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Electives: How Do They Work and What Courses are Offered?

So you’re interested in business, but chances are that’s not the only thing that you’re interested in. The Queen’s Commerce program does an excellent job of managing that balance between learning the business fundamentals and exploring subjects of personal interest. The bigger questions here is how does it all work?

Let’s walk you through a quick timeline of your commerce experience to explain!

First Year: This is your introduction to Queen’s, Commerce, and university in general. Instead of struggling with the decision of which courses to take, your first year is all about making friends, and learning the business fundamentals. Your courses are pre-selected for you, and are compulsory for all first-year commerce students.

Second Year: Fast-forward to your next year at Queen’s. You are no longer a rookie. You know your way around Goodes, and you even know something about business. This year, you will be able to explore some of those non-commerce interests with the 2 arts electives that you select.

Third Year: This year is when things change. You’ve learned the basics and have a wealth of knowledge across all business disciplines. At this point in the program, you only have one mandatory course and 9 electives – a combination of Arts and Commerce credits. This is when commerce students start to specialize, but at Queen’s specializing is entirely optional. Students interested in accounting or finance may choose to take courses that align with their career path; however, if you are interested in many different areas of business and prefer to keep all of your doors open, that is a possibility as well. Some of these courses might also be taken overseas! That’s right! Third year is the year when most commerce students choose to go on an international exchange. This opens up a whole world of courses that might not be available at Queen’s.

Fourth Year: Tragically, this is your fourth and final year of the program. Similar to third year, you have one compulsory course with 9 other electives. These electives will be a mixture of Arts and Commerce studies like the previous year. This is your final opportunity to explore your different interests, and step outside of your comfort zone. So take advantage of that in any way you can!

I have still left one major question unanswered, and that is, “What courses can I take?” Of course I cannot list them all in this blog, but I can give you some ideas, and a little insight as to how I chose.

Commerce offers a broad range of upper year courses that cover everything from Investments and Portfolio Management to Digital Channels Marketing. Personally, I would like to work in consulting after graduation, but I also love finance. This led me to select more finance electives in my upper years. However, given the diversity of consulting work, I have also taken some marketing and technology electives. It really is up to you!

Outside of Commerce, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of courses to choose from. I always chose courses that I had a genuine interest in – things like Canadian Law, and French. But again, that’s just me!

Another important thing to mention with electives is the new Personal Interest Credit (PIC) for commerce students as of 2018. Often, students are deterred from taking difficult Arts electives because of the impact it may have on their GPA. This new initiative allows students to take one challenging elective per semester with the understanding that it will be indicated only as pass or fail on their transcript. The introduction of PICs encourages students to explore their passions while at Queen’s!

If you made it to the end of this, congratulations! I know it’s been a long post however, I hope this information helps you to better understand the structure of the program and how to choose your courses. If you are interested in reading even more about the courses offered at Queen’s, here is the academic calendar.

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