Course Planning & Options

Do you need help figuring out how to pick courses for your degree plan, electives and certificates?

Check out the video by Dr. Meghan Norris, Undergraduate Chair in Psychology, on how to use the Academic Calendar to find your degree requirements. She talks about choosing Psychology courses, but the advice applies to all programs and is useful for all students!

The first step of course mapping is to understand your degree requirements.

If you are in a Bachelor of Arts Honours program these are the degree options available to you. Keep in mind that no matter the option you choose your degree must encompass 120.0 units in order to graduate.

If you are in a Bachelor of Science or Computing Honours program these are the degree options available to you. Keep in mind that no matter the option you choose your degree must encompass 120.0 units in order to graduate.


Once you know your degree requirements it is time to look at your specific plan requirements.

Under the Academic Calender, the Degree Plans and Course Lists document specifies what courses are required for each individual plan, and can show you what courses you need in order to graduate.

The Courses of Instruction document can provide you with the course descriptions of each course that is listed under your plan in the Academic Calender.

Further, you can run your APR (Academic Progress Report) to determine how far along you are in your plan requirements and what is still required.

Once you have taken a look at these resources you can use our Course Mapping Worksheet to help you map out your degree.

If you still have questions be sure to book an appointment with one of our academic advisors to go over all of your requirements to graduate.


If you are intersted in adding a certificate to your degree remember that not all of the certificate courses can be counted as electives towards your degree. Some of the certificate courses must be taken on top of the 120.0 units needed to graduate with an honours degree. If you have questions or are wishing to know what certificates are offered you can check out the Certificates page.


As an Arts and Science student you have the option of taking courses through another Canadian university to count towards your degree – this is known as a Letter of Permission. You must receive a Letter of Permission prior to enrolling in any courses outside of Queen’s.

You can now apply for your Letter of Permission in SOLUS on the Student Centre page. Full details and instructions on how to apply can be found below.

Who can apply? Students must be in a degree plan in the Faculty of Arts and Science, have not already reached the maximum number of transfer credits allowed, and be in good academic standing to be eligible to apply for an LOP.

How do I start? Begin by researching which universities would be an option to you based on location, if they admit visiting students, and if their application window is still open. Review the courses being offered the term you plan on being there to see which ones you might be interested in and/or meet your academic requirements.

If the school is within Ontario, you can preview the course equivalency by using the tools on the ONTransfer webpage

Once you have narrowed down your school and courses, you can apply for your Letter of Permission in the Student Centre section of your SOLUS account.

Applying for a Letter of Permission Guide

International Letter of Permission

Thinking of taking a course through a school outside of Canada? If the course is offered by an international institution, you must fill out an International Letter of Permission application form and submit it to the International Programs Office. Please visit the International Programs Office website for more information about applying for an International LOP.


The information in this section will help you interpret your Academic Progress Report (APR), available through SOLUS. The Academic Progress Report is designed to give you advice on what courses you will need to take to complete your degree, as well as warn you if you have broken any of the various rules that govern which courses may be used in a particular degree program. While the APR is a useful guide, the ultimate authority on all academic requirements in the Faculty of Arts and Science is the Arts and Science Calendar; if there is a discrepancy, the online Calendar requirements take precedence. An APR may be run through SOLUS, and it is highly recommended that all upper-year students run a report at least once a year, before the summer class selection period. You should also run a report before applying to graduate. The APR has been designed to closely parallel the layout of the Plan requirements section of the Calendar, so it may be useful to review these requirements before you run your APR.


Not sure what courses you need to take to meet your degree requirements? Start by running your Academic Progress Report (APR) in SOLUS.

Not sure how to interpret your report? View our Step-by-Step Guide: How to Read and Understand Your Academic Progress Report, or watch the tutorial below.


