At every stage of your degree, you may have questions you need answered. Before you make the trip to the Undergraduate Student Services (USS) office, please check out the following Frequently Asked Questions. You may discover the answer you are looking for and save yourself a trip!
We have answers to questions about:
Majors, Minors and Double Majors
FGPA (Faculty Grade Point Average) & GPA (Grade Point Average)
Taking Courses At Other Local and International Institutions
My friends got a letter/e-mail from the USS office but I didn’t. Did I miss something?
Perhaps. Come to the USS office and we can check your file to see if anything we mailed to you recently was returned to us.
Note that it is your responsibility to ensure that your contact information in Bear Tracks is current. This includes your mailing address, phone numbers and e-mail addresses!
You must also ensure that you regularly check your ualberta.ca e-mail account. We send many important messages to that account.
What if I have missed a deadline?
It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and meet all deadlines or accept the consequences associated with the specific missed deadline. Deadlines are set by the University of Alberta and cannot be altered by the Faculty of Arts for any reason. Check the U of A Calendar for details.
What is the Faculty of Science *6 Residency requirement and how do I know which courses meet it?
All students in the BA must complete at least *6 in courses taught by the Faculty of Science. Applicable courses are in any Faculty of Science department (Computing Science, Mathematics and Statistics courses are just a few examples). Check in the Course Listings section in the Calendar to confirm which faculty is offering the course. If you are considering completing this requirement with a course in PSYCO or EAS, make sure the course is offered by the Faculty of Science, not Arts.
How do I know if I am on the right track for my program?
In order to confirm that you have met the requirements for your basic/core, your major, minor or double major, and that you have not exceeded your junior course weights, you must come in to the USS office and fill out a Request for a Program Check form. If you would like us to check your program and you have not declared a major/minor or double major, we will only check your basic/core requirements. We will e-mail or mail the completed form to you when the check has been completed. On average, this takes approximately three weeks to complete, BUT keep in mind that during busy times of the school year (end of the term, the summer months), these requests will take longer than three weeks to process. Contact the USS office for more information.
How many junior level (100-level) courses am I allowed to credit to the BA program?
The maximum is *48. Take your transcript and count the number of 100-level courses units passed. If you would like us to check, please submit a Request for a Program Check form and we will confirm your junior course weights, as well as the rest of your program.
Is there a time limit to complete my BA degree?
No. As long as you have registered in at least one course and it shows on your transcript in a calendar year (September – April), you will continue to be a Faculty of Arts student. If you interrupt your program for more than 12 months, you will have to reapply for admission to the program, meeting all admission and program requirements in effect at that time.
Are there a minimum number of courses I must take in order to continue in the BA program?
Yes. As long as you have registered in at least one course and it shows on your transcript in a calendar year (September – April), you will continue to be a Faculty of Arts student, assuming you maintain satisfactory Academic Standing.
How do I withdraw from a course?
First, check the withdrawal deadlines in the current U of A Calendar. If the add/drop deadline has not passed, go to Bear Tracks and drop the course using the Drop feature. If the add/drop deadline has passed but you can withdraw, print off your timetable from Bear Tracks, and, if you are a Faculty of Arts student, come to the USS office to fill out a Withdrawal Form, transferring the information from your timetable to the Withdrawal Form. Please note that you always come to your faculty to withdraw, no matter which course it is. If you are currently registered in a special program, such as Honors, Criminology or BFA, you will also require a signature from your Department Advisor before coming to see us. Also note that some courses require Departmental Approval (e.g., Chemistry, Art & Design, Biochemistry) before we can sign your Withdrawal form.
Have the staff at the USS office sign your withdrawal form and you are out of the course. Keep the signed copy we give you for your records – it is your proof that you withdrew from the course!
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When do I have to declare my major, minor or double major?
We strongly suggest you declare your major, minor or double major by the end of your second year. However, you are free to change these as often as you wish as long as you submit another form each time. There is no fee.
How do I declare or change my major, minor or double major?
Come in and fill out a Declaration or Change of Major/Minor form or print an online form from the forms cabinet online and submit it to the USS office. If you would like us to check your program and you have not declared a major/minor or a double major, we will only check your basic/core requirements.
I’m not sure what I want my major/minor to be.
You are not alone! The Faculty of Arts Core/Basic Requirements will expose you to different courses from a number of disciplines which may help you choose your major and minor.
If you are unsure of your career path, CAPS: Your U of A Career Centre has resources to assist in career planning as well as your employment search before and after graduation. They also offer other services such as career planning, work searches, employer information sessions and more!
