Writing, Quantitative, and Breadth Requirements
Students admitted to Simon Fraser University must meet writing, quantitative, and breadth requirements as part of any degree program.
All students completing an undergraduate degree program must complete courses that are formally designated W, Q and/or B, with a grade of C- or better.
A grade of C- or better is required to earn W, Q or B credit.
|W - Writing
Must include at least one upper division course, taken at Simon Fraser University within the student’s major subject; two courses (minimum three units each)
|Q - Quantitative
Q courses may be lower or upper division; two courses (minimum three units each)
|B - Breadth
Must be outside the student’s major subject, and may be lower or upper division:
Two courses (minimum three units each) Social Sciences: B-Soc
Two courses (minimum three units each) outside the student’s major subject (may or may not be B-designated courses, and will likely help fulfil individual degree program requirements).
Students choosing to complete a joint major, joint honours, double major, two extended minors, an extended minor and a minor, or two minors may satisfy the breadth requirements (designated or not designated) with courses completed in either one or both program areas.
Courses with a W designation are writing intensive, and assist students to learn the course content through the process of writing assignments. These courses help to improve writing abilities and overall communication skills.
Students must achieve a grade of C- or better in a W course to obtain the W credit.
For a list of W courses, see http://ww.sfu.ca/ugcr/for_faculty/certified_wqb_courses/certified_writing_courses.html.
Writing intensive courses have the letter W in the course title, and are also identified at the end of the course description, just after the prerequisite information. For example:
- CRIM 300W-3 Current Theories... Criminology
A detailed examination of current theories... Prerequisite: CRIM 101. Writing.
Lower Division W Requirement
- one lower division W course (three units or more)
Students are advised to complete their first W course within the first 60 units of a degree program.
Students transferring from another post-secondary institution with 60 units should complete a transferable lower division W course where possible prior to admission to Simon Fraser University; alternatively they may enroll in an upper division W course rather than a lower division W course at SFU as soon as possible after admission. A second upper division W course in the major is also required (see below).
Upper Division W Requirement
- one upper division W course, in the student's major subject (three units or more)
Students in double minor programs should select an upper division W from one of the two discipline areas in which they are taking their double minors.
The upper division W requirement must be completed at Simon Fraser University.
Quantitative courses, also known as Q courses, assist students to develop quantitative (numerical, geometric) or formal (deductive, probabilistic) reasoning, and to develop skills in practical problem solving, critical evaluation, or analysis.
Students must achieve a grade of C- or better in Q courses to obtain the Q credit.
For a list of Q courses, see http://ww.sfu.ca/ugcr/for_faculty/certified_wqb_courses/certified_quantitative_courses.html.
Q courses are identified by the word Quantitative at the end of the course description, just after the prerequisite information. For example:
- BUS 251-3 Financial Accounting I
An introduction to financial accounting... Prerequisite: 12 units. Quantitative.
Q Course Requirements
- two Q courses, lower or upper division (total six units or more)
Students are advised to complete their first Q course within the first 60 units of a degree program.
Students transferring from another post-secondary institution with 60 units should complete a transferable Q course prior to admission to Simon Fraser University; alternatively they may enroll in a Q course at SFU as soon as possible after admission.
Breadth courses, also known as B courses, expose students to concepts and ideas from a range of disciplines and perspectives.
Students complete a total of 24 units of breadth courses, and must achieve a grade of C- or better in B courses to obtain the B credit.
For a list of B courses, see http://www.sfu.ca/ugcr/for_faculty/certified_wqb_courses/certified_designated_breadth_courses.html
B courses are identified at the end of the course description by the words Breadth-Humanities (B-Hum), Breadth-Social Sciences (B-Soc), or Breadth-Science (B-Sci) just after the prerequisite information. For example:
- CMNS 110-3 Introduction to Communication...
An introduction to selected theories about human... communication. Breadth-Social Sciences
Six Designated Breadth Courses
Students may complete designated breadth courses outside their major subject throughout their degree programs, but are advised to complete them as early as possible in their program.
- two courses labelled as Breadth-Humanities outside the student's major subject (B-Hum, six units)
- two courses labelled as Breadth-Science outside the student's major subject (B-Sci, six units)
- two courses labelled as Breadth-Social Sciences outside the student's major subject (B-Soc, six units)
Two Additional Breadth Courses
- two courses outside the student's major subject (six units)
These additional courses may or may not be designated as B, and in most cases will fulfil the particular faculty or program breadth requirements.
Only courses outside of the student’s major subject may count toward the breadth requirement. For example, a student majoring in physics will not be able to count PHYS 120 as meeting a B-Sci requirement. Similarly, students majoring in English will not be able to count ENGL 101 as meeting a B-Hum requirement.
