How UBC makes admissions decisions

A competitive university like UBC receives more applications than can be accommodated. We wish we could admit all qualified applicants, but we just don’t have the space.

So how does UBC decide who gets in and who does not? (This page outlines the process for secondary students applying to UBC. The post-secondary transfer process is different.)

UBC has two types of admission requirements: general admission requirements and competitive admission requirements.

First, UBC verifies that you’ve met all general requirements

UBC’s general admission requirements represent the minimum that is required of all applicants. It does not matter how high your grades are, what degree you are applying to, or how many other applicants there are. You cannot be admitted to UBC without meeting these basic requirements.

So once you have completed the degree-specific requirements (Canadian students | international students), met the English Language Admission Standard, and met the general admission requirements (Canadian students | international students), your application can be considered for admission to UBC.

Next, UBC assesses your application for competitive requirements

We have to compare your application to all the other applications to determine who gains admission to UBC. The more applications we receive, the more stringent our competitive admission requirements become. These requirements change from year to year.

We review your application based on two competitive assessments of your academic preparedness for the degrees you have applied to.

1. Your grades

Your UBC admission average is calculated on the courses required for the UBC degree you’re applying to. Which courses we use to calculate this average depends on:

  • where you go to school (your home province or country); and
  • which UBC degree and campus you are applying to.

UBC uses Grade 12 (or senior-level) course grades to calculate your admission average. However, we know that you would prefer to receive your UBC decision in March or April, when all your Grade 12 (or senior-level) course grades may not be available yet. UBC will sometimes use Grade 11 (or junior-level) course grades as substitutes in order to give you your decision in a timely manner.

While we do calculate an admission average, we don’t always weigh your courses equally. Sometimes we need to ensure that you have high grades in certain critical courses. For example, the Faculty of Science requires students to be strong in Math and English, so you may not be admitted with low Math and English grades regardless of how high your overall average is.

2. Your Personal Profile

We review your answers on the Personal Profile. Personal Profiles are assessed to determine your academic readiness for the degrees you have applied to, and are scored by trained UBC readers.

Additionally, some degrees will require a supplemental application, portfolio, or audition.

The overall assessment

The assessments of your Personal Profile are used in conjunction with your UBC admissions average to determine your overall competitiveness. Here are some examples of overall assessments:

  • A student with an 88% admission average may be admitted over a student with a 90% admission average because they have a higher Personal Profile score.
  • A student with a 92% admission average may be refused if one of their individual course grades (i.e., Math or English) is not as high as the other applicants’ individual course grades with similar admission averages and Personal Profile scores.

When you can expect UBC’s admission decision

UBC’s admission process is not first-come, first-served. Grades and documents are being continuously reviewed from December to May.

We know it can be unsettling to be waiting to hear from UBC while friends have already received their admission decisions. But, in many cases, we need to wait until all applicants have been assessed before we can make a decision — this ensures that UBC is fairly evaluating every student’s application to UBC.

If you are not admitted to UBC

UBC understands why students would want to know exactly why they did not get admitted. You might want to know if it was your admission average, your grades in a particular course, or your Personal Profile assessment.

Unfortunately, there isn’t generally one single reason. It’s usually a combination of factors that would have made your application more competitive:

  • If your overall average had been higher.
  • If your grades in a particular course had been higher.
  • If you had a higher Personal Profile score.
  • If there had been fewer applicants to the degree you applied for.

If you are on the UBC admissions waitlist

By May, we have done everything we can to offer admission to as many students as possible – to fill every available space. However, we won’t know if there are extra spaces to fill until all offers have been accepted.

If you see in your Student Service Centre account that you have been waitlisted, there’s nothing left to do except wait – just a little longer. UBC will notify you if a space becomes available.

How to keep your offer of admission

Offers of admission are conditional. You are required to send your final grades as soon as they are available. Through July and August, we review these to ensure you:

  • complete your high school diploma;
  • complete the degree-specific course requirements; and
  • maintain the level of academic standing upon which your offer was made.

