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How to Choose Your Undergraduate Business Program

Student completing coursework on her laptop in the Desmarais Building

There’s a lot to think about when deciding on an undergraduate business program. It’s arguably one of the most important decisions to make before starting university, as it can help determine your career. 

If you’re coming to university straight from high school, it’s normal to be unsure which BCom program to apply for. We want to help you choose the right program. Your university years will let you explore your interests and what you can see yourself doing in the future. 

Here are nine factors to consider when choosing your undergraduate business program.  

1. Prerequisites and admission requirements

Now that you know that you want to focus your undergraduate studies in business, you need to decide which university program and field of business best suits you.  

Before applying to a school, make sure you’ve taken or are taking the required courses for admission. Depending on your academic background, there may be other admission requirements to meet. Learn what’s required for you to get into the program. 

Telfer program prerequisites are the same for every undergraduate business option. However, your required minimum grade point average (CGPA) can vary. 

Once you identify which schools you meet the program requirements for, the next step is to decide on a business program and option.  

2. Your skills and interests

Ask yourself which school and business option aligns best with your skills and interests. Studying in a discipline that interests you will make your university experience much more enjoyable. With this step, you may be able to narrow down your choices.  

On top of your interests, identify where your strengths lie and see if they fit with a specific option. For example, you may be good at math, be more detail-oriented, be a strong critical thinker or have a general understanding of finance. With these skills, you could consider specializing in accounting or finance

You can also think about your experiences, like classes that you’ve taken or a job that you’ve had. You might realize that you really enjoyed writing and using your creativity in a business course, in which case you could consider the marketing option

3. Bachelor of Commerce program options

Once you know what interests you, research the Bachelor of Commerce program options available at your top choice schools. Many universities let you study more than one option or minor, for example, doing a BCom in management with a minor in environmental studies.  

At Telfer, you can choose to specialize in one BCom option, two BCom options, one BCom option with a complementary option or one BCom option with a minor from another uOttawa faculty.  

Here are our BCom program options

  • Accounting 
  • Business Technology Management 
  • Finance 
  • Healthcare Analytics 
  • Human Resource Management 
  • International Management 
  • Management 
  • Marketing 
  • Complementary option in Entrepreneurship 
  • Complementary option in Business Analytics 
  • BCom / Juris Doctor 

4. Opportunities to change your area of study

Undergraduate business programs typically begin with common core courses for the first few terms. These introductory courses provide an opportunity to learn about each field of business and confirm if you’re in the program that best suits you. For instance, you may take courses in finance during your first few terms, allowing you to determine if these courses and program option are still of interest to you. All Bachelor of Commerce students take these courses, regardless of their program option, which allows you to build a varied background in business.  

If you realize that you prefer a different field of business, universities often offer you the chance to change your program option, as you can at Telfer.  

That said, some universities do make you choose your option when you apply and remain in it for the entire four years. Make sure you know the choices and limitations at each school of interest. 

At Telfer, you can change your area of study. During your first two years, you gain a strong foundation in all areas of business. If you wish to change your program option during those two years, it shouldn’t have an impact on your course sequence. If you would like to make a change to your program, just discuss this with the Student Services Centre before the end of second year, between March 1 and June 1. 

5. First-hand work experience

An internship or a CO-OP program lets you apply your knowledge and gain experience in your field of study. When you’re enrolled in the CO-OP program, you usually follow a course sequence that combines study and work terms. At Telfer, if you’re enrolled in the CO-OP program, you complete four CO-OP work terms. Each work term lets you get a better idea of your career goals.  

There are many reasons you should take part in the CO-OP program at Telfer. University location should be a key factor. The University of Ottawa is located in Canada’s capital and there are great employment opportunities in multiple sectors and industries (private sector, government, technology industry, etc.). If you choose Telfer, you could gain valuable experience in various industries during your CO-OP work terms. 

Discover the impact of the CO-OP program on your school experience.

6. Career options

If you’ve narrowed down your choice of universities but are still unsure which option to specialize in, start thinking about career opportunities for each option.  

First, identify your career interests and preferences concerning your work environment, skills you could learn, job security, compensation and culture. Choose the program most closely matched with your career interests, so you pursue a career you’re passionate about. 

Every program option can lead to a variety of career paths. For example, a degree in human resource management could lead to a career in employee relations, recruitment, risk management, health and safety, or other choices. Research these jobs and see if any particular path sparks an interest.  

At Telfer, the Career Centre supports you with your career decisions as a student or recent graduate. The centre provides great resources, programs, activities and events.  

7. Course material

You can also conduct research on the curriculum in each option, including required courses. You can find the course sequences for each undergraduate business option on the university’s website to discover what you would be learning in each one.  Student researching different BCom programs on a laptop

Aim for a program with stimulating courses. If possible, talk to a current BCom student or a graduate about the course material in their program of study.  

You may discover that, for example, the third- and fourth-year courses in marketing are very interactive. Ask if you would be doing case studies, networking with people in the business community, creating websites or attending classes with guest speakers.  

If you have access to experiential (hands-on) learning at the school, your university experience will be much better. Experiential learning lets you go beyond the course material by applying classroom knowledge to real-world experience. It includes projects, internships and case studies. 

8. Advice from peers

Seeking input from those close to you like your friends and family can help with your decision. Ask them about their educational backgrounds, university experiences and career paths. 

You can also visit your high school’s career counsellor or a Telfer liaison coordinator, who can guide you towards the right business program or career path based on your strengths, skills and interests.  

9. See the campus

If you wish to get to know a particular school better, consider spending a day on campus.  

This can help you learn more about your program of interest and explore where you’ll be for the next few years. You might be able to attend a class, ask questions to an expert, speak with students and explore the campus, cafeteria and residences.  Student exploring the University of Ottawa campus

At the University of Ottawa, we offer two open houses each year for prospective students. You can discover labs, residences, the Dining Hall and many more places on campus. You can also meet members of the Telfer community, like our professors and current students, to learn more about our BCom options and the student experience. 

We also have a “Student for a Day” program for prospective Telfer Bachelor of Commerce students. It usually takes place in November and March at various times. The program was on hold during the pandemic but will be re-started this coming winter.  

The Telfer Bachelor of Commerce program educates well-rounded business professionals and enables academic growth by prioritizing relevant, essential courses and opportunities for experiential learning. When deciding on a school and BCom option, be thorough in your research. By thinking about what interests you, researching course and career options, consulting others and visiting the campus, you’ll make the right decision about which school and program are best for you. 

Learn more about the Telfer BCom program

About the Author

Myriam Kingsley est une étudiante à l’École de gestion Telfer au B.Com. en marketing. Au cours de son stage de travail dans le cadre du programme co-op, elle s'est spécialisée en marketing de contenu au sein de l’équipe de transformation numérique et d’engagement de Telfer.<br/> <br/>Myriam Kingsley is a student at the Telfer School of Management completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing. Throughout her CO-OP work term, she was a Content Marketer on the Telfer Digital Transformation and Engagement team.