by Aparajita Bhandari

“What are you studying?” seems to be an innocuous enough question, but for many students struggling to navigate the confusing world of majors, specialists, prerequisites and exclusions, finding an answer might be fairly difficult.

The University of Toronto’s system of determining majors and degree requirements is a bit different (and more confusing) than that of many other schools so it’s important to understand the specific requirements needed for your program of study in order to ensure that you graduate on schedule. I had to navigate the confusing instructions on the Faculty of Arts and Science website last year when applying, so in this post I’ll use that experience to explain the basics of the process, hopefully in a clear way.

Majors, Specialists, and Minors

So, a subject POSt (Program of Study) is essentially the subject area that you are pursuing for your undergraduate degree. It’s equivalent to what most people mean when they talk about majors. However, at U of T the terminology is unique and there are actually three varieties of program: specialists, majors and minors.

  • Specialist: typically requires between 9 and 14 credits, at least four of which must be at the 300+ (third year) level or above and at least one full-year credit at the 400 (fourth year) level. Essentially it’s meant to provide an in-depth study of one particular subject.
  • Major: requires between 6 and 8 courses. Major programs include at least two 300+series full-year credits and at least one 400 level half-year credit.
  • Minor: requires four credits, at least one of which must be at the 300+ level.

In order to get a degree from the Faculty of Arts & Science you must fulfill the requirements for one of the following combos:

    1. One specialist subject POSt
    2. Two majors
    3. One major and two minors


Type 1, Type 2, Type 3

Now, to make things even more complicated, each subject POSt, whether it is a specialist, major or minor, can also be Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3. These types essentially just correspond to how difficult the requirements to be accepted to the POSt are.

Type 1 subject POSts just require the minimum completion of four full-year credits.

Type 2 subject POSts require you to have completed specific courses and also have minimum grade requirements. Some Type 2 subject POSts have unlimited space, while others have a finite number of spaces, making them more competitive.

Type 3 subject POSts have the most rigorous requirements, needing the completion of specific courses, minimum grades as well as additional requirements such as reference letters or interviews.

How to apply

U of T Acorn logo

There are two rounds of applications for subject POSts. Round 1 is from April 1st to May 25th and Round 2 is from July 2nd to August 30th. The applications will be available on Acorn in April and any additional requirements needed for a specific subject POSt will be outlined on Acorn as well.

Here’s a list of all subject POSts. This table also specifies what type each program is.

And here are the specific instructions regarding applying.


There’s still a lot of time to think about what combination of programs is best for you, as enrollment doesn’t start until April at the earliest. Take this time to really research what interests you, and what is required for you to attain the POSt you want.


Do you have any concerns about picking a major? Or any tips for those about to go through the process? Tell us in the comments!