Advising FAQs

I was admitted into U1. Do I need to complete the Freshman Program requirements?

If you were admitted to U1 following the completion of a CEGEP D.E.C. in Science or in Integrated Arts and Science you are NOT required to complete the Science Freshman (U0) program.

If you were admitted to U1 due to transfer credits/exemptions granted from an International Baccalaureate, a French Baccalaureate, a European Baccalaureate, A-levels, AP credits, university transfer credits or any other educational background except a Quebec CEGEP Diploma (D.E.C.) you must fulfill the Science Freshman (U0) program requirements, regardless of your U1 status. Your transfer credits and exemptions MAY contribute to the completion of some or all of the Freshman requirements.

In order to determine if you have any outstanding Freshman courses to complete, you are strongly encouraged to fill our your Course Planner and discuss with an academic advisor. An advisor can let you know if there are any outstanding Freshman requirements, which you must complete.

Can I declare a different program (Major/Honours/etc) than the one I selected when I applied?

Yes - but with certain limitations. 

B.Sc. students are admitted to a program group (such as the Physical, Earth, Math & Computer Science group) and were encouraged to select a specific program discipline (Mathematics, Physics, etc...) on the application.  However, once admitted, you can choose to declare any program (Major/Liberal/etc) from within the group to which you were admitted.  Students interested in declaring an Honours program must consult the eCalendar for their program of choice as some Honours programs require the completion of specific prerequisites during your U1 year. Students must obtain approval before declaring an Honours program - consult appropriate Program advisors to request approval.

  • U1 students will declare their program(s) at the time of registration.  
  • Freshman (U0) students, will declare their program(s) at the end of U0.

Use Minerva to declare the program(s) that you have chosen. Login to your Minerva account and select Student Menu > Student records menu > Change your primary curriculum.

Your program choice(s) can be changed later if you change your mind. Once you have declared your program(s), you may then register for your courses.

Can I transfer to a different program group in Science or to a different degree at McGill?

You may request a transfer between program groups in the B.Sc. (an Intrafaculty transfer), or between degrees (an Interfaculty transfer), after a minimum of ONE YEAR of study at McGill.  Transfers are competitive and based on your McGill grades and available space.

Students who are deciding whether to attend McGill should only accept an offer of admission to a program that they intend to graduate from. They should not accept an offer to a program that does not interest them, with the sole intention of requesting a transfer.  Transfers are in no way guaranteed. In fact, it is often more difficult to transfer into a different program group or degree than it is to be accepted through the regular admission process.

For the B.Sc. and B.A. & Sc. transfer requirements and procedure please consult the Science Undergraduate Handbook (Degree Transfers chapter).

We do understand that students may begin a program they intend to graduate from and then change their mind.  If, during your first year (or at another time during your studies), you decide that you would like to pursue a transfer:

  • Faculty of Science students who want to transfer to a different Science program group should speak with their SOUSA advisor about which courses to take to help with their goal of transferring.
  • Faculty of Science students who want to transfer to another Faculty should consult the appropriate Faculty (either by consulting transfer information on their website or by contacting them directly).
  • Students in another Faculty at McGill who want to transfer into Science should speak with Mary Gauthier, the Transfer Advisor, about which courses to take to help with their goal of transferring.

I expect to receive advanced standing and/or transfer credits for some previously completed coursework. What should I do to ensure that I am properly registered?

Any transfer credits and exemptions that you receive will be listed on your Minerva Unofficial transcript. Keep in mind that this may take a while. If you have any questions about your transfer credits or exemptions please consult your SOUSA advisor. Make sure that you do not register for a course at McGill for which you have an exemption as you will not receive credit if you take the same course a second time.

For more information refer to the section of this website on how to calculate your transfer credit and exemptions.

What is the difference between required, complementary, and elective courses?

Required courses must be taken to complete specific program requirements.

Complementary courses also count towards your program requirements; however, you do not have to take all of the complementary courses listed for a specific program. Instead, you must choose a specific number of credits from a list of complementary courses in order to complete program requirements.

Elective courses are the courses that you take outside of your selected program or programs, in order to reach the 120 credits necessary for obtaining your degree.

What is a placement exam?

