Dec. 5, 2019

Understanding University Terminology

Applying to a post-secondary institution may be an unfamiliar process if you are the first in your family to do so. For our blog post this week, we wanted to make you a post-secondary expert by explaining some key university terminology related to credentials.

Bachelor’s degree:

An undergraduate degree that typically takes four to five years to complete. Many bachelor degrees can be started right after high school; however, some require prior university study (e.g., social work, law and medicine). A student who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree is called an undergraduate student.

Within a bachelor’s degree, students have a number of options to specialize their degree:

  • A major is the main area of focus throughout a bachelor’s degree. Students typically take one-third of their courses in this specialization, and a major is what you will select when you submit your application.
  • A minor is an optional secondary area of focus that can be added to a degree. It requires fewer courses than a major and is an option that is added once you are a current UCalgary student.
  • Embedded certificates are completed as part of a bachelor’s degree, at no extra cost, and are designed to focus on a thematic area and be available to students across faculties once you are a UCalgary student. Examples include Sustainability and Mental Wellbeing and Resilience. Learn more here.
  • Co-operative (co-op) programs and internships are paid work opportunities that a student can add to some degree options. Learn more here.

Honours bachelor’s degree:

This further specialization of a bachelor’s degree requires high academic standing and, typically, a thesis project. A thesis project is an original research idea that’s presented at the end of the undergraduate degree. Some programs at UCalgary, like the Bachelor of Health Sciences, are only offered as an honours degree.

Combined degree:

This is when a student registers in two different bachelor’s degrees (including honours degrees) at the same time and graduates from both concurrently. It typically requires a minimum of five years of study. Learn more here.


Do you have additional questions? Connect with a UCalgary recruitment advisor to find a program that is the right fit for you. We have recruitment advisors who specialize in supporting students from your province or country.