The following definitions are provided to help you understand terms or expressions commonly used at the University of Ottawa. They are not, however, official, complete definitions for the purpose of interpreting University or faculty policies.
Academic calendar (Important dates and deadlines)
Normally, the period from the start of the Spring-Summer term (May 1) to the end of the Winter term (April 30).
Approval to enrol in a program of study at the University. Admission is valid only for the indicated on the offer and is void if not followed by enrolment to courses. For more information, visit the section of our website.
Scholarship granted upon admission based on a student’s admission average.
Recognition granted for a course completed with success at another academic institution towards the student’s program of study at the University of Ottawa (see also transfer credits).
Asymmetrical student mobility
Activities students take part in at a host university for credit or for volunteer, research or work experience, particularly abroad. They are made possible through bilateral, non-reciprocal student exchange agreements.
A student who has been authorized by one of the faculties to take one or more courses but who does not obtain units for the course. Auditors are not entitled to write examinations or to hand in assignments and may not change their status after the deadline has passed for course changes for the term in which they are enrolled. More information is available in the .
Bachelor's, bachelor's degree, baccalaureate
Undergraduate degree for which a student must complete the equivalent of three or four years of studies and 90 or 120 units, respectively and obtain the required cumulative grade point average (CGPA) for the program.
Offered in the faculties of Arts, Science and Social Sciences, the degree provides a general university education.
A or seminar in which teaching and discussion take place alternately and equally in the two official languages, whether it’s one week out of two (option A) or during a same class (option B). Depending on the discipline and the learning experience, documentary resources (reading lists, audiovisual material, etc.) reflect the two official languages as much as possible. For more information, see .
Bursary / Scholarship
Non-repayable financial aid granted to students to pursue a program of study. Bursaries are granted based on financial need. Some bursaries, however, require recipients to meet other criteria. Scholarships are a non-repayable financial award granted to students based on academic achievement or other merit criteria. For more information, visit the site.
Process where a counsellor or another qualified professional or experienced person helps students learn about and select a program of study to prepare for a career.
An undergraduate program of at least 30 units that entitles the student to earn a diploma (undergraduate certificate) conferred by the Senate of the University. These programs allow students to acquire knowledge in a specific area but do not lead to a bachelor’s or baccalaureate degree.
Co-operative education program, CO-OP
Academic stream offered in certain honours bachelor’s and master’s programs with alternating academic terms and paid work terms (also known as placements). For more information, visit the CO-OP program website.
Collaborative Program: 3+2 or 3+2+1 programs (also known as 3+3)
A program allowing an exchange student who has completed three years of study at his or her home university (a University of Ottawa partner) who then registers at the University of Ottawa to complete a preparatory year for a master’s, before undertaking a master’s (one to two years, depending on the program). The partner university awards the bachelor’s and the University of Ottawa the master’s.
Community service learning - CSL (Centre for Global and Community Engagement)
An academic program and a form of experiential learning where students contribute to their community by participating in professor-approved community service placements related to course learning objectives, and then produce reflection papers related to these goals. Students must complete 30 hours of CSL for fall and winter courses, and 20 hours for summer courses.
A program (a major or a minor) added to a student's main program and that does not accept students directly.
A mandatory course taken to fulfill core-education or program-specific requirements.
A group made up of all the partners (universities and other postsecondary institutions) taking part in a joint project.
A compulsory course for all students in related programs.
A course that must be taken at the same time as another course or that has been successfully completed in advance of another course.
Cotutelle doctoral program
A cotutelle doctoral program makes it possible to study at both the University of Ottawa and another university (outside of Ontario). Doctoral candidates are supervised jointly by a thesis supervisor at each university and alternate time at the two universities. Candidates usually only write one comprehensive examination and a thesis, and only defend the thesis once before a jury named by the two partner institutions. When the doctorate is completed, candidates receive a degree recognized by both universities, with mention of the cotutelle on the diplomas.
