Frequently Asked Questions

Find your answers

If you have an advising question, please take a look at the common questions below and see if you can find the answer you need. Otherwise, please contact an academic advisor through the various advising options available to you.

Newly admitted and first-year students

When can I register for courses?

Course registration for fall starts on the first week of July and you will receive an email in mid-June on your registration time. 

What do I need to do before signing up for my courses?

Make sure you activate your SFU computing ID to ensure you have access to your SFU student account and email too. Attend course planning sessions for new students so you feel more confident navigating different course options.

How many courses do I need to take in my first semester?

Start by considering how many courses you would like to take during your first term. Be mindful of your commitments outside of school. Normally, you would also consider your commute time to and from campus, and between SFU's three campuses.

  • Be aware of your individual circumstances and if any of the following categories apply to you: international student, NCAA student, applying for student loans, scholarship recipient.
  • In order to meet the full-time student status, you need to enroll in 9 units per semester. 

What are units?

The credit you will receive toward completing your degree. Each SFU program requires a certain number of units. Courses indicate the number of units they are worth, for example English 104-3 gives you 3 units toward your degree.

Can I still make changes to my course schedule once I select my courses?

Yes! You can still make adjustment to your schedule up until September 14th without department permission. Be sure to check deadlines to make sure you don't miss important dates. 

As a new student admitted to FASS, am I declared in a major for my BA degree?

In most cases, you are not declared when you are first admitted. Your choice of a major is only INTENDED. Students must first complete specific course and program requirements in order to formally apply for their major as outlined in the SFU Calendar. Please see the program declaration section of our website. 

Can I take courses outside of my intended major?

Yes, and it is a part of your degree requirements too. 

How do I know what courses to take? 

If you know the program you are intending to study, use the academic calendar to check the program’s requirements.

If you are still exploring, use the academic calendar to search the different programs, subjects, and courses SFU offers. As long as you meet the course prerequisites, you can take any courses you like, even if they are offered by a different faculty!

All students must fulfill SFU’s writing (W), quantitative (Q), and breadth (B) requirements. Whether you are decided on a program or not, work on completing W, Q, B requirements in a timely manner.

If you are taking four courses, a suggested sample course load could be as follows:

  • 2 courses that are required for your intended major and/or minors
  • 1 course that is required for another program (major and/or minor) that you might just be interested in.
  • 1 elective which could be WQB or just something you would like to explore.

What if I don’t know what I want to major in?

It is okay to not yet know what you would like to study and it is also okay to change your mind!

Students who are still undecided can explore what SFU offers by searching under “courses by subject” in the Academic Calendar.

Try reading course descriptions and choose those that you find interesting. Students often find their program by taking courses they like and wish to pursue further.

Work on completing your WQB requirements through electives.

Still have questions?

Come to our course planning sessions for FASS new students or book an appointment with FASS advisors.

Major and Minor Declaration

I read on goSFU that I must declare a major by completion of second year. Is that true and why?

Yes, you should be approved to a major, a joint major, two extended minors, an extended minor and a minor or two minors (with at least one extended minor or minor in FASS) by the time you have completed 60 units. Major declaration is an essential part of timely degree completion. Learn more about how to plan your degree.

I know I want to declare a major in a specific subject. Can I do that without having completed all the lower division required courses for this major?

While the lower division requirements have to be completed, not all FASS programs expect you to have completed the courses before being accepted to a major. Please check the calendar or contact the advisor for your department of interest to find out more.

I am interested in multiple subjects and I do not think I want to complete a major. Is there another option?

Yes, within a BA you can complete a joint major, two extended minors, an extended minor and a minor or two minors (with at least one minor in FASS), rather than a major. Learn more about how to plan your degree.

Although I am in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, I actually want to complete a degree in another faculty. What should I do?

To ensure that you are taking the correct classes to be admitted to your first choice faculty, you need to obtain academic advice from that faculty. For further info, please visit your faculty of choice via their website or speak to an advisor from your faculty of choice to find out more.

You are encouraged to work on completing the requirements for your second choice in case you are not successful in gaining entry to your first choice area.

When should I declare my major or two minors?

You should declare your major or two minors as soon as you are able to. University regulations state that you must declare your major or two minors by the time you have completed 60 units. Students in the bachelor of arts (BA) degree who have completed approximately 70 units and have not yet declared a major or two minors must discuss their academic goals with a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences advisor.

What are the benefits of declaring a major or two minors?

Declaration of a major or two minors is an essential part of timely degree completion. Once you have declared your major or two minors, you will know exactly which classes you need to take to complete your degree.

  • You are "protected": students who have their major or two minors approved are not subject to fulfilling any requirements introduced subsequent to their major or minor declaration.
  • Improved access to upper division courses: some departments reserve spots exclusively for students who are approved into their major or minor.

How do I declare a major or two minors?

You will need to contact the department advisor for the major or minor you wish to declare. The advisor will be able to assess your eligibility for admission and also formally add your major or two minors to your degree.

Enrollment, Course Repeats and Withdrawals

I tried to enroll in a course and the system would not let me. I know I have the correct prerequisites as I got into the course without no problem the last two times I enrolled. Why can’t I enroll in it now?

