• computer science,  grad school,  non degree


    Hello! I’m a mechancial engineering graduate from Queen’s university. I realized my passion for computer science and want to pursue a career in computer science. The masters of computer science at UofT requires CSC343H: Introduction to Databases CSC369H: Operating Systems; and CSC373H: Algorithm Design, Analysis & Complexity or their equivalents. Would it be possible/feasible for me to apply and get into these courses as a non-degree student?
    yes, from what i know it should be possible to do that! u of t easily allows recently graduated students to enrol as a non-degree student for the purpose of getting those grad school prereqs down. this is true even if you completed your studies elsewhere– you’ll just need to apply. compsci as a program is considered to be under the faculty of arts and science, which makes it much easier to get into those courses as a non-degree student (with faculties like music and engineering, you’d have to contact them).
    the only thing i can think of that might be a barrier to you is if those three courses are particularly in-demand. i looked them up on the timetable and they’ve all got priority enrolment controls, which essentially means only compsci degree students can get seats until a certain date. then, artsci students and utm/utsc students have second and third priority respectively. i’m not sure where non-degree students would fall in this priority order– possibly with utm/utsc, or after?
    if you’d like to know for certain what the likelihood is that you can get in, i’d suggest you contact the department directly. even though i can see the class sizes and enrolment controls, it’s pretty hard for me to give you a concrete answer as a fellow student myself.
    hope this was helpful though! all the best with your possible future at u of t.
    over n out,
  • grad school,  math,  non degree

    brave potential grad student

    Hi Aska!

    I’m currently getting a computer science bachelors with a math minor from another Canadian university, and I want to apply for a masters in mathematics at uoft. I think my GPA is high enough but I’m not sure I have an “appropriate bachelors degree” and haven’t made connections with any of my math professors for letters of reference.

    So I changed my plan to:
    – apply as a non-degree student
    – take a year to do a bunch of math courses
    – get letters of reference from them
    – apply for masters
    – ???
    – profit

    I’ve also emailed the graduate unit to ask for application requirements, so I thought as long as I could get the specifics cleared, ie. what courses do I need to take to prove I can do a masters in math as a computer science undergrad? things would go smoothly. However, I was looking at this and it says that full-time non-degree special students need at least two letters of reference. Are non-degree special students the same thing as non-degree students? Does this mean I need reference letters to apply as a non-degree student? Am I basically screwed because I need letters of reference to get my letters of reference? If yes, do you know of any alternatives? I don’t want to do another bachelors but I’m not really sure how I can get in otherwise.



    when i got your email i was immediately delighted. i. LOVE. plans! alrighty, lets get down to business (to get you into a math masters at u of t) (which sounds absolutely terrifying you brave brave soul math sucks)

    shirtless disney GIF

    according to the math department’s graduate program’s minimum admission requirements (which i think you’ve already taken a look at, but i’m just gonna regurgitate some info for you here), applicants must hold an “appropriate bachelor’s degree” with a final year average of at least a B-average, at least three reference letters, a letter of intent, and a CV.

    as you mentioned, you aren’t sure if you have an “appropriate bachelor’s degree” nor do you think you have anyone who you could put down as a reference. in that case, applying to u of t as a non-degree student first in order to get some math credits under your belt/ meeting some profs for reference letters may be a good idea. the link that you had sent me is actually the info for applying as a non degree GRADUATE student, but if you wanted to just take some math courses in order to get into a masters program, you’d actually want to apply as a non-degree undergrad. you can check this link out for the application process, just scroll down to “non-degree applicants.” totally understand the confusion though, since you ultimately wanna be a grad student here.

    i also took a closer look at the master’s admission requirements. they list some informal “suggested prerequisites” in this pdf. while they do list u of t courses, they also say that “there is no fixed or rigid list of prerequisites” and they describe concepts and topics that you should be familiar with, rather than strict course equivalents. take a look through their suggested prereqs and see how many of the topics/ concepts that you have covered with your math minor. maybe you already have all the requirements fulfilled. it would probably be a good idea to get in contact with the math department directly for more information.

    so basically, tldr; you should look into applying as a non-degree undergrad student and look into the informal prereqs the math department has. then, decide your next move, whether that be coming as a non-degree student or applying for the grad program directly. it’s up to you!

    point pointing GIF by funk

    i hope this helps!



