What’s the difference between a major and a minor?

Major

Your major is your specialty, the main focus of your program and what will be printed on your degree when you graduate. For example, if you study French, you could graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in French. The subject of your major will be what the majority of your classes focus on, although you will have the freedom to explore some other subjects too.

Minor

Your minor is a sub-specialty, a subject you have studied in depth, but not as much as your major. You don’t have to take as many courses to earn a minor in a subject, and sometimes you can mix and match different minors and majors.

What’s the difference between a course and a credit?

A course is just another term for a class you’re taking (for example, Intro to Business). You’ll usually take up to five courses at a time. Each course is worth credits, which can also be referred to as units or credit hours.

As you work toward your degree, you’ll earn credits in various subjects. The focus of your degree (the “major”) will be where you earn most of your credits. Once you meet all the credit requirements for your degree, you can graduate. For more information about credits and requirements, check your school’s academic calendar — it’s usually available online or at the registrar’s office.

Why do some courses have a lab or tutorial on top of class time?

Some courses have these extra parts, called labs and tutorials, to reinforce what you learn in the classroom. Labs give you a chance to apply what you’ve learned in a hands-on way — for example, a chemistry class will have a lecture (class time) along with a lab section where you get to work with the chemicals you’re studying.

A tutorial is different than a lab. Usually these are sessions where the professor or teaching assistants (TA’s) review concepts you learned in class or give you time to ask questions and work on assignments. Sometimes these are optional to attend, but you should check with your professor or read the class syllabus to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

What if I want to become a doctor, lawyer or teacher?

You can’t go directly from high school to study medicine, law or education — you need to complete at least part (but usually all) of an undergraduate degree before you can apply to those programs.

Medical school

If you want to become a doctor, you should try to take a core science program (such as biology or chemistry) for your undergraduate degree. You can take a core science degree at any Canadian university, not just the ones with medical programs. Medical programs generally treat all students who apply equally, no matter where their undergraduate degrees are earned.

Law school

The type of law you want to practice should guide your choices as an undergraduate. For example, if you’re interested in environmental law, you should consider studying environmental science. If you think family law is where you want to go, you could take a family studies or sociology program. For criminal law, you could consider a public policy or political studies degree.

You don’t need a criminology degree to become a lawyer. Check with a nearby university that has a law program to find out the exact requirements for admission. You might be surprised by the variety of programs that are accepted.

Education

Many people who want to become a teacher will first complete a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, or an undergrad program that focuses on child and youth studies. Check with a nearby university that has an education program to find out the exact requirements for admission.

How do I get a master’s degree?

If you already have an undergraduate (or bachelor’s) degree, you can apply to study in a graduate (or master’s) program. The options available to you will depend on the school where you want to study for your graduate degree, but there is a wide variety of options out there. You don’t have to get your graduate degree from the same school where you got your undergraduate degree. Keep in mind that every graduate or advanced-degree program is different, so make sure to check the specific requirements of any you might want to pursue.