Glossary - International Office

The following definitions are provided to help you understand terms or expressions commonly used at the University of Ottawa, at the International Office and in the faculties. 

Types of students
Visiting student researcherA student who is completing a research internship at the University of Ottawa who comes from another educational institution (Canadian or foreign). 
Exchange studentA student from a partner university taking part in an exchange at the University of Ottawa. The exchange is based on an agreement between the student’s home university and the host university (the University of Ottawa).
International student 

A student from a country other than Canada, neither a Canadian citizen nor permanent resident, who must pay international tuition fees. A differential tuition fee exemption for new international students registered full time in a French-language program means that their tuition fees can be reduced to those paid by Canadian citizens and permanent residents as of the 2014–2015 academic year, according to the following conditions:

  • Undergraduate programs (bachelor’s)
    You must be admitted and registered full time in a program offered in French and take at least nine credits (three courses) per session in French.
  • Graduate programs (master’s and doctorate)
    You must be admitted and registered full time and have completed secondary school or a postsecondary program in French of at least two years, or be admitted to a program of study at the University of Ottawa offered only in French. 
Sponsored studentA student whose studies at the University of Ottawa are funded in whole or in part by his or her government or by a third party.  This financial support often includes tuition, incidental fees, health insurance and living expenses.
Sandwich PhD A doctoral student who takes a break from studies at his or her host university to spend 3 to 12 months at the University of Ottawa and then returns to the host university. The student must complete part of his or her research at the University of Ottawa. He or she then receives a PhD from his or her home university. 
Special student A student who has received permission from the University to register for undergraduate courses in order to receive university credits but who is not seeking an undergraduate degree, certificate or diploma from the University.
3+2 or 3+1+2 student (also known as 3+3 student)An exchange student who has completed three years of study at his or her home university (a University of Ottawa partner) who then registers at the University of Ottawa to complete a preparatory year for a master’s, before undertaking a master’s (one to two years, depending on the program). The partner university awards the bachelor’s and the University of Ottawa the master’s. 
Level of studies
Undergraduate (3-4 years) University studies leading to a bachelor’s degree or an undergraduate certificate. Undergraduate studies are the next step after you receive your secondary school diploma (or the equivalent if you have studied outside of Canada). On completion of your program, you receive one of the following: 
  • Bachelor’s (3-4 years)
    A degree received at the end of a three of four year (90 or 120 credit) undergraduate program. It can be a general, joint, professional or honours bachelor’s.
  • Certificate
    A standalone undergraduate program of at least 30 credits that entitles you to earn a diploma (undergraduate certificate) conferred by the Senate of the University. A certificate allows you to gain knowledge in a particular field but does not lead to a bachelor’s.
Graduate (1-4 years) University studies leading to a graduate studies certificate, a master’s or a PhD. You can begin graduate studies after you complete an undergraduate program at a recognized institution. They can lead to the following:
  • Diploma (1 year)
    A shortened program of 15 university credits that allows you to get right to the crux of a subject. Courses extend over an academic year, that is, two sessions.
  • Master’s (1-2 years)
    Degree conferred upon the completion of a master’s level program. You must already have a bachelor’s to be admitted to a master’s. Program length is approximately two years, though it varies based on whether you choose to do a thesis, research paper or internship. Usually, the first year is spent on courses connected to the program. The following year is spent writing your thesis or research paper. 
  • PhD (4-5 years)
    Degree conferred upon the completion of a program of study at doctoral level.A PhD follows a master’s and is the highest level of studies you can attain. It takes four to five years to complete. The first two years are typically spent on courses connected to your area of study. In the final two or three years, you write your thesis.
Administrative terms

It is highly recommended to consult the complete list of administrative and academic terms.

AdmissionThe authorization to register for a program of study at the University of Ottawa. Your offer of admission is only valid for the session indicated and is cancelled if you do not register.  
Year of study

Period usually equivalent to 24 completed credits (or two sessions of full-time study) but that can vary depending on the program or faculty.

1st year :  0-23 credits

2nd year:  24-53 credits

3rd year: 54-80 credits

4th year : 81-120 + credits

Academic yearNormally, the period from the start of the Spring-Summer session (May 1) to the end of the Winter session (April 30).
RegistrationThe action through which you formally enrol in one or more courses. You can register online using Rabaska or with the help of a University of Ottawa staff person. 
Thesis co-supervision (doctorate) Shared academic supervision by a director and co-director. The co-supervisor has the same rights and responsibilities as the thesis supervisor. It is not necessary to name a thesis co-supervisor. 

One of the ten main University of Ottawa academic units: 

  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Law (Common Law and Civil Law sections)
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences 
  • Telfer School of Management
Faculty (direct entry)

An academic unit students can be admitted to without having completed some postsecondary studies. There are six direct entry faculties at the University of Ottawa:

  • Faculty of Arts
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
  • Telfer School of Management
Letter of permission

A document authorizing students to transfer temporarily to another university and to receive credits that can be transferred to their home university. Tuition fees are paid to the host university. 

Satellite campus

A campus removed from the main campus. It can be located in another city, province or country and is usually smaller than the main campus. Satellite campuses might share the same administration but have separate budgets, resources and governing bodies. 


Community Service Learning — CSL (Centre for Global and Community Engagement)

An academic program and a form of experiential learning where students contribute to their community by participating in professor-approved community service placements related to course learning objectives, and then produce reflection papers related to these goals.  Students must complete 30 hours of CSL for fall and winter courses, and 20 hours for summer courses.

International volunteering

An unpaid student internship abroad that can be organized by a third party. Volunteering abroad is different from community service learning abroad because the main goal is not necessarily student learning.  