  • english,  non degree

    zooming through your degree

    Good Afternoon,

    I have a double major degree in English and French Literatures, and I will be finish all of tem fully by 2021. However, my parents decided that that is taking too long and want me to graduate with my English B.A in 2019 and then moving on with my French as a part-time student. Can that possibly be happening? They want to do that just so that I can get a full time work as soon as possible, or worse disowned and all of that situation.

    Thank You very much.



    yikes, this is a very tricky situation you’ve found yourself in. hopefully my answer helps out a little.

    because of the degree requirements, you need to complete at least a specialist, two majors, or a major and two minors in order to graduate. so if you wanted to drop french, you’ll have to switch your english major to a specialist in order to meet the degree requirements.

    something to keep in mind before you make the switch, however, is the fact that the english department changed their curriculum. these changes will be going into effect starting the 2018-19 fall/winter session. this means that the program requirements have changed and if you switch from a major to a specialist, you would be subject to the new program requirements rather than the old ones (if you don’t switch, you would continue to follow the program requirements that you’re already following). you should look into what the new program requirements are and see how many you will have completed with the old major program. hopefully, most of the credits that you took for the major are still applicable for the new specialist. the main difference i see between the old and new programs is that the english department seems to no longer accept cross-listed (ie. non- ENG) courses, but there could be more intricacies that i don’t know about. i suggest getting in touch with the english department for more information.

    then, if you wanted to do french after finishing your english specialist, you could come back as a non-degree student. non-degree students are students who have earned their bachelors degrees and are coming back to take courses without working towards a degree. you could be taking courses for a variety of reasons: self interest, complete a prereq for grad school, whatever. that could be a good option if you still wanna do french but you also want to finish your english BA ASAP.

    another thing: i don’t know how many credits you have left before you graduate, but you do still need to complete 20.0 FCE to graduate. depending on how many credits you have now, you may have to do more than 5.0FCE per year AND summer courses in order to graduate in time for 2019. i wish i could do the math for you, but i don’t know how many credits you have completed. also i’m notoriously bad at math, so maybe don’t trust me with that.

    math studying GIF

    while it is totally possible to be in more than 5.0FCE in the fall/winter and do summer courses, it is a very heavy course load and not recommended. in fact, many students take LESS than 5.0 FCE per year. while it is up to you what you do with your degree–and if you really wanna zoom through it, that’s possible– it might be a good idea to think about WHY you’d be zooming through your degree. it’s your education and you should decide the pace that you wanna go at, not your parents. and switching from a 2021 to a 2019 graduation date is a pretty drastic change. obviously, i don’t know you so i don’t want to tell you what to do. but i suggest that you think deeply about what you want out of your time at u of t.

    finally, i suggest that you make an appointment with an academic adviser your registrar’s office to discuss all your options. whether it’s sticking with a 2021 graduation date or trying to figure out how to zoom through your degree. they’ll be able to give you a ton of info that i’m not privy to.

    i hope this helps!

    bill murray help GIF

    good luck!



  • commerce,  french,  near and middle eastern civilizations,  non degree

    an especially confused mood

    Hello ASKA!

    Hope your summer is going well. I’m going into second year at UTSG, doing my BComm in Public Accounting. The thing is that I also planning on a major in French Lang & Lit, which y’know, is nbd, but uhhh I was also interested in minoring in NMC? I’m cool with not doing the full minor and just getting the language certificate for Arabic but I think that I’d be going over 20.0 FCEs no matter what? PA is 15 and French is 7, and a minor, as you definitely know, is 4. Req 1 for my specialist says “At least 20.0 Credits from”University Course(s)”” (Not sure why university courses needed to be in quotation marks but ok, degree explorer.) which makes me think that it’s cool if I go over, but would I need to pay more? What happens if I fulfill all the requirements for the B.Comm and still want to keep going? Should I finish the MAJ/MIN stuff before my specialist requirements? I know that it’s fine to go over 4 years, and I’m planning on doing summer school anyways so I’ll prob be paying for extra tuition no matter what but like, is there an additional fee for going over 20 credits?????

    woW those were a lot of question marks, but I am in an especially confused mood. I had an appointment with my registrar earlier but I forgot to ask so I’m just shouting into your asks here.

