Freshman/Foundation Program (U0)

The information on this page, in conjunction with the eCalendar links provided, will help you plan your first year course selection as a Freshman/Foundation program (previously known as "Freshman program") student in the Bachelor of Arts & Science.

Important notes:

All students, except those admitted with a Québec CEGEP DEC in Science or Integrated Arts and Science, must fulfill the Freshman/Foundation Program requirements, regardless of advanced standing. Even if you are admitted as a U1, you must complete all required Freshman/Foundation courses if you do not receive Advanced Standing credits for them.


Freshman/Foundation Program Planner

Download and complete your Foundation Program Planner! 

If you would like feedback on your planner, you can email it to your tania.raggo [at] mcgill.ca (advisor (Tania Raggo)) or bring it with you to an advising appointment.

What is the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program?

The B.A. & Sc. Foundation program consists of an Arts component (9 credits of Arts courses) and a Science component (two math and three science courses). Courses taken for the Foundation/Freshman (U0) program cannot also be counted in any other program. There is no double counting of courses in the B.A. & Sc. degree.

 

What is the Arts component of the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program?

You are required to complete at least 9 credits of Arts courses chosen from two of the following three categories:

  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Languages

A maximum of two courses may be selected from one category, and no more than two courses from any one department.

These courses are selected from the list of approved subjects (found in the eCalendar, under the Freshman/Foundation program requirements in "ARTS"). Courses outside the Faculties of Arts and of Science cannot be used towards this requirement.

 

What is the Science component of the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program?

The Science component of the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program consists of two MATH courses from:

  • Calculus 1: MATH 139 or MATH 140 or MATH 150
  • Calculus 2: MATH 141 or MATH 151
  • Linear Algebra: MATH 133

and three foundational Sciences

  • Any number of: BIOL 111, BIOL 112, CHEM 110, CHEM 120, PHYS 101/131, PHYS 102/142
  • At most two of: COMP 202, ESYS 104, PSYC 100

Choosing a calculus stream

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics currently offers 3 calculus streams for B.A. & Sc. students, one for students with no previous background in calculus and two for students with a high school background in calculus: the regular stream and the accelerated stream.

Courses Target students
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus (4 cr) and MATH 141 Calculus 2 (4 cr) For students with no high school calculus or who do not have a full course of high school calculus (3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).
MATH 140 Calculus 1 (3 cr) and MATH 141 Calculus 2 (4 cr) For students with a full course of high school calculus (MATH 140 has 3 hours of lectures and a 1-hour compulsory tutorial; MATH 141 has 3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).
MATH 150 Calculus A (4 cr) and MATH 151 Calculus B (4 cr) For students with a full course of high school calculus and who enjoyed it and did well in all their high school science courses (minimum of A- in high school calculus) (3 hours of lectures and a 2-hour compulsory tutorial).

Both the MATH 139 and 141 and the MATH 140 and 141 streams cover Calculus I and Calculus II, whereas the MATH 150 and 151 stream covers Calculus I, II and III (this stream is a possible option for students planning to enter a program for which Calculus III [MATH 222] is compulsory). The MATH 139 and MATH 141 stream or the MATH 140 and MATH 141 stream are both suitable prerequisites for Calculus III.

Advanced Standing: If you have been granted advanced standing (credit and exemption) for Calculus I (either MATH 139 or 140), you have the option of registering for MATH 141 in either the Fall or Winter term. You may also choose the MATH 150 and 151 stream.

Check out the Department of Mathematics and Statistics recommendations on how to choose a calculus stream.

Choosing a physics stream

There are two streams of foundational physics courses:

Courses Target students
PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics and PHYS 102 Intro Physics-Electromagnetism For students with no high school physics or who are weak in physics. This stream is adequate preparation for the biological science programs but not for the physical science programs.
PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves and PHYS 142 Electromagnetism & Optics For students with high school physics and a solid background in mathematics. Note that calculus is required as a corequisite. This stream provides very good preparation for the biological or physical sciences programs.

Program-specific recommendations for MATH and Science courses (Under Review for Fall 2024):

Students interested in the following programs are advised to select their Freshman/Foundation mathematics and science courses in accordance with recommendations outlined below.

Some basic science courses are worth 4 credits - this means that taking 4 courses can still add up to 30 or more credits for the year.  You may wish to take only 4 courses in order to avoid being overloaded. If this is the first time you are studying in English, we strongly recommend that you take only 4 courses during your first term.

 

NOTE:  No course can count for more than one program, whether that is the Freshman/Foundation program, Interfaculty, Major, Minor or Honours program. Students in a minor/major concentration or interfaculty/honours program where COMP 202 is a required course should consult with their program advisor for an approved substitution if using COMP 202 to satisfy the Foundation Program requirement.

 

Note: Certain programs below may recommend more Math and Science courses than required for the Freshman/Foundation program.

Interfaculty Programs:

Cognitive Science
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B
BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology
PSYC 100 Introduction to Psychology

Plus at least one more Foundational Science

There are 5 streams within the Cognitive Science program. For more information consult the Cognitive Science website. For the following streams, additional courses are recommended for your first year given the structure of these streams:

  • If you are interested in the Computer Science stream, you should take MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry and COMP 202 Foundations of Programming.
  • If you are interested in the Linguistics stream, you should take LING 201 Introduction to Linguistics.
  • If you are interested in the Neuroscience stream, you should take CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1, CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2, PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics, and PHYS 102 Intro Physics-Electromagnetism. These would be in place of the Arts courses indicated above; you would complete your Foundation program ("Freshman year") Arts requirement in subsequent years.
Environment

MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B or MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
BIOL 111 Principles: Organismal Biology
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1
PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics or PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves

  • If you have advanced standing and/or exemptions for some of the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program requirements, it is recommended that you take ESYS 104 The Earth System in your Freshman/Foundation program. Also, we recommend that you take BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology if you are planning to take higher level Biology courses.
Sustainability, Science & Society (SSS)
  • You should consult the recommendations for Environment and Geography.

