Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions

1. What sets Integrated Sciences apart from traditional degree programs?
2. What's the difference between an Integrated Sciences degree and a double major?
3. If I am accepted to IntSci through the Faculty of Science Second Year Application do I still need to complete an IntSci proposal?
4. I'm currently in second year. Can I still apply to IntSci?
5. I've already completed a degree. May I take IntSci as a second degree?

Advising

1. What is the difference between an advisor and a mentor?
2. When do I contact a faculty mentor?
3. How do I choose a faculty mentor?
4. What if there are no faculty mentors who specialize in the area I'm interested in?
5. Are there any events that help students meet potential mentors?

Courses

1. Can I include non-Science courses in my disciplines?
2. Can I include a graduate course in my disciplines?

Admissions

1. What sets Integrated Sciences apart from traditional degree programs?

With one-on-one help from a faculty mentor IntSci students develop their own curriculum, i.e. their own set of courses, based on an overarching theme of integrating scientific disciplines of their choice. The chosen curriculum must clearly integrate at least two disciplines. In particular, the curriculum must not substantially mirror any existing degree program. Integrated Sciences focuses strongly on integration across disciplines. To help students realize their integration IntSci offers a number of courses specially designed to foster integration through self-directed learning and hands-on projects. Classes are small and often team-taught to encourage participation and highlight different perspectives.

2. What's the difference between an Integrated Sciences degree and a double major?

We asked our students exactly this question. Here's what they had to say:

Here are the three main differences I found:

a. An integrated degree is more flexible than a double major. Double major students are required to complete the degree requirements for EACH program selected (i.e. they do not have a custom curriculum nor the priviledge to choose the courses they'd like to enrol).
b. An integrated program can provide individual advising to its students, whereas double major students might have to see an advisor for each major.
c. Integrated program students usually have an interest in bridging disciplines for a comprehensive approach to a multilayer issue/topic, while double major students might want to explore specialization within the two fields.

Students pursuing an integrated degree have the chance to enjoy the flexibility, mentoring and cross-disciplinaries features of their program, and double major students might find their program more in-depth, structured and standard (which may be preferred by some in academia)

While a double major allows one to study to topic areas, which courses you get to choose are limited by faculty/degree requirements. Since you are just following a 'reciepe' for two degrees, you may not have really thought about why you like each discipline, or how they relate to eachother. The benefit of an integrated degree is that you have to sit down and think about what you want to take out of your upper years at university. You plan the courses to best suite your educational needs, and perhaps needs of some other goal.

Another difference is that you can integrate three disciplines with an ISCI degree. I suppose this would add extra depth to the 'shallow knowledge' argument, but taking three disciplines gives students an option they otherwise wouldn't have. Another point is that disciplines do not always correspond to majors. For example, one of my disciplines is molecular biology, which spans immunology, genetics and biochemistry. This is not something you could take a major in, even if you wanted to.

Although having a double major would include courses from both disciplines, there is no integrative component that connects these two areas together. This is where the ISCI gives a broader understanding and connections of what we're actually studying. By bridging together two disciplines with a set ultimate question in mind, to me, this gives my BSc degree much more depth and meaning as opposed to a double major.

It allows you to choose disciplines that complement each other, and when they are all combined together as one, the knowledge gained from each of the disciplines forms a cohesive whole that, not only gives more meaning to one's education, but also shapes and affects on how one perceives the world. An Integrated Science degree allows a student to sculpt their education according to what they perceive it should be– very much like a sculptor shapes a new, unconventional bowl from a lump of clay. In contrast, a double major is more rigid, more structured, and does not really stress the underlying connections between the two areas of study. Although the curriculum in a double major may be more in depth, it lacks the integrative aspect which is what initially drew me to the Integrated Sciences program.

Studying as part of an integrated program allows the student to take his or her degree in a whole new direction whereas a double major simply lets him or her follow along two well worn paths simultaneously, instead of just one.

I feel the most fundamental difference between the two degrees is that Integrated Sciences makes you literally sit down and reflect on what your personal goals and interests are. This activity of planning your future 2 years of schooling , and rationalizing each step you are going to take, emphasizes why and how our education is relevant. The world doesn't occur in discrete disciplines, rather everything is interrelated, so our education shouldn't be reflected by such constraints.. Plus you have to take more credits for double majors!

