Extras: electives, minors, field studies, internships, exchanges


What is an elective?

Electives are courses taken for academic credit but which are not required for your degree. In this regard they differ from required or complementary courses.

Electives allow you to explore interests outside your core program, gain exposure to a wider world, and take advantage of the vast scope of opportunities at a large, comprehensive university like McGill. From astronomy to philosophy, from sociology to zoology, electives round out your education.

  • Courses in Earth and Planetary Sciences would be electives for a Psychology Major because they are not required for your program.
  • Music courses, for example, could be electives, depending on how they are listed on the webpage "Restricted courses outside the Faculty of Science".
  • Courses not on the approved list (please refer again to "Restricted courses outside the Faculty of Science") do not count either towards your program (major, honours, liberal) or degree requirements.
  • The number of electives that you may take during your degree varies depending on how much room you have left after completing program requirements and prerequisites for your programs.

Please check the university calendar and carefully review course restrictions to determine whether you have permission to take a specific course. If you have any questions, please check with the SOUSA, the Science Office for Undergraduate Student Advising.


What is a minor?

A minor is an area of secondary concentration. You may use your elective courses to pursue an 18 to 24 credit minor in a subject area different from your major. You can pursue your minor within the Faculty of Science, or many other faculties, including Arts. (In Arts, a minor is known as a "minor concentration.")

A minor allows you to explore a second area of interest, without requiring as many courses as a major program. Many minors are interdisciplinary, such as Geochemistry, Cognitive Science, or Natural History.

Please see our programs of study webpage for a list of all the minors (and majors!) open to Science students.

Field Studies

Africa Field Study Semester: class in the field

We bring science students to the world through our field initiatives. We offer a wide range of field study experiences, including programs conducted at McGill's extensive network of field stations or opportunities to conduct research in downtown Montreal.

What are field studies?

Field studies offer students a chance to put theory into practice through local, regional, and international field study semesters and individual courses. Our field study opportunities provide practical experience and a chance to integrate and apply knowledge gained in the classroom. In many cases, field courses can be counted towards major program requirements.

Field study semesters

  • The Africa Field Study Semester / Canadian Field Studies in Africa program consists of a series of safaris between established research stations which have strong working relationships with their surrounding communities. Offered each winter in East Africa, this is a research-based program with a focus on natural science, social science and interdisciplinary areas. Administered by the Faculty of Science.
  • The Barbados Field Study Semester, offered in the Fall semester, addresses the socio-economic, management, urban and physical constraints that relate to the sustainable use and development of natural resources. Administered by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • The summer Barbados Interdisciplinary Tropical Studies program exposes students to a wide range of agri-food-energy industries and related socio-economic issues in Barbados. Administered by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
  • The Panama Field Study Semester, offered in the Winter term, is a joint venture between McGill University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). It investigates issues relevant to the Latin America tropical environment. Key features of the program are field trips, transdisciplinary approaches, and a hands-on internship experience with a Panamanian institution (NGO, governmental or research). Administered by the Faculty of Science.

Individual field courses

In addition to semester-long programs, McGill's departments offer many shorter individual field courses, often in the summer. For more information, please see the Field Studies section of the University Calendar, specifically the subsections for Off-Campus Summer Programs and Off-Campus Courses.


Industrial Practicum (IP) and Internship Year in Science (IYS)

Would you like to "test drive" a job before you launch into a career? Would you like some help figuring out what it is you want to do after university? How about earning money to fund further education? You can do all these things with an internship!

An internship is a paid, full-time work term done during your undergraduate degree in a field related to your studies. You can learn more on our Internships webpage.

Exchange programs


McGill has agreements with many other institutions, allowing you to study at another university on the other side of the continent or on the other side of the planet. Find out more in the "Exchange programs" section of the University Calendar, and in the "Options for studying abroad" section of the McGill International Education website.