You are not permitted to enroll in a class for a third time without approval from the department/school/program involved. Some areas in FASS are very strict and rarely allow students a third attempt at a class. To seek permission, contact the specific department advisor. However, you are cautioned that if you have to take a class for a third time you should reconsider whether your academic goal is feasible.

If I get permission from a department to take a course for a third time, will I still have problems enrolling in that course?

You may encounter some issues with enrollment. If, however, the third attempt at the course is also a sixth or subsequent repeat, the goSFU system will warn that you are not permitted to take a sixth or subsequent repeat. You are not allowed to take any more than five repeats in your degree. Please be aware that permission for a sixth or subsequent repeat is rarely given. If you need to make a request, however, please contact a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences advisor.

My friend told me he saw the warning message about course repeats on goSFU, but he was still able to go ahead and enroll in his course. Can I also enroll in my course like my friend did?

Technically, there is nothing to stop a student from enrolling in a sixth or subsequent repeat course, barring other issues such as it being a third attempt at a class or prerequisites not having been met, etc. However, as per degree requirements, this is not allowed.

If you choose to ignore the message and enroll in a sixth or subsequent repeat course, you might be removed from the class. Or, you might be able to take the course, but at graduation time will find that the "illegal" repeat will not count towards your degree. It is definitely not advised that you ignore this rule.

I had to take a course twice before due to illness and now I have to withdraw. That does not seem fair to me. Can I do anything else?

You may have grounds to be retroactively withdrawn from the class or classes in which performed poorly due to illness. For further information on withdrawals, both timely (within the term) and retroactively (after completion of the term), please visit the Withdrawal under Extenuating Circumstances section of the Student Services website.

I am anxious to finish my degree requirements and want to take about 20 units next summer. Is that permitted?

Students may take as many as 18 units in a term without special permission. A student wishing to complete 19 units or more must seek permission for a course overload from a Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences advisor

It is important to note that overloads are calculated on the basis of contact units. During the summer there are three enrollment options:

  • Summer term: regular 13-week term that takes place from early May until late July.
  • Intersession: begins at the same time as summer term but is approximately six weeks in length, ending approximately mid-June. 
  • Summer session: ends when summer term ends but is approximately six weeks in length, beginning approximately mid-June.

A student enrolling in a 3-unit intersession class or summer session class will attend class twice as frequently, over six weeks, as a student doing the same class in summer term (13 weeks). This is important for the purposes of calculating overloads. Take this example of a student enrolled in the following during summer:

  • CHIN 100-3 Summer Term = 3 contact units
  • CRIM 101-3 Summer Term= 3 contact units
  • ECON 103-3 Summer Term = 3 contact units
  • FREN 120-3 Intersession = 6 contact units
  • PSYC 210-4 Intersession = 8 contact units

If this class load were taken entirely in summer term there would be no overload (16 units). However, during the six weeks of intersession, the student in this example would be taking 23 contact units (for course load values only, this would be equivalent to taking 23 units). This is definitely not a recommended class load even for the strongest of students.

Academic Standing and Grade Appeals

I have been having a hard time academically and I think that I might end up on probation. What will this mean for me?

This is a very important question. It is important to educate yourself about the ramifications of poor academic performance. Please review the Guide to Academic Standing and Continuance to find out more.

I have been told that if my poor performance continues I will be kicked out of SFU. Is this true?

Yes. This status is called “Required to withdraw” (RTW). Being required to withdraw from the university is a very serious academic situation. Please review the Guide to Academic Standing and Continuance for further information.

I received a poor grade in one of my courses but I do not think I was given the correct grade. What can I do about that?

Please review the Policies and Procedures relating to grading practices and grade appeals to ensure that you follow the correct procedures.

If I follow the policy and procedures as set out, but I do not think I have been treated fairly, do I have any other options?

You can seek assistance about grading and other issues from the Office of the Ombudsperson, an independent and autonomous agency funded by students through the Student Society. The role of the Ombudsperson is to ensure that all members of the university community receive fair and equitable treatment on campus. The Office of the Ombudsperson is located in the Maggie Benston Centre (Room 2205). You can also contact the Ombudsperson via e-mail.


How do I let the university know that I want to graduate?

You must apply for graduation and pay your graduation fee via credit card, directly through goSFU. Be sure to check the deadline to apply for graduation, as your application to graduate will be cancelled if you do not pay your graduation fee on time. You should apply for graduation during the term in which you are completing your last course (the first deadline is during the second month of classes). Remember to double-check with your advisors to confirm that your degree requirements will be complete.

If I later change my mind and decide not to proceed with graduation, what do I need to do?

You need to cancel your application for graduation by the first day of classes of the term following your graduation term. A refund of the graduation application fee will be triggered once you cancel your graduation through goSFU. When you are ready to graduate you will need to apply for graduation again.

Other Questions

I want to take a course at another institution. Can I do that?

If you meet the criteria for approval, then you will need to apply for a Letter of Permission (LOP) by completing the Request for Letter of Permission form. You should attach a course outline (syllabus) for each course that you plan to complete at the other institution, so that the courses may be evaluated by the appropriate departments for course equivalence. Please review more information about taking courses at another institution.