Frequently Asked Questions

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. For more detailed information please visit Choose your Program.

I know I want to declare a major in History, but I cannot do that until I have completed all the lower division required courses, right?

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

I am interested in lots of 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. For more information in regard to programs offered in FASS, please see the Choose your Program.

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

You are encouraged to work on completing the requirements for your second choice (e.g. major in Economics) in case you are not successful in gaining entry to your first choice area (e.g. Business).

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 degree who have completed approximately 70 units and have not yet declared a major or two minors must discuss their academic goals with an advisor in AQ 3020.

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 disciplines reserve spots for students who are approved into their major or minor. During the initial enrollment period, Psychology, for example, reserves 100% of their upper division spots for students in an approved Psychology 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.

Enrolment, Repeats and Withdrawals

I tried to enroll in ENGL 101 and the system would not let me. I know I have the correct prerequisites as I got the class without a problem the last two times I enrolled. Why can’t I enroll in it?

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 the department to take ENGL 101 for a third time then I will not have any more enrollment problems, right?

Perhaps. If, however, the third attempt at the class is also a 6th or subsequent repeat, you have another problem. The gosfu system gives you a warning when you sign on that you are not permitted to take a 6th or subsequent repeat. You are not allowed to take any more than 5 repeats in your degree. Please be aware that permission for a 6th or subsequent repeat is rarely given. If you need to make a request, however, please put your request in an e-mail to Claire de Lisser, Undergraduate Advisor in the Dean's Office.

My friend told me he saw that message about the repeats on gosfu, but he was allowed to go ahead and enroll – nothing stopped him. Can I just enroll in the class like my friend?

Technically, you are correct. There is nothing to stop a student, barring other issues such as a third attempt at a class/prerequisites not met etc., from actually enrolling in a 6th or subsequent repeat. However, as per your degree requirements, this is not allowed.

If I ignore the message, and enroll in a 6th or subsequent repeat, what might happen?

You might be taken out of the class. You might be left in it, but at graduation time find that the ‘illegal’ repeat will not count toward the degree. It is definitely not advised that you ignore the rule.

I had to take a course twice before (I was sick) 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 a problem?

Students may take as many as 18 units in a term without any special permission. A student wishing to complete 19 units, or more, must seek permission for a course overload from Claire de Lisser in the Office of the Dean.

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 about 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. For example - 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
  • French 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 to me?

This is a very important question. It is important to educate yourself about the ramifications of a 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 got a poor grade on one of my classes but I do not think I was given the correct grade. Is there anything I can do about that?

Yes. You should read 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 Ombuds Office which is “… an independent and autonomous agency funded by students through the Student Society. The role of the Office is to ensure that all members of the university community receive fair and equitable treatment on campus.” The Ombuds Office is located in the Maggie Benston Centre (Room 2205). You can also contact the Ombuds Person via e-mail.

Taking Classes at another Institution

I want to take a class elsewhere. 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 the information available on the taking courses at another institution section of our website.


How do I go about letting 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 second month of classes). Remember to double-check with your advisors to confirm that your degree requirements will be indeed complete.

If I later change my mind and decide not to go ahead, 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.