From personal experience I have seen that a double major is restrictive in course selection purposes, whereas the Integrated Sciences program allows you to actively think about Why you want to a take a specific set of subdisciplines and combine them together. The Double Major program requires extra courses, where as Integrated Sciences program has less requirements, but that does not imply that it is inferior in any sense. The best thing about Integrated Studies is that if you change your mind about what you want to do, or want to change the odd course due to change in personal interests, you can do so. You have more control on what the outcome of your degree, and the courses you take will be, where as the double major program, however suitable for further graduate work as well, allows you less control and flexibility.

An integrated program allows you to be more in control of the specific courses you are allowed to select and how they relate to your interest. To do this in a double major not only do you have to take the extra courses to satisfy grad requirements but also many of these courses may not be related to the particular area that you wish to study/pursue later. Another advantage of an integrated degree is that it lets you really relate the two areas as you study because the material is presented in such away that it relates. Where as with double majors it is up to the student to take what they learn and background knowledge to relate the information from the two degrees.

3. If I am accepted to IntSci through the Faculty of Science Second Year Application do I still need to complete an IntSci proposal?

Yes!

Integrated Sciences reserves seats for students who apply for the program through the Faculty of Science Second Year Application. These students will still need to complete an Integrated Sciences Degree Proposal and have it approved before they are promoted to 3rd year. If a student's IntSci proposal is not approved by this time, that student will be removed from the ISCI specialization.

4. I'm currently in second year. Can I still apply to IntSci?

If there is space available you can apply anytime! You will not be formally admitted into the specialization until your degree proposal is approved.

5. I've already completed a degree. May I take IntSci as a second degree?

The UBC Calendar has information on pursuing a second degree. It may be possible for you to complete a second degree in Integrated Sciences under some conditions. First, your proposed areas of integration must be substantially different from your previous degree. Also, none of the courses you took for your first degree will have credit towards your IntSci degree. Finally, you will need approval from both the IntSci Director and the Faculty of Science to complete the degree.

Advising

1. What is the difference between an advisor and a mentor?

An IntSci advisor can answer specific questions related to program requirements, policies, and procedures.
A Faculty mentor is a faculty member who has agreed to be a student's mentor. A mentor is often specialized in an area related to their mentee's area of integration. A mentor will work with a student throughout their tenure in Integrated Sciences.

2. When do I contact a faculty mentor?

Contact an IntSci mentor once you have begun working on your IntSci Degree Proposal. You should have an idea of what you want to integrate and some examples of why your proposed integration is important. You should have done some research on courses that you wish to include within each discipline and have a good understanding of the Integrated Sciences program requirements and admissions procedures.

To help get you started on the degree proposal feel free to visit the IntSci main office, LSK 464 Monday to Friday 8:00am - 4:00pm.

3. How do I choose a faculty mentor?

Choose a mentor whose specialization is similar to what you wish to integrate. Many mentors are able to advise beyond their area of expertise however it is most advantageous to have the guidance of an advisor whose area of research is similar to the topics you wish to pursue.

4. What if there are no faculty mentors who specialize in the area I'm interested in?

If there are no available mentors that match your area of interest we encourage you to contact any other faculty member at UBC. You should choose a faculty member who you have already been in contact with (for example, through a course or through working in a lab). If the faculty member agrees to become your mentor an IntSci advisor will be paired with the new mentor to assist with advising. Please have your mentor confirm that he or she has agreed to be your mentor by sending an email to: intsci@science.ubc.ca.

5. Are there any events that help students meet potential mentors?

ISSA (Integrated Sciences Students Association) holds one to two 'Meet your Mentor' nights where students without a mentor can meet and interact with potential mentors in an informal setting. These are typically held in each of the winter terms.

Courses

1. Can I include non-Science courses in my disciplines?

In addition to those courses designated by the Faculty of Science to have Science credit, Integrated Sciences also accepts several "Honorary Science" courses towards your Integrated Sciences upper-level requirement.  Under special circumstances, IntSci may also allow you to count other non-Science credits towards your discipline credits. Your integration must be convincing and the course must be convincing in the context of the integration.  Further, there should not be any similar Science course that would suffice to teach the course material. Your curriculum must still satisfy both IntSci and Faculty of Science requirements. It may be necessary to take additional Science courses (possibly outside of your disciplines) to satisfy the upper level Science requirements. Integrating beyond Science may also present some challenges:

  • The proposal may be less convincing as an Integrated Sciences program.
  • IntSci students have lower priority access to restricted courses in other faculties. Contingency plans may be required.
  • Science students cannot earn credit for more than 18 credits of courses outside of Science or Arts.
  • Students who wish to include non-science courses within a discipline should be encouraged to consider whether a different science specialization with a minor would be better suited for them than an Integrated Sciences program.

2. Can I include a graduate course in my disciplines?

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has set criteria for undