How does U1 work in McGill

My DD has enough credit to be in U1. How does it work? Do you have to finish your degree in 3 years or is this optional and DD can take 4 years to finish BEng degree.

The U1, U2, U3 terminology is essentially sophomore, junior, senior years in US terminology. Quebec has a unique academic structure. Students graduate high school after grade 11. Grade 12 does not exist. They then do two years in CEGEP (community college) and three years in university.

This issue came up in the past and there was a page on the McGill website (that I cannot find now) that stated that students from outside Quebec can complete a 120 credit program regardless of any advanced standing credits earned at entry.

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I did not attend McGill (I was accepted out of high school but went somewhere else). I did in the past know quite a few students who went there.

My understanding is that it is relatively common at McGill to spread out classes a little bit, taking four per semester rather than five, and therefore to graduate one year later than the normal minimum. One reason is that McGill is academically excellent but very demanding. Another reason is that for people who are in-province it is very reasonably priced. At least a few years ago “in province” apparently included people who were born as Canadian citizens and have never lived in any other province, even if they have never lived in Quebec either (my daughters did fit this description at the time).

If you are an international student then there might be some minimum number of classes that you need to take to maintain your student visa. I am pretty sure however that four classes per semester is fine for this purpose. If you have a merit scholarship the same is likely to be true, but the details should be specified when you are given the scholarship (I do not know anyone who was offered a merit scholarship for McGill, although both daughters were offered merit scholarships for other universities in Canada and they were required to maintain a specified GPA in a specified minimum number of classes to maintain the scholarship past year one).

As @TomSrOfBoston has suggested, students coming into McGill at U1 is relatively common since this includes students from the province of Quebec who are coming in from CEGEP.

In our experience the admissions folks at McGill are quite good at answering questions such as this, although in some cases it can take a few days to hear back from them.

My daughter is a Bioengineering student. She had 24 credits and was officially a U1. There was a small issue and she had to take a U0 Linear Algebra class that was not given at her US high school. So, due to class prerequisites, scheduling, it has been a little more complex when comes class selection but they have always work with her. Professors have been really understanding. She did do a “Maymester” to get things straighten out.
She thought she would graduate in 4 years but has added a minor so it may be 4.5 years.

The U1, U2, U3 nomenclature is because for Quebec students - who attend CEGEP which is essentially Grade 12 of HS and First Year of College - University is 3 years. For students coming from the US, most will enter as a U0. But McGill does give credit for AP and IB. Here is where it gets tricky. Some students will enter as a U1 and cruise through McGill in 3 years, taking five classes per semester. What most kids find is that 4 classes per semester is ideal - 5 can be a very intense workload. Now - tuition. McGill charges by the unit. So taking four classes is indeed cheaper than five. So as a parent, the cost of spreading out across four years is the same from a tuition standpoint, the added cost is living costs and fees for an additional year. For my son, this additional cost was doable and worth it for him. I hope that helps.

How does entering U0 vs U1 influence student relationships/dynamics? Do most American students enter w/ enough AP credit to start as a U1?

With 47% Quebec students, 24% Canada 18% Overseas and 11% American it seems the majority of an incoming class will be a U1. (assuming a lot overseas will have an IB diploma)

I was accepted but probably won’t have the AP credits to start as a U1. Not sure if I’ll feel left behind as a junior if everyone I meet graduates that year.

Many students who come in with AP credits end up staying 4 years anyway. They take 12 credits a semester instead of 15. That’s 4 courses instead of the normal 5.

The only real advantage to entering as a U1 is that you get a better spot in the course registration queue.

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Can confirm. S1 came in as a U1 due to having a large amount of AP credits, but has stayed four years. As an athlete, that allowed him to take 1 less class during the fall to lessen his workload in season. You will find that many US and International students in the more rigorous faculties will do the same, even if they are not athletes. McGill can be demanding. Some will even spend 5 years.
If you are a very smart, hardworking student with a lot of AP/IB courses coming into the school you can finish in three years, but it is not common, from what I have heard.

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It sounds like entering as a U0, I would be on the 5 year plan. Much to think about, thank you!

What faculty would you be in? Most students from outside Quebec love experiencing Montreal for as long as they can. Granted, with COVID the last 2 years have been hard everywhere.


I was admitted to the Faculty of Arts, and reviewed decision pending for Interfaculty, B.A. & Sc. I was able to visit in Feb and really liked McGill and Montreal. The U0/U1 is giving me pause - it seems housing could potentially be an issue if I’m a year behind everyone I enter with.

I think the is housing guaranteed for first year students . Does not meter U0 or U1…

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I’m thinking of the back end, in an apt year 4 losing roommates, and me being there for 5

Oh … I did not think of that )) , sorry

In Arts with some AP credits in all probabity you would complete in 4 years.

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Another thing to keep in mind: at McGill you pay by the unit. So if you take four classes, you pay for four classes (typically 12 units). If you take five, you pay more - for 15 unit. This is different than in the US where 12-15 or more units cost the same - you are “full time”. The point is taking an additional semester or year means the tuition cost is the same (except for tuition increases). Your real costs is another semester or year of living expenses.

Don’t worry about housing. If you enter as a U1 you can still live your first year in on campus housing - which I would recommend. Great way to meet people. Then your second year you move off campus like everyone else. It works out really well.

Congrats on getting into McGill.

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I was a student at McGill many years ago, but entered as a U0 (back then it was called U1F). I would say that living in rez and going through the U0 process, more than 90% of my peers were in a similar boat. Most Quebec students were commuter students from Montreal and environs and so were only classmates. We didn’t live with or socialize with them much. My roommates through undergrad were from Toronto, Rhode Island and Crete. Not a single Quebecer.