Students who change majors or degree programs may need to revisit any breadth designations they have previously chosen in light of the new program requirements.
Some courses may fulfil more than one requirement. For instance, a course may count as both Q and B, or W and B, or W and Q, or W, Q and B, and students will receive all designation credits unless the B is from their major. No course, however, may fulfil two B requirements. Some courses may have multiple B designations (such as B-Soc and B-Hum), but students must decide which designation to use in order to fulfil their requirements. For example, when completing ARCH 131, a student must decide if they are completing this course to fulfil B-Soc or B-Sci, even though the course will appear on the transcript with both labels.
The content of W and Q courses presumes that students have met a basic competency standard. Two Foundations courses are available to students who are not ready for W and/or Q courses:
- Foundations of Academic Literacy (FAL), and
- Foundations of Analytical and Quantitative Reasoning (FAN)
Students will be informed prior to their enrollment date if they are required to enroll in one or both of these courses.
Students transferring to Simon Fraser University with 60 units are strongly recommended to enroll as soon as possible in FAL or FAN if they are required to complete one or both of these courses, to ensure future access to W or Q courses.
Students required to enroll in one or both of these courses must complete the course(s) within their first three enrolled terms at Simon Fraser University. A grade of P is required to progress from FAL into W courses. A grade of C or better is required to progress from FAN into Q courses. Students may attempt these courses no more than twice. If the required grade is not achieved in two attempts or within three enrolled terms at the university, students will be blocked from enrolling in further course work at Simon Fraser University until competency in English and/or quantitative skills is demonstrated.
This competency can be demonstrated by
- retaking English 12 or high school math, or
- achieving a score of 20 out of 30 on the Simon Fraser University Q Placement Test (if the student has not completed this test earlier) for quantitative competency, or
- by enrolling in transferable college English or math courses.
Foundations of Academic Literacy (FAL X99)
This course introduces students to the kinds of reading and writing they will encounter in lower division courses across university disciplines.
Effective Fall 2023, units earned in FAL X99 count towards the total units required for a degree. Students must achieve a P or better in this course to proceed to a W course. Students may attempt this course twice.
For FAL X99 course information, see https://www.sfu.ca/students/calendar/courses/fal.html.
Foundations of Analytical and Quantitative Reasoning (FAN X99)
This course is for students who need to upgrade their quantitative background in preparation for Q courses, or for those who wish to refresh their skills after several years away from mathematics.
Effective Fall 2023, units earned in FAN X99 count towards the total units required for a degree. The grade received in FAN X99 is included in calculation of the cumulative grade point average. Students must achieve a C or better in this course to proceed to a Q course. Students may attempt this course twice.
Free Q placement testing is also available. For information about the Quantitative Placement Test, visit https://www.sfu.ca/math/undergraduate/advising/placement-test.html. Students who receive a pass on this test may bypass FAN X99 and enroll directly in a Q course.
For FAN X99 course information, see https://www.sfu.ca/students/calendar/courses/fan.html.
Joint or Double Degrees, Majors, Honours and Extended/Double Minors
Students completing joint or double degrees, joint or double majors and honours, two extended minors or a double minor, will not be required to complete two sets of W, Q and B requirements. W, Q and B designated courses in either one or both disciplines of the major, honours or minor programs may be used to satisfy the writing, quantitative and breadth requirements. Additional breadth requirements can also be met within the two disciplines. For example, a student completing a double major in English and physics may count B-Sci designated physics courses as B-Sci, and B-Hum designated English courses as B-Hum, W designated English for the lower and upper division W requirement, and Q designated physics courses toward the Q requirement.
Students admitted to a second degree program are exempted from all of the breadth requirements (designated and additional), three units of the Q requirements, and the lower division W requirement. The remaining W and Q courses must be three units each. Second degree students must meet the FAL and FAN prerequisites in order to enroll in W and Q courses. The W course must be upper division in the student's major. Second degree students who have met WQB requirements in a first degree at Simon Fraser Unviersity are required to meet this W and Q requirement for the second degree.
Post-secondary courses that transfer to Simon Fraser University courses that are certified as W, Q and B will be labelled as W, Q and B on the student’s Simon Fraser University record. Please review the BC Transfer Guide (http://www.bctransferguide.ca) to determine if transferable courses from BC institutions receive designations.
Students transferring to Simon Fraser University are recommended to complete some Q and B courses at the college level, and a lower division W course if available.
Students transferring to Simon Fraser University from all other universities, or from colleges outside of BC, may have their transfer credit reviewed for WQB designations if designations have not been assigned. However, courses completed prior to September 2004 will not be reviewed for W designation. Please refer to the following web page for more information: https://www.sfu.ca/vpacademic/our-role/academic-planning/curriculum-development/general-education-wqb/transfer-credits.html.