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Frequently Asked Questions

Here we have put together the answers to some typical questions that prospective students in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences often ask:

Where is Macdonald Campus situated and what is it like?

Macdonald Campus, the home of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is located in the picturesque town of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, on the western tip of the Island of Montreal. This region of the Island of Montreal has lots of parkland, and in keeping with that, the beautiful Macdonald campus is outdoor-oriented, with lots of green space, much of it devoted to the Faculty’s research specialties. In order to get a better idea of what our campus is all about, take a virtual tour of Macdonald Campus. If you are interested in the campus' athletic facilities, please take a look at Macdonald Campus Athletics and Recreation. You might also like to take a look at a few of the (outdoor) labs and research units, at McGill's Macdonald Campus Research Facilities Site, which has links to the many varied facilities, laboratories, and museums, all of which contribute to Macdonald campus’ unique environment. Additionally, McGill Research Centres has links to those that are headquartered on the Macdonald Campus.

Where is Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue and what is it like?

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, on the western tip of the Island of Montreal, has a population of about 5000. It dates from the early 1700’s, and is home to a National Historic Site of Canada, the Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue Canal. The town of Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue is small enough that you can easily walk around the central core (a five-minute walk from the campus takes you to Ste. Anne’s main street). Here is a map of Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue on the city’s official website, on which you might like to look at the Useful Links. Ste. Anne is about 35-40 minutes away from the Downtown Campus by car, commuter train, or McGill shuttle bus, and about an hour by city bus. See McGill's Transport webpage for details.

Can you live downtown during your freshman year even if you're a Macdonald campus student?

The short answer - yes, but we STRONGLY ADVISE against it, and here’s why:

On the Macdonald campus, we organize our freshman activities (which may include tutoring, study groups, or social events) with the students' schedules in mind; this largely assumes that most freshman students live on the Macdonald campus. Living downtown is an additional constraint that is not so easy to work with. A student who registers in our Faculty on the Macdonald campus, but lives downtown, will be somewhat isolated socially from his/her classmates, and not able to take full advantage of the student networking that we encourage.

Classes at McGill, regardless of campus, start at 8:30 am some mornings; if getting to class involves a commute from downtown to the Macdonald campus, that means getting up early to catch the shuttle or public transport. This can create additional stress for you as a freshman student. Also, our physics and math group tutoring sessions (as well as some labs) run in the evenings, often past the time of the last shuttle back to the downtown campus.

Although we appreciate that the downtown campus (and downtown Montreal) is attractive to many students, those same attractions can also be distractions. In summary, we advise that it is better all-around for a freshman student in our Faculty to live on the Macdonald campus during his/her Freshman year. The transition from high school to first year university can be a challenge on its own, without the additional stress of the commute and its attendant consequences. Of course, it is possible for a student to live downtown the following year, once he/she is used to university life.

Can you take classes on the downtown campus even if you're registered in a program in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the Macdonald campus?

In your Freshman year, you may only take 8 credits (which is about 2-3 courses) outside our Faculty (in other words, on the downtown campus). We DO NOT recommend that you do this. Your Freshman year courses cover the basic math and sciences needed for further studies in this Faculty. Although similar courses are offered downtown, scheduling some of your freshman courses here as well as some downtown is difficult. You will also waste time in transit (see question above).

The Freshman Program Director/Advisor is also the professor for some freshman courses, and hence will have regular contact with you as a student, which facilitates advising. Once you are beyond your Freshman year in your program, you may take at most 30 credits outside of this Faculty, and the kind of courses you may take depends on your degree. Typically you will have more flexibility in later years of your program; many students do take some courses on both campuses.

How can you travel between the Macdonald Campus and the Downtown Campus?

The Macdonald campus is about 35-40 minutes away from the Downtown Campus by car, commuter train, or McGill shuttle bus, and about an hour by city bus. See this page for details. The city buses 211 and 221 run to downtown Montreal from the campus. You might also want to consider carpooling. A carpooling board is available in the Macdonald-Stewart Lobby.

How do Freshman classes on the Macdonald campus differ from those on the Downtown Campus?

Your Freshman year courses cover the basic math and sciences needed for further studies in this Faculty, and are equivalent to those offered downtown. Our Faculty on the Macdonald Campus is comparatively small, which means that in the Freshman year, as well as later on, the educational experience is a personalized one. Freshman science classes on the downtown campus may have 500 students or more; on the Macdonald campus, they have typically less than 100.

The Freshman Advisor is also the instructor for the Freshman Seminar course. Freshman Seminar is unique to our campus, and is designed to develop the skills required to make a successful transition to university. Consequently, the Freshman Advisors will have regular contact with you as a student, which facilitates advising.

Most of our science and math classes have many ways of evaluating your performance – typically, two midterms and a final exam, as well as assignments, labs, and so on. In addition, we have a special “Midterm Evaluation”, prepared by the Freshman Advisor after the first set of midterms, which summarizes your progress to date, and will help you to focus on those subjects that may need some extra attention.

What courses should I register for?

Your Freshman year is primarily a year that concentrates on foundational courses in science and math, and so you will take standard Freshman science classes in biology, chemistry, physics and math - the cornerstones for your more specialized studies in later years. Along with these classes you will take Freshman Seminar, in which you will learn how to strengthen and consolidate your life and study skills, as well as learn about the university community. Note that taking these courses as listed is a full-time load – you would not normally take anything else in addition. Click here to go to the specific courses you will take in your degree program.

What will my class schedule be like?

Classes typically have lectures, as well as mandatory tutorials and/or labs. There is only one lecture section of the biology, chemistry, physics and math courses, but there can be several lab sections for each course. You need to pick only one of the lab sections. 

To build a sample schedule, please use Visual Schedule Builder.

What sorts of items do I need to purchase for my Freshman Year?

All the academic items you will need can be purchased at the Macdonald Campus Bookstore. Professors typically order special textbook packages for their courses through the bookstore. In addition to your textbooks, you will need to purchase a lab coat, a pair of protective eye goggles, and a non-graphing, non-programmable scientific calculator. (Note that you will NOT be allowed to use a calculator at all in your freshman mathematics courses.) You may also be required to purchase a "clicker", also known as a Student Response System. Your instructor will advise you if that is the case.

You are not required to purchase a computer for your freshman courses, although most students do have their own. Campus computing labs are available for all students. For more information, go to the IT Welcome for New Students.

Are there scholarship opportunities?

Please visit the Scholarships site.

Are there opportunities for studying abroad and/or field studies?

Yes, click on Studying Abroad and Field Studies.

Is there an Internship Program?

Yes, click on Internships.

What kind of career opportunities are available?

McGill’s Career Planning Service (CaPS) has webpages with the answers. Click for the main CaPS webpage ; for the pages specifically oriented to degrees within our Faculty, Macdonald CaPS. For information about what you can do with various majors, take a look at CaPS Information by Major to explore careers related to the major in which you are interested.

What other resources might be helpful?

The Student Affairs Office is the place to go for applications, scholarship and residence inquiries and Student Services can help you with Student Aid, Career Planning Service (CaPS), Counselling, Health Services, and Off-Campus Housing. You may also find The Essential Guide for New Students to be helpful. It contains all the basic information you need. Numerous helpful links are also available at The Macdonald Campus Students' Society (MCSS).

We hope that this helps to answer some of your questions, and we look forward to seeing you on campus.