The naming convention for courses comprising three letters followed by digits. The three letters indicate the discipline (e.g. FRA 1710 is a French course). One or two letters may be added at the end to identify the course section or the campus where the course is offered (e.g. FRA 1710 A). The first digit indicates the year of study. The second digit indicates the language in which the course is taught (numbers 1 to 4 indicate English, numbers 5 to 8 indicate French while numbers 0 and 9 indicate a bilingual course, a course taught in a non-official language, such as Spanish, or a course involving mainly individual work (e.g. thesis or practicum)).
The last two digits are for faculty use.
Situation arising when the scheduled time period of one course or exam fully or partially overlaps the time period of another course or exam (see also course timetable).
A letter used to differentiate between courses with the same course code that is offered more than once a year. The letter follows the course code. For example, SOC 2511 A (i.e. section A of SOC 2511) is offered Mondays at 8:30 a.m. whereas SOC 2511 B (i.e. section B of SOC 2511) is offered on Tuesdays at 1 p.m.
A list of the courses offered during a particular term by a faculty including the course description, sections, location, time and names of professors for each course (see also course conflict). To find available courses, search the online .
Cumulative grade point average (CGPA)
Measure of a student’s academic performance in all courses. The CGPA is calculated at the end of each term (see also grading system).
Academic and administrative unit at a faculty (e.g. Department of Communication, Department of Biology, etc.).
Two degrees can be obtained at the same time if the requirements for both programs are met simultaneously (see also integrated program).
Branch of knowledge or instruction or a general subject area, such as psychology, philosophy, geology.
Discussion group (DGD)
A class period during which guided group discussion permits further exploration of various aspects of the subject matter covered during lectures.
Degree conferred upon the completion of a program of study at the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) level.
A degree that meets the requirements of both the home and host universities, allowing students to receive two different degrees, one from each university.
Course chosen from all courses offered at the University of Ottawa so that students can explore other disciplines or interests. Electives are part of degree requirements but not part of the core courses or discipline-specific requirements (including compulsory and optional courses).
For example, a student enrolled in a bachelor’s with a major in history can take a communications course as an elective.
Expression of interest
A written expression of interest in a potential partnership signed by an interested party confirming its intention to provide deliverables or act on plans.
Testing designed to evaluate the knowledge and skills a student has acquired with respect to material covered in a course or a program of study. Most university courses include a midterm and final exam. For more information, visit the .
Permission granted to replace a course that is normally required in a program of study with another course.
A student from a partner university taking part in an exchange at the University of Ottawa. The exchange is based on an agreement between the student’s home university and the host university (the University of Ottawa).
Extended French stream
Academic stream offered by the faculties of Science and Engineering where a given number of courses are taken in French, with or without language support (see also French Immersion Studies).
A main academic and administrative unit at the University of Ottawa (Nine faculties in total).
Faculty (direct entry)
An academic unit students can be admitted to without having completed some postsecondary studies. There are six direct entry faculties at the University of Ottawa:
- Faculty of Arts
- Faculty of Engineering
- Faculty of Health Sciences
- Faculty of Science
- Faculty of Social Sciences Telfer School of Management
French immersion studies
An academic stream offered in certain honours bachelor’s programs where a specific number of courses must be taken in French, with or without a language-learning support component (see also Extended French Stream). For more information, visit the site.
Field research courses
Courses in which students can carry out independent studies, as well as attend classes, conferences and activities dealing with issues related to the country. The courses are worth six credits for undergraduate students and three for master’s students.
Scheme used to assign grades at the University of Ottawa.
|Letter grade||Numerical value||Percentage value|
Other non-numerical grades
Graduate studies, graduate (1-4 years)
University studies leading to a graduate studies diploma, a master’s degree or a doctorate (PhD). You can begin graduate studies after you complete an undergraduate program at a recognized institution. They can lead to the following:
- Diploma (1 year): A shortened program of 15 university credits that allows you to get right to the crux of a subject. Courses extend over an academic year, that is, two sessions.
- Master’s (1-2 years): Degree conferred upon the completion of a master’s level program. You must already have a bachelor’s to be admitted to a master’s. Program length is approximately two years, though it varies based on whether you choose to do a thesis, research paper or internship. Usually, the first year is spent on courses connected to the program. The following year is spent writing your thesis or research paper.
