Choosing Courses as a Transfer Student

Students » Choosing Courses as a Transfer Student

Step 1: Choose Your Program Specialization: Major, Minor or Honours

The requirements of a specialization determine the courses you need to focus on during registration. Now is the time to explore UBC Science's program specializations -- get a feel for requirements, explore UBC calendar entries, bookmark contacts for departmental program advisors, and discover student clubs for each program specialization.

Year Two Placement

UBC Science runs a coordinated application for program specializations in June. You'll be asked to designate your three top choices of specialization. Preview the application process here.

Year Three Placement

Some transfer students are eligible for Year 3 standing based on how their transfer credits apply to a specific specialization. Check out the Supplementary Information Form. Once you submit the form, Science Advising and the relevant department determine if you meet the requirements for Year 3. For some high-demand specializations (Biology, Computer Science, and Microbiology and Immunology) you’ll need to complete the specialization’s own application in May or June. Learn more about the specific application processes on department websites. For many specializations you’ll receive an email from Science Advising with the outcome of your request. For high-demand specializations you’ll hear directly from the department.


Step 2: Course Planning

It’s important to start with your previous coursework, which may be pre-requisites for some UBC courses. UBC Science may not apply high school courses in the same way that your previous institution did - this can have an impact on which university courses you’re eligible to take. Note any courses that you may still need—in subsequent steps, you can determine if you have the pre-requisites you need through post-secondary course transfer credit, or whether you’ll need to complete the pre-requisite at UBC.

Lower Level Requirements

No Biology 11 or Biology 12 credit
OR Biology 11 or Biology 12 credit
No Chemistry 12 credit
OR Chemistry 12 credit
No Physics 12 credit
OR Physics 12 credit
Students must complete one course selected from the following list:

How to Choose the Right Math Course

Some specializations (e.g. majors) will require that you have completed Math course(s) - figure out where you should start:
No Math 12 (pre-calculus) OR Math 12 with less than 80%

*For more information on the Mathematics Basic Skills Test, which may permit a student to take MATH 100, 102, 104, 180 or 184 instead of MATH 110, visit the UBC Math site.


Math 12 with less than 80% AND no separate Calculus 12 course


Math 12 (pre-calculus) with at least 80%




Math 12 with at least 80% AND a separate Calculus 12 course

Communication Requirement

Students must complete 6 credits from the following:
Please note: You must complete the Communication Requirement to be eligible for promotion to fourth year standing.

Science Breadth Requirement

When selecting elective credits, you will want to consider the Science Breadth Requirement. This will help you to prepare for course planning and preparation for promotion to fourth year standing. 

Step 3: Review Your Transfer Credits

Start by reviewing the transfer credit section of the UBC Academic Calendar. Once you’ve reviewed the Calendar, read on. 

Transfer credits will be assigned to either:

If you cannot see your transfer credit on the Student Service Centre yet, you can check the online search tool to learn if your past coursework has previously been reviewed and assigned credit at UBC. This information can help with your preparation for course planning.

In most cases, transfer credit articulation will be complete by mid-June. If by mid-June you don’t see information about your transfer credits on the Student Service Centre, please contact Enrolment Services. For international students, the process can take longer – please be patient and see our tips below for how to register while you wait for more information.

Depending on the institution you’re arriving from, UBC may need to do more work to articulate (evaluate and determine) your general transfer credit. For instance, students transferring from institutions within British Columbia or other major institutions in Canada will not need to have their general credits further articulated. However, students transferring from institutions overseas may have a number of general credits which need to be further articulated upon arrival. 

  • Check your transfer credits under Grades and Records in the Student Service Centre. Note which credits are specific (e.g., PHYS 101) and which are general (e.g., PHYS 1st). 
  • When your registration day and time arrive, you may not have answers about all your transfer credits. In each of these cases, treat the credit as general and register for all the courses that you don’t have specific credit for at UBC. You can drop the required course at a later date if you receive transfer credit for it.
  • Courses must overlap significantly with UBC curriculum in order to be assigned a specific course for transfer credit. So you may still have general credits after review--this means that the credit will count toward your degree generally but will not count toward specific course requirements in your program.

Course-Specific Credit Vs Generic Credit

When your coursework at another institution overlaps significantly with a course at UBC, you might receive course-specific credit (e.g., CHEM 233). Courses that don’t sufficiently overlap will be ‘general’ or generic year-level credits. They can count towards requirements such as ‘18 credits of lower-level coursework’ and occasionally as prerequisites for higher-level courses. Generic year-level credits don’t generally satisfy specific requirements (e.g., CHEM 233) towards completing your degree. And if you have CHEM 2nd transfer credit for a chemistry course that covered some organic chemistry but not everything in the curriculum of the required course at UBC, you’ll need to take a second year UBC organic chemistry class to fulfill your degree requirement.


Step 4: Prepare for Registration

After you are notified about the outcome of your specialization application and you review your transfer credit, you’re now ready to choose your courses. Return to the UBC Calendar for a reminder of the year-to-year course requirements for your specialization. The Calendar entry for your specialization also provides a sample year-to-year timetable. For instance, for a Major in Biology you would look up the Biology Calendar Entry in the UBC Calendar.

UBC Academic Calendar


Step 5: Build Your Worklist

In Step 2, you identified courses that you may still need to take. Use this as your starting point. In June, you’ll be notified of your registration date and time via email. Courses fill up quickly, so be prepared with more than one worklist ahead of your registration day. You’ll also need to be prepared to register for term 1 AND 2. Learn how to use the course registration system.

Designing your timetable means:

  • You select the courses and course sections relevant to your program specialization
  • More flexible time choices for your timetable
  • Most lectures will be in large classrooms, but most labs/tutorials will be in small groups

Some specializations have a Standard Timetable (STT) option, requiring you to register for a block of your core courses with one click. When you see a course section marked STT, you will only be able to register in that section if you are in the specific specialization that is noted.

There are many things to be prepared for and aware of when you’re registering. We’ve compiled a list of the major registration questions and answers for UBC Science students. The FAQs include information about restricted seats, how to switch course sections without losing your seat, and more.

Don't Panic If You Can't Get Into a Course!

Many classes may be full during your registration time. Don’t panic! If there's another section with seats, register immediately. If all the course sections are filled, register for the waitlist. Remember, a waitlist requires that you wait! Science Advising, your department, and course instructors can’t move you into a class. If you’re on a waitlist you’ll be placed in the class in order as other students switch sections. Check out tips and more.


Step 6: Balance School, Work, Extracurricular
and Play

Choose an appropriate courseload for your first year at UBC Science. A full courseload is 30 credits or more over the two terms of the winter session. Plan your timetable well, and leave some time for fun. Sports, recreation, and social time will give you balance. You may need a certain number of credits per term to be eligible for housing, student loans, UBC scholarships, and an honours program.


Step 7: Resources and Support

  • Science Advisors

    Questions about course planning, registration or degree planning.

  • Academic Calendar

    UBC Academic Calendar

    Review the program specialization entry for an overview of your degree.


    Departmental Program Advisors

    Connect with your program advisor for help with specialization requirements.

  • Your Instructor, TA or Professor

    Can help with questions on coursework, research opportunities, or further study options.

  • Academic Calendar

    Enrolment Service Advisors

    ESAs can help advise on financial support, student loan applications, and technical issues with the SSC.