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A program is comprised of an approved set of courses leading to a degree (includes the units making up the Plan plus elective units). The APR is designed to assess the total units and cumulative GPA required to meet the program requirements without taking into account the specific Plan requirements. These assessments appear on the APR before the Plan Requirements.
Unit - the academic value of a course.
GPA - the unit-weighted average grade point in a set of courses, based on a 4.3 grade point scale.

For detailed information regarding the number of units and GPA required for programs and plans in Arts and Science see Academic Regulation 16.

The Plan is a set of requirements focusing on a particular subject and is comprised of Core, Option and sometimes Supporting Courses. Students do not register in a specified Plan (or Plans) until they are entering Year 2.

A Plan is composed of:

Core courses are specifically required, or allow for choice from an extremely limited list of courses.  The Core Course requirements are usually listed by increasing year level.

Option courses provide more choice allowing students to select from a broader range of courses. For example, a requirement might be for any HIST at the 300-level. The degree of choice varies according to the Plan. Option courses are generally listed by decreasing year level to ensure that the higher level requirements are filled with the higher level courses before lower level requirements which can be filled with lower level courses.

  • OPTION LISTS – Some Option requirements have a choice from two or three sets of courses within them (Options within Options). For example, Option 2A might require that one of 2 sets of courses be completed. In this case you must complete all of the courses in one of 2Ai or 2Aii.  Both sets of courses are displayed on the APR until one of the options is completely satisfied. So, if 2Aii is completed first then 2Ai disappears from the APR.

  • COURSE LISTS - The Option requirements in many Plans contain lists of courses that are too long to write out in full on the APR.  Instead, these Course Lists are written out in short form, consisting of the Department code followed by a description.  For example, HIST_Canadian is a list of all courses that satisfy the Canadian History requirements of a History Plan. The detailed Course List is published in the Arts and Science Academic Calendar.

Supporting courses are courses in a Plan that complement the area of study. Some Plans have required supporting courses (e.g., mathematics courses in a Physics Plan); others do not.

Other Requirements and Information


Some Plans contain secondary requirements that are shared with the Core, Option and Supporting courses. They appear under "Additional Requirements" in the Plans portion of the Arts and Science Academic Calendar.  For example, the History Major Plan requires the student to take 6.0 units from a course in Canadian History as one of their Core or Option courses. Similarly, a few Programs also have minimum or maximum requirements. For example, the Drama Major Plan allows a Maximum of 12.0 units from the DRAM_Subs.  These additional requirements are not included in the total units required for the Plan or toward the Plan GPA with the exception of Science Minors.  In some cases additional science courses to bring the total to 48 units are in the Additional Requirements section and they are included in the Plan GPA and Total Units required for the Plan.

Ignore the Not Satisfied with this requirement only. For students with more than the minimum number of units required for a program or who have completed courses that may not be used in their ASC degree program the courses not being used will show up in the section directly below Courses Used in Total Units Required on the ARR. This is not a requirement and therefore, can’t be satisfied or not satisfied, but the not satisfied designation cannot be removed due to limitations of the system.


A warning will appear if a student breaks a rule at the program or Plan level. There are several different types of warnings, but all of them mean that some of the courses that the Academic Progress Report is counting towards your program and/or Plan requirements are invalid. This means that you will need to investigate your program and Plan carefully to identify the invalid courses and choose a different course(s) to replace them; otherwise, you will not be able to graduate. You may also wish to seek academic advice from your department or Student Services in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

The four types of Warnings are:


An exclusion is a set of two or more courses where both may not count towards the requirements of your degree.  Students are not normally permitted to enrol in a course that excludes another that they have previously taken or in which they are currently enrolled, so this warning should not occur often.  However, under certain circumstances departments may authorize an override of an exclusion and allow the student to enrol, on the understanding that both courses are not allowed to count. This can occur in cases where the student has changed Plans and needs the excluded course as a prerequisite.

