Studying at the university

“What major differences have you encountered between studying in high school and in university?”  This question was considered by a group of first-year students approximately two months after entering Memorial.  Without exception, the students gave individual responsibility as the most notable change from studying in high school.  Each student has to accept responsibility for practically every phase of work at the university level.

You are responsible for planning and organizing your own study schedule.  The work load is significantly increased, in terms of reading and the number of assignments, compared to high school.  You will often have time available between classes; this may involve several hours, so there is a choice to be made as to how the time can most profitably be used.  Based on their limited experience, the same group of first-year students offered these suggestions:

  • Start studying as soon as classes begin and keep up with the work, especially readings and assignments.
  • Plan to spend at least two hours studying for each hour spent in class.
  • Become familiar with the various aids available in the libraries and other resource centres.
  • Get to know your instructors early in the semester.

Faculty who teach first-year courses are available for consultation for approximately the same number of hours as they spend in class.  Take advantage of this and consult with instructors whenever necessary.  Some departments offer centres for students who require extra help in a course. Please refer to the St. John's campus section of this Guide.

Performance in university, and later in your career, will greatly depend on comprehension and communication.  Understanding written and spoken material and communicating ideas in a clear, organized fashion are skills that you can improve with concentrated practice using appropriate methods.  Programs are available to help you improve these skills.

Choosing courses and programs

Moving from a high school program with relatively few choices into university with its many options means that course selection is of prime importance.  Make sure that you clearly understand the specific courses  necessary for your intended program of study.  It is, however, difficult to make decisions about all the courses that are available unless you seek advice.  Some subjects are unfamiliar because they are not offered in high school, while other subjects familiar to you may be quite different in content and approach.

The university Calendar carries the official descriptions of all courses offered in the first year.  For this booklet, however, each department has prepared unofficial descriptions of first-year courses that may be more helpful to incoming students.

While many students entering university have decided on a specific program or major, some have not.  You should realize that a definite decision concerning your eventual program of study may not have to be made at the beginning of the first year.  However, you are well-advised to seek information about academic programs before making a final decision.  Assistance in deciding  program choice and choosing appropriate courses is available at the Academic Advising Centre.
Guidelines for choosing the appropriate first-year courses for  particular programs can be found in this part of the Guide.  If you are undecided as to whether you should do arts or science, choose a combination of courses that enables you to sample both areas and also fulfill the first-year requirements of the arts and science degree regulations.

Finally, although there is nothing that prevents students from doing any courses of their choice, provided the entry requirements are met, you should be aware that each degree program has certain requirements which must be satisfied before the degree is awarded.  It is to your advantage  to meet those requirements early in your university career.  Doing less than a full course load of 15 credit hours a semester may delay your progress through your intended program.

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A full-time student is one who is registered in at least nine credit hours or the equivalent in any semester and/or session.

A part-time student is one who is registered for less than nine credit hours or the equivalent in any semester and/or session.

Definition of terms in this section

An academic year is the period from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 and each academic year is divided into three semesters (terms) as follows:

 Fall semester (September to December)
 Winter semester (January to April)
 Spring semester (May to August)

The completion of an academic year normally refers to attendance at university for two semesters (generally September to April) and/or the successful completion of 30 credit hours.  The minimum number of credit hours for the general BA degree, for example, is 120.  Therefore, this degree is considered to be a four-year program of studies.  Students in some degree programs, however, can decrease the time required to complete a degree by attending all three semesters in one or more academic years.

A session is a period of approximately seven weeks within the spring semester.  The first half of the spring semester is called intersession; the second half is called summer session.

A credit hour is the measure used to reflect the weight of a course towards the fulfillment of a degree, diploma or certificate.  Most courses have a credit value of three credit hours.

Credit is given for courses that a student successfully completes.  If the last character of a course is F (e.g., Math 102F), then the course does not carry credit for a degree but is intended to remedy a specific academic weakness.

Program means a series of courses, the completion of which, if other requirements are met, qualifies a student for a degree, diploma or certificate.

A major (for the degrees BA and B.Sc.) is the subject selected as the one in which the student normally specializes during the course of degree studies.

A minor is the subject in which a student also specializes but to a lesser degree than the major.

An elective is any course that is not compulsory under the requirements for a specific program.

A semester course is a unit of work in a particular subject extending over one semester, such as Chemistry 1010.

A prerequisite course is one that must be successfully completed before you begin the course for which the prerequisite is required (for example, Psychology 1000 is a prerequisite for Psychology 1001).

A corequisite course is a course which may be taken concurrently with or successfully completed prior to the course for which it is required (for example, Mathematics 1000 is a corequisite for Physics 1050).

A transcript is the complete and unabridged report of a student’s academic record.

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Degree Programs

The following pages outline degree programs available at Memorial University:

business administration
fine arts
international business administration
physical education
social work

Honours degrees

Programs are offered leading to honours degrees of bachelor of arts, bachelor of business administration, bachelor of commerce, international bachelor of business administration, bachelor of kinesiology, bachelor of music, bachelor of physical education, bachelor of recreation and bachelor of science.  An honours degree offers greater specialization in a given field of knowledge than a general degree, and/or requires higher-than-average academic achievement.  Attainment of this degree will be of great advantage to all students planning more advanced study in their chosen field.  In many cases, an honours degree is a prerequisite for admission to a graduate program.  Any student who might wish to proceed to an honours degree should attempt to maintain higher-than-average grades from the beginning of his or her university career.

More complete information on honours degrees can be found in the university Calendar (

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