Degree Planning

Getting Started

Use the "A.R.T.S." method to help design your Bachelor of Arts degree

"ASSESS" your academic strengths, interests and long term goals to help you select programs of study that align to your objectives and allow you to develop a skillset that is aligned to your intended career path.

“RESEARCH” your program options and understand your credit requirement.

“TEST” your plan to ensure that your program selection contains course material that meets your academic and career goals.

“SUPPORT” your efforts with available resources and opportunities. These activities will add value to your undergraduate degree and will help ensure your success.

“ARTS” Degree Planning Guide

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree integrates the Humanities, Social Sciences, Languages and a wide range of Interdisciplinary Studies into a coherent academic program. The Faculty of Arts programs are divided into concentrations to encourage flexibility, independence, and knowledge in a diversity of disciplines. Students may concentrate in one Arts discipline while obtaining Minor Concentrations in other Arts disciplines as well as in disciplines in a selection of other faculties. This provides students with an unprecedented opportunity to tailor a unique academic profile suited to their specific interests and career ambitions.

Planning your degree can seem overwhelming - but it doesn’t have to be. We have prepared a degree planning guide to assist you with this process.  We encourage you to begin by assessing your academic strengths and then researching the programs of study offered to assist you in choosing subjects and courses that really interest you and align to your objectives. Remember to set goals that are measureable and flexible so that your degree plan can be adjusted as your interests evolve.

McGill Arts graduates are valued for their ability to think critically and communicate effectively, often in more than one language. Their skills in research and analysis may be applied to a wide spectrum of professional fields, such as law, education, business, government, and public service.  As you plan your degree, strive to select programs and courses that will allow you to develop a skillset that is aligned to your intended career path.

Need assistance planning your degree? Visit with a Faculty Adviser from Arts OASIS during their drop-in advising hours to discuss:

  1. Selecting your program(s) of study
  2. Planning your course load
  3. Ways to support your academic abilities and goals

Faculty Advisers can assist you during the degree planning process and help you organize information in a meaningful way. They can also help you interpret complex policies, procedures and requirements that must be considered when planning your degree.


“ASSESS” your academic strengths, interests and long term goals to help you select programs of study that align to your objectives and allow you to develop a skillset that is aligned to your intended career path.

Step 1: What are your long term goals?

Do you plan to seek employment upon completion of your degree or do you intend to complete further studies?

If you plan to seek employment, what skillset will you need to develop for your intended career path? Consult the “Quick Guide to Planning your Future” for assistance.

If you intend to complete further studies, what courses and grade point average will you need to qualify for this program? Consult our "Timeline for Graduate Studies" and the following website for assistance.

Step 2: Complete a Self-Assessment

Education is a lifelong process and choosing a program of study is just a starting point. Keep your mind open to the possibility that that there may be more than one way to reach your academic goals.  It is important to base your degree planning decisions on your personal interests, your academic strengths and your long term goals and to allow room to make adjustments to your plan as you grow and evolve during your undergraduate studies.

Keep in mind that you may have:

  • an interest in a program of study, however, you may not possess the abilities to handle the academic demands of the required courses;
  • abilities in a particular area but do not have any interest in studying that subject;
  • an interest in studying a subject that may not translate into a career path you will enjoy. 


For example, you may think that you want to be a clinical psychologist, but in reality, you may realize that the years of study required to reach this long term goal, the difficulty of the course material and the fact that you are actually too introverted to deal with people and their problems on a daily basis does not make this goal a good fit.

The questions below are formulated for self-reflection to help guide you toward making a well-informed decision. You will gain valuable insight about yourself by looking for patterns of interest that may exist in all your previous school, work, volunteering and leisure experiences.  We invite you to consider the following set of questions and use your answers to assist you in selecting your programs of study.

Step 1: What do you know about yourself and your personal interests?

Do you enjoy helping other people, working with numbers, debating or influencing others, solving problems, supporting social causes or organizing activities?

Do you enjoy watching TV, reading, studying, talking, using social media, playing computer games, playing team or individual sports, exercising, cooking, listening to music, volunteering?