Students entering McGill who feel that they’ve completed the equivalent of one or more university-level mathematics or science courses, but do not have acceptable certification to that effect, may earn exemptions from one or more of the Freshman Science courses by taking admission placement examinations before starting classes. For more information, consult Science Placement Exams.

Can I take a course under the S/U option?

If you would like to take a course outside of your area of specialization without worrying about whether that course will decrease your GPA, the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option may be a good option for you. Courses taken under this option will receive final grades of “S” or “U,” and these final grades are not included in GPA calculations and do not count towards your major or minor requirements. They count only as elective credit. To choose this option for a course, go to the Course Add/Drop menu on Minerva and change the “course grade mode.”

However, keep the following rules in mind when you are considering the S/U option:

  • U0 students cannot use the S/U option.
  • Do NOT use the S/U option on courses that count towards your program requirements.
  • You may only take one elective course per term under the S/U option, and you may only use the S/U option for a maximum of 10% of your total McGill credits (i.e. the number of credits you must complete at McGill in order to obtain your degree).

For more information, see Course Information and Regulations in the eCalendar (scroll down to the section on S/U).

I am having trouble registering for courses. What should I do?

If the course is full and it is a required course for your program, you must contact the department administering the course to determine whether they can increase the course’s capacity. If not, spaces often open in courses during the add/drop period, so if you really want to get into a course, just keep checking on Minerva to see if any seats have opened.

For more details about course registration problems, including explanations of Minerva error messages such as “Reserve Closed,” refer to our Registration Tips.

I am on the waitlist for a course. What should I do?

If you are on the waitlist for a course, do NOT drop the course if you see that places have become available in that course. If you do this, you will lose your place on the waitlist. Any seats that do open in waitlisted courses will be filled by students who are next on the waitlist. When it is your turn to register for the course, you will receive an email (at your McGill email address) telling you how much time you have to register. During this time, only you will be able to see available places in the course (other students will not be allowed to register for these open seats). For more information, visit Waitlists.

Can I register for an elective course in another Faculty (such as Management, Engineering or Music)?

B.Sc. students are normally allowed to take a maximum of 18 credits outside of the faculties of Arts and of Science. However, only certain courses are acceptable for credit towards your B.Sc. To make sure that the course you wish to take is acceptable for credit, see “Restricted Courses outside the Faculty of Science.”

For additional details on this regulation, consult Course Regulations in the eCalendar (scroll down to section on "Courses outside the Faculty of Science."

How do I find my final exam schedule?

The final exam schedule is usually posted online halfway through the semester.

If you need to book a flight home for the holidays, know that travel plans do not constitute as an accepted exam conflict. You should either wait until the final exam schedule is available before making travel plans, or you should schedule your travel plans for the day after final exams end.

I have several consecutive final exams scheduled. Does this count as an exam conflict?

Information about exam conflicts, including the steps to take if you have an exam conflict, is available at Exams.

Do I have to finish my degree in a set amount of time?

If you are admitted into U1 you are expected to complete your degree within eight full-time semesters. If you are admitted into U0 you are expected to complete your degree within ten full-time semesters. If you are registered for part-time studies (taking less than 12 credits per term) this time limit does not apply to you.

Regardless of full-time or part-time status, you are expected to complete your degree within 120 credits* (*See below for exceptions). Any elective courses taken after the semester in which you obtain 120 credits will be E-flagged, which means that they will not count for credit and will be excluded from your CGPA. If you need to exceed the time and/or credit limit for completing your degree, you must appeal to the Associate Dean, Student Affairs, Faculty of Science. Permission for exceeding the time and/or credit limits will normally be granted only for valid academic reasons, such as a change of program (subject to departmental approval) and part-time status. If permission is granted, you will receive credit only for required and complementary courses necessary to complete your program requirements.

Students who have been granted advanced standing for the International Baccalaureate, European Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement examinations, A-Levels, French Baccalaureate, and other qualifications, but who wish to complete a four-year undergraduate program at McGill, will be permitted to do so, with the appropriate limitations on the repetition of courses for which they have received exemptions. This gives students with advanced standing the option of completing 120 credits post-admission to McGill (including credits taken as part of an exchange or study away while enrolled at McGill). Interested students should contact their SOUSA advisor.

Note that this does not apply to CEGEP students, or transfer students from another university. Those students are still subject to the 120 credit limit.

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