The process of adding an international and cross-cultural dimension to teaching and learning, research and service activities at universities and postsecondary institutions. Internationalization takes different forms:


  • Internationalization on campus
    Initiatives that encourage an international perspective in academic or extracurricular activities and don’t require students to travel outside the country of the host university.


  • Internationalization of the curriculum
    Teaching and learning activities that encourage an international perspective in courses and programs of study.


Sponsored Student Program (SSP) — International Office

The University of Ottawa’s Sponsored Student Program (SSP) at the International Office is a centralized initiative that facilitates communication between sponsored students, sponsors and University departments and faculties.

Collaborative Program: 3+2 or 3+1+2 programs (also known as 3+3 student)

A program allowing an exchange student who has completed three years of study at his or her home university (a University of Ottawa partner) who then registers at the University of Ottawa to complete a preparatory year for a master’s, before undertaking a master’s (one to two years, depending on the program). The partner university awards the bachelor’s and the University of Ottawa the master’s.

International agreements


A group made up of all the partners (universities and other postsecondary institutions) taking part in a joint project.

Student mobility agreement


An agreement or an appendix to a memorandum of understanding between partner institutions setting out details of student and faculty mobility. The agreement can be one of the following types:


Framework: An agreement open to all disciplines and faculties (with the occasional exception of the Faculty of Education, Health Sciences or Medicine, or the Telfer School of Management).  This type of agreement is the one most frequently signed by the University of Ottawa.

Restricted: An agreement restricted to a discipline or faculty.

Marco Polo: An agreement restricted to one discipline with courses predetermined by the relevant University of Ottawa academic unit. Students who are not studying the discipline in question can’t go on an exchange under this type of agreement.


Research agreement 

The main agreement or an appendix to a memorandum of understanding specifying details related to joint research between partner institutions.

Expression of interest

A written expression of interest in a potential partnership signed by an interested party confirming its intention to provide deliverables or act on plans.

International exchange agreements (student mobility agreements)

Agreements furthering education-related cooperation enabling students from the University of Ottawa and partner universities to participate in exchanges over one or two sessions.

Partner institutions

Foreign postsecondary institutions that have signed exchange agreements with the University of Ottawa.

Letter of intent 

A letter signed by all interested parties (partners) confirming their intention to sign a memorandum of understanding at a later date regarding shared interests and activities. 

Memorandum of understanding

An agreement signed between two parties including rights and obligations for each. It is accompanied by a more detailed mobility agreement to implement specific student and faculty mobility activities or programs.

Types of mobility

Cotutelle doctoral program 

A cotutelle doctoral program makes it possible to study at both the University of Ottawa and another university (outside of Ontario). Doctoral candidates are supervised jointly by a thesis supervisor at each university and alternate time at the two universities.  Candidates usually only write one comprehensive examination and a thesis, and only defend the thesis once before a jury named by the two partner institutions. When the doctorate is completed, candidates receive a degree recognized by both universities, with mention of the cotutelle on the diplomas.

Field research courses

Courses in which students can carry out independent studies, as well as attend classes, conferences and activities dealing with issues related to the country. The courses are worth six credits for undergraduate students and three for master’s students.

Dual degree

A degree that meets the requirements of both the home and host universities, allowing students to receive two different degrees, one from each university. 

Staff mobility

Activities support staff take part in at a host university for work experience in order to discover best practices and enhance their skills and knowledge regarding international matters. Time abroad can run from one to two weeks and take various forms, including job shadowing, workshops or internships organized by the partner institution.

Symmetrical student mobility

Activities students take part in at a host university for credit or for volunteer, research or work experience, particularly abroad. They are made possible through bilateral, reciprocal student exchange agreements (symmetrical mobility) with regards to the number of students the partner institution sends and hosts.  

Asymmetrical student mobility

Activities students take part in at a host university for credit or for volunteer, research or work experience, particularly abroad. They are made possible through bilateral, non-reciprocal student exchange agreements. 

Types of exchanges and internships

Summer Exchange Program

A program that allows students to study abroad part time during the summer without having to pay the usual international student fees.

National and International Exchange Program

A program available to students at the University of Ottawa that allows them to study at another Canadian university or abroad for one session or an entire academic year.

Teach Abroad Program for PhDs

This program allows participants to teach abroad and gain experience outside of the traditional campus teaching assistantship. As students are required to take on the role of a visiting professor abroad, these internships prepare them to become professionals, giving them added value as future professors and researchers. No credits are offered for participation in this program.

National or international CO-OP placement (internship)

A placement arranged through the University of Ottawa Co-operative Education Programs. It allows students to apply concepts learned in class through paid work placements in Canada or abroad. After just over four years of study, you will have not only a diploma that indicates you participated in a CO-OP program but also approximately 16 months of experience in your field of study and a network of valuable contacts.


Summer Undergraduate International Research Internships (SIRI)

An internship allowing undergraduate students to join a research team for two or three months between May and July, and receive a scholarship based on the length of the internship.

International internship 

A prerequisite internship completed in a professional setting, where the main goal is training. The internship may or may not be paid and/or for credit.

Postdoctoral fellowship 

Fellowships are a period to gain experience for a full-time academic or research career and not a source of continuing employment. Research is conducted under the supervision of a faculty member at the University or one of its affiliated institutes. Fellows are funded either through a stipend received from their supervisor or a fellowship. They are free to publish the results of their research or scholarship conducted during the period of their appointment. The minimum length of an appointment is generally six months. Those wishing to register for a fellowship must do so no later than four years after receiving their PhD.

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