    As an aside, I really love your post titles! Thanks for your patience with our questions.



    THANK YOU FOR NOTICING MY TITLES. tbqh, they’re the hardest part of every response and i (sadly) spend an inordinate time making them up.

    anyways, the answer.

    first, for something this long-winded, complicated, and specific, you really should get in touch with your registrar’s office. as you mentioned, you’ve already had an appointment with your registrar, but this really is something that is worth going back for. they can actually dig up specific info for you that i don’t have access to (i’m powerful, but not that powerful).

    you’re right when you say that it’s fine to go over 20.0 credits– that’s just how many you need to graduate. basically, you don’t get to graduate until you actually request graduation. also, there’s isn’t any additional fee for going over 20 credits, just the tuition fees you would be paying anyways.

    something that you could also consider is coming back as a non-degree student after finishing your bcomm. non-degree students are students who’ve already earned a degree from the university and are taking courses without working towards a degree. you could be taking courses to get into a graduate program or self-interest. i don’t know why you wanna do both a bcomm and a major/minor in arts programs, but i respect it. i see you. game recognize game.

    anna kendrick salute GIF

    anyways, if you’re just looking to take french language and literature and nmc courses out of self-interest, looking into coming back as a non-degree student after finishing your bcomm may be a good option.

    if you want to do the french and nmc programs at the same time as your bcomm, then i suggest going back to your registrar to discuss your options.

    hope this helps!



    PS- i literally couldn’t come up with a title for this–i got performance anxiety!!

  • non degree,  registration

    back 2 calc

    Hi aska. I’m 5th year of my undergraduate life and have been slowly but surely been raising my pretty low GPA to get it high enough to graduate this coming June. Back in my early uni life I’ve managed to pass the 1st year calculus course but failed the 2nd 1st year calculus course twice. I never bothered doing it a 3rd time because I changed my programs but as graduation is approaching I’ve been regretting not finishing it. After I graduate is it possible to come back and just complete it?



    yes it is! actually, lots of students come back after graduating to update their marks in a specific course, take a pre-req for grad school, boost their GPA, etc etc etc.

    if you’ve graduated from u of t and you wanna return to take courses that are in the same faculty or division that you just graduated from, you need to visit your former registrar’s office who can help you re-register as a non-degree student OR if you need to re-apply on OUAC. check out this link for more information about non-degree registration (scroll down to “non-degree applicants”).

    i hope this helps!

    shiba inu dance GIF by KeepUpWithJaz



  • continuing studies,  languages,  non degree

    ich liebe Deutsch auch

    Dear ASKA!! Can undergrad of UTSC go to school of continuing studies for the sake of a German course!? I really wanted to take GER200Y but sadly it didn’t fit in my timetable, then I found they have it as a 2-month course at downtown tho I wonder how could they compress a year course into a term course rofl Merry Christmas<3
  • arts & sciences,  enrollment,  non degree,  second degree

    bottom of the enrolment totem pole

    After having completed my BA in a humanities field at U of T I am considering switching directions and following a social sciences path. I know returning as a non-degree student is an option, but I was wondering if non-degree students have problems getting into class with enrolment restrictions or 400-level classes? Is there a way to apply for a second bachelors or something similar?



    so at U of T, we have a rule that you can’t complete a second degree in the same field as your first degree. since pursuing social sciences would give you another BA, its’s not exactly allowed. you’d have to pursue a different kind of degree, e.g. a BSc.

    furthermore, it’s highly recommended that you discuss all of this with an academic advisor (registrar). you can sit down with them and have a discussion about whether or not it is practical/ necessary to pursue another degree/ more courses.

    non-degree students are at the bottom of “the totem pole of priorities at U of T”, so you may end up on a waitlist/ not get into the courses you want. you’ll only be able to enrol in classes after everyone else enrols. tough, i know.

    for more on how second degrees and non-degree courses work, check out this post!

    i’m sorry to deliver you the cold hard truth so soon to Christmas or whichever holiday you celebrate (or not celebrate).

    here’s a .gif to cheer you up.

    elf buddy the elf

    hope that helped. buddy the elf always makes me feel better.

    stay warm,


  • arts & sciences,  non degree,  part-time,  second degree

    waffling is a great word


    I am a little older, and thinking of returning to do further coursework and
    possibly a second bachelor’s. But am waffling between nondegree and part

    For part time: is there a minimum course load per term? Or can you skip a
    term or two?

