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Programs / Arts / Canadian Studies

Program Details

The Canadian Studies program at Carleton draws on many disciplines, such as art and architecture, literature and language studies, history, politics, sociology and religion, as well as Indigenous, Quebec, heritage, gender and women’s studies. The program encourages new ways of exploring Canada and the diverse peoples, places and practices located within its boundaries.

In your fourth year, you will have the opportunity to take a practicum course that provides you with hands-on work experience. The fourth-year capstone seminar provides an opportunity to engage in academic research and publication. Both courses, in addition to other Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies courses offered, take advantage of our location in Canada’s capital. A minor in Indigenous Studies is also available.

Canada’s first Institute of Canadian Studies was developed at Carleton University more than 50 years ago. And like the country it studies, the Institute has continually reinvented itself. Now known as the School of Canadian Studies, our courses incorporate new knowledge and approaches in order to understand the creative tensions that diversity brings to this land.

Today our program embraces the concepts of “critical nationalism” and the “creative tensions of diversity” to explain how Canada keeps evolving. With faculty expertise in Indigenous studies, anthropology, cultural studies, heritage conservation, history, politics and women’s and gender studies, you will gain a well-rounded perspective that will help you develop your own understanding and explanation of Canada.

The School of Canadian Studies also houses the New Sun Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture—the first university chair in Canada to specialize in this area. This provides students with the expertise of a world-renowned scholar in Aboriginal studies, and the Annual New Sun Conference, organized by the Chair, exposes them to an unparalleled wealth of Aboriginal research and practices.

Carleton University’s location in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, provides an important source of stimulus and support for both faculty and students interested in Canada.

Institutions such as Library and Archives Canada, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament Hill, provide unique resources for research and opportunities for internship placements.

Bachelor of Arts (General)

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)

Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours)

The School of Canadian Studies at Carleton offers an interdisciplinary program leading to a three-year Bachelor of Arts (BA) General degree, a four-year Honours BA degree or a four-year Combined Honours BA degree.

You will be required to complete a core program designed to encourage an understanding of Canada in all its diversity, from a number of perspectives that are integrated through an interdisciplinary approach. At each level, there are courses offered directly by the School of Canadian Studies.

In addition, other departments offer courses with substantial Canadian content. The School of Canadian Studies encourages you to take some of these courses, based on your own interests. This will enrich your unique program of study and the credits can count towards your degree. You are encouraged to consult with your professors regularly. The intimate nature of the School ensures that you get to know your professors as they will help you develop your understanding of Canada.

Language requirement

As a Canadian Studies student, you will also need to meet a language requirement for graduation, either by taking a French or Indigenous language course or by demonstrating proficiency in French or an Indigenous language.

On-the-job experience

As a fourth-year student, you will have the opportunity to take a practicum course that provides you with hands-on work experience in an institutional setting.

Mention : Français

You may earn a Mention : Français notation on your records. To do so, you must complete part of your requirements in French and demonstrate a knowledge of the history and culture of French Canada.

Two minors

If you are studying in another discipline but have a strong interest in Canadian issues, Carleton offers a minor in Canadian Studies or in Indigenous Studies.

Students are encouraged to take either the full-credit course Introduction to Canadian Studies or the two half-credit courses Ottawa: Exploring National Institutions and Introduction to Canada and the World. Introduction to Canadian Studies will introduce you to the interdisciplinary study of Canadian society and culture. Topics include Indigenous Peoples, languages and ethnicity, race, technology, immigration, arts and culture, economic development, the environment, regionalism, religion, gender, sovereignty, Quebec and English Canada, and foreign relations. Ottawa: Exploring National Institutions offers an interdisciplinary examination of Ottawa, looking at its history, evolution, and role as Canada’s capital, and Introduction to Canada and the World offers an introductory examination of interdisciplinary themes, ideas and debates related to Canada and its place in the world.

If you do not take the introductory courses listed above, you may enrol in one of the Canadian Studies First-year Seminars—FYSM 1406, 1409 or 1600—which would count as your required first-year credit in Canadian Studies. The requirement may also be met by taking other 1000-level or FYSM courses approved by the School of Canadian Studies.

Although some First-year Seminars count as courses leading to a major, you do not have to choose a First-year Seminar in your major discipline. If you do decide to take a First-year Seminar in Canadian Studies, you have the choice of the following three First-year Seminars:

How Ottawa Works: Exploring National Institutions

This course (FYSM 1406) investigates the sites of government public-policy making and the arts in Canada’s capital. Field trips to important Ottawa institutions are an integral part of the course.

Social Change in Canada

This course (FYSM 1409) is an interdisciplinary analysis of social change and how people change Canada, through an examination of movements like environmentalism, feminism, peace and anti-racism. In a small group setting and under the direction of an experienced faculty member, you will acquire skills in writing, research and analysis, as well as oral presentations.

Contemporary Controversies in Canadian Society

This course (FYSM 1600) is designed to introduce you to the study of Canadian society. Through readings, films, discussion and analysis, you will examine a number of key social issues that are facing Canadians today. Topics include crime and social control, racism, education, gender and sexuality, poverty and homelessness, aging, death and dying, and the family. For each topic, both the historical and contemporary dimensions will be examined. Course material will be drawn from a range of disciplines including history, sociology, literature and political science.

A sample first year

  • 1.0 credit in Introduction to Canadian Studies
  • 1.0 credit in any First-year Seminar
  • 3.0 credits in electives

The workplace

Canadian Studies students graduate with a broad, interdisciplinary perspective on Canada, its people, and its central issues. With a firm grounding in a range of approaches across a number of research areas, you will be prepared for a variety of career possibilities.

This program provides an excellent basis for employment in fields such as government service, education, law, museum and archival work, public administration, politics and journalism.

Graduate programs

Graduates of our honours programs are generally well qualified to go on to graduate studies in a variety of fields including Canadian studies, political science and history. Carleton offers a graduate program in Canadian Studies, which draws students from across the country and around the globe.

If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early in order to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including law, teaching and journalism are interested in attracting well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds. A strong knowledge of Canada and an ability to explain Canada from an interdisciplinary perspective complements knowledge gained from traditional disciplines.

What students are saying about Canadian Studies


I transferred into Canadian Studies after taking an introductory course that explored a wide range of topics relating to Canada, such as art, politics, history, literature and even hockey! Throughout my degree, the School of Canadian Studies has provided me with opportunities inside and outside the classroom, helping me discover new things such as designing a museum exhibit and publishing an academic article. It has also given me the necessary skills needed to compete and succeed in the job market; I have worked for the Library of Parliament, as a research assistant for the government, and as a teaching assistant for the department.
Cara Des Granges, fourth-year student in Canadian Studies and Political Science