How to Get a Degree

Whether you’re working towards an

  • Honours Bachelor of Arts
  • Honours Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Commerce

there are six requirements to complete.

1. 20.0 credits in total
2. no more than 6.0 credits at the 100-series
3. at least 6.0 credits at the 300- or 400-series
4. a minimum CGPA of 1.85
5. Programs
6. Breadth requirements

1. 20.0 credits in total
Unless otherwise stated, whenever the FAS refers to “courses,” it means “the equivalent in full courses.” A full course is the same as a full credit. It has a credit value of 1.0. A half course has a credit value of 0.5.

A standard course load per year is five courses. That’s a combination of full courses and half courses that total 5.0 credits. You can take fewer than 5.0 a year. You can also take as many as 6.0, though that’s certainly not advisable, and especially not in first-year. In addition, make sure you don't go over five courses per term - that's the maximum number you can take in each of the First (or Fall) and Second (or Winter) terms. It's always best to balance out your courses so you’re taking the same number in each term.

2. No more than 6.0 100-series courses
A 100-level credit is a first-year course.

If you have 100-series transfer credits, remember to count those in your 6.0.

Students may take courses beyond 6.0 at the 100-series, but any course beyond the first 6.0 that you take will be designated Extra. An Extra course still counts towards program requirements (see below) and it counts towards the Breadth Requirement (see below) but it does not count as a degree credit to make up 20.0 and it is not included in your Grade Point Average (see below).

3. At least 6.0 courses at the 300- or 400-series
You need at least 6.0 courses at the 300- or 400-series. These are upper-year courses and this requirement will matter much more to you in later years!

4. 1.85 CGPA
To graduate, you need to have a minimum Cumulative GPA of 1.85. That’s 1.85 out of 4.00. When you finish a course, you get a percentage grade for the course and you get a letter grade for a course. The letter grade is converted to a grade point value and grade point values are used to calculate grade point average. (Wait. It gets more confusing. Keep reading.)

When calculating your grade point average, it’s helpful to know that a full course is worth twice as much as a half-course. This chart gives you a sense of how percentages are converted to letters, which are turned into grade point values, that are used to calculate grade point averages.

If you graduate with a Cumulative GPA of 3.20, you’ll graduate “With Distinction,” and if you get a 3.50 or higher, you’ll graduate “With High Distinction.”

5. Complete Programs

Near the end of the academic session in which you complete your fourth credit, you need to sign up for a suitable combination of programs. If you don’t, ACORN won’t let you sign up for courses in the subsequent academic session!

Since most programs have first-year course requirements, you’ll want to look into programs before you select your first-year courses.

A suitable combination of programs includes:
one Specialist program, or
two Major programs, or
one Major program and two Minor programs.

A Specialist is a constellation of anywhere from 9.0 and 16.0 courses depending on the program. A Major is a collection of 6.0 to 8.0 courses depending on the program. And a Minor is always 4.0 courses.

If you’re going to complete a combination of two Majors or one Major plus two Minors, then you can use some courses to fulfill both programs, provided you have at least 12.0 distinct courses (that’s “equivalent in full-courses”!) in your combination of programs.

One more thing. In the Calendar, all programs are identified as an Arts program, a Science program or a Commerce program. If you’re completing a combination of two Majors and one is an arts (including social science) and one is a science, then you have a choice of either an Honours Bachelor of Arts or an Honours Bachelor of Science degree. And if you choose the combination of one Major and two Minors, then if you want an Honours Bachelor of Science degree, either the one Major or the two Minors have to be sciences.

6. Complete the Breadth Requirement
All courses are identified in the online Calendar by their breadth category. There are five different breadth categories:
CCR Creative & Cultural Representations
TBB Thought, Belief & Behaviour
SII Society & Its Institutions
LTE Living Things & Their Environments
PMU Physical & Mathematical Universes

To complete the breadth requirement, you need 1.0 courses from four of these categories or else 1.0 courses from three categories and 0.5 courses from the remaining two categories.

Conveniently, the first three letters of all First-Year Seminars correspond to their breadth category. The XBC First-Year Seminar courses fulfil two breadth categories.

It’s also helpful to know that some full courses satisfy two separate breadth requirements - in these cases, the course would count as 0.5 credit in breadth category A and 0.5 credit in breadth category B. All half courses only satisfy one breadth requirement.

It’s helpful to know that Degree Explorer can help you plan out your degree.