    For nondegree students: can you apply at some point to switch to degree


    hello there!

    i never knew that waffling was a word. thanks for adding that to my vocabulary!

    doing further coursework?!! well, to each their own.

    i’m kidding of course. there’s nothing wrong with furthering your education, i’m just jealous i don’t have that drive (or the GPA)… but that’s a story for another time

    if you are thinking of pursuing a second bachelor’s degree, there are guidelines that U of T provides- found here, but honestly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

    the only thing to take away from the above link is the fact that you can’t pursue the same degree, meaning if you have already received a bachelor of arts, you’d have to come back and do a different bachelors (e.g. a bachelor of science).

    the process of coming back for a second degree is pretty straight-forward. you should first set up a meeting with a registrar at your college (same college you were at in your undergrad). before making any big academic decisions, i always recommend speaking with your registrar first, just so you don’t get screwed over by some random rule or exception down the road.

    with the registrar, you’ll discuss if coming back for a second degree is really necessary or if there are other options that you can consider (a different career path, pursuing grad school/ a masters program). if you and your registrar come to the conclusion that indeed, coming back is a practical option, you’ll have to go through a petition process.

    if your petition is approved, you’ll be granted 5 transfer credits, 4.0 at the 100-level and 1.0 at the 200-level, meaning your second degree can be completed in 3 years as opposed to 4 years.

    part time students can be enrolled in anything from 0.5 FCE’s to 2.5 FCE’s per fall-winter session, meaning you could be enrolled in 0.5 credits in the fall and 0 credits in the winter, and still be considered a part time student. you can also be enrolled in 1.5 FCE’s and 1.0 FCE’s in the winter (totalling 2.5 FCE’s), and still be considered a part time student. if you are registered with osap, it might be worthwhile to double check with them what their definition of part time status is.

    if you are an international student, you may run into some immigration/ visa issues, so we urge you to check with the centre for international experience before enrolling in part time studies.

    non degree students are typically students who are taking courses to fulfill certain requirements (GPA cut-off, required courses) for grad school or masters programs. for example, some students may need to come back for an english requirement and therefore would enrol as a non degree student.

    the question of “what’s the difference between part time and non degree” doesn’t exactly apply because you can, in fact, be a part time student AND a non degree student at the same time.

    the university doesn’t give you a strict timeline in terms of how long you take to complete your courses. you can technically take as long as you want, with as many breaks in between as you want! yay!

    you can definitely switch from non degree to a degree stream, but again, you’ll have to petition this process with your registrar.

    hope this is enough info for the time being! if you have any follow up questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment on this post, and i’ll do my best to answer it!

    good luck!



  • grad school,  non degree

    all or nothing

    Hi aska! I graduated with a BA last year and am looking into applying for a MA program at UofT that doesn’t require prerequisites. I’d like to take certain recommended undergrad courses for my own benefit in preparation for the program, but I’m concerned whether they’d be counted toward my undergraduate GPA. Does UofT automatically count courses you take after graduation towards your undergraduate GPA?


    hey there,

    i have the weirdest feeling that i’ve already answered this question, but i don’t have any evidence that i did, so i’m just going to go ahead and answer it again (potentially?) – just in case.

    the short answer to your question is: yes. courses you take as a non-degree student count towards your CGPA. there’s no way to get around that, unfortunately, since non-degree students can’t credit/non-credit courses.

    the best way to mitigate this risk is to be sensible about your own abilities and time restrictions right now. if you’re working a full-time job right now, you probably don’t want to be in more than one or two courses at a time. try and find courses that make sense with your schedule. if you work a day job, courses in the evening probably make more sense. et cetera.



