Course Load

A full-time course load in the Faculty of Arts is 4-5 courses (12-15 credits) per term of study in the Fall and Winter; a full year (Fall and Winter term) is normally 30 credits. This credit total includes courses taken at McGill and, if applicable, concurrent courses taken through the Québec Inter-University Transfer Agreement (IUT).

You must carry a reduced load (maximum 14 credits per term) if your academic standing is not Satisfactory.

Choose courses that will provide you with a balanced and manageable workload and consider your other commitments (part-time job, extra-curricular activities, eligibility for student visas, loans, bursaries, scholarships, etc.) in deciding how many courses to take. For example, select two or three courses toward your Major Concentration requirements, one or two courses toward your Minor Concentration requirements, and one or two elective courses.

In general, a three-credit course requires three hours of lectures per week for one term. Credits also reflect the amount of effort required and generally assume two hours of personal study time for each contact hour. Therefore, to meet the demands of a university level course, you need to expect to spend an additional six to nine hours per week per class for related course work. This additional time includes activities such as conference attendance, reading texts, reviewing lecture notes, conducting research for assignments, preparing for tests, and writing papers. Therefore, if you register for five courses, you must be prepared for 15 hours of class time and an additional 30 to 45 hours of study time each week.

If you take less than five courses per semester, it may take you a bit longer to complete your degree, but it will likely improve your academic performance and school/ life balance. If your post graduation plans include completing further studies, you should inquire whether the school you intend to apply to considers course load as a criteria for admission.

You should determine the impact that your course load will have on the timely completion of program requirements, your academic goals and access to any university services or financial assistance you may need. Faculty advisors in OASIS can help you figure this out!


12 credits minimum per term

for full-time status, which will be the eligibility requirement for student visas, most loans and bursaries

14 credits maximum per term

for students in Probationary Standing

17 credits maximum per term

for students in Satisfactory Standing

27 graded (non-S/U) credits minimum per year
(both the Fall and Winter terms)

for renewal of McGill entrance scholarships;

for in-course McGill scholarships or awards, including Dean's Honour List and Faculty scholarships

30 graded credits minimum per year

for some external scholarships

Summer course registration

The maximum number of credits you may take during one Summer session is 12 credits. This credit total includes McGill Summer Studies courses and courses taken at another host university during the Summer term.

The schedule of lectures in McGill Summer Studies courses is very intensive; therefore, you may not register for more than two courses in any one McGill Summer term.

Part-time student status

If you are registered for fewer than 12 credits in a semester, you are considered to be a part-time student in that semester. Students are advised to consult with their service providers to ensure that they are meeting the necessary course load requirements to maintain services. If you plan to reduce your course load to below 12 credits, you are advised to have documentation to support this decision should you need to justify your reduced course load to a service provider, immigration authorities or graduate school admissions committee at a later date. If you are considering reducing your course load to less than 12 credits, your part-time status may affect the following:

Scholarships or financial aid Scholarships and Student Aid Office
CAQ or international study permit International Student Services
Loans, RESPs, health insurance Bank, health insurance provider, etc.

Exceeding credits per semester

If you are a currently registered student in the Bachelor of Arts degree and have earned a minimum of 12 McGill credits with a CGPA of 3.50 or higher, you may request permission to register for more than 17 credits per term (to a maximum of 19 credits per term) for Fall or Winter, or more than 12 credits for Summer (to a maximum of 15 credits).

The opening and closing dates of the Application to Exceed Credits Request (login required) can be found here. It is your responsibility to ensure that there is space in the course you wish to add.

**You can only submit one application for the current term of study. Applications for future terms will not be considered.

  1. Submitting this form does not guarantee approval of exceeding credits or registration in the course you wish to add.
  2. The programs on your unofficial transcript in Minerva must be accurate.
  3. Your Minerva record must be up-to-date. ALL grades and credits earned in preceding terms of study MUST be reported.
  4. Any transfer credit earned during an approved study away in a previous term of study must be articulated on your Minerva record.
  5. Your academic plan should not include registering for a course if it overlaps in time with another course listed in the Minerva Class Schedule.

Note 1: Late or retroactive requests will be refused.

Note 2: Requests due to exceptional circumstances (eg. your CGPA is marginally less than the 3.50 cutoff) may be submitted via the Arts OASIS webform


Back to top