What have you liked and disliked about the jobs, activities or volunteer experiences you have had?

Do you enjoy group activities, working alone, outdoor or indoor activities or staying active?

Are you shy, outgoing, assertive, passive, adventurous, quiet, open to new experiences, impulsive, patient, impatient, inquisitive or resourceful?

What do your friends and family believe your interests and strengths to be?

What types of activities do not interest you?

Step 2: What do you know about yourself as a student?

What have been your favorite subjects at school?  Why did you like these courses?

Did your teacher play a role in whether or not you liked a course?

Did the mark you achieved in a course influence whether or not you liked a course?

What courses did you not like? Why? 

What are your proudest accomplishments as a student?

What lessons have you learned from your past learning experiences?

Step 3: What are your academic strengths?

Using the “Method of Evaluation Form”, complete the following exercise to provide you with data to assist you in assessing your academic strengths. Select a term of study, or you may decide to select courses in which you have achieved your highest and/or lowest grades, and list the grades you have achieved in each component of evaluation. Review the results of this assessment to answer the following questions.

Can you identify a preferred method of grading? For example, essay, multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer?

Can you identify a preferred frequency of evaluation? For example, did you perform better in courses that had regular assignments and quizzes or did you achieve better grades in courses that had a midterm and a higher percentage final?

Did the instructor’s teaching style or accessibility to answer questions have an impact on your final grade? For example, was the teacher and/or subject engaging? Were the lectures recorded? Were Power Point slides available to assist your learning?

Was your performance in a course influenced by a mandatory attendance requirement or by its method of delivery?

Did a course that required group work or public speaking have an impact of your grade?

Using your answers, make a list of your academic preferences. Compare your list of academic preferences to your answers from Step 1 and 2. Do you see any emerging patterns?

Step 4: What are the non-academic factors that influence your academic success?

Using your completed “Method of Evaluation Form”, reflect on your results to determine if any of the following factors influenced your grade in a course.

Did you rush through an assignment just to get it done or hand in an assignment late?

Did you run out time to study for a test and then draw a blank when writing the test?

Did you speak to the teacher or teaching assistant to get feedback about your grade on a test or an assignment?

Do your study habits differ depending on the subject or teacher?

Did the number of courses or the combination of subjects you took have an impact on your results?

Does having classes five days a week impact your grades? Would having classes four days a week be beneficial? Are your grades better in morning, afternoon or evening classes?

Do you need a support network to do well in school? Are you more engaged in school if you have friends or acquaintances in your classes?

Does class size or where you sit in class impact your academic performance?

Does where or who you live with impact your motivation in school? Does the length of your commute to school impact your studies?

Does lifestyle, nutrition and/or exercise play a role in how well you do in school?

Did work, extracurricular activities, health, learning challenges or family obligations influence your grades?

Using your answers, make a list of the non- academic factors that influence your academic success. Do you see any emerging patterns?

Step 5: Can you identify your areas of academic interest?

HUMANITIES – African Studies, Art History, Canadian Studies, Canadian and Ethnic Studies, Catholic Studies, Classics, Communication Studies, East Asian Studies, English, European Literature and Culture, French Language and Literature, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, Indigenous  Studies, Islamic Studies, Italian Studies, Jewish Studies, Latin and Caribbean Studies, Liberal Arts,  Medieval Studies, Music, North American Studies, Philosophy, Quebec Studies, Religious Studies, Russian and Slavic Studies, Sexual Diversity Studies, Women Studies, World Cinemas, World Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

SOCIAL SCIENCE - Anthropology, Economics, History, Industrial Relations, International Development Studies,  Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Social Studies of Medicine

LANGUAGES -Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Latin, Modern Greek, Persian, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu

SCIENCES – Math and Statistics, Computer Science, Environment, Geography, Software Engineering, Minor in Science for Arts Students

Step 6: Are there external factors influencing your program choice?

Are outside pressures from family, friends or the job market influencing your choice of programs? Are you selecting a program based on someone’s recommendation?

Do you have religious, philosophical, moral or ethical beliefs that are influencing your programs of study?

