ALES Undergraduate FAQ

Degree Requirements

Q. What courses do I need to take?

There are 3 tools you can use to plan your degree and see the courses you need to take: 

  1. The University Calendar:The U of A Calendar is the principal sources of U of A academic regulation, academic standards, degree completion requirements, and general University policies for all U of A students. In the event of any discrepancies in program requirements, the University Calendar of the year your were admitted is the ruling document.You can access it at
  2. Academic Requirements Report (AR): The  AR report uses courses taken, courses transferred and courses in progress and applies them to your degree requirements, giving you the ability to review current progress toward obtaining your degree. 
  3. Program Checksheet: Your program checksheet is a one page overview of all the courses required to complete your degree. It is a good way to plan your courses over multiple years, and ensure you are meeting all requirements.  Program Checksheets are available on ALES webpage,
Q. How do I know I am on track?

In order to confirm that you are meeting the requirements of your program, you will need to check your Academic Requirements Report. The tool is available in your Bear Tracks which you can access at any time. Once you have logged into your Bear Tracks, head to "Manage Classes" -> "Academic Requirements".

Screenshots from Bear Tracks show clicking Manage Classes button results in a menu with Academic Requirements

Q. What is an Approved Program Elective (APE)?
A list of courses that are related to your program and provide an opportunity for you to choose the program-related courses that are of greatest interest to you. A list of APEs for your major is available online and may be accessed through our website. (Click on your degree program or specific major)
Q. What can I take as a Free Elective?

You can take ANY 3 unit course the U of A offers (regardless of what faculty offers the course), as long as you have the necessary prerequisite(s) for the course and the course is not restricted. There is no limit on the number of 100-level courses you can take in an ALES program, so you are welcome to take them for your free electives. A lot of students choose to use these courses to explore another area of interest unrelated to their program of study, such as continuing in a language or exploring art history. Use these to expand your horizons.

Q. What do I take if there is no course number specified?

Some courses do not specify a number which means you have more choices. For example, if your checksheet only says 3 units ENGL, you can take any 100-level English class that is open to ALES students.

Q. How long do I have to complete my degree?

With the exception of the Dietetics specialization, ALES students have 8 years to complete their degree.  Many ALES students extend their degree to five or six years by either reducing their course load to 6-8 courses per year or taking courses during the Spring/Summer term. Most students do not finish their degree within 4 years.

Q. What if I have missed a deadline?

It is the student's responsibility to be aware of and meet all deadlines or accept the consequences associated with the specific missed deadline.

Deadlines are set by the University of Alberta and cannot be altered by the Faculty of ALES for any reason. Check the U of A Calendar for details.

Registration FAQ

Q. When should I start planning my schedule?
We recommend that as soon as the courses are released each term you take time to build a plan for the upcoming semester, ensuring you are ready to register upon the enrollment date. This ensures that if you have any questions you will have time to find solutions or come see an advisor in advance.
Q. When can I register for courses?

You can view your Enrolment date in Bear Tracks:

  • Manage Classes > My Enrolment Date

Exact dates are not released until much closer to the registration date, but for the Fall and Winter semesters, registration typically begins at the end of March.

Registration for spring and summer courses open on the 14th of February.

Q. I am a transfer student. How does that affect my course registration?

As a transfer student, you should refer to the program checksheet that was sent to you by email, which lists the courses you have been given transfer credit. You can use that checksheet to identify the courses that are still remaining in your program. 

For students who transfer into ALES from a diploma program, we recommend that you take at least one course in your first semester that is delivered by the Faculty of ALES- course names include ANSC, PLSC, ENCS, RENR, AREC, FOREC, RSOC, NUTR, NUFS, HECOL. Doing this will help the transition from your diploma program into university life.

Q. How many courses should I take to be a full-time student?
A course load less than *9 (less than 3 courses) is classified as part time. A course load of *9 or more (3 courses or more) is classified as full time.
Q. Bear Tracks is not letting me Register in a course, what do I do?

There are a number of reasons why you may have issues registering on Bear Tracks. For instance, you must register in the prerequisite course before you can register in the subsequent course (e.g. Bear Tracks will not let you register in CHEM 102 before you are registered in CHEM 101).

You should also make sure that you are not trying to register for a section of a course that is full or that is restricted to students in a different program. Courses may open up to students outside of a program after a certain date. Be sure to thoroughly review all program restrictions.

Some ALES courses have sections with a location of "YUKON". If you are a North Campus student, these courses will not work for you as they are physically located at Yukon University. Please select different sections, this may mean you need to take the course in the other term.

Q. I've been here three years, but I can't get into a class that says it is available to 3rd year students?

Year 1/2/3/4 are not based on physical years spent at the University of Alberta, it's determined based on successfully completed credits:

  • 0 to 30 credits = "Year 1"
  • 31 to 60 credits = "Year 2"
  • 61 to 90 credits = "Year 3"
  • 91 to 120+ credits = "Year 4"
Q. Can I take courses in a different order from what the AR report or checksheet suggests?

