VIU Advising Team walking on campus

Choosing your Course Load

How many courses should you take?  Should you work or volunteer?

What is a Full Course Load?

  • In University Programs, a full course load is normally five courses per semester, or 15 semester credits. This may vary by program.

What is a Full Time Student?

  • A full-time student is one who is enrolled in a minimum of 60 percent course load.

How many courses should I take?

  • The right course load allows you to be successful in your courses, engaged in other university opportunities, and in balance with your outside commitments.

How do you find the right balance?

How many courses am I required to take?

  • Some programs are offered only as a full time option. In many programs, students choose the load that best fits their individual educational plan. This can be between one course and the maximum in that program. Less than a full course load usually means taking longer to complete your credential or taking summer courses.  Students receiving student loans or other funding must ensure that they know the load requirements of that funding.

When do I have to decide on my course load?

  • You will be registering for Fall and Spring courses in May. You can register for just one course or up to your program's maximum credit limit per semester. Each university semester gives you two course drop deadlines. Drop by the deadline to avoid paying partial or full tuition for courses. Drop by the last day for academic penalty free withdrawal to avoid a failing final course mark or one that does not meet your program requirements. You can add or drop courses in your online VIU Student Record. See Important Dates.

Why choose a full course load?

  • You will complete a typical degree within 4 years.
  • You must take a certain number of credits per semester to be eligible for scholarships, student work op positions and other funding.
  • Immersed in school culture, you are more likely to stay focused on studies and create relationships with your fellow students and instructors, leading to higher rates of credential completion.

Why choose less than a full course load:

  • You may not be have the available funds or time for a full course load.
  • You may not qualify or wish to apply for student loans.
  • You may not be able to make a full course load fit within your other life responsibilities.
  • You may have learning disabilities or other challenges.
  • You may not be sure of your direction or what courses to take.

Notes on registering for your desired course load:

  • If you are unsure of your desired course load when you register in May, you can register for a full course load and make final load decisions up to and into the first week of classes.
  • If you wait listed for your first choice courses, you can add more courses than you plan to take so that you can have a back-up plan in place for the number of courses that you desire.
  • Wait lists usually shorten as the semester start date draws nearer but make sure you properly drop any courses you do not plan on taking before tuition is calculated.

Should I work while attending university?

This is a personal decision and the answer depends on many factors. Work and family obligations are important considerations when choosing course load. Many students work part-time while at school and/or full time during summer break. Many programs can be completed on a part time basis if life requires a student to work full time.

With part time work:

  • you have less time to procrastinate resulting in efficiently organizing yourself to get assignments/ readings done on time
  • the money you earn may reduce stress about paying for gas, rent, etc. and enable you to enjoy activities that cost money
  • you may (or may not) find a life balance that is positive for your mental health
  • the lack of time to put into your studies may reduce your attention and energy in your classwork and affect your marks detrimentally
  • your time to access instructors and other supports during office hours may be reduced