- PhD (4-5 years): Degree conferred upon the completion of a program of study at doctoral level. A PhD follows a master’s and is the highest level of studies you can attain. It takes four to five years to complete. The first two years are typically spent on courses connected to your area of study. In the final two or three years, you write your thesis.
Undergraduate degree requiring the equivalent of four years of studies and at least 120 units with a minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA), except in specific cases that have been approved by the Senate.
This degree will be conferred upon completion of a program requiring in-depth training in a single discipline or in an interdisciplinary area of studies with a minimum of 54 units in the discipline or interdisciplinary area.
An honours bachelor's with a minor is conferred upon completion of the honours bachelor’s as defined above, and of a minor, which introduces students to a field of studies and consists of 30 units, unless otherwise indicated.
An honours bachelor’s with double major is an intensive program of study in two disciplines or two main areas of study requiring a minimum of 42 units per discipline or area of study.
An honours bachelor with major and minor is an intensive program of study in one discipline with another area or sub-area of study added.
A joint honours bachelor's is program of study allowing students to specialize in two related disciplines or fields and consisting of at least 42 units in one discipline or field and 36 units in the other.
Other honours bachelor's programs pertain to a multidisciplinary program (undergraduate program with courses in at least three disciplines), a multidisciplinary program with a minor (undergraduate program with courses in at least three disciplines and a minor) and a specialized program in the faculties of Arts, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law and the Telfer School of Management.
A discipline course that also allows students to improve their second official language. Students successfully completing an immersion course are granted three units for the regular content course taken in their second official language and three additional units for the accompanying language course, for a total of six units (see also French Immersion Studies and Extended French Stream).
A program in which the degree requirements of two separate bachelor's degrees are completed, thus leading to two separate diplomas.
International exchange agreements (student mobility agreements)
Agreements furthering education-related cooperation enabling students from the University of Ottawa and partner universities to participate in exchanges over one or two terms by completing courses.
International and national exchange program
Program available to students interested in studying at another Canadian university or abroad for one term or an entire academic year.
A prerequisite internship completed in a professional setting, where the main goal is training. The internship may or may not be paid and/or for credit.
A student from a country other than Canada, neither a Canadian citizen nor permanent resident, who must pay international tuition fees. A differential tuition fee exemption for new international students registered full time in a French-language program means that their tuition fees can be reduced to those paid by Canadian citizens and permanent residents as of the 2014–2015 academic year, according to the following conditions:
- Undergraduate programs (bachelor’s): You must be admitted and registered full time in a program offered in French and take at least nine credits (three courses) per session in French.
- Graduate programs (master’s and doctorate): You must be admitted and registered full time and have completed secondary school or a postsecondary program in French of at least two years, or be admitted to a program of study at the University of Ottawa offered only in French.
An unpaid student internship abroad that can be organized by a third party. Volunteering abroad is different from community service learning abroad because the main goal is not necessarily student learning.
Internationalization of the curriculum
Curriculum internationalization is the process of integrating global, international and intercultural perspectives into a curriculum, in terms of content, pedagogical approach and learning outcomes, with the aim of training professionals and global citizens. - (adapted from: Betty Leask, Internationalization of the curriculum, Routledge 2015)
Joint honours bachelor's degree
An undergraduate program of at least 36 units in two disciplines, allowing for a dual specialization (e.g. philosophy and political science).
Class activity in a laboratory where students conduct practical work related to their course material.
Language-proficiency development activity associated with a disciplinary course taken in a person's second official language as part of an immersion course.
Language of instruction
The language used for teaching activities in a course or program.
A teaching activity in which the subject matter is communicated orally to a class with minimal student interaction.
Letter of permission
Program for which the University restricts the number of students able to enrol.
A course or program that accepts a limited number of students.
A main discipline or field of study and intensive training, usually consisting of 42 units in the discipline or field of study. Eighteen units must be in courses at the 3000 level or above and six units must be at the 4000 level.
Master's, master's degree
Degree conferred upon the completion of a master’s level program of study.
Mature student, mature applicant
A person who does not meet the regular admission requirements at the University of Ottawa and who applies for admission at least two years after last attending high school. For more information, visit the undergraduate website for mature applicants.
