully completed Calculus I prior to fall semester of their first year would not be eligible for EXCEL.

Transfer: Yes, you would be eligible even if you have completed your required math courses. Instead, you will engage in courses specific to your discipline as an EXCEL cohort.

4. I have completed Calculus III and my major requires Differential Equations, am I eligible for EXCEL?

FTIC: No, FTIC students are not eligible if they will begin in Differential Equations in the fall semester.

Transfer: Yes, Transfer students can begin the EXCEL pathway in Differential Equations in their first semester.

5. Can I be a member of EXCEL and other programs at UCF?

In short, yes! EXCEL’s focus is on STEM retention and increasing a student’s academic success in their selected STEM discipline as well as building a community of STEM support. With that said, simultaneous participation is permitted in other programs (Honors, Lead Scholars) or extracurricular activities (Student Organizations, Greek Life). However, students must take our EXCEL required courses (EXCEL Math or discipline specific, STEM Seminar) in their first semester (Transfer) or year (FTIC fall/spring) at UCF. While participation in multiple programs/activities at UCF is possible (we have several students who do so) there may be some program and/or course conflicts along the way that would have to be worked out independently by the student and the respective program coordinators.

Please note: Students participating in the L.E.A.R.N program cannot also participate in EXCEL.

6. I’m in the Burnett Honors College and want to take my math course with Honors, can I do that?

No. Our main intervention occurs within our EXCEL math courses, so EXCEL students are required to take their major math courses through EXCEL during their first year in college.

7.  Are there other requirements besides taking my math course with EXCEL?

Yes, in addition to taking the required math course for the major with EXCEL, FTIC students will also participate in the STEM Seminar sequence (ISC 2054 and ISC 2055) during the first year of college. These courses encourage community building, provide information and tools necessary for a student’s transition to college and their academic success and strengthen the professional skills employers are looking for in their future employees. They are each 1 credit hour. Alternatively, Transfer students will participate in the STEM Seminar: Immersive Transfer Experience and discipline specific courses if math requirements have been met.

8. Does EXCEL offer housing?

Yes! However, only First Time in College students are eligible.

The Office of Housing and Residence life provides a Living Learning Community (LLC) for approximately 100 EXCEL first year students (summer or fall admits) who wish to live in the same dorms as other EXCEL students. Living with other EXCEL students is a great way to network and create study groups within the EXCEL community. EXCEL offers free tutoring in the evening in the Common Room. The EXCEL LLC is located in Nike 103 and students choosing to be apart of the LLC are offered a Shared Bedroom Residence Hall. EXCEL housing is not a requirement and admission into EXCEL does not guarantee housing in the LLC. Students who are awarded housing contracts can apply to reside in the EXCEL housing block. The Office of Housing and Residence Life is currently updating the application process.  Please continue to check this website for more information.

The housing and LLC applications are separate from the EXCEL application and students who have specific housing questions should directed them to the Office of Housing and Residence Life: 407-823- 4663.

9. How does the Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) work?

Eligible students (3.0 UCF GPA) will be contacted to apply for an URE. FTIC students will receive notice during the Fall of their second year for participation in the spring semester of their second year. In the Fall, the students will participate in workshops leading up to the URE in spring. Transfer students are encouraged to participate in research (or other high impact practices) as early as their second term. The URE will be supervised by an EXCEL faculty mentor and could lead to other rewarding experiences at UCF.