Why Science One

Community and Learning Environment

Science One is built around community, a place where you can immerse yourself in science. The classes are small and there are people dedicated to help you through your first year.

There are 75 students and 8 instructors in Science One—a better student to teacher ratio than your high school. All your classes are in one classroom, which means you won't be scrambling to make it to your next class. Instead, you can get a hot chocolate. Like to study in a group? We have a dedicated study space for that. Like to study alone quietly? We have a dedicated study space for that. No matter what, you’ll never be battling for a study spot in the library or studying in a cafeteria.

This environment is the key to creating a community of learners—you'll go through the same experiences with a group of people who care about and work toward shared goals. Professors attend each other’s classes so we know what you know, and our offices open to the study spaces. This is where Science One shines. You’re all sharing the exact same experience, so you know exact what help each other need. Science One nurtures this by providing you with an engaging, student-centred experience.

"Working together in groups helped a lot in understanding some of the concepts--other students can explain concepts in a way that's easier to understand. And group tests are a lot less stressful."
“Having multiple professors at the back of lectures was very unique. Professors from different disciplines could exchange opinions and insights on topics.”

An Enriched Experience

Science One is the highest level of first-year science offered at UBC. Not only are you taught at a high level, but the program offers you experiences that are hard to come by, if not impossible, in mainstream science classes.


The field-trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is an early high water mark in the program. Not only do you get to learn some amazing biology or biophysics, but it’s where you’ll first get to really know the people who you’ll be spending the next year with, and in many cases, start friendships that will last a lifetime.

Term Research Projects

Genuine research experience in first year? Check. Science One Term projects are an opportunity for you to be mentored by one of the eight faculty in the program. You’ll learn what it’s like to do real science and prepare for research positions later in your undergraduate career. Exceptional Science One projects get placed in the UBC cIRcle database. These are searchable papers that have attracted the attention of worldwide researchers.

Guest Lecturers

Science One brings in cutting edge speakers, from Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute, to Jennifer Gardy, host of the Daily Planet and The Nature of things, to Mark Halpern from the WMAP and BICEP2 collaborations.

Support from Dedicated Mentors and Scholarships

Science One has a very active alumni community, aptly called the Science One Survivors. Upon entering the program you’ll be given a student mentor to help you navigate your first year, and after Science One they’ll help you navigate the rest of your undergrad. They’re always planning BBQs or organizing study sessions. Also check out the Science One dedicated scholarships.

“Everything was awesome! I thought that the integration of the sciences really gave a more rich experience. I learned more of what it would be like to be a scientist, rather than dragging my way through medicine's pre-requisites.”
“Looking back on my time in the program, I feel that the unique aspects of the program that you can't get in the normal curriculum: Bamfield, specialized tutorials like PCR sequencing, team activities, guest lectures, final applied projects.”
“The term project was an excellent chance to practise my science communication skills and really humanized science as the passionate, explorative endevour it should be. Though it was very difficult getting it off the ground, the final paper was something that I had a personal stake in. I got a feeling for the difficulties encountered in the scientific method.”
“The guest lectures were always an event to look forward to and an opportunity to see science in action, whether in research, business or communication.”

Proven Results Beyond First Year

Graduate and professional school admissions don't place a great deal of emphasis on first-year marks. What they do care about is the calibre of student you are and how dedicated a worker you are.

Professional and Graduate schools don't get to know what calibre of student you are by a number generated in first year, they get it from references, research projects, and leadership roles drawn from across your entire four year degree. They see it in the fact you chose a difficult first-year program. They see it in your marks in upper-level courses. Science One may be hard in first year, but that just makes you better prepared for third-year honours courses—when it actually counts.

The graph to the right shows marks in a third-year genetics course with grades normalized to incoming marks (2011). Students who have the same incoming high school grades get very different grades in Bio 334 depending on whether or not they took Science One. In Science One we teach our subjects at the honours level. The program’s final project gives you scientific research experience, which opens up research opportunities right out of first year. On top of it, you get strong reference letters because we actually get to know you as a person. These are the things that matter to career advancement, not first year marks. You might get better marks if you take easier courses in first year, but it won't distinguish you and won't help your career goals.

A Tradition of Excellence

Science One was founded on the idea of giving first-year students an advantage by giving them access to the best teachers and researchers.

Members of the Science One team have won the 3M Teaching Fellowship, the CASE/CCAE Canadian University Professor of the Year, and Killiam Teaching Awards. Research awards include the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize, a NASA Group Achievement Award, the CAP-CRM Prize In Theoretical and Mathematical Physics, and many others. 

Ready to to apply? Apply now!

“Taking Science One cannot ever be a bad thing. We would never discourage potential applicants from taking it.”
- UBC School of Medicine Admissions