Why choose Arts at McGill?

Program options

Bachelor of Arts

A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree integrates topics such as the humanities, social sciences, and languages into a coherent academic program. B.A. students spend their time investigating and appreciating connections across fields of study, and come to understand how we approach current issues today. A keen interest in how society works and how people express themselves is the perfect fit for a B.A. degree.

The programs of study available in the Faculty of Arts' multi-track degree system provide students with the opportunity to tailor a unique academic profile suited to their specific interests and career ambitions. The multi-track system requires students to study (at the Honours, major, or minor level) in at least 2 fields. Students who pursue the Honours program in their field write a thesis in their final year and graduate with a B.A. Honours.

Both students who are interested in traditional disciplines and those who are attracted to interdisciplinary work are equally at home in Arts. We look for students with superior academic ability whose social and cultural vigor promises to make a significant contribution to the University and to the McGill liberal arts tradition.

More information about the B.A. degree

Bachelor of Arts and Science

In 2005, the Faculties of Arts and Science introduced the Bachelor of Arts and Science degree. The B.A. & Sc. is an interdisciplinary degree intended for students who want to pursue a program that features both an Arts and a Science component. The B.A. & Sc. degree offers students whose academic interests lie in both faculties a program format that seamlessly integrates both components.

B.A. & Sc. students are required to take a 3-credit core course that addresses a series of topics that integrate both disciplines. The course introduces students to interdisciplinary topics that exemplify the benefits of applying scholarship from both Arts and Science to the same question or issue. The central objective of the B.A. & Sc. is to provide students with a broad education that includes in-depth study of disciplines in both faculties. This new degree gives students a unique opportunity to achieve a diverse knowledge base, learn different methods of scholarship, and hone intellectual flexibility.

More information about the B.A. & Sc. degree

The future for an Arts graduate

As employers continue to adjust to a global economy, graduates must be flexible, and be able to think and work across cultural and social contexts. They must be able to approach a question or issue from a variety of perspectives, respond effectively to new developments, and adapt to changing circumstances. A McGill B.A. degree encourages flexibility, independence, and knowledge in a diversity of disciplines and opens up a wide range of opportunities in many fields, particularly those that emphasize critical thinking. McGill liberal arts graduates are valued for their ability to think critically and to communicate effectively, often in several languages. The training they receive and the skills they acquire in research and analysis over the course of their undergraduate program and their ability to find innovative solutions are immediately applicable to a wide spectrum of undertakings. Many Arts graduates enter directly into careers. Others pursue post-graduate degrees in both traditional and interdisciplinary fields. Still others pursue professional degrees in fields such as business, law and medicine. Whichever option they have chosen, the success of McGill Arts graduates demonstrates the soundness of the academic foundations and learning experiences upon which they rest.

Student life in Montreal

Montreal consistently ranks as one of the world's top student cities, and it's not difficult to see why. At McGill, in Montreal, and even off the island you will never run out of things to do and sights to see.

Rez Life

Student residence

All first year McGill students are offered a spot in student residence, called Rez. Students living in Rez together share common experiences of coming to university for the first time, often to a new city far away from home, making Rez a very close-knit community. This sense of community is bolstered by a group of floor fellows, upper year students who live in Rez with students to support and guide them through the challenges of their first year. Options for housing include Upper Rez, which lies at the foot of Mont Royal; various luxurious “hotel residences”; the Royal Victoria College, which includes an all-women wing; and New Residence, McGill’s largest and newest residence hall.

Rez Life programming

A team of boisterous McGill students run Rez Life. The Rez Lifers work all year to organize events and activities to get students in Rez involved with the community. The events they organize include RezFest at the beginning of the year, the year-long Rez Wars competition, Faculty in Rez, and much more. Living in Rez gives students the opportunity to be active in their community and makes the transition to McGill, Montreal, and university life in general much smoother.

In Montreal

Parks

Mont Royal Park

Venture outside of the McGill bubble and one finds a charming little city. Although it is a major metropolitan centre, Montreal is also known for its green spaces. In addition to the most famous of Montreal's parks, Mont Royal (pictured), there are innumerable parks and squares that dot the island. To the east along Sherbrooke Street, you find Parc Lafontaine. The second largest park on the eastern half of the island, it reflects the two main cultures of Quebec: the eastern or French half of the park is laid out in geometric shapes; the western or English half is made up of meandering paths and irregularly shaped ponds. The park is also home to tennis courts, two artificial lakes complete with paddleboats, an open-air theatre, and one of the many dog parks on the island where dogs are permitted to run off the lead. Other smaller parks or squares abound, including the famous St. Louis Square in the Plateau (complete with a spectacular fountain) and Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal. The Vieux Port (or Old Port) is another of Montreal's major green spaces and a popular spot to hang out by the St. Lawrence River. Even in the winter, Old Port brims with Christmas markets and an ice skating rink.

