Course Selection and Academic Requirements FAQ

The following web page provides a list of commonly asked questions from students about course selection, course enrollment, course sequences, average requirements to remain in your program, and steps to take if you are struggling in a course. Please select the header that pertains to you: Course Selection and Enrollment, Course Help, and Average Requirements.

If you have questions about other topics, refer to our primary Frequently Asked Questions page.

Course Selection and Enrollment

Can I take more than 5 courses in a term?

Yes, it is possible. A sixth course must be approved by the undergraduate advisor in order for students to add it on Quest. We will evaluate whether we think a student can handle the workload without a negative impact on the obligation to meet the average requirements. We may also approve a sixth course if it is absolutely necessary to completing a degree requirement (and there is no other alternative course of action). We do not approve sixth course requests for First year students.

Can I take courses in the spring term following first year (1B)?

Students may elect to take courses during their scheduled Spring break (the term between 1B and 2A), but their tuition will be assessed under the enhanced AFM rate as they are considered a 2A student. Students are not permitted to take advanced AFM courses at this time, and furthermore students are still expected to take a 5 course load in subsequent terms.

Do I have to take the courses I was preregistered in?

Yes, AFM students must complete courses preregistered by the scheduling office. If students have been preregistered in a course it means they are expected to take the course in that particular term, to ensure proper sequencing.

Can I change the section of a course I was preregistered in?

There may be some flexibility to move between sections after initial registration (during enrollment appointment) but students should do some investigation of this beforehand. For example, are all the AFM students in a single section? Are the sections being taught by different instructors? Are the requirements different? Is there any coordination between sections? Frankly, convenience of schedule should not be a student's only consideration in making a section switch. We encourage students to remain in the section that they are preregistered in although we recognize there may occasionally be good reasons to consider a switch to another section. Sometimes students indicate they do want to switch a section because they are worried about being able to get to the next class on time. Do not worry about back to back classes - 10 minutes is enough time to move between buildings on the main campus.

Do all of my courses require the approval of an AFM advisor?

Studets are not required to have their courses approved directly by an AFM undergraduate advisor. However, students are certainly free to contact a SAF advisor about course selection questions they might have.

How much freedom do I have to choose my remaining courses?

Course sequence sheets are provided on the AFM website (Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) degree requirements) and students are strongly encouraged to take the courses identified in the terms identified. If students diverge from this sequence they do so at their own risk. Starting with the 2021-2022 Undergraduate Calendar, AFM students are, under normal circumstances, required to take the first two years of courses in the order stipulated in the AFM degree description.

In addition, students may need to identify certain courses to be taken towards degree requirements that do not appear on the sequence sheets.

In addition to the course sequence sheets, degree checklist forms are also available on the AFM website which students may find helpful in planning their study schedule. Remember, our students are ultimately responsible for knowing the AFM degree requirements, and meeting those degree requirements for graduation. The tools we provide are simply aids of assistance.

Can I take a course sooner to "fast track" my degree or specialization requirements?

It is not recommended to "fast track" degree or specialization required courses, or to take courses out of a student's advised sequence. The AFM program and sequence of courses have been thoughtfully designed based on our students' previous course and work experience, as well as carefully scheduled to reduce exam conflicts within a cohort. Should a student still choose to take courses out of sequence, they do so at their own risk of creating exam conflicts, and will need to ensure they have met all prerequisites for a course. Depending on the term in which this occurs, it is also possible that a student could be unilaterally removed from the enrolled course even if they are not able to add a replacement (e.g., the date for adding courses has passed). To find out more about prerequisites for AFM courses, please consult the most updated undergraduate calendar for AFM.

Course Help

Where can I get tutorial assistance for a course?

There are a variety of resources potentially available to our students. The School has a tutorial pool available for first year required courses which runs Monday through Thursday. The Living Learning Community also provides a weekly tutorial open to all AFM students. Students may also find there are resources in other faculties as well (e.g., the Math Faculty may provide a tutorial pool for math courses). Finally students can tap into their own contacts and student organizations (e.g. ASA) to canvas/advertise for volunteer and/or paid assistance. More supports are available at the entry level of the program as students are making major adjustments at that time.