If an exclusion warning appears, first check the course(s) that are excluded. Usually, the exclusion appears as “No more than 3.0 [or 6.0] units from [List of courses]”. The extra courses are still being counted in the Program unit count and so additional electives must be taken to make up the deficiency. If both excluded courses also appear in the Plan requirements, you will have to use other courses to meet that requirement.

In this situation please seek academic advice from Student Services so that the exclusions can be coded to remove the warning from your APR.

Maximum Limits Exceeded (Programs)

This sort of warning does not usually occur unless a student transferred from another Faculty or School to Arts and Science, or holds a large number of transfer credits from other institutions (TR on the transcript).

This warning applies to students who have completed more courses of a specified type than are permitted in their Arts and Science program. Some of the maximums set are: 24.0 units in COMM; 24.0 units in ARTF (except for BFA students); and varying numbers of courses with TR grades (transfer credit), depending on the Program. See Academic Regulation 16 for specifics regarding transfer credits.  Although the warning draws attention to the fact that the maximum has been surpassed, it does not exclude the extra courses from being used to satisfy the total unit count. Since the extra courses will still be counted in your Program unit count it is your responsibility to review your record and take extra electives to make up the deficiency.  Note that this warning appears even if you have already completed additional courses to make up the deficiency. 

In this situation please seek academic advice from Student Services so that the extra courses can be coded to remove the warning from your APR.

Maximum Limits Exceeded (Plans)

The Option Requirements of many Plans in Arts and Science allow you to substitute courses from outside the discipline. For example, the Department of History allows you to use certain CLST (Classical Studies) courses as substitutions for their upper-year History options. These options usually appear on a Course List. However, only a limited number of substitutions are usually allowed. If you receive this warning, it means you’ve exceeded this limit.

The courses listed in the warning may still be used towards the elective component (total unit count) of your degree, but you will have to choose one or more further courses within the discipline to use towards your Plan requirements. You may also wish to seek academic advice from your department.

Note that this warning appears even if you have already completed courses such that no more than the maximum will be used in your Plan. 

In this situation please seek academic advice from Student Services so that the extra courses can be coded to remove the warning from your APR.

Something is Missing or Doesn't Seem Right

The Faculty of Arts and Science has a lot of programs and Plans, and students come from many different backgrounds.  It is not always possible to foresee every possible course combination. If something seems to be wrong, it may be a mistake, but it is more likely you fit under one of the categories noted below. If, after checking out the following possibilities, you are still unclear as to what is wrong, you may wish to seek academic advice from your department or Student Services.

My Progress Report is Unavailable

Since the ASC1 (first year) Plan has no specific requirements the report will read “Requirements report is unavailable” for all students in ASC1 (first year).

If the detailed requirements of your Plan have not been entered into the PeopleSoft system, you will see a message that the “Requirements report is unavailable”. There are over 2000 Plan combinations in the Faculty of Arts and Science. While the Academic Progress Report includes the majority of these Plans, those that have been discontinued were not implemented.  Therefore, if you are completing a Plan that has been dropped from the Academic Calendar an APR will not be available to you. 

If you stop out (leave your program for an indefinite period of time) your APR will be unavailable during the time you are not registered at Queen’s.

If your APR is not available you can still use the Academic Progress Report to tally your unit count.  You may consult the Arts and Science Calendar to determine Plan requirements, or seek academic advice from your department or Student Services.

A Course That I Thought Would Meet My Requirements Seems to be Missing

A course might be missing for one of the following reasons. If you transferred from another Faculty or School the course may not be accepted in an Arts and Science program. If you are in a Major-Minor Plan combination the issue may be overlap.  A course used as Core or Option in the Major Plan may not also be used as Core or Option in the Minor Plan. 

If you believe a course is missing in error, please consult with your department or Student Services. It is possible departmental consent is required to permit you to use the course, or a course from another Faculty/School needs to be approved, or a course has gone to the wrong requirement and needs to be directed to the appropriate one. These situations can be handled with a student exception (see section below).

