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McGill's academic terminology

What's a faculty? What's the difference between a major and a minor? Check the terminology here.

Advanced standing: Students applying from certain school systems, or from another university, you may be eligible to receive up to 30 credits for university-level work already completed. Some students applying from outside Quebec may be able to earn exemption from taking basic science courses by writing placement exams before classes start.

Bachelor's degree: a degree that normally takes 3 or 4 full-time years to complete depending on the previous educational system of the student. An Honours program demands a high degree of specialization and requires a student to satisfy specific requirements while maintaining a good academic standing. Students generally complete a first academic year and can then select an Honours program. An Honours program can be a requirement for certain graduate programs.

Calendar: The Calendar is accessible online and is the official listing of requirements for degree programs and courses offered by the University. It also describes the University's academic and administrative regulations, policies and procedures.

Co-op programs: Students alternate study terms with terms working in industry, gaining on the job experience and training. For example, McGill's Co-op Mining Engineering program involves 7 study terms and 4 work terms.

Credits: Each course taken is assessed on the basis of a certain number of credits. Most half-year courses are worth 3 credits and full-year courses are worth 6 credits. A full course load for the September to December and January to April terms is usually 5 courses each term, which, at 3 credits each, is 30 credits in total. Students can take a minimum of 12 credits per session and still be considered full-time.

Exchanges: You can spend 1 or 2 terms of your degree program at a university in another country. McGill has partnerships with hundreds of schools around the world to add an international dimension to your studies.

Faculty: Students at McGill are part of a faculty, such as the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Engineering. There are 11 faculties at McGill, each headed by a Dean. Faculties are divided into departments and schools:

  • Departments are devoted to a particular area of study, such as the Department of Philosophy or the Department of Chemistry.
  • Professional Schools, like the School of Architecture or the School of Nursing, are part of a faculty, but offer more intense, specialized programs usually leading to a professional career.

Field studies offer you the chance to spend up to a semester in Panama, Barbados, or the Arizona desert, on the Bay of Fundy, in the Canadian Prairies, in rural Quebec or Africa with other McGill students studying the human and physical environment. Plus, some McGill summer courses are offered in Italy, China and Greece.

Internships also provide an opportunity for practical experience in the workplace and can sometimes earn academic credit.

Major: is the student's primary area of study. For example, a student could be pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Biology.

Minerva: By logging into Minerva, McGill's on-line administrative system, students can track their application, register for courses, etc.

Minor: As opposed to a major, an area of secondary concentration is called a minor. Some faculties also offer a concentration within a bachelor degree program, for example, in International Business within the B.Com degree.

Multi-track: The Faculty of Arts offers students a chance to design their own program of study that can lead to a BA with a major concentration and a minor concentration, a double major concentration, and a major concentration with a double minor concentration.

Scholarships and awards: McGill's entrance scholarships, also referred to as awards, are awarded on the basis of outstanding academic achievement or a combination of outstanding academic achievement and leadership qualities, without regards to financial need. A McGill's bursary is an award based on financial need with a minimum academic standard and does not have to be paid back once you have completed your studies.

Term: McGill academic year is made up of three terms: Fall (September to December), Winter (January to April) and the Summer term (May to August) during which some courses are available. Most programs do not require students to register in the Summer term

Transfer: Students who have already been at another university, can apply to transfer credits to McGill or to complete a second degree. McGill student can apply to transfer internally from one faculty to another.

Undergraduate: a student who has not yet completed a Bachelor's degree or a program that leads to a Bachelor's degree. A graduate student has completed a Bachelor's degree and is working toward a Master's degree or Doctorate.

U0 Level – Freshman Year: Students coming from Canadian provinces outside Québec or other countries may enter the program at this level, and complete a 30-credit "freshman year" before proceeding with their U1 (Undergraduate) courses.

U1 Level – University Year 1: Most students will enter at this level after completing a CEGEP 2-year DEC in Quebec, after finishing Grade 11 in high school.

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