How do I challenge a grade I have received?

While a course is in progress a student's best option is to approach the instructor (or TA as appropriate) and seek a resolution. If the students does not reach a satisfactory resolution during, or following, the course with the course instructor there are formal appeal options using available university procedures (Policy 70). Continued disagreement with a grade assessment that has been re-assessed and otherwise appears to have followed the grading criteria identified will rarely be a successful basis for a Policy 70 appeal. A student will typically need to identify some fundamental failure in process or assessment. Students can contact the undergraduate advisor and receive further advice on how to proceed.

I have experienced a personal emergency/situation which is impacting my ability to meet course obligations. What should I do?

Students experiencing an emergency first want to identify if the impact of the situation is fairly limited (e.g., it will only impact a single assignment/test in a particular course(s)). If it is a very limited situation (e.g., getting sick before a test/exam) students can deal directly with the instructor or course administrator as appropriate.

However, we encourage students to reach out to a SAF Advisor if the situation will involve an extended impact on their studies. We can then provide some advice on how to proceed and assist as necessary. An extended impact could be a situation where they will be unable to attend a number of classes (e.g., over a couple of weeks) and/or it is impacting their ability to complete a number of assignment/tests across multiple courses. An example of this might be a personal emergency that requires students to leave campus for a couple of weeks to deal with the situation and which, during that time, they would be completely unable to attend courses or address course completion matters. Personal emergency circumstances can be quite unique and time sensitive, and it is not uncommon for SAF advisors to work with the AFM Program Director in determining how best to proceed.

What are my next steps if I fail a course?

If a student fails a degree required course (less than 50%) then they must retake the course (or an equivalent approved by SAF) as they have yet to earn an academic credit for it. A failed course may be repeated only once. When a course is repeated, the two marks are not averaged together. Rather, both marks are entered with all other marks in calculating the student's cumulative overall average. If a student has failed an elective course (of which there are relatively few as you complete your AFM degree) the student will still need to make up the missed credit, but the student may have the flexibility to choose a different course of equal credit weight to take.

A student repeating a course (or completing a different course in lieu of a prior failure) is then required to pick up 41 course attempts for the degree.

Assuming that all other degree progress requirements are acceptable, a failed course does not prevent a student from proceeding in AFM. However, due to the structured nature of AFM studens are encouraged to contact a SAF advisor to determine how to best address the course failure. In extreme situations it is possible for a course failure to delay graduation - again due to the structured nature of the program.

If I was unable to earn my AFM 273 credit in 2A, how will my future semesters change?

Students progressing through the AFM program will complete a series of courses that are direct prerequisites for each other, and are also prerequisites for several other key core courses and specialization-based electives. These courses, indicated below, are important to complete in their intended semester.

If a student is, for any reason, unable to complete AFM 273 in 2A then their progression will fortunately not be derailed significantly. Students that are concerned about their future semesters may refer to one of the alternate pathways below for visualizing their future terms.

Default and Alternative Course Pathways

Intended Pathway:

1B: AFM 121 -> 2A: AFM 273 -> 2B: AFM 274 -> 3A: AFM 321 AFM 373 -> 4A: AFM 433


Alternate Pathway 1: Professional Accountant Specialization:

3A (Winter 2023): AFM 321, 341, 382, and 2 electives of student choice

3B (Spring 2023): AFM 274 (instead of an elective), 311, 335, 362, 391

4A (Winter 2024): AFM 373 (instead of an elective), 433, 451, 480, and an elective of student choice

4B (Fall 2024): as per normal sequence.


Alternate Pathway 2: Other Specializations:

3A (Winter 2023): AFM 321, 341, and 3 electives of student choice (specialization)

3B (Spring 2023): AFM 274 (instead of an elective), 311, 391, 335, specialization elective

4A (Winter 2024): AFM 433, 480, 373 (instead of an elective), and 2 electives of student choice

4B (Fall 2024): as per normal sequence.

