A Ryerson dictionary: university terms edition

So, you’re applying to university. Fantastic! Are you wondering about the difference between a major and a minor? What’s a bachelor’s degree? What are course intentions? Don’t fret, I’m here to help you understand the university term basics!

Bachelor’s degree: when students graduate from their undergraduate degree programs, they obtain a bachelor’s degree. There are different types of bachelor degrees like a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Sciences, and Bachelor of Engineering. Ryerson has over 60 undergraduate programs where you can earn a bachelor’s degree.

Co-operative education: a program where students get paid work experience alongside their university education. Many Ryerson programs have co-op options, especially programs in the Ted Rogers School of Management, the Faculty of Science, and the Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science.

Course enrolment: during course enrolment is when students pick their electives or swap sections. First-year students entering the first semester of the first year of their program are automatically enrolled in their mandatory courses. Check out the undergraduate calendar for more information about enrolling in courses.

Course intentions: this is when you choose the courses you would like to take in the upcoming school year or semester. It helps faculties and programs plan their courses. This is different than course enrolment because you’re just picking courses you’re interested in taking. You’re not picking a date or time to attend class.

Double major: if you’re interested in majoring in two subjects, then a double major is for you. If a double major is on your radar, you apply for one program in the same faculty and then apply for

the second major in your second semester. Double majors aren’t commonly available here at Ryerson, except for some programs in the Faculty of Arts.

Elective: courses that students can take that don’t have to relate to their program. Ryerson has two types of electives: Open Electives and Liberal Studies. Some programs require a certain amount of the two types of electives to graduate. The undergraduate calendar has information on the courses you need to take to fulfill your degree, as well as a list of available courses.

Internship: allows students to gain work experience during their degree. Some programs, like Creative Industries, have mandatory internships. The difference between co-ops and internships is that sometimes internships have shorter work terms.

Joint program: a program where students take courses at two or more different universities or colleges. Ryerson has one undergraduate joint program—a Nursing Collaborative Program with Centennial College and George Brown College.

Major: the main focus of study in a degree program. For example: if you apply for a History program, your major would be in History.

Minor: a set of courses in the same or a similar subject. A minor is optional and different from the major a student is taking. To fulfill the course requirements for a minor, make sure you’re able to take it alongside your major and have enough electives or are willing to take extra courses to complete the needed courses.


Offer of admission: if you receive one of these—congratulations! This is your official conditional acceptance to Ryerson and states the program you’re accepted to, which term you begin in, the grade average you need to maintain (if applicable) and more.

Prerequisite: a course that has to be completed successfully before you can enrol in another course. Some mandatory courses in programs almost always require a prerequisite course. For example, I had to pass CRI100 first semester to be able to take CRI200 second semester in my first year of Creative Industries.

Program: a set of courses and other requirements (internships, research, placements) to fulfill in order to get a degree. When you apply to university, you apply to a program.

Transcript: a document that contains your academic record, including your grades, courses you took and more.

Undergraduate: if you are completing a bachelor’s degree, you are an undergraduate student. This is typically the first student status that university students obtain.

Hopefully, your most common queries are now resolved! If you still need some more definitions, consult the Ryerson Student Guide Glossary—it’s the best source for this information!

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