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Issues to consider when selecting programs

Students selecting a program should choose an area that fits their general academic interests and background. The Bachelor's degree is intended to serve as a general preliminary step in the pursuit of major career goals. Students in the Bachelor of Science degree may, in addition to their first program, choose from a large number of Minor and Minor Concentrations approved by the Faculty of Science. Undecided students should consider their basic strengths and weaknesses when considering the following:

  • preferred subjects
  • the departmental programs which include them
  • whether they have previously completed courses in these disciplines
  • programs which contain more than one of these subjects
  • whether one program stands out above all others
  • whether an Honours or a Liberal program is a viable option
  • whether there is room for electives
  • whether programs are related to vocational or personal interests
  • academic and career goals and whether there are certain academic prerequisites that must be completed to pursue them
  • the intention to develop certain skills (analytical reasoning, writing, verbal communication, teamwork, independent work, laboratory research, computer skills, etc.)
  • program requirements which may focus on weak points (e.g.: a Science student considering a program requiring chemistry if previous grades in this area have not been strong; programs with language requirements, etc.; program requiring statistics if a student is not strong in math)

In selecting their program combination's, students should think about the following:

  • balancing programs that have breadth with those that have depth. Programs with breadth include those that are cross-disciplinary such as the Science Major Concentration in Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences or the Arts Major Concentration in International Development Studies. These programs provide an opportunity to study a wide variety of subjects and can potentially provide context for your depth studies. Broad programs do however generally include a smaller proportion of upper level courses (400 and 500 level courses) than programs with more depth, and therefore programs that provide depth and include upper level courses are of particular importance to students who would like to continue their studies at the graduate level as these courses provide more in-depth exposure to important issues in a discipline. To ensure appropriate depth, students in the Multi-Track option are advised to choose at least one focused major concentration.
  • combining programs that either complement each other or offer a strong contrast. For example, the Science Major Concentration in Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences might be combined with the Arts Major Concentration in Geography to provide a science and a social science perspective on the study of the earth. Another pairing of this type could be Biology & Anthropology. Even with the Interfaculty program one could choose a complementary minor. For example, the Environment Interfaculty program could be combined with a minor in Political Science for better scientific understating of future policies. An Arts Major Concentration in Economics might be combined with a Science Major Concentration in Mathematics to provide good preparation for work, or further study in Finance. Also, the Science Major Concentration in Physics might be combined with an Arts Minor Concentration in Philosophy and a Minor Concentration in Linguistics simply because a student's academic interests are diverse.
  • selecting programs that lead toward future goals. For example, the Interfaculty program in Environment might be combined with a Minor Concentration in Hispanic Studies because a student wants to work for an organization with an Environmental focus in Latin America after graduation. A student who was interested in working areas of political science where policy-makers are faced with decisions related to science may consider combining an Arts Major Concentration in International Development Studies, with a Science Major Concentration in Biology, or Earth, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences.

It is important that students become familiar with the academic regulations of the Faculties of Arts and of Science. An intended course plan may not be feasible if it requires the completion of too many credits from other faculties, or if it is not listed in the calendar.

Students who are still unsure about their program choice may discuss degree planning ideas with:

These resources may also be considered:

Once program adviser(s) have been consulted, students must select courses according to departmental requirements. It is important to refer to the McGill Academic e-Calendar as well as individual departmental handbooks available on the Web and/or through the departments themselves.

Most courses chosen in the first year at McGill will be at the 200 level, with the exception of language courses, where the appropriate level will be determined by a placement test administered by the department offering the course. The first digit of the course number normally denotes the course level.

When registering for courses, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that all prerequisites have been met.