Cultural attractions

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Montreal is known for its restaurants, creative cultural life, performing and visual arts, and sports events, as well as a plethora of annual festivals: these include International Film, Jazz, Humour, Fringe Theatre, New Film and Video, Folk Arts, Performance Poetry, and Science Fiction as well as many tied to specific cultures. Many of these cultural and recreational activities are free or offer reduced rates for students. Montreal is home to over 30 museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (pictured), the Musée d'art contemporain, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture. It is also home to four professional sports teams: the Canadiens of the National Hockey League, the Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, the Expos of the National Baseball League, and the Impact of A-League Soccer. Few cities of the world are as safe, as accessible, as enjoyable, and offer as much variety for students as Montreal does.

Off the island

Québec City

Quebec City

Described as "a little bit of Europe in North America," our provincial capital is only a three hour drive from downtown Montreal. Once there, you step into a charming combination of the old and the new. From the heights of the Plains of Abraham to La Place Royale below in the Old Town - whose narrow streets have witnessed more than three centuries of traffic - you are surrounded by history. Québec City is the only historic district in North America to have preserved its ramparts; fortifications built as early as the 17th century still surround the Old City. Québec City can also boast the only Funicular of its type in Canada. A ride on the Funicular affords a panoramic view of the St. Lawrence River and the Old Town from a 45-degree angle.

Of the many festivals and events held throughout the year in Québec City, the most famous is the Carnaval de Québec. It is held each year from the end of January to mid February. The Bonhomme - a snowman complete with toque and ceinture - is the Carnaval's mascot. A Petit Bonhomme, a pin that you purchase at Carnaval and that you must wear visibly at all times, is your ticket to most venues and events. You will also learn about the warming effects of Caribou Punch, a truly unique Québécois concoction.

Ottawa

Ottawa

Canada's capital city, located on the banks of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers, is an easy two-hour drive by either car or bus. A G8 capital and a global technology centre, Ottawa is home to the Parliament Buildings, the Supreme Court of Canada, the National Archives, and the National Gallery. Over the river in Gatineau, you'll find the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Canadian Radio and Television Commission. These are only a few of the National Capital Region's historic and cultural attractions.

Once in Ottawa, you can see the changing of the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces on Parliament Hill (June to August, weather permitting), tour the Parliament Buildings and climb one of Canada's most famous landmarks, the Peace Tower. Grey Line Tours offer single and three-day bus passes for their double-decker buses that make a circuit of the city's major museums. The Rideau Canal, the world's longest skating rink at 7.8 km one way, runs from the Chateau Laurier in the heart of downtown to Dow's Lake. Temperatures permitting, it is open, free of charge, from December to March. During the rest of the year, you can take advantage of the bicycle paths that run alongside the canal. Each May, Ottawa-Gatineau celebrates the Canadian Tulip Festival, a tradition that began when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands sent thousands of tulip bulbs to Canada in recognition of the Canadian Forces role in liberating Holland during WWII. Today, there are 4 official festival sites, 2 partner sites, and 15 participating attractions along the Tulip Route where you can see over 3 million tulips in bloom. Don't forget to try a Beaver Tail too!

The Montérégie and the Eastern Townships

Monteregie and the Eastern Townships

Southeast of Montreal across the river lies the St. Lawrence River valley, often referred to as the Montérégie because of Mont Royal's sister mountains. Monts St. Bruno, St. Hilaire and St. Gregoire - the Mountains of the King - rise incongruously out of the plain. The Eastern Townships (or Cantons de l'est) abut this region and are famous for numerous charming communities, such as North Hatley on the shores of Lake Massawippi, where you can find activities to please all tastes year round. Drive just a bit further south and you find yourself in Vermont with all its attractions, including the Jay Peak and Stowe hiking and ski resorts. Townships South-east of Montreal across the river lies the St. Lawrence River valley, often referred to as the Montérégie because of Mont Royal's sister mountains. Monts St. Bruno, St. Hilaire and St. Gregoire - the Mountains of the King - rise incongruously out of the plain. The Eastern Townships (or Cantons de l'est) abut this region and are famous for numerous charming communities, such as North Hatley on the shores of Lake Massawippi, where you can find activities to please all tastes year round. Drive just a bit further south and you find yourself in Vermont with all its attractions, including the Jay Peak and Stowe hiking and ski resorts.

