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Academic Advisors in Canadian Universities

Academic Advisors by Province

Academic Advisors in Universities in Canada

Academic advisors are people who are trained to assist students with academic matters. Every post-secondary school has at least one, and the larger schools can have several dozen. They help students make informed academic choices and encourage students to become informed about the schoolís academic policies. They help students develop a general program of study, and ensure that students are on-track for graduation. They can also develop plans of study appropriate for various careers. They also refer students to other campus personnel for assistance in academic, personal, and career counseling; and other academic and study resources.

Common topics that academic advisors assist with include:

  • Providing information about choosing programs and courses
  • Assisting in the selection of appropriate courses
  • Providing information on course availability and registration procedures
  • Helping students choose a major or minor
  • Directing students to other campus resources for additional information if needed
  • Assisting students in checking their graduation requirements
  • Considering a studentís request for course equivalencies
  • Recommending prior approval for inter-university transfer credits
  • Assisting students in planning for, and applying to, various exchange programs
  • Informing students about scholarship, bursary, and fellowship opportunities

    First-year advisors

    These are academic advisors who specialize in assisting new students (fresh out of high school, transfer students from another school, exchange students, etc.) adapt to school life. This can include matters other than purely academic ones, such as connecting with other students, assisting with housing, or personal issues. These people are usually assigned to a student when they arrive and serve as the initial point of contact for many academic matters.

    Faculty advisors

    These are experts in the rules and requirements pertaining to specific degree programs, and will provide ongoing advice and guidance on program selection, course registration, credit load, deadlines, and majors and minors. They will offer help in managing academic situations during periods of personal, financial, or medical problems, by working with students to help them make informed decisions. These people are usually also involved with other administrative school matters; therefore it is usually necessary to make an appointment with these advisors so they can give a student the undivided attention they need.

    Departmental advisors

    These types of advisors may only be available during specific times of year (for example, prior to registration for each semester) or during their regularly scheduled office hours. They concentrate on matters specific to their department, such as course offerings, exam schedules, and tutoring. Usually an appointment is necessary so the advisor can have the appropriate materials ready for the student when they arrive.


    These people act in a voluntary capacity to mentor students as they progress through their program. They also provide advice on the latest trends in a specific field of study and will make recommendations on related advanced studies. They may discuss opportunities for student research projects and help to connect with other professors who best suit that studentís interests. They will also refer students back to faculty or departmental advisors for permissions related to program requirements. This group of advisors is usually the first point of contact for many students (outside of first-year advisors), as students are in contact with professors on a regular basis through their courseload.

    Peer advisors

    These are student volunteers who have been trained by faculty or departmental advisers. These advisers often offer drop-in hours for advice on school life and will help students find the information they need. Not all schools will have peer advisors; they seem to be a fixture of the larger universities and colleges that have so many students it is impossible for regular staff to interact with all of them.

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