Students who Transferred Programs

Students who transferred from other Faculties or Schools to the Bachelor of Arts, Science or Computing degree programs may hold courses that do not count towards their new degree requirements.  Such courses are treated in various ways.  To find out more on what the Academic Progress Report will do, click on the Faculty/School you were in before you changed to Arts and Science.

Applied Science
The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science uses a different unit weighting system than the Faculty of Arts and Science.  For this reason, virtually all Applied Science courses have been deliberately excluded from the Arts and Science part of the Academic Requirement Report (APR).  If you have transferred from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science to the Faculty of Arts and Science before September 1, 2011 many of your courses may not be counted.  In this case, please consult your original letter sent by Undergraduate Admissions when you transferred to Arts and Science to see which courses have been transferred, and how they are being counted towards your degree in Arts and Science.  You may also request to have a student exception made to your APR to fix the problem.  If you transferred on or after September 1, 2011, we will amend your APR, so it should report properly.  However, if you later change Plans, it may once again need to be fixed and you may again need to request a student exception.

The Academic Progress Report should be fully functional for students who transferred to an Arts and Science Program from the Bachelor of Commerce Program.  Note that a maximum of 24.0 units in COMM courses may be counted in an Arts and Science degree, so if you hold more than this you will receive a "WARNING:  Maximum Limits Exceeded (Programs)" message.

The Academic Progress Report should be fully functional for students who transferred to an Arts and Science Program from the Bachelor of Nursing Program.  Note that only a very limited number of NURS courses count towards Arts and Science degrees, so if you hold any NURS courses, you should expect to see only a very few included in the total unit counts.

Bachelor of Music
The Academic Requirement Report should be fully functional for students who transferred to any other Arts and Science Program from the Bachelor of Music Program.  Note that some MUSC courses (primarily the ensemble courses) only count towards the Bachelor of Music degree, and not to any other Arts and Science degrees, so if you hold any such MUSC courses, they will not be included in the total unit counts.

Physical and Health Education
The Academic Requirement Report should be fully functional for students who transferred to any other Arts and Science Program from the Bachelor of Physical and Health Education Programs.  Note that PACT courses only count towards Physical Education degrees, and not to any other Arts and Science degrees, so if you hold any PACT courses, they will not be included in the total unit counts.

Academic Progress Report and Dual or Second Degree Students
Dual and Second degree programs are very complex.  At this time, the Academic Progress Report is not reliable for Dual Degree students. Therefore, students registered in a Dual Degree program should consult the Arts and Science Calendar and your Department or Faculty Office if you need advice on choosing courses and checking degree requirements.


A Student Exception is a modification made to a student’s Program and/or Plan requirements due to special circumstances.  There are three common situations in which an exception will be required:

  1. Plan Substitution:  special circumstances sometimes require a course from another discipline to be substituted for one that is found in the published Plan requirements. Students should consult their home Department. If the Department agrees to a course substitution, they will complete a Plan Substitution request form that will be signed by the Undergraduate Chair and the student. This will be forwarded to Student Services for posting to the Academic Progress Report.
  2. Shared Plans (Major/Minor or Joint Honours):  when Plans are shared, courses in the Core and Options requirements of one Plan cannot be used towards the Core and Option requirements of the other. If a course appears in both Plans, an appropriate substitution will be posted. Supporting Courses that appear in both Plans can be used towards the requirements of both.  In this case, one of the Supporting Course requirements will be waived.  Exceptions due to shared Plans will be updated in June of each year, following the Plan Selection process.
  3. Transfer Students:  Students who transfer between degree programs in Arts and Science may find their requirements change.  Most transfers are managed automatically by the Academic Progress Report, as explained under Students Who Transferred Programs.  However, Students who transfer from Applied Science, Commerce or Nursing are different in that courses will need to be accepted and excluded manually. This is normally done before course selection for the upcoming year.