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 AAR (Academic Advicement 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 this 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.


To receive credit for courses taken at another university, you will need to apply for a Letter of Permission from the Arts and Science Faculty Office. You must be an Arts and Science student in good standing, as specified on the Letter of Permission application form. This must be done prior to enrolling in any courses outside Queen’s. If the course you wish to take is offered by a Canadian (domestic) institution, this application goes to the Student Services Office. 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.

For your Letter of Permission you will need to submit an application formas well as a course outline that includes the learning outcomes of the course and a grade breakdown for your intended courses. There is an administrative fee associated with the Letter of Permission, which can be paid online here

Letter of Permission Application Form

Please note that this form is only used to apply for the Letter of Permission and Queen's does not apply to the host university on your behalf. After you have received a Letter of Permission indicating that you may take the requested courses for credit transfer, you must apply directly to the host university for admission as a visiting student, using your Letter of Permission as your basis for admission. From that point forward, all dates, deadlines, fees and regulations pertaining to your registration in the course and your completion of the course are between you and the host university. When you complete the course, you must arrange for the host university to mail your official transcript directly to the office that issued you the Letter of Permission.

Thinking of taking a course at an Ontario school? Be sure to view the ONTransfer webpage

If the course was taken BEFORE you became a Queen's student, you must speak to the Admissions office about the possibility of retroactively transferring the credit. The Faculty of Arts and Science does not assess courses taken before admission to Queen's. If this is the last course you need for graduation, be aware of the deadline date by which our office must receive your official transcript in order to confirm your eligibility to graduate. See the Sessional Dates section in the current Faculty of Arts and Science Calendar for more information.

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The information in this section will help you interpret your Academic Requirements Report (ARR), available through SOLUS. The Academic Requirements 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 ARR 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 ARR 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 ARR 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 ARR.


To run an Academic Requirements Report

  • Select My Academics from the Main SOLUS Student Centre page.

*DO NOT select Academic Requirements from the Drop Down menu, as it will not work properly.

  • Then select View my advisement report.


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 ARR 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 ARR 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 ARR until one of the options is completely satisfied. So, if 2Aii is completed first then 2Ai disappears from the ARR.

  • COURSE LISTS - The Option requirements in many Plans contain lists of courses that are too long to write out in full on the AAR.  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 Requirements 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 ARR.

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 ARR.

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 ARR.

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 Requirements 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 Requirements 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 ARR will not be available to you. 

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

If your ARR is not available you can still use the Academic Requirements 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 Requirements 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 (ARR).  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 ARR to fix the problem.  If you transferred on or after September 1, 2011, we will amend your ARR, 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 Requirement 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 Requirement 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 Requirements Report and Dual or Second Degree Students
Dual and Second degree programs are very complex.  At this time, the Academic Requirements 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 Requirements Report.
  2. Shared Plans (Major/Minor or Medials):  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 Requirements 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.