Please direct any questions or concerns about these pathways to the SAF advisors for further clarification.

Average Requirements

How do I maintain good standing in the Faculty of Arts and AFM?

To be in satisfactory standing in Honours BAFM, a student must maintain:

  • a minimum cumulative Arts Faculty average of 65%,
  • a minimum cumulative major average of 70% in the courses specified for the AFM degree requirements, (i.e. the core courses listed under Item 2 Degree Requirements in the AFM academic plan description in the Undergraduate Calendar, and any other AFM course code elective).

See degree requirements in the undergraduate calendar. If one or more of these courses do not need to be taken (e.g.,AP transfer credits) the average is based on the remaining credits.

Note: Failure to meet the minimum standing for the plan may result in a Must Change Academic Plan decision.

When and how is an academic standing decision made?

Once marks are declared official (check the UW undergraduate calendar for the actual dates) the School of Accounting and Finance will receive a report from the Registrar’s Office on student standing. This report displays a student's official grades and their average for the previous term. We typically receive the grades just before, to a week plus into, the next term (e.g., Fall term grades get provided in mid-January). Our academic advisor will review every student’s grades and make decisions on whether a student will be eligible to continue in the program and promoted to the next level.

What happens if I do not meet the minimum average requirement? How can I prepare in advance?

If a student meets the 70% cumulative major average or higher, students will not be contacted by the AFM administrative team.

If a student falls below the 70 per cent cumulative major average requirement, their circumstances will be reviewed on an individual basis. The SAF standings decision committee will look at a variety of factors such as how close a student was to the minimum average, what stage of the program they are in/their rank (i.e. 1B, 2A, 3B, etc), and what course(s) brought down their average, as well as other relevant considerations. If, in the discretion of the committee it is determined that there is a high probability that the student will be able to return their academic average to 70% in the following term or improve their grades in the next term, they may be granted a conditional standing term.

If a student believes that they are in jeopardy of being removed from the program, their first priority should be to immediately consider their options. A student should NOT assume they will be granted a conditional standing term and simply wait until they are contacted by a SAF advisor. They should be considering their options for alternative plans of study and/or what other steps may be appropriate. If a student is returning for an academic term of study in the near future, keep in mind that classes fill up quickly. For students that are interested in information on other Arts plans of study please contact the Arts Advisor inbox (artsadvisor@uwaterloo.ca).

Students should research the programs that appeal to them, and carefully determine the courses needed to complete a transfer. If students have any questions, please contact the advisor of the respective academic program.

Can I retake a course I have already passed to bring up my average?

The School does not approve of retaking a course to bring up a student’s academic average. A passed course may not be repeated except under exceptional circumstances, and then only once and only under the following conditions:

  1. If the student's academic advisor recommends the repetition,
  2. If, in the event that the course in question is not within the student's major, the department offering the course also recommends the repetition, and
  3. If the Examinations and Standings Committee approves the petition for repeating of the course in advance of registering for the course.

Only one of the two attempts will count for credit towards the degree.

If consent is granted to retake a course, when a course is repeated, the two marks are not averaged together. Rather, both marks are entered with all other marks in calculating the student's cumulative overall average.

If a student is unilaterally able to register for, and complete a previously passed course, the retake will not be considered in any academic standing decisions made by the School.

What is a conditional term?

A conditional term is similar to being on academic probation. Students will have one term to improve their overall marks and to bring their major cumulative average above 70 per cent. If they are successful, they will by virtue of again meeting the minimum MAV requirement, be promoted to their next rank (e.g. 3A to 3B). If they are unsuccessful, their situation is reviewed again at the end of the conditional term, but there is a strong likelihood they will be required to withdraw from the BAFM program. If it is determined that the student cannot continue in the BAFM program, but they meet the minimum requirements to continue in the Faculty of Arts, it may be possible to transfer to a four-year Honours Arts degree program. The Faculty of Arts requires a lower average and includes different courses in the calculation.

Please note: a conditional term is a discretionary decision made by the School - it is not an automatic right for a student. Although it is a discretionary decision the School strives to be consistent in the exercise of the discretion.