Student FAQs

How do I ensure that I am meeting progression requirements to complete my degree program?

You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the regulations set out in the academic calendar. An academic calendar outlines important dates you will need to know, like when terms begin and end, when exams will be held and when you will have your reading week breaks. You will also need to make sure you know the final dates to add and drop courses and the financial deadlines associated with registration, including final refund dates. You will usually find the academic calendar you need on your faculty’s website, or you can ask your university’s registrar for more information about finding the academic calendar you need.

Can my parents access my academic information?

Due to privacy laws, your student record information (including application, admission and/or registration information) will not be released to your parents or guardian without your written authorization. To give your parents or guardians access to your student record information, you’ll need to fill out release of information forms. You might be able to find these forms online through the website where you register for your courses, or you can contact your university’s registrar for more information.

Is residence right for me?

Residence is convenient – your classes are only minutes away, and you will live in a furnished room, eat meals prepared for you in the dining hall and have the resources of staff and programming designed to assist and support you in your academic and personal life.  Many of you will also meet others who will become lifelong friends. However, those wishing a higher level of privacy or personal space, and freedom from regulation and supervision, may find that living in residence is not the best choice for them.

When should I start my housing search?

You should begin your housing search at least 4 weeks before your planned move-in date. Giving yourself plenty of time to search allows you to explore more housing options and reduces the stress of a last-minute housing search. One place to begin your search is your university’s off-campus housing listings, which often include rental advertisements. When you are searching for an apartment, search regularly and persistently. Check for new ads daily, and visit as many units as possible. Research what typical rental rates are for the area you are searching in, and bring an inspection checklist when you visit units so you can do thorough checks and have records about what you think of each place you visit.

I have a question about my degree requirements. Whom should I contact?

Your university’s academic advisors are your first point of contact for help navigating degree requirements and making sure you are taking the courses you need to finish your program of study. You may also want to contact your future or current department with questions about course selection.

Academic Terminology FAQs

Get to know the academic terminology that you will regularly come across.

Subjects of Major and Minor Interest (Program or Major)

A subject of major interest is the area in which you’ll focus and take the majority of courses. For example, a university might have a degree program called “Arts”, but within that program you could study a number of subjects including History, Drama, Economics, English, French, Sociology and Philosophy. When you choose a major, you take several courses in that area over your time in university.

You can also have 1 or 2 “minor” subjects of interest, which require fewer course credits. For example, you could major in History and complete a minor in Political Science.


Prerequisites are courses that you must successfully complete before you can register in a particular program. These are usually listed in course calendars so you can plan your courses for the next year. For example, the prerequisite to take a second year chemistry course might be a specific chemistry course offered in first year.


A faculty is a way to group similar programs together. For example, a Faculty of Science could include departments of Biology, Chemistry and Kinesiology, while a Faculty of Arts could include History, English and Global Studies. Faculties are usually headed by a Dean. Each Dean has his or her own office and staff who may provide academic advising services or other student services. Professors are also called faculty members so you may sometimes see the word faculty being used to describe a group of professors in a Faculty.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree, also known as an undergraduate degree, generally requires 3 or 4 years of full-time university study to complete. You can enter this degree program directly from secondary school or as a mature learner. There are many different types of undergraduate degrees. Some common examples are a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Master’s Degree (MA)

The master’s degree (MA) takes between 1 to 2 years to complete after your bachelor’s degree. Starting a master’s degree requires you to specialize and undertake research in an area of study, often supervised by a professor or university researcher. Some common examples are a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Education (MEd).

Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD)

The doctor of philosophy degree (PhD), also known as a doctoral degree, usually takes between 4 to 6 years to complete after a master’s degree. In a PhD, you will focus even further in 1 area of study. Throughout your doctoral degree, you will undertake an original piece of research that you will present and defend at the completion of your program. You can pursue a PhD in various disciplines both in the arts and sciences and in professional fields that include law, medicine and engineering.

Professional Program

A professional program includes advanced learning that leads you to a certification or training for a particular profession. Some examples include Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Optometry, Pharmacy and Nursing. Professional programs also include medical school that results in a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and teacher education that results in a Bachelor of Education (BEd).

Course Syllabus

A course syllabus is an outline and summary of topics that will be covered in your course. Instructors will usually distribute the syllabus on the first day of class, for an overview of the course for the year. Think of it as a road map for weekly readings, course assignments, course expectations, deadlines and exams. The syllabus will include contact information for your instructors and teaching assistants, and may also outline plagiarism (academic misconduct) policies and student codes of conduct.


The registrar’s office at a university handles student records and class registration, so office staff will be the ones to register you as a university student. They can provide services such as guiding first-year class registration, processing your request to graduate and printing transcripts. At some universities, the registrar’s office also includes the financial aid office.

Tutorials and Labs

Tutorials are small weekly classes in which teaching assistants (TAs) hold discussions on topics covered in lectures, as well as advice for completing assignments and preparing for tests or exams. For example, in a first-year course of 300 people, you might expect between 15 to 30 students in your tutorial.

In labs, you complete hands-on experiments to apply what you learned in a lecture, which is also led by a TA. These small labs will allow you to undertake research that’s relevant to your class.