Science One is a 75-student first-year program that brings together some of UBCs best teachers, accomplished researchers, and most passionate students. We teach concepts across biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics as an integrated whole, enabling students to develop critical skills that extend beyond any one discipline or profession. Science is more than memorizing facts and figures, it's about making connections.
In the classroom, common themes are introduced and treated in depth — a study in the diffusion rate of ions across a cell membrane will start in biology and then be supported with the idea of Gibbs free energy in chemistry and a combinatoric treatment of entropy in physics. In addition to studying basic concepts, students will be confronted with the process of actually doing science. They will explore the ideas of hypothesis, evidence and validity in the scientific process. Group work and writing projects gives students the chance to develop critical thinking and communication skills in a supportive environment. They’ll be encouraged to ask deep questions, to take risks, and to push the limits of their understanding.
A Community of Learners
Research has shown that the primary indicator of student’s success in first-year university and beyond is the group of friends they make within the first few weeks of university life. Being a small, cohort based program, Science One is a place to meet people who want more out of their science education. There is no tighter group of students on campus, and our alumni tell us that the friends they made in Science One are friends for life.
A unique aspect of Science One is a four-day trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, where students conduct field and laboratory investigations in shoreline ecology, marine biology, physical oceanography, and chemical ecology. This field trip takes place at the end of September and is a spectacular bonding experience.
An integral part of Science One is the major independent research projects worth 10% of the total program’s mark. This is a very early opportunity for students to conduct their own research project mentored by Science One faculty. The projects teach them how to design experiments and report on results in a scientific paper and a conference presentation. For samples of research projects carried out by members of Science One during their time in the program, see our UBC Information Repository page.
Comparison of First Year Science Options
|Design your own Timetable (Mainstream)||Science One (Enriched)|
|Offers the most flexibility. Students select courses according to the requirements of the specialization they want to enter in second year, and that fit their schedule. Lectures are large (150 to 300 students) but labs and tutorials are held in smaller groups||Students take a single 29 credit course in the same classroom. Professors and students form an incredibly tight-knit learning community.|
|Instructors from different disciplines work independently with few, if any, coordinated activities.||Science One instructors attend each other’s classes and meet weekly to create a coordinated curriculum.|
|Students attend labs with others taking the same course, but possibly in a different lecture section.||Students attend labs comprised primarily of fellow Science One students, including enriched versions of physics labs.|
|Students receive subject- specific academic help from the departments that teach their courses, and support from UBC Science Advising.||Students have their own work and study space, which they share with their instructors.|
|Students don’t have dedicated multidisciplinary workshops, but can combine interests through their course selection, or take cross-cutting classes like SCI 113.||Students enhance their scientific skill set with work- shops, guest lecturers, extra instruction in science literacy and programming, mentored research projects, student conferences, and field trips to Bamfield Marine Research Centre and Loon Lake.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many credits is Science One?
Science One is a single 27 credit course that spans 8 months (two semesters). This appears on a student's transcript as a single grade. Along with BIO 140, the entire course load is 29 credits.
Who is the ideal candidate for Science One?
Science One is ideal for students who have a passion for science and for learning. Grades aren’t everything. We want the kind of people who get obsessed about things, who can’t sleep until they know the answer, who dream big.
Where do students go after Science One?
The alumni page offers some profiles of where students have gone after doing Science One. You’ll see that it ranges the whole gamut of careers, from medicine to law, from academia to industry. Many of our alumni go on to do get their PhDs, or go on to professional school. One out of every ten science one students has been accepted to UBC Medical School, which is amazing given that only about 1/3rd of the students even applies for medical school. Here’s a sample list of places our alumni are currently at:
- Amazon Web Services
- Cambridge Law
- D-Wave Systems
- Harvard Medical School
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Mount Sinai Hospital
- RockStar Games
- Stemcell Technologies
- Veterinarians Without Boarders
- Zaber Technologies
What Scholarships are available to Science One Students?
There are five scholarships that are only available to Science One students. Details can be found on the Science One Scholarships page.
Will students have the necessary background for second year classes?
Science One covers all required first-year material in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. It also presents an integrated view of science and how it is done, while providing a solid foundation of knowledge on which to base future studies. Students will be well prepared for all that follows in their university career. Science One also provides a strong foundation for professional school. One in 10 Science One alumni are accepted into the UBC Medicine. This is huge portion considering that many Science One students aren’t interested in medical school and many go on to medical schools at other institutions. It’s also common for Science One students to transfer into engineering and go on to law school.
Science One also fulfills the requirements for entry into many computer science degrees.
How is Science One different that Coordinated Science Program?
Science One is the flagship first year science program at UBC. Science One is a smaller class (75 vs. 168) and has a larger teaching team. You’ll learn material at the honours level and get exposure to science in a way that most people don’t see until 2nd year. You have a dedicated classroom where you do all your course work.
In the Coordinated Science Program you stay with the same group of 168 students as you move from class to class. The material you learn is the same as the material in mainstream first-year Science courses.
Do I have to be a UBC student before I apply for Science One?
Students can be offered a seat on the Science One Program on the condition that they are admitted to UBC in the Faculty of Science by the end of August.
Students should start by creating an account and application on the UBC undergraduate admissions site. You can then simultaneously work on that application and the separate Science One application with your CWL. Admission to the Faculty of Science at UBC is a prerequisite for admission to the Science One Program.
How do I pick my courses for Science One?
Science One is on a standard time table (STT), which means pretty much all your course decisions are made for you. When you get accepted into UBC Faculty of Science you’ll be given a registration time. If you’ve accepted a spot in Science One, you’ll be allowed to register for one of 3 standard time tables. When it’s your time to register, simply register for the Standard Time Table that you prefer You’ll also want to pick your electives at this time as well, as courses tend to fill up.
What is expected of students admitted to Science One?
Science One is an intense program. Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning and are encouraged to take advantage of the strong support system we provide. Science One is not a soft option, but it prepares students well.
I’ve heard that Science One is really hard and I'm worried about my grades.
Science One can be difficult, but so is the transition from high school to university. We’ve spoken directly to UBC Medical School admissions and they’ve said there’s no way that taking Science One can hurt your chances of getting into Medical School. They want the type of people who challenge themselves by enrolling in programs like Science One. It tells everyone that you’re serious about learning, and not just in it for the grades.
That said, Science One has a much higher average than the mainstream first year courses, and, controlling for incoming grades, Science One students do much better in 2rd and 3rd year courses than students who go through mainstream or Coordinated Science Program. The idea is that you learn how to study and work hard in first year, when it doesn’t really matter that much, rather than 3rd year when people are looking at your grades.