Moving from First to Second Year: Choosing a Specialization

Students » Moving from First to Second Year: Choosing a Specialization
Progressing from first to second year Science at UBC involves a bit of soul searching, and more than a bit of planning.

This guide will help you navigate the timelines, promotion requirements, specialization options, and application processes involved. UBC Science students apply for a program specialization in June of their first year via a coordinated admissions process. Now is the time to plan. 

February: Attend "Beyond First Year"

Find out exactly what you'll need to know and do at the end of first year. Learn where you can find the necessary information about specializing. Sessions include a presentation led by a Science Academic Advisor, followed by a question-and-answer period. 

Plan in May, Check Your Grades in June

Even though registration for winter-session courses occurs in July, May is the time to plan for second year. The evaluation of your first-year record, which takes place May through June, determines your eligibility for the upcoming winter session. Results are posted to the Student Service Centre. Don’t rely on information that may appear earlier in the SSC about your year-level, eligibility or registration day—check again in June after evaluation. Check in more than once. If you're eligible to register as a second-year BSc student, you have to select or gain admission to a program specialization before you can register.

Choose a Program Specialization: Be Realistic, Give Yourself Options

Consider your career goals. Are there alternative academic paths to attain them? Having several academic plans gives you flexibility. What do you enjoy studying? Are you going to focus on one area or study across disciplines? You can enter a combined program (like Computer Science and a second area) but most students have one specialization (a Major). Applying for a second Major or a Minor is normally done in second year. Have you completed the required courses for the specialization(s) you’re interested in? Have you met the general requirements that all BSc students must meet?

Consider the Combined Major in Science

The CMS is about big picture science--it offers students a solid foundation in science and valuable transferable skills. If you want to ensure that, when you graduate, you have a firm grasp of several science disciplines, will be able to generate and interpret data comfortably, and will be able to communicate ideas and findings to specialists and the general public, consider the CMS. It features courses specifically designed to ensure that you learn interesting aspects of biology, chemistry, earth science, mathematics or physics without going through long strings of prerequisite courses.

Determine What Specializations Are Available to You: Prerequisites, Prerequisites, Prerequisites

Your ability to pursue a program specialization depends on how many—and which—courses you earned credit for in winter session. If you entered first year with advance credit, you can use those credits as prerequisites towards second-year courses. However, if you registered for fewer than 30 credits in the past winter session, you won’t qualify for any Honours option in second year—30 credits in each winter session is required. But you may try to qualify during your second year for a third-year Honours by passing the required minimum credit load (which for some options is more than 30 credits) and getting a competitive average. Understand how a specialization's prerequisites work. While all the required courses listed in the Calendar for each year of a program need to be completed, some may be deferred to a later year if no course in the third year of the specialization requires that prerequisite. Do all of the required first-year courses have to have been completed in the past winter session? Can you complete one or more in summer session? If the specialization has open access, then completing the courses in summer will suffice. If the specialization requires an application in May or June, then you won’t likely qualify unless the course has a recorded grade by the time the adjudication of applicants takes place (mid to late June). Courses completed in summer session can, however, qualify you to register for the follow-on courses in winter session.

Honours Options

To qualify for Honours specializations, you must have taken at least 30 credits in each winter session, including those prior to admission at UBC. If you did not achieve this in your first year, there is an appeals procedure. Learn more about Honours.

How to Apply to a Specialization

UBC Science runs a coordinated admissions process for second-year specializations in June. All Majors, all Combined Majors, and second-year declarable Honours or Combined Honours specializations must be applied to via the application.

Visit the application

Moving to a Degree Program in Another Faculty

If you’ve applied to a degree program in another Faculty, you should learn the decision before your registration date. The Undergraduate Admissions Office handles those applications—check the Student Service Centre for updates. If you accept an offer from another degree program, let us know. Your spot can be offered to another deserving student.