Les Laurentides

Les Laurentides

Just north of Montreal are the Laurentien mountains, a haven for skiers, hikers, golfers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. While Mont Tremblant is renowned worldwide as the premier ski and snowboard resort in North America, there are many other excellent ski hills and kilometres of cross-country, snowshoe, and snowmobile trails in resort towns closer to Montreal. These same trails are open for hiking and biking in the non-winter months. The resort towns of St. Sauveur, Val David, and Val Morin are an hour or less away by car, an easy day trip at any time of year. In the fall, due to the predominance of the Canadian Maple, the mountains burst with reds, oranges, and yellows. Many ski hills like Mont St. Sauveur operate their lifts to allow greater and easier access to mountain top views. Additionally, three provincial parks - Oka, Rivière du Nord, and Mont Tremblant - all offer kilometres of hiking and biking trails. In the 1492 square kilometre Mont Tremblant Park, campsites abound and canoeing is popular on its over 100 lakes and 6 rivers.

Tools for success

Advising

The Faculty of Arts Office of Advising and Student Information Services (OASIS) is located in Dawson Hall and contains all the academic services students need to navigate their way from registration for their first courses all the way to graduation. Arts OASIS is a valuable resource for degree planning and other academic questions. Each department in the Faculty of Arts has its own specific advisor as well who is available to consult individually with students on department-specific topics that Arts OASIS may not be of service.

The friendly and helpful staff at the Arts OASIS information counter can answer a variety of questions on academic rules and regulations, and can clarify details on your academic record for you. They can also refer you to other resources on campus if they cannot provide the information you need.

The offices of the Associate Dean (Student Affairs) are also housed in Dawson Hall. The Associate Dean is responsible for considering special requests from students on a variety of topics such as degree extensions and ad hoc programs.

Arts OASIS is the place to go to deal with most of your academic administrative matters.

Libraries

McGill libraries

The McGill network of 15 libraries is the largest in Montreal and one of Canada's oldest and most respected. McGill's library system now holds well over 3 million items in both traditional and digital formats. While it is the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (McClennan-Redpath) that primarily serves the research needs of the Faculty of Arts, all McGill students have access to all libraries at the University.

The strength of the McLennan-Redpath collection - over 1 million items - lies in the long runs of 19th century academic and literary periodicals and scholarly series, particularly those of British and European origin. It serves as the repository for Canadian federal and Quebec provincial documents as well as UN, ILO and European Union publications, Canadian literature and history, medieval studies, classical philology, World Wars I and II, the English and Italian Renaissance, India, twentieth century Germany, West Africa, and Slavic studies.

Individual and group library instruction on the resources of the McGill libraries are offered throughout the year in conjunction with academic courses. The array of electronic resources available in McLennan-Redpath and other McGill libraries reflects the commitment of the University library system to expand and enhance its collections and infrastructure in response to the University's changing research and teaching needs.

Student services

McGill operates a wide variety of constantly improving student services, some managed by the administration and some that are entirely student-run. Among these services are:

  • Career and Planning Services (CAPS)
  • Mental Health Services
  • International Student Services (ISS)
  • Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD)
  • Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students Society (SACOMSS)

These services and many more are available to all McGill students and reflect the University's commitment to providing necessary services to the student body. They also represent student initiative and dedication to ensuring the functional implementation of University services.

Click here for more information about student services

Internships and study abroad

Photo by Felix Russell

Arts Internship program

The opportunities to grow and develop outside the classroom during the summer months provided to students by the Faculty of Arts are unparalleled both at McGill and across Canada.  The Faculty of Arts Internship Program enables students to expand their horizons and engage in meaningful collaborations with corporate and community organizations around the world. The Arts Undergraduate Research Awards Program (ARIA) provides students with opportunities to work directly with faculty members on research projects, enabling them to engage in high-level academic research and hone their research and analytical skills. 

The McGill Internship Offices Network is also housed in the Faculty of Arts, making Arts the hub of internship information and support services at McGill. With an experienced staff, a structured program of application assistance, pre-travel learning sessions, student-to-student peer and staff support mechanisms, and extensive follow-up, McGill has a proven track record of ensuring that keen and talented young people are matched with national and international opportunities that benefit both the students and the organizations in which they are placed.

Study sbroad

Studying abroad is a fulfilling and intriguing opportunity for students to travel during their time at McGill. The Faculty of Arts Study Abroad program maintains bilateral exchange programs with many universities around the world and encourages students to spend a term or two studying abroad. Options for studying abroad include independent study aways, exchange programs, and coursework at another university in Quebec.