Are you looking for a program that provides you with enjoyment, prestige, financial security or creativity? Are you selecting a program because you think the program will be easy or will ensure employment?

Step 7: Is there a sets of skills you need to develop to achieve your long term goals?

Consult McGill’s Career Planning Services to assist you with defining the skills needed for different career paths and discover how your Bachelor of Arts degree will provide you with a broad range of skills that can transfer to many different types of careers.

Step 3: What are your academic strengths and interests?

Review your completed “Self-Assessment”.  Have you uncovered your academic strengths? Have you noticed important patterns that impact your academic success? This valuable information will assist you in next phase of the degree planning process.

Step 4: Selecting a program of study

  1. Review the program choices available in the Faculty of Arts by consulting our “Full list of Major, Minor, Honours and Joint Honours Arts programs.”
  2. Make a list of the programs of study that interest you and eliminate those programs that do not.
  3. Review the course requirements for each of the programs on your short list. Keep a list of the courses that interest you so that you can visit them during the course add/drop period.
  4. Consult the departmental website for each program on your short list.

Step 5: Evaluating your choices

Weigh the pros and cons of each program of study on your short list.

  1. Does the program fulfill your academic interests, contain the necessary program requirements for a future program of study or help you develop a skillset for your career goals?
  2. Do the courses in this program align with your academic strengths?
  3. Does the program have a large or limited number of courses from which you can select?
  4. Do you have the prerequisites or grade requirements for this program?
  5. Does the program require courses that you find challenging or course material that will take you longer to understand?

Step 6:  Need more help to find a program of study?

The Program for the Advancement of Career Exploration (PACE) is designed to help you make decisions about your field of study and/or career options. It is a series of four workshops that include vocational testing and a complete self-assessment. Upon completion of PACE you will be able to understand your personality type, identify your skills, interests and values, and how they relate to various occupations. As well, you will have a better understanding of the available resources and be able to create a realistic action plan with measurable goals.


“RESEARCH” your program options and understand your minimum credit requirement.

Step 1: Understanding your minimum credit requirement for a Bachelor of Arts degree.

All students must complete a minimum of 120* credits for their undergraduate degree. These credits are divided into three categories.

Credits/Exemptions Advanced standing

These are credits that that will be applied toward your minimum 120 credit Bachelor of Arts degree based on your pre-McGill studies and will be used to determine your year of study.

Program Credits

These are required and complementary credits that are used to complete a minimum of two programs of study offered by different teaching units or departments.

Elective credit

These are credits that are not being used to complete a program of study.

Examples of ADVANCED STANDING with the typical number of credits granted:

CEGEP (30 credits)
French Baccalaureate (30 credits)
International Baccalaureate (Certificate or Diploma – max. 30 credits)
Advanced Levels (max. 30 credits)
Advanced Placement Exams (max. 30 credits)
University Transfer (max. 60 credits)
Degree completed under the Bologna system (30 credits)

* Explanation of “Minimum Credit Requirement”

How is my year of study determined?

U0 - Freshman Year students - You have been admitted without advanced standing or with less than 24 credits of advanced standing.

U1 – University Year 1 students - You have been admitted with 24 or more credits of advanced standing.

U2 – University Year 2 - You have been admitted with the maximum of 60 credits of advanced standing.

Step 2: Understanding your program options

Option 1

MULTI-TRACK PROGRAM: The Faculty of Arts offers a 90-credit multi-track system that offers students a chance to select programs of study that reflect their interests by completing a major concentration complemented by at least a minor concentration.

Major Concentration - is the student's primary area of study requiring the completion of 36 credits

Minor Concentration - as opposed to a major, an area of secondary concentration, which is a called a minor and requires the completion of 18 credits

Concentrations within option A and B cannot be within the same Subject Code (i.e. PSYC, ENGL)

NOTE: No course may fulfil the requirements for more than one program or concentration requirement.

