It can feel like university is all that matters to students. How many years will it take to complete a program? What courses are necessary? How can struggling students track everything? What obstacles might they encounter?

As you start frantically planning for the next year, The Varsity’s got answers to all your burning questions below: about the length of a degree, work experience, and how to play everything out.

Your degree’s duration

To complete a program at U of T, a student must complete 20 credits. Semester courses provide students with 0.5 credits, whereas yearly courses account for 1.0 credits. U of T recommends that students whose GPA is over 1.5 take 2.5 credits per fall and winter semester, which equates to five courses each term. However, depending on an individual’s capabilities, the minimum number of credits a student can take in a semester is 0.5, and the maximum is 3.0.

U of T also stipulates that students can take 0.5 to 2.0 credits during the summer. 

A student who completes 2.5 credits per fall and winter semester can graduate in four years. Those who desire to fast-track their graduation can do so by taking summer courses and possibly reduce the number of semesters they need to complete their 20 credits. Taking fewer courses per semester will increase the number of semesters you end up needing to graduate.

How does work experience work?

Though most students will have to find work experience independently through social media and networking, U of T has some programs for those who qualify.

Currently, only students enrolled in the information security specialist program, bioinformatics specialist program, and computer science specialist, major, or minor programs can apply for a Professional Experience Year (PEY) co-op placement at UTSG. A PEY provides second-year students in the mentioned programs with the opportunity to gain paid work experience for over 12 months. To do so, a student must be enrolled or have completed one of the following software design courses: CSC207 at UTM; CSC207 at UTSG; or CSCB07 at UTSC. 

Students who secure a PEY begin working after they complete their third year. It is only after a student finalizes their co-op do they return to full-time studies to conclude their fourth year. As such, their graduation will be delayed by one year. Therefore, students who engage in a co-op opportunity can expect to graduate in five years. 

Some fourth-year courses additionally provide academic internship opportunities. UTM’s website says academic internships typically last over 100 to 200 hours. For example, students in the Digital Enterprise Management program at UTM can apply for CCT410, which is a half-year internship opportunity. However, due to entrance limitations on these courses such as instructor permission, only a minimal number of students are eligible for entry. 

Students who complete academic internships do so throughout their semesters, therefore, they can still expect to graduate after four years.

Planning your degree

Students can rely on the Academic Calendar and the Degree Explorer to determine what courses they need and when to take them.

UTM’s list of programs, UTSG’s programs of study, and UTSC’s program search tabs provided by the Academic Calendar can help students choose their programs. These resources provide details on the first, second, and higher-year courses required for graduation. Similarly, the Degree Explorer helps students understand what courses will be necessary to make up the degrees they may be interested in.