Science Major Concentrations: 

Biology
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B or MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
BIOL 111 Principles: Organismal Biology
BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1
CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2
  • Please note that PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics and PHYS 102 Intro Physics-Electromagnetism are prerequisites for some of the 200 and 300-level Biology courses. See the eCalendar for details.
Chemistry
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B
MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1
CHEM 120 General Chemistry 2
PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics or PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves
  • It is recommended that you take MATH 139/140/150, MATH 141/151 and MATH 133 because they are all prerequisites for the U1 courses in Chemistry.
Computer Science or Software Engineering
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B
MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry

AND three foundational science courses
  • It is recommended that you take all three Math courses: MATH 139/140/150, MATH 141/151, and MATH 133 in your Freshman/Foundation program because they are prerequisites for U1 courses in Computer Science. COMP 202 can be taken in U1. If you have advanced standing credits and/or exemptions for the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program requirements you can take COMP 202 Foundations of Programming in your first year.
Geography
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
BIOL 111 Principles: Organismal Biology
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1
PHYS 101 Intro Physics - Mechanics or PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves
  • If you have advanced standing and/or exemptions for some of the B.A. & Sc. Freshman/Foundation program requirements we recommend that you take GEOG 272 Earth's Changing Surface during your first year
Mathematics or Statistics
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B
MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry

AND three foundational science courses
  • You should take the three Math courses listed above as they are prerequisites for U1 courses offered by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Physics
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B
MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
PHYS 131 Mechanics and Waves
PHYS 142 Electromagnetism & Optics
  • It is recommended that you take MATH 139/140/150, MATH 141/151 and MATH 133 as they are prerequisites for U1 courses in Physics.
Psychology
MATH 139 Calculus 1 with Precalculus or MATH 140 Calculus 1 or MATH 150 Calculus A
MATH 141 Calculus 2 or MATH 151 Calculus B or MATH 133 Linear Algebra and Geometry
BIOL 112 Cell and Molecular Biology
CHEM 110 General Chemistry 1
PSYC 100 Introduction to Psychology

 


Are you interested in leaving the option open for medical school?

Students who wish to leave open the option of applying to medical school should be aware that they can select any major/interfaculty program (not just the biological or life science ones). Medical schools are looking for a diverse applicant pool and  many programs provide ample room to include medical school prerequisite courses. Students perform best when they select a program in which they are interested and engaged. Choosing the appropriate program can also leave many options open, not just medical school.

Students should review the prerequisite courses required for the medical schools they are considering to ensure that they complete all of the required basic science courses during their undergraduate degree. However, not all such courses need to be completed in the Freshman/Foundation program. Students are encouraged to select the Freshman/Foundation program courses that best prepare them for their future disciplines of study.

In addition, students should be aware of other constraints on their undergraduate studies imposed by medical school admissions. For example, some medical schools will not allow courses to be taken under the S/U option, and some medical schools require a minimum credit and/or course load per term. Medical schools vary in their prerequisite requirements but in general it is recommended that interested students complete both one full year of biology and one full year of chemistry during their Freshman/Foundation program. Specific admission requirements for all Canadian medical schools can be found at the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada website.


What about BASC 201 (Arts & Science Integrative Topics)?

BASC 201 - Arts & Sci Integrative Topics  - is a 3 credit course restricted to students registered in the B.A. & Sc. It is recommend to take this course in U0 or U1. 

For students in a multi-track or joint honours program: BASC 201 is a required course.

For students in an interfaculty or honours program: BASC 201 is recommended (but not required) and can count as 3 credits of the 9 Arts credits that you must take in the Freshman/Foundation year program. 

For all B.A. & Sc. students: BASC 201 is a prerequisite for the research courses BASC 396 and BASC 449. 


Foundation program Interest Groups (FIGs)

Previously Freshman Interest Groups

What are FIGs?

  • A FIG comprises approximately 25 newly admitted B.Sc. and B.A. & Sc. students.
  • Only newly admitted students can register for a FIG on Minerva.
  • FIGs are led by a member of the SOUSA office and an upper-year student.
  • The FIGs meets for one hour, normally once every two weeks, during the fall semester only.
  • FIGS 196 is a non-credit activity, does not cost anything, and does not appear on your McGill transcript.

What are the advantages of attending a FIG?

  • Interact in an informal setting with advisers, guest speakers and other students.
  • Explore topics not normally discussed in the regular classroom setting, ranging from careers in Science to the structure of universities.
  • Introduce discussion topics of special interest to you.
  • Be better informed regarding programs and research opportunities.

What topics might be discussed in a FIG?

  • Choosing Academic Programs: myths and facts
  • Exchanges and Travel Opportunities
  • Research opportunities
  • How to study more effectively and time management
  • Professional schools
  • Careers in Science (and related fields)
  • Part time jobs/volunteer work
  • Internships and field studies
  • Extracurricular activities on campus

How to register for a FIG

Information to come for Fall 2024.


Postponing a Freshman/Foundation program course

If it is necessary to postpone one of your Freshman/Foundation program courses, depending on your intended program, it may be possible to take the course at McGill during the summer session. Also, it may be helpful to know that you are permitted to take summer courses at another university and have the credits and exemption(s) transferred to your McGill degree. Please consult Study Away for more information regarding study away permission/approval for summer courses and the course equivalency system for more information regarding exemptions from McGill courses or contact marina.saunders [at] mcgill.ca (Marina Saunders).

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