Memorandum of understanding
An agreement signed between two parties including rights and obligations for each. The general protocol may be accompanied by a more detailed mobility agreement implementing specific student and faculty mobility activities and research. A Memorandum of Understanding is not necessary to develop a collaborative program and/or any agreement. This is more a recognition that both parties are interested to collaborate.
A program requiring students to take courses in at least three disciplines.
A multidisciplinary program with a minor requires students to take courses in at least three disciplines as well as another field or subfield (a minor).
National or international CO-OP placement (internship)
A placement arranged through the University of Ottawa Co-operative Education Programs. It allows students to apply concepts learned in class through paid work placements in Canada or abroad. After just over four years of study, you will have not only a diploma that indicates you participated in a CO-OP program but also approximately 16 months of experience in your field of study and a network of valuable contacts.
An identified set of courses within a field of study chosen so the student can gain a certain degree of specialized knowledge in the field (e.g. engineering management option).
A course included in the program requirements and that must be chosen from a particular disciplinary field or from a list of specific courses.
Status of an undergraduate student enrolled in fewer than 12 units during a term.
Foreign postsecondary institutions that have signed all types of agreements with the University of Ottawa.
A course that must be successfully completed as a condition for taking another course.
A course that must be successfully completed by a student who does not have the required educational background to enrol directly in first-year university courses.
Status of a student whose academic standing is below the required minimum for a particular program of study but who is allowed to continue in the program on the condition the student's cumulative grade point average is equal to or above the required minimum CGPA within a specific period.
Undergraduate program of study generally providing training that meets the requirements of a professional association or a college, such as medicine, engineering, teaching. The program contains a high proportion of discipline-specific courses.
Length of study varies among disciplines (two years for education, three years for law and medicine and up to four years for engineering and commerce). Acceptance into professional programs in law, medicine and education requires prior university studies.
An assessment tool or activity that evaluates a person's knowledge in a given field and may or may not take into account the person's education.
Program of study
Fellowships are a period to gain experience for a full-time academic or research career and not a source of continuing employment. Research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty member at the University or one of its affiliated institutes. Fellows are funded either through a stipend received from their supervisor or a fellowship. They are free to publish the results of their research or scholarship conducted during the period of their appointment. The minimum length of an appointment is generally six months. Those wishing to register for a fellowship must do so no later than four years after receiving their PhD.
Registrar (Strategic Enrollment Management, SEM)
Unit responsible for student recruitment, admission and enrolment as well as financial aid, scholarships and , maintaining academic records and publishing timetables and the catalogue of programs and courses. For more information, visit the website.
Status of a student who has been admitted to a program of study leading to a degree at the University of Ottawa and who is enrolled in one or more courses in a program. For more information, consult and .
The main agreement or an appendix to a memorandum of understanding specifying details related to joint research between partner institutions.
A doctoral student who takes a break from studies at his or her host university to spend 3 to 12 months at the University of Ottawa and then returns to the host university. The student must complete part of his or her research at the University of Ottawa. He or she then receives a PhD from his or her home university.
A campus removed from the main campus. It can be located in another city, province or country and is usually smaller than the main campus. Satellite campuses might share the same administration but have separate budgets, resources and governing bodies.
Academic and administrative unit offering a professional training program (e.g. School of Translation and Interpretation, School of Nursing).
Official document received from the University of Ottawa after completing the two independent learning courses offered by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) and passing the standardized second-language proficiency test. For more information, visit OLBI's website.
A student whose studies at the University of Ottawa are funded in whole or in part by his or her government or by a third party. This financial support often includes tuition, incidental fees, health insurance and living expenses.
Sponsored Student Program (SSP) - uOInternational
The University of Ottawa’s Sponsored Student Program (SSP) at the International Office is a centralized initiative that facilitates communication between sponsored students, sponsors and University departments and faculties.
Activities support staff take part in at a host university for work experience in order to discover best practices and enhance their skills and knowledge regarding international matters. Time abroad can run from one to two weeks and take various forms, including job shadowing, workshops or internships organized by the partner institution.
An online application for students, accessible through uoZone that allows them to explore program and requirements as well as perform various transactions such as course enrolment or changes to course selection.