Department websites and advisors are also excellent resources for students looking for more detailed information on possible major/minors and potential career opportunities.
Can I minor in Business in the Faculty of Arts?
No. There are very few courses in the Faculty of Business that are available to Arts students. Courses that are available may be counted towards the *18 allowed in Non-Arts and Non-Science options in the BA. Check the calendar listings for more information.
Can I minor in Science? Which Science minors are available to me in the BA program?
You bet! Check the Calendar section for more information. As well, after you have declared your Science minor and have requested that your program be checked, you can discuss specific questions with the undergraduate advisors of those departments.
I just received my new calendar and the requirements for my major/minor have changed. Does that mean I have to take those courses too?
Not necessarily. You must meet the requirements of the year you were admitted (or readmitted, if you had to reapply at any time), so those new courses may not apply. Your program form will state at the top of the page which year’s calendar requirements you must meet. If you would like to have us go over your program and let you know how you are doing, submit a Request for a Program Check form.
I want to go into Law – what should I major in?
To enter Law, you need an undergraduate degree in any area, so we suggest you choose a major that you are passionate about. The more you enjoy your courses, the more likely you will receive a higher GPA and a competitive average! Contact the Faculty of Law for more detailed information.
I’m considering changing my minor subject to a second major but I want to know first how many extra courses the double major will require. What do I do?
Check the calendar – the major courses you require are listed. Make sure you are looking at the 2003-2004 calendar or later, when double majors were allowed. If you would like us to check for you, submit a Declaration of Major/Minor form declaring the double major and a Request for a Program Check form. We will recheck your program based on the double major. Then if you decide not to proceed with your double major, you must notify the USS office in writing to confirm that you want to revert to the major/minor combination you had before.
I received my program form and it says I have option courses I can take. What does that mean?
Option courses are any courses not applied to your core/basic, your major/minor, or your double major. Faculty of Arts or Science option courses are unlimited, as long as they fit your program. Non-Arts or Non-Science courses have a maximum of *18 applied to your program. You are not required to take option courses – you can also choose to take more courses in your major or minor, as long as do you not exceed the maximum.
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Do courses taken in Spring/Summer in the Faculty of Arts count towards my FGPA?
Yes. All Spring and Summer courses taken while registered in the Faculty of Arts are used in calculating your FGPA. Your overall FGPA must be 2.0 or higher to continue in satisfactory standing.
If you take three or four courses in Spring or Summer terms (*9 or *12), then the FGPA could be assessed at the end of Spring/Summer terms. If you take one or two courses in Spring and/or Summer (less than *9 total), then your FGPA could be assessed at the end Spring and/or Summer terms if no assessment was completed at the end of the previous registration. If assessment was done for the previous registration, and at least three courses (*9) have been completed since then, an assessment could be done at the end of the next Fall and/or Winter terms.
How and when is the FGPA calculated in the Faculty of Arts?
The FGPA is based on all grades for courses completed while registered in the Faculty of Arts (since May 1989). It excludes courses completed at other institutions and courses taken while registered in other faculties. If you fail a class and retake it and pass, both the failing grade and the new grade are included in the FGPA.
FGPA is calculated every term but assessment of your academic standing takes place only after completion of at least *9.
According to the U of A Calendar section 42.6:
Am I eligible for the Fresh Start program?
Academic Standing for all students registered in the Faculty of Arts, except those registered in the BA (Criminology), BDesign, BFA Art and Design, BFA Drama, BMusic, BMusic/BEd and BA Honors programs, is assessed on the basis of a Faculty grade point average (FGPA). See §§23.4(6) and 23.9.2 for information on calculation of FGPA's and the academic record. For the above programs which do not use the Faculty grade point average as the basis for assessing academic standing, the academic standing, promotion and graduation regulations will be found in the program descriptions in §§43.4 to 43.13.
Initial assessment and subsequent reassessment of academic standing is based on students' performance in a minimum of 9. If, at the time of review, students have attempted fewer than 9 since the last assessment, the review is deferred and the academic standing assigned at the last review remains in effect until the next review.
Assessment of academic performance is conducted at the end of each student's registration in both Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer provided that 9 have been attempted since the last review. As well, academic standing is assessed at the end of each student's program even if less than 9 have been taken since the last review.
The GPA is printed on the University of Alberta transcript. Both averages, GPA and FGPA, are included on the Bear Tracks record that students are responsible to review (https://www.beartracks.ualberta.ca) at the end of each Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer.
Assessment of Academic standing
Satisfactory Standing (FGPA 2.0 and above): Students who maintain a satisfactory standing are permitted to continue their studies in the Faculty of Arts.
