Second Year Specialization Application: What average do I need?

Students » The Distillation Blog » Second Year Specialization Application: What average do I need?

As UBC Science's second year application approaches, many students come to Science Advising asking what average they need for a specific program specialization. The short answer is that it depends. We're here to demystify the application process, highlight common misconceptions, and help you make strategic choices that are right for you.

Things to Know Before You Dig In

  1. Specialization Planning Timeline – the final planning and application stage of the process happens in May/June, which means courses taken in the upcoming summer session won't count towards prerequisites.
  2. Promotion – you must meet the requirements for promotion to second year standing to be eligible to apply for a specialization. Pending summer courses don't count for promotion evaluation either.
  3. Pre-requisites vs. first year specialization required courses– know which courses you need to have completed to be considered for a specialization.
  4. Degree types – learn the differences between major, double major, combined major, honours, etc.
  5. Steps 1 - 4 on the Second Year Specialization Application – there is a lot of information and several sections for frequently asked questions (FAQs) throughout the application steps.
  6. Look through departmental websites and attend Meet Your Major - there are a lot of options you may not have considered!

Common Misconceptions and Mistakes

Applying to a specialization without meeting requirements

If you apply to a specialization that you don’t meet the requirements for (see #3 above), you will not be admitted to that option.

Thinking you're automatically promoted to Year 2

Being in UBC Science for 1 year doesn't mean you are automatically promoted to Year 2. You must meet Promotion to Year 2 requirements by the end of the current winter session. See #2 above.

Selecting all three of your choices in competitive specializations

Several of our specializations (e.g., Cellular, Anatomical and Physiological Sciences, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Computer Science) have a very limited number of seats and can’t meet the high levels of student demand. Take this into consideration and be strategic when selecting your 3 ranked choices.

Listing computer science specializations for all three choices

There are nine specializations that draw on the available Computer Science seats:

  • Majors in Computer Science, Cognitive Systems: Computational Intelligence and Design, and Mathematical Sciences;
  • Combined Majors in Computer Science and Biology, Computer Science and Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics, Computer Science and Microbiology & Immunology, Computer Science and Physics, Computer Science and Statistics.

Do not apply for three choices from within the nine specializations noted above. If your application isn't competitive for your first two CPSC choices, it will not be competitive for a third.

Common Concerns and Questions

What happens if I don’t get into any of my choices? Do I end up with no specialization?

A: If you are not successful with your three choices, you'll be notified and entered into a second round of the specialization process. However, this round includes only specializations that still have spots remaining and operates on a first-come first-serve basis.

Can I just not apply for a specialization for now and wait until next year?

A: If you meet the promotion requirements to Year 2, you will be promoted to Year 2. All Year 2 Science students must have a specialization in order to register for courses, so you’ll need to apply.

I’m in Step 5 of the application and I only see drop-down menus. Where’s the rest of the application?

A: To complete this application, you select your top three choices and submit – there’s nothing more you need to do.

Study what makes you curious!

So what average do I need?

What 'average' is being used?

A: The average used for the 2nd year specialization application is your most recent overall Winter Session average only (or admission average, for transfer students).

Are there predetermined cutoff averages?

A: No. Students are placed into their first-choice specialization (so long as they meet pre-requisites) ordered by average, as long as there's still room in the specialization. The cutoff average is the average of the student who gets the last spot in a specialization, and this varies from year to year.

Can you tell me what the minimum averages were last year?

A: Try not to fixate on averages. As mentioned above, the minimum averages for entry fluctuate from year to year, and meeting past minimums doesn’t guarantee admission in the current cycle. Here's a general range for a few specializations that are asked about the most:

  • Computer Science – low 80s
  • Cellular Anatomical and Physiological Sciences – in the 80s
  • Microbiology & Immunology – low 80s
  • Pharmacology – in the 80s
  • Biology – mid 60s
  • Statistics – high 70s

Strategies for an Effective Application

Make sure you meet the pre-requisites – don't lose one of your three choices because you were ineligible!

Choose what you really want to study as your first choice

Don’t focus too much on historical data about averages. If you don’t apply, there’s a 100% chance you won’t be considered!

Keep your interests in mind, and be strategic with your second and third choices

Pick a specialization where some requirements overlap with your most desired specializations. This overlap may let you work towards meeting requirements for multiple specializations next year. That may enable you to switch into a different specialization for third year if it’s still of interest.


Visit the application page

After you’ve read through the specialization info on this website, connect with Science Advising if you still have questions.