First-year study options

Transitioning from high school to university can seem daunting at first. To make the move as easy as possible, UBC offers a selection of first-year study options designed to help you build a community, take the stress out of registering for classes, and offer greater access to instructors.

First-year study options are available in a number of faculties, and each has its own requirements and curricula. You can choose a first-year study option in place of creating your own custom timetable.

Options for Arts students

After you’ve been accepted into the Bachelor of Arts degree at UBC Vancouver, you’ll have to decide which classes to take when registration opens in June. If you choose to join a first-year study option, you’ll enjoy a predesigned course schedule and you’ll take nearly all of your classes with the same people.

There are two to choose from. Both offer an integrated curriculum that covers many different disciplines, such as English, Philosophy, and Political Science.

Arts One

Arts One is a single, integrated course led by five instructors who work together to create the assignments and a reading list based on the year’s theme. You’ll read and discuss classical and contemporary texts and their influence on culture and society, including novels, philosophical and political works, films, drama, graphic memoirs, and more.

  • Attend lectures led by one of your professors once a week.
  • Participate in twice-weekly seminar discussions (20 students) led by one instructor.
  • Enjoy once-weekly tutorials, where you and three classmates will read and evaluate each other’s essays.

How to apply

Applications to reserve a spot in Arts One open on January 17, and close when first-year registration begins in June. Any applications submitted after this period will be put on the Arts One waitlist. Arts One acceptance confirmations will be sent out by May 31.


Coordinated Arts Program

In the Coordinated Arts Program (CAP), you’ll get to choose from one of five streams, each offering a different combination of courses from across the Faculty of Arts. The stream topics for 2021/2022 were Globalization, Power and Society; Individual and Society; Law and Society; Politics, Philosophy, and Economics; and Media Studies, and allow students and faculty to discuss ideas from various perspectives.

  • CAP courses are separate, but faculty work together to connect the concepts and issues you’ll study and to make sure your deadlines won’t overlap.
  • CAP classes are smaller than if you choose to create your own custom timetable, ranging from 25 students in the writing course to around 100 to 125 students in a lecture.

How to register

Sign up when the standard online registration system opens in June by selecting the Standard Timetable (STT) for your chosen CAP stream. Registration for CAP is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Options for Science students

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Science students at UBC Vancouver have two choices for first-year study options, depending on your interests. Science One at UBC Vancouver offers courses integrating Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics. It provides small class sizes, dedicated study spaces, and lower student-to-instructor ratios. First-Year Focus has a slightly larger cohort (around 90), and focuses on the computational sciences.

Both options will allow you to build a strong foundation in science, be part of a tight-knit community with your classmates, and take some of the stress out of registering for classes.

Science One

Science One is challenging. It has a competitive application process, and teaches UBC’s highest level of first-year science.

  • You’ll be one of just 75 individuals, and will be supported by eight instructors.
  • All Science One teachers attend each other’s classes to dynamically shape your curriculum
  • Share your own work and study space with your instructors.
  • Take part in weekly workshops, learn from guest lecturers, and have extra instruction in science literacy and computer programming.
  • Be mentored on two major research projects – the results of which can be published in undergraduate journals.
  • Attend student conferences and enjoy two field trips (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

Science One is also a social experience. You’ll help elect a student representative for to sit in on the Science One Team meetings and the Science Undergraduate Society (SUS), and take part in mentorship and activities such as barbecues, the Winter Formal, and talent shows.

How to apply

If you want to join Science One, you’ll need to submit an application at the same time or shortly after you apply to UBC’s Bachelor of Science degree, as registration opens on December 1. Applications received after April 30 may be considered, but not with the same priority as those received before that date.


First-Year Focus

First-Year Focus (FYF) will help you build a strong foundation in computational science or life science, offering 2 tracks: FYF Computation or FYF Life Science. This study option is open to any UBC Vancouver first-year BSc student, and is designed to help you connect with fellow students formally and informally–both in class and during social and extracurricular activities.

  • Take all your big, first-year classes with the same cohort of students, so you’ll work in consistent, small teams
  • Tackle the computational sciences and explore your career options in a supportive environment
  • Enjoy your own, dedicated First-Year Focus study space at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre
  • Take advantage of First-Year Focus’s mentoring and networking programs, career and scholarly sessions, and special events

How to apply

Note: First-Year Focus is not being offered for the 2024/25 year.

Options for Forestry, Applied Biology, and Food, Nutrition, and Health students

If you have been accepted into the Forestry or Land and Food Systems faculties, you are eligible to apply for the Land One first-year study option.

Land One includes a selection of core courses in Biology, Economics, Math, and English, as well as an integrative seminar. You’ll take all of these key classes with the 50 to 60 students who are admitted to the program.

Land One’s seminar course covers a range of issues related to land use, climate change, food security, and sustainability.

  • Discuss and address how to solve these problems
  • Visit the UBC Farm to learn more about sustainable food systems, and count the Museum of Anthropology as one of your learning spaces
  • Participate in a two-day field trip to UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, where you’ll experience the coastal old-growth rainforest first-hand.

How to apply

You will need to be accepted by your Forestry or Land and Food Systems degree program, and then submit an online application through Land One’s website. Applications open in the spring, and the deadline is May 31. Enrolment in Land One is limited by size, so apply early!

Options for English language instruction (Vantage One)

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UBC’s Vantage One programs are designed to allow international students who do not yet meet the English language requirements to enter directly into a UBC faculty. Vantage One courses last 11 months, and add English language instruction to first-year degree courses. You can choose from Engineering or Science, and you’ll be taught by award-winning UBC faculty members.

The Science Vantage One program takes place at UBC Vancouver, while Engineering involves studying at both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. When you successfully complete your Vantage One program, you’ll progress into your second year at UBC, where you can study the following degree programs:

Vantage One accepts students with a minimum score of 70 on the TOEFL and 5.5 on the IELTS. Certain sub-scores apply for each test, so be sure to review the full English language requirements on the Vantage College website.

How to apply

Applications open in early September, and the deadline is January 15. If you wish to be considered for the Vantage One Excellence Award, you must submit your application before December 1.