Marginal Standing (FGPA 1.7 to 1.9 inclusive): Students receiving the first assessment of marginal standing are permitted to continue, under academic warning, until the next assessment of academic standing in order to raise the FGPA to 2.0 or higher. At the time of the next assignment of academic standing, such students:
who raise their FGPA to at least 2.0 may continue their studies with satisfactory standing.
whose FGPA is less than 2.0, and whose average on the courses taken since the last review is less than 2.0 will be required to withdraw.
whose FGPA is less than 2.0 but who have, during the period since the last review, achieved an average of at least 2.0 on all courses attempted, will be permitted one further registration (under academic warning) in order to raise the FGPA to 2.0. If the FGPA is not raised to 2.0 at the next assessment, the student will be required to withdraw.
Note: Students under academic warning are only permitted to interrupt their programs with the prior, written permission from the Associate Dean, Student Programs. If students on academic warning interrupt their programs for more than 12 months without prior approval, readmission will normally not be granted unless the student meets the current readmission criteria.
Unsatisfactory Standing (FGPA 1.6 and below): Students receiving an unsatisfactory standing are normally required to withdraw from the Faculty of Arts. See §42.7 for information on academic appeal regulations.
Students who are required to withdraw from the Faculty at the end of Fall/Winter cannot register for the following Spring/Summer. Students who register for the Summer Term of Spring/Summer prior to the requirement to withdraw will have their registration cancelled without penalty. Those students who have already registered in Spring Term of Spring/Summer prior to receiving notification of the requirement to withdraw will be permitted to continue until the end of Spring Term, or may choose to withdraw from those Spring/Summer courses
Year 1 and 2 students who have achieved a FGPA between 1.3 and 1.6 may be eligible for admission to the Fresh Start program. Students must be recommended by the Faculty for participation in the Fresh Start program. See the Fresh Start section in the calendar.
I’m really struggling with my classes and I need some academic assistance. What should I do?
1. Speak to your instructor about your concerns.
2. Check out the Student Success Centre. They have all kinds of information on study habits, exam writing difficulties and individual tutorials on research papers and writing problems. Contact them early to avoid a last-minute rush!
3.Consider reducing your course load, so that you can concentrate on fewer courses. Make sure you know when the withdrawal deadlines are.
4.Contact the USS office to speak to an advisor. We are here to help.
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What is the Cortona program?
Check out their website for more information! You can also check out our satellite campus in Lille, France.
If I want to take courses for credit to my degree at another institution while I am a student in the Faculty of Arts, do I have to notify the Faculty of Arts?
Yes. You must have permission from the Faculty of Arts in advance or credit may not be granted. You need an Application for Letter of Permission form and must fill it out in full. The reason for the request must be academically justifiable (i.e. student’s family has been transferred to another city).
Can I go on a foreign exchange program and have my courses taken there credited toward my Faculty of Arts degree?
Yes. In the case of a formal exchange program with the International Centre, certain forms are required (See International Centre). We encourage Arts students to participate in official exchange programs.
You must complete an Application for Letter of Permission if the institution does not have a exchange program from the International Centre. See the USS office for details.
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What do I need to do to graduate?
Even if you do not plan to attend the convocation ceremony, you must submit an Application for Degree form to receive your degree. You can do this online on Bear Tracks. Please note: you can only apply online once for your degree. If your application is denied at that time (usually because you have applied too soon in the process), you must contact the USS office directly the next time you apply for your degree. There is no fee to apply.
If you are completing your degree requirements at the end of the Fall (December) or Winter (April) term, we encourage you to submit your Application for Degree by the middle of October (and once you have registered in all applicable courses). If you are planning on completing your program requirements in Spring/Summer term, please submit your application by the middle of April once you have registered in the Spring or Summer courses. Early application allows time for any changes that may be necessary to final term registrations.
Final application deadlines:
February 1 – Spring Convocation
September 1 – Fall Convocation
If these dates fall on a day that the University buildings are closed, we will accept these forms on the next business day only.
Note that you cannot convocate in Spring if you are still taking classes towards your degree in May/June (Spring) term. Similarly, you cannot convocate in Fall if you are still taking classes towards your degree in the September (Fall) term.
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Undergraduate Student Services (USS) Office
6-5 Humanities Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E5
Tel: (780) 492-4295
Fax: (780) 492-6325
Toll Free in Canada: 1-888-533-5735
HOURS OF OPERATION- year round:
Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 3:30 pm
And advising hours (on a drop-in basis) are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10:00 am – 11:30 pm and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.
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