  • grad school,  non degree

    approaching profs doesn’t get easier with age

    Hi Aska,

    I recently graduated from St. George with a BA, but I wasn’t really sure at the time where I wanted to go from there. After giving it some thought, I’ve decided that I’d like to try for an MA and apply to grad schools for the 2016/2017 school year. My biggest concern, however, is not having the academic references for my applications; I’ve always been a shy person and thus haven’t really connected with my profs in as meaningful a way as other, more outgoing students. I don’t want this to be a hindrance, however, so I’m seriously considering registering for a few more courses as a non-degree student so that I can build more contacts and thus have the requisite number of referees when I’m prepping my applications. I’d also like to take courses outside of my usual comfort zone in order to have the breadth of knowledge that grad schools like to see, so it’s not all about the profs.

    I’m wondering how the non-degree enrollment process works, which is why writing and seeking your sagely wisdom. If I were able to get into a 400-level seminar come mid-August, would the prerequisites that I accumulated from my BA carry over so that I wouldn’t have to worry about being removed? Will I be able to take whatever courses I’d like from the department of my old major, provided there is space in them? Or do I have to start from the drawing board and abide by the same prerequisites that first-year students are faced with?

    Also, how many credits are non-degree students allowed to take in a given year? Full-time degree students take five, but is this different for non-degrees? I personally don’t know how many courses I want to take, as I have to wait and see which ones will be available in August, so I’d like to
    know whether any limitations exist beforehand so I can conduct my planning accordingly.

    P.S. Do you have any tips about building up relationships with profs so that they could serve as potential grad school referees? I’ve only ever gone out of my way to do this for one prof because that prof taught material that I really loved, and so it was easy for me to engage with them about it. Obviously, though, I’m going to have to get to know profs whose interests don’t necessarily align with mine if I want to have a shot at grad school, so it’d be super helpful to have some advice as to how I could go about doing that successfully. I’m determined not to let my social inhibitions get in the way of my goals, so I’m going to try very hard to make my return to the classroom worth it this time around.


    hey there,

    whoo, that’s a bit of reading right there. keeping my mind sharp for September, huh? i love it.

    coming back as a non-degree student is super easy. if you’ve been away for less than a year, you can just sign up for courses on August 14th, make the minimum payment to register, and you’re all done! well, except attending the classes. and passing them. all that fun stuff.

    if you’ve been away for at least a year, you would have to go to your college registrar’s office, fill out a form and pay $25 to get your account reactivated. then you could sign up for courses, make the minimum payment, attend classes, etc.

    if you already took prerequisite courses for the courses you’re interested in, you won’t have to take them again. all courses you take at uoft work the same way, regardless of whether you’re a degree student. they show up on your transcript, even if you’re non-degree. they affect your GPA, can count towards program requirements, all that stuff. you can also take as many credits as you like in a year.

    now, about graduate school: you DO NOT need to be best buds with professors to ask for an academic reference.


    there is no need to feel this way about a prof. you’re asking for a letter, not a diamond ring

    stay away from me

    in fact, it’s okay if you feel this way about the prof, as long as you are nice and you did well in their course

    in fact, if you’re looking to do non-degree just to get closer with a professor or two, you may want to reconsider and save yourself a bit of money.

    in fact, profs don’t have to remember you at all to write you a recommendation letter. as long as you can prepare a really solid e-mail, you’re good. the important thing is that you ask professors in whose class you did well, and where the class is reasonably relevant to the master’s program you’re interested in.

    as a general guideline, this is how you should go about crafting a request for a reference letter:

    start off by introducing yourself, in case the prof doesn’t remember you. they’re busy and important! they don’t remember you! and if by some chance they do remember you, they will feel flattered by the fact that you thought they were busy and important enough to reintroduce yourself. make sure to include your name, the course you took for them, and a bit about the program you’re applying to.

    then, make your request. try and be as concise as possible. explain exactly what they’ll have to do, and when. let them know why you’re asking them specifically. it’s a good idea to remind them what mark you got in the course. then, upload a copy of an assignment you completed in the class that you did really well on. that way, they have a refresher on the kind of academic work you do, and they can write a more accurate letter.

    make sure to follow up with reminders (but don’t nag), and then maybe get them a box of chocolates after to thank them for taking time out of their busy busy professor life for you.

    this is a lot to think about, so if you ARE still thinking of re-registering, you may want to make an appointment with your college registrar’s office to make absolutely certain, before you shell out the $25.

    best of luck and i hope you get into grad school!