Option A

Major Concentration (36) + Minor Concentration (18) + 36 credits of electives

Option B

Major Concentration (36) + Major Concentration (36) + 18 credits of electives

Option C

Major Concentration (36) + Minor Concentration (18) + Minor Concentration (18) + 18 credits of electives

Option 2

HONOURS or JOINT HONOURS: These programs demand a high degree of specialization in one or two disciplines and require you to maintain a high academic standing.

Honours Program

1.          Requires the completion of 42-60 credits

2.         You must also complete a Minor Concentration (18 credits) in another program of study from a different teaching unit or department

3.         Electives (12-30 credits)

4.         Admission is normally after the U1 year of study

5.         Minimum CGPA of 3.00 in the previous year; program GPA requirements vary according to department

Joint Honours

1.          Requires two programs of study from different teaching units or departments

2.         30 to 36 credits in each component

3.         Electives (18 credits)

4.         Admission is normally after the U1 year of study

5.         Minimum CGPA of 3.00 in the previous year; program GPA requirements vary according to department

6.         You are not required to complete a Minor Concentration

Option 3

Faculty Program: An approved selection of courses drawn from departments in at least two faculties to form an interdisciplinary program of study.

Program options:

1.          Environment

2.         Industrial Relations

Requires the completion of 54 credits

Students do not need to complete a second program of study.


“TEST” your plan to ensure that your program selection contains course material that meets your academic and career goals.

Step 1: Select your program(s) of study

Students who need 96 or fewer credits to complete their B.A. degree requirements should select their programs of study on Minerva to facilitate their course registration. You can indicate your program choice by logging in to Minerva. Click on “Student Records Menu”, then select “Change Your Primary Academic Curriculum”.

Step 2: Plan your courses for each program of study

A.  Review the requirements for your programs of study by consulting our “Full list of Major, Minor, Honours and Joint Honours Arts programs” .

B. Enter the McGill courses needed for each program of study on the "Arts OASIS Degree Planning Worksheet” as follows. 

  1. Enter the McGill courses you have completed in the correct column and term of study.
  2. Enter the McGill courses you have in progress in the correct column and term of study.
  3. Enter the McGill courses you have remaining to complete for each program in each remaining term in the correct column and term of study.

C. Verify that you have completed the correct pre-requisite or placement test for each of the courses you will be taking by checking the ecalendar.

Step 3: Consult your Departmental Program Advisers

It is strongly recommended that you consult with your Departmental Program Advisers to guide your course selection and ensure you are meeting your program requirements. Consult the departmental adviser contact list to find out when advisers are available to meet with you to discuss your degree plan. Bring your completed worksheet to your meeting in order to discuss the following questions:

How many courses and program credits have been completed?
What courses remain to be completed?
Will I be completing at least 2/3 of the courses needed for my program at McGill?

Please refer to the following sample questions to assist you with this conversation.


“SUPPORT” your efforts with available resources and opportunities. These activities will add value to your undergraduate degree and will help ensure your success.

Academic Success

McGill offers various resources to support you in achieving your academic potential. If you need help refining your academic writing skills or are looking for a tutor, check out of our list of academic resources. Looking to improve your study skills or fine tune your time management techniques, check out McGill’s Academic Success workshops.

Studying at another university is an opportunity which can enrich your undergraduate education and provide you with a chance for personal growth.  Consult the McGill Exchange or Independent Study Away website for details.

The Faculty of Arts Internship Program enables students to expand their horizons and engage in meaningful collaborations with corporate and community organizations around the world. Consult the Faculty of Arts Internships Program website for details.

The Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Award (ARIA) supports undergraduate students who undertake research during the summer under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Consult the Arts Undergraduate Research Internship Awards (ARIA) website for details.

Consider becoming part of a McGill Mentor Program.  These programs are designed to facilitate informal out-of-classroom conversations, knowledge-sharing and network-building between students and staff, faculty, alumni or graduate students, with the ultimate goal of enriching the University experience for all of its members.

What about your Co-Curricular Engagement? Make the most of your personal and professional development at McGill while gaining practical experience to reach your potential! For ideas on how you might like to connect and engage with YOUR community, visit Co-Curricular Engagement to explore a hub of various links to opportunities found at McGill.