Generally, you should attempt to follow the course sequence as much as possible, although sometimes circumstances arise (i.e. timetable conflicts or transfer credits spread over multiple years) where you may need to deviate from the recommended sequence. If you choose to do this, keep in mind that you should not postpone for too long taking a course that is a prerequisite to a later course in your program. 

Always try to plan ahead for which courses need prerequisites. Do not enroll in courses for which you do not have the prerequisite courses.

Q. How many times can I take a course?

You may only pass a course once, this means you cannot repeat a course to get a better grade. If you fail or withdraw, however, you are allowed to take a course twice before you require permission to take it again a third time. To seek approval to take a course again, please visit our website for more information

If you withdraw from a course, it counts as an attempt but does not affect you academically.

Q. What should I do if the course I need is full?

When choosing your courses, don't panic if a course is full.

A few strategies you can try:

Contact the Department or Faculty That Offers the Course

If you have questions about getting into a full course, contact the department that offers the course. Some departments have their own waiting lists for courses.

Need to know which department offers the course? You can find this information under 'Manage Classes > 'Browse Course Catalog' on Bear Tracks. Department contact information can be found on the search engine. Questions about courses offered by the School of Business and the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation can be directed to the respective Faculty office.

Wait for The First Two Weeks of the Semester

There will be movement in and out of the course during the first two weeks of the semester until the Add/Drop Deadline. This is especially true of general courses like 100-level CHEM or BIOL. Ensure the course is on your Watch List and then check your email regularly to know when a seat becomes available. If this is a course you'd like to take but there are backup options that would meet your degree requirements, please register for the backup course and use the "swap" function in bear tracks when a seat in your preferred class comes available. 

If none of these approaches work, please contact your advisor as we can discuss alternatives such as course substitutions or changes to the order you take the courses in your program. We're here to help!

Q. How do I withdraw from a course?

First, check the withdrawal deadlines before dropping any courses from your schedule. If the add/drop deadline has not passed, go to BearTracks and drop the course using the Drop feature without any financial penalty or record on your transcript. 

If the primary add/drop deadline has passed you can still use BearTracks to drop courses, but you may not be refunded course fees after incremental withdrawal deadlines have passed and you will receive a grade of "W" (no GPA penalty) for the course on your transcript.

Q. Are there a minimum number of courses I must take in order to continue in my program?

Yes. As long as you have registered in at least one course and it shows on your transcript in a calendar year (September - April), you will continue to be a Faculty of ALES student, assuming you maintain satisfactory Academic Standing.

Students who, for any reason, fail to maintain any registration in a program for 12 or more consecutive months will be required to reapply and be readmitted to the program in order to resume their registration (see also Application for Readmission or Internal Transfer). In some programs this requirement may apply to periods of less than 12 months; please consult Colleges and Faculties section of this Calendar.

GPA and Academic Success

I'm really struggling with my classes and I need some academic assistance. What should I do?
  1. Speak to your instructor about your concerns.
  2. Check out the  Academic Success Centre. They have all kinds of information on study habits, exam writing difficulties and individual tutorials on research papers and writing problems. Contact them early to avoid a last-minute rush!
  3. Consider reducing your course load, so that you can concentrate on fewer courses. Make sure you know when the withdrawal deadlines are.
  4. Contact the ALES Student Services Office to speak to an advisor. We are here to help.
Do courses taken in Spring/Summer count towards my GPA?

Spring and Summer term grades are not included in academic standing assessment; however, these grades are included in your overall Grade Point Average (GPA) for graduation, scholarships or grants. 

For most programs, students must achieve a minimum 2.0 on all courses applied towards their degree, and minimum 2.0 on senior courses applied to their major.

For more information on Academic Standing and Assessment in ALES, please visit our website.

How and when is Academic Standing assessed in ALES?

After the Winter term the Undergraduate Student Services office uses your GPA from the most recent academic year to assess your academic standing. This will include all of the courses you completed in the Fall and Winter semesters of the most recent academic year.

If you have not met a requirement you will receive a personalized letter in your Bear Tracks Official Correspondence or ualberta email in late May or early June. 

Please refer to the ALES Academic Standing page for more information.
Am I eligible for the Fresh Start program?
If you have completed less than *60 you may be eligible for the Fresh Start Program. If you have the opportunity to apply to Fresh Start, then we strongly recommend that you continue your studies as a student in Fresh Start to set you up for future success.

Graduation and Convocation

What do I need to do to graduate?

Even if you do not plan to attend the convocation ceremony, you must apply for your degree on Bear Tracks by the deadline. There is no fee to apply.

Make sure to run an academic requirements report to ensure you have completed (or on track to complete) all of your required courses and credits needed to finish your degree.

Visit the convocation page to learn more about preparation and what to expect. 

What are the Graduation Application deadlines?

February 1 - Spring Convocation

September 1 - Fall Convocation

Note that you cannot convocate in Spring if you are still taking classes towards your degree in May/June (Spring) term. Similarly, you cannot convocate in Fall if you are still taking classes towards your degree in the September (Fall) term.