First Year Required Courses & Specialization Admission Pre-requisites

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There is a difference between specialization admission pre-requisites and required first-year courses for a specialization.

As a Science first year student, you'll be told to check out the UBC Calendar to see which courses you’ll be required to take to meet a specialization’s requirements, and students are often shocked at the number of courses listed under a specialization’s “First Year” column, for example, see the sample year-by-year timetables for Biology, Major (3095) (scroll down).

  1. Yes, you will have to begin thinking about what you would like to specialize in even before you attend your first lecture at UBC. A specialization is a Major, Honours or Combined Major - basically an area of study that Science students focus in after first year. After first year, you must be admitted into a specialization to continue onto your second year in the Faculty of Science.
  2. Not sure about what you want specialize in yet? That’s understandable! Fortunately, many specializations require the same pre-requisite courses for first year.
  3. No, you do NOT have to take every single course listed in the “First Year” column for your desired specialization timetable (check sample timetables for Science specializations by clicking the specialization name you want in the UBC Calendar); you can take the course later on during your studies.
  4. In order to help plan your first year courses, you will want to ensure you have met the requirements to get into your intended specialization. You need to complete all of your 100- and 200- level requirements BEFORE promotion to fourth year.

For instance, PHYS 131 may be on the Calendar for specializations such as Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Behavioural Neuroscience, but it’s not a pre-requisite for entry into those specializations. The pre-requisites are the courses that you need to take in first year in order to gain entry into a specialization, and most first-year students in Science will meet those requirements easily through the common Chemistry, Biology and Math courses.

Basically, there is a difference between pre-reqs for entry into a specialization and the “First Year” requirements on a specialization’s Calendar. Speak to an advisor if you’re unsure about your course selections. Rest assure that many of the specializations have common pre-reqs, so it wouldn't be necessary taking over 5 courses per term. There are some specializations that require different courses than the others, so if you’re truly interested in those, make sure you’re registering for those courses in your first year! 

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