  • graduation,  non degree,  subject POST

    your degree UPGRADED!

    Hi Aska,

    OK I am graduating this November. I did a polisci major and a hist and anthro minor. But as I was looking through all my course to insure that I
    didn’t miss a breath requirement etc I came to a realization that made me realize what a space-case I am. I only need a 0.5 400 -level history course to do a double major and a minor. Is there any way I can take one course in fall and still graduate by November? Or will UOFT let me take the course after I graduate and let me upgrade to a double major? Thanks.

    Space Case.


    hey there space case,

    well, be grateful that you didn’t have a more serious realization than that. people discover some nasty things on degree explorer (“wait, what are breadth requirements?…OH NO.”)

    there’s no way to take a course now (like, for the Fall 2014 session) and graduate by november. however, you can graduate in november and take the course as a non-degree student. the course and mark will appear on your uoft transcript once you complete it.

    you can talk to your college registrar about the possibility of updating your transcript to include that extra major after you complete the history course, but the subject POSts you graduate with will be the ones on your degree.



  • non degree

    RETURN of the STUDENT (dun dun DUNNNN)

    Hi there,
    U of T was the first school I attended out of high school and I dropped out in my first year. Since then I’ve attended and graduated from another school, but now I’m wondering if it’s possible for me to take some courses there again. I’m not necessarily looking to earn another degree with U of T, I’m just interested in picking up some courses on weekends and evenings to better myself in my current field. Is that at all possible? What might be standing in my way if I attempted to return? Would there be any issue with my former transcripts that could keep me from enrollment? Will they need my transcripts from the school where I earned my undergrad degree? Is the cheese pizza at the Robart’s Library cafeteria still incredibly cheesy?
    Thanks much.


    hey there,

    it is possible! what you’re talking about is becoming a non-degree student (apply here). since you already have a degree, there shouldn’t be any problems with your returning.

    if by “former transcripts” you mean the ones from uoft, i don’t think that should be an issue, unless you did really poorly in your first year. but i think the fact that you have a degree already pretty much seals the deal.

    they don’t say anything specific about needing transcripts from your undegrad, but they do talk a lot about “documents,” so i’m thinking maybe. still, i wouldn’t worry too much; it’s not like you’re competing with other degree students to get in.

    i confess i have not had the pizza from robarts! i’m sorry; please forgive me, and feel free to stop reading this blog if i have offended you on a moral level.



  • non degree

    i just can’t get enough of uoft


    I am coming back as a non-degree student. I was wondering if the course exclusions still apply to me? i.e. Can I take PSL201Y1 in my non-degree year when I have taken PSL300/301H1, which are exclusions for PSL201Y1, in my undergraduate years. Also, does the max of 6.0 credits first year courses still apply?




    Exclusions apply to everyone, non-degree or not. Basically if you went into PSL201Y when you have an exclusion already, you may very well be automatically removed from the course, the department will do so themselves early on, or your college registrar will call you in really late into the term and tell you that you’re in an exclusion.

    So can you take an exclusion? Not really.

    You can appeal to the department and make sure everything is okay, in which case the course will be designated “extra” and won’t affect your cGPA.

    But if there’s a lot of pressure from the faculty saying we need room in PSL201Y for the students who are actually still completing their degrees… well, I’m sure you can imagine what’ll happen to you.

    Unfortunately, I have nothing to cite for you since there’s basically no written information for non-degree students.

    I had to bother a bunch of sources for this question. 😉

    As for taking another 100-level course — now that’s a different situation. Since that whole “you can only take 6.0 FCEs of 100-level courses” rule was a degree requirement, you can certainly take another 100-level course and have it contribute to your cGPA and not fear any removal.