Changes to applicants’ level of academic standing are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Grade changes, that if presented on final grades, may cause UBC to re-evaluate your application for admission

Canada

  • Your final UBC admission average has fallen by 5% or more.
  • Your final grades in Grade 12 English or Math (Pre-Calculus 12 for BC students) have fallen below 80%.
  • Your final grades in Grade 12 English or Grade 11 English are below 70%.
  • For BC students only: there is a significant discrepancy between your English 12 final course grade and your English 12 provincial exam grade. If this is the case, UBC will use your English 12 provincial exam grade to re-calculate your UBC admission average.

IB Diploma

  • Your final IB Diploma score has fallen by 6 points or more.
  • Your IB scores have fallen 3 points or more on any given course.
  • You score 2 or lower in any given IB subject.
  • Your final IB scores in Math or English have fallen below 4.
  • You have not completed the IB diploma.

Outside Canada

British-patterned education: Your final A-Level (or AS-Level) grades have a combined drop of 2 letter grades or more. Your final grades in English or Math have fallen below a grade of B.

American curriculum: Your final grades have a combined drop of 2 letter grades or more in your academic subjects. Your English and Math grades have fallen below a grade of B.

India Secondary School curriculum: You have not maintained your academic standing in required courses or you did not achieve 85% or above on your final Standard XII Board exam results.

Chinese Secondary School curriculum: You have not maintained your academic standing in required courses OR you have not met a minimum provincial Tier 1 Gaokao cut-off score. If you are not writing the Gaokao, you must achieve competitive results in other recognized examinations such as the SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement exams, A Levels, or International Baccalaureate exams. For more information on the specific scores that are required, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

All other international high schools: Your grades have fallen since UBC made an offer of admission or if any required test scores are not consistent with your grades in your academic subjects.

Post-Secondary

  • Your second-semester grades have fallen below your first-semester grades.
  • You have not completed degree-specific requirements.
  • An assignment of poor academic standing.

Appeals

Admission appeals are considered at UBC for one of two reasons:

  1. The University made an error in the admission process (e.g., UBC miscalculated your admission average); or
  2. A mitigating circumstance (e.g., personal hardship, personal illness, family member illness, death of a family member) affecting your academic performance should be considered in the evaluation of your application for admission.

The following are not acceptable reasons for an admission appeal:

  • You think UBC should take another look at your application for admission.
  • Someone with similar grades to yours was given an offer of admission.
  • You really want to attend UBC.
  • You were given offers of admission to other universities, so you feel you should get a UBC offer of admission.
  • You were so close to getting an offer of admission.

Supporting documentation for an appeal

If you are submitting an appeal for mitigating circumstances, you must provide UBC with supporting documentation. The documentation must prove your claims, and must help UBC reviewers understand the grounds for your appeal. For example, if your appeal is due to illness, you must provide medical documentation, transcripts, letters of support, and/or email correspondence that clearly outlines:

  • Start and end dates of the illness;
  • Impact of the illness on your academic performance;
  • Treatment you received for the illness; and
  • Whether the illness is resolved and will no longer affect your academic performance.

Is your appeal likely to be successful?

Each application for admission to UBC is evaluated carefully and several times. For this reason, admission decisions are rarely overturned. Last year, only 15 of the 175 (8.5%) appeals UBC received were successful. Your appeal will not be successful if you fail to clearly:

  • Outline an acceptable rationale to support your appeal;
  • Provide UBC with evidence and supporting documentation;
  • Establish a clear link between the mitigating circumstances and your academic performance; and
  • Show that the mitigating circumstance has been resolved and will no longer affect your academic performance.

See the Vancouver campus Academic Calendar and the Okanagan campus Academic Calendar for details on how to submit an appeal.

If you wish to apply to UBC in the future

Review our post-secondary transfer requirements if you wish to apply again after future post-secondary studies. Contact us to speak to a UBC representative about a future application to UBC.