Terminology guide

McGill's academic terminology

What's the difference between a Major and a Minor? What is a Faculty? Find out here.

Advanced standing: Students applying from certain school systems (CEGEP, IB, French Bac, AP, AL & AS exams, etc.), or from another university, may be eligible to receive up to 30 credits towards their McGill degree for university-level work already completed.

Bachelor's degree: An undergraduate degree that normally takes 3 to 4 full-time years of study to complete, depending on the student’s previous education system. Once a student obtains their Bachelor’s degree, they are then eligible to apply to graduate-level programs (such as a Master’s degree) or specialized programs like Dentistry, Law and Medicine.

Competitive Admissions Process: Admission to McGill University is competitive and students who present the minimum requirements are not guaranteed acceptance. Admission is always subject to the availability of places in a particular program.

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. Two Co-op programs are offered at McGill, in Mining Engineering and Materials Engineering respectively.

Course exemptions: A course exemption may be granted if you have completed a course at another institution that is equivalent to a McGill course. An exemption does not give you course credits. Rather, it means that you must take another course in the place of the one for which you receive the exemption.

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. At 3 credits each, this amounts to 30 credits in total. To be considered full-time, students must take a minimum of 12 credits per term.

eCalendar: The eCalendar 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.

Exchanges: Often referred to as “going on exchange”, exchange participants study at one of McGill’s partner universities while earning credit towards their McGill degree and paying tuition to McGill. Partner universities have signed an exchange agreement with McGill, and there are a limited number of exchange positions for each partner university. Find out more about exchanges.

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.
  • 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: Field Study Semesters (packages of courses) are individual off-campus courses focused on the physical and social aspects of the environment. These are opportunities for upper-year (U2 or U3) students to gain practical experience and to apply knowledge gained in the classroom in a real-world setting. Field Study Semesters are offered in East Africa, Barbados and Panama. Find out more about field studies.

Graduate: A graduate student has completed a Bachelor's degree and is working toward a Master's degree or Doctorate.

Honours Program: An Honours program demands a higher degree of specialization than a Major and requires a student to satisfy specific requirements while maintaining good academic standing. Students generally select an Honours program after completing a first academic year. An Honours program can be a requirement for certain graduate programs.

Internships: An internship is a full-time or part-time work experience during your university studies for which you may be paid, earn course credit, or count as volunteer work. Internships allow students to gain real-world experience, determine if they have an interest in a particular career and create a network of professional contacts. Find out more about internships.

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

Minerva: Minerva is McGill's self-serve, on-line administrative system, where 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 or Specialization within a Bachelor degree program: For example, a Concentration in International Business within the Bachelor of Commerce (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 Bachelor of Arts (BA). Students choose from one of the following options:  a Major concentration with a Minor concentration, a Double Major concentration, and a Major concentration with two Minor concentrations (also known as a Double Minor). This structure is referred to as “multi-track”.

Off-campus courses:  Off-campus courses are taught by McGill professors, usually offered during the summer, in off-campus locations as varied as Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. Most off-campus courses are available within the Faculties of Arts, Engineering (including Architecture), Science, Law, and Management.

Previous year's cutoff: The lowest grades admitted to the program last year. Note that the cutoff may fluctuate up or down from year to year: grades that are equal to or better than those listed do not guarantee admission. 

Scholarships and awards: McGill's entrance scholarships, also referred to as awards, are given on the basis of outstanding academic achievement or a combination of outstanding academic achievement and leadership qualities, without regards to financial need. An Entrance Bursary is an award based on financial need and does not have to be repaid once you have completed your studies. Learn more.

Term: A McGill academic year is made up of three terms: fall (September to December), winter (January to April) and summer (May to August). Most programs do not require students to register for the summer term.

Transfer: Transfers apply to students who have already been studying at another university and who apply to transfer to McGill to finish their degree or to complete a second degree. Transfers can also refer to current McGill students who wish to apply to transfer internally from one McGill Faculty to another.

Undergraduate: An undergraduate student is working towards the completion of a Bachelor's degree or a program that leads to a Bachelor's degree.

U0 Level–Freshman Year: Students coming from Canadian provinces outside the CEGEP system or from other countries may enter their undergraduate program at this level, and complete a 30-credit "freshman year" before proceeding to take courses directed specifically towards their intended area of study (Major(s), Minor(s), Concentration, Honours, etc.).

U1 Level–University Year 1: Most CEGEP students will enter this level after completing a CEGEP 2-year DEC in Québec. Students entering McGill with 24 or more advanced-standing credits may also begin their studies as a U1 student. All other students will enter the U1 year following completion of their program’s U0 (freshman) year requirements.

 

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