Students chatting on campus.

Benefits of French immersion

There are many benefits to studying bilingually at uOttawa! Some of you may have already heard of the possibility to cover grades or the French Studies Bursary. Know that there are other surprising benefits you have yet to discover, including the right to write your exams answers, assignments or lab reports in both French or English.


Campus building.

Qualitative Grades

Eligible students in the French Immersion Stream can choose to benefit from qualitative grades (Satisfactory (S) or Not Satisfactory (NS)) instead of letter grades for up to 8 courses (24 units) taken in French in your first 20 courses (60 units) or equivalent. The qualitative grades will not be counted toward your grade point average, which alleviates some of the pressure to maintain average-based scholarships, obtain co-op placements or apply for an international exchange. 

You may use these grades for any course taught in French. When it comes to Immersion Courses, the qualitative grade may be attributed to the content course taught in French, to the accompanying language course, or to both.

NOTE: Students in the Faculties of Science and Engineering cannot receive qualitative grades with  the French Immersion Stream.

NOTE: B.Com.-JD and B.Soc.Sc.-JD: The Faculty of Law uses true grades, not qualitative grades, to assess admission into the Juris Doctor program.

NOTE: Courses completed prior to joining the French Immersion Stream, including transfer credits, are counted in the first 20 courses (60 units.)

NOTE: Faculties may choose to exclude certain courses from this option. A French course code has a 5, 6, 7 or 8 as the 5th character, for example ADM 1700 or BIO 1530. 

To request a qualitative grade: You must complete the online request or fill out the PDF request form (PDF, 502KB) and submit it to the French Immersion Stream office before the deadline in the University's important dates and deadlines calendar (around the 10th week of class).

Once your request for a qualitative grade has been approved, you will no longer be able to view your letter grade for the course. However, you may ask to remove a qualitative grade if and only if this is beneficial to you in order to renew a scholarship, to maintain your eligibility to the co-op education program or to the international exchange program.

In the event that you apply to a postgraduate or professional program that requires all your letter grades, you may communicate with the French Immersion Stream Office.

Person typing on laptop.

Write in English or French

The University of Ottawa's Regulation on Bilingualism allows you to write your assignments and exams in French or English in nearly any course. While we encourage you to practice writing in French as much as possible, we recognize that, in some circumstances, having the freedom to choose your written language of expression can make a big difference!

For example, many immersion students choose to write shorter assignments in French, and longer or more challenging assignments in English. 

Note that, in any language course, you have to write in the language being studied. For example, you cannot write your French-as-a-second-language assignments in English, same as you cannot write in English if you are learning German!

Two students studying together.

Study Workshops

Something we regularly hear from French Immersion students is that they have no idea how to prepare for university-level readings nor how to efficiently take notes during their lectures. In response to these comments, the French Immersion Mentors are proud to offer two different types of “Ateliers” or workshops, which are offered several times throughout the school year.

  • Prise de notes
  • Lecture efficace

Keep an eye on your uOttawa email account and our Facebook page for dates and times of workshops.

Two students sitting on picnic table.

French Immersion (FI) Buddy Program

Does the transition from high school to university make you nervous? You're not alone! The FI Buddy Program supports first-year students to adapt to life on campus.

First-year students, or "junior buddies", are paired with an upper-year student in French Immersion, or "senior buddy". First-year students are offered advice on their program of study from a peer who has lived similar experiences not so long ago. Once the students are paired, it is up to them to decide of their means of communication - in person, e-mail or text, etc. Immersion Mentors also organize events for buddies (junior and senior) taking part in the program.

Students on campus.


Community Engagement offers many volunteering opportunities in French.

The Centre promotes lifelong community engagement and social responsibility among uOttawa students. Integrating academics with meaningful volunteer positions through community and faculty partnerships, the Centre supports students in contributing to stronger communities, positive social change and a more active university locally, nationally and internationally.

Students walking through campus.

International Exchanges

Looking to travel? Want to use your French abroad? The University's International Office offers the opportunity for full-time students to spend a term or full academic year abroad through a student exchange with one of our partner institutions in more than 50 countries. Your tuition fees remain the same, as you pay them to the University of Ottawa. Students going on an international exchange also get a $ 1 000 scholarship for one semester and a $ 2 000 scholarship for two semesters.

French-speaking countries to which you may go on an exchange include: Belgium, France, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Luxembourg, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia.

By spending some time abroad you will gain valuable perspectives and add a international dimension your degree. Your French skills will also allow you to live and learn in French-speaking countries! French courses taken abroad can also count toward your program requirements.

Students working on laptops.

Immersion Mentoring Centre

The Immersion Mentors are upper-year French Immersion students. When you have questions or issues, be sure to reach out to them! They know exactly what you're going through, because they've been in your shoes! During your first year at uOttawa, meet with a Mentor to discuss your academic path and ease your transition from high school to university. 

Contact us by email, phone, visit or through social media.

Bilingualism Centre logo.

Bilingualism Centre

Having a tough time with your French at the university level? Well, luckily the Bilingualism Centre offers tutoring to help students become more proficient in French!

Students can practice French with the Centre’s volunteers who will answer any questions about French fundamentals (e.g. grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, expressions, and comprehension). Students can attend an hour-long tutoring session several times a week. The tutoring sessions typically begin one month after the start of each term. Interested students should register online or by dropping by the Centre. 

In addition to offering tutoring services, the Bilingualism Centre also hosts many events during the year and has its own resource centre for students to use.

Bilingualism Centre
85 University Private (University Centre)
Room 031B
Tel: (613) 562-5800 x4075
[email protected]

Three students in study room.

Conversation Workshops

You want to speak French, but feel hesitant? Your French is a little rusty and you feel embarrassed to speak? Look into uOttawa's conversation workshops:

  • Offered daily, in small groups.
  • Offered by Language Mentors who facilitate a guided conversation about general topics.
  • In a casual context, among peers.
  • Designed for second-language students who wish to work on their skills.
  • Conversation groups for all speaking levels: beginner, medium and advanced.
  • Last 60 minutes.