The classification of the education qualification a student is pursuing.
|Undergraduate level||Graduate level|
|Bachelor’s, undergraduate certificate, professional degree||Graduate studies diploma, master’s, doctorate (PhD)|
Student mobility agreement
An agreement or an appendix to a memorandum of understanding between partner institutions setting out details of student and faculty mobility. The agreement can be one of the following types:
- Framework: An agreement open to all disciplines and faculties (with the occasional exception of the Faculty of Education, Health Sciences or Medicine, or the Telfer School of Management). This type of agreement is the one most frequently signed by the University of Ottawa.
- Restricted: An agreement restricted to a discipline or faculty.
- Marco Polo: An agreement restricted to one discipline with courses predetermined by the relevant University of Ottawa academic unit. Students who are not studying the discipline in question can’t go on an exchange under this type of agreement.
Summer exchange program
A program that allows students to take part-time courses outside the country during the summer without having to pay the tuition fees normally charged to international students.
Symmetrical student mobility
Activities students take part in at a host university for credit or for volunteer, research or work experience, particularly abroad. They are made possible through bilateral, reciprocal student exchange agreements (symmetrical mobility) with regards to the number of students the partner institution sends and hosts.
A course given through an interactive video system and transmitted via telephone connection to a location off campus.
Period when academic activities are offered. The University of Ottawa has three terms per academic year. The Spring-Summer term runs from May to August, the Fall term runs from September to December and the Winter term runs from January to April.
In general, the Fall and Winter terms run for 15 weeks each, including the exam period. The Spring-Summer term also breaks down into sessions of varying weeks.
Term grade point average (TGPA)
Measure of the student's overall academic performance for all courses in a given term (see also grading system).
An official and confidential document issued by the University of Ottawa at the student’s request that summarizes the results in all courses a student completed at the University (see also grading system).
Courses completed at another university that are recognized and counted as partial fulfillment of the requirements of a program of study at the University of Ottawa (see also advanced standing). Results of the courses are not used in calculating grade averages.
Teaching course usually offered in addition to a lecture in which the material is dealt with in more detail and provides for more student-teacher interaction than lecture courses; includes time for discussion and questions.
Undergraduate studies, undergraduate student
University studies leading to a bachelor’s degree or an undergraduate certificate; a person pursuing such studies.
Value assigned to an academic activity.
Regular courses at the University of Ottawa are usually worth three units and run for one term. Some courses are worth six or even nine units, but these usually involve a practicum or internship.
Document presenting the academic results a student has obtained in a particular term (see also grading system).
The uOGlobal Recognition is a program that takes a unique approach to developing global and cross-cultural skills and to shaping global citizenship values through online courses, training, reflection exercises, and hands-on experiential learning opportunities. uOGlobal is open to students from all programs and levels at the University of Ottawa. It consists of three steps to receive the recognition; first: complete a learning plan, second: enroll in the 2-part asynchronous GLO course with cross cultural seminars and third: engage in 3 experiential activities. With the skills you will acquire through the recognition, you’ll stand out for employers everywhere.
University of Ottawa student card that provides proof of status as a University of Ottawa student (necessary at mid-terms or final exams, for example). It also gives students access to a wide range of services such as the gyms and sports facilities, libraries (to borrow books, movies, music scores and CDs), audio-visual equipment rental, photocopies, meals and snacks at all food services locations, books, etc.
University’s secure online system that allows students to take care of a variety of transactions related to their studies (uoAccess and password required).
The online application links all student online accounts together in one portal and provides students with access to their uOttawa email, Student Centre and Virtual Campus accounts as well as to many more tools to help them during their studies. Visit .
Work experience (paid or unpaid) related to the student's program of study (see also CO-OP).
Year of study
Period usually equivalent to 24 completed units (or two terms of full-time study) but that can vary depending on the program or faculty.
|Year of study||Completed credits|
3+2 or 3+1+2 student (also known as 3+3 student)
An exchange student who has completed three years of study at his or her home university (a University of Ottawa partner) who then registers at the University of Ottawa to complete a preparatory year for a master’s, before undertaking a master’s (one to two years, depending on the program). The partner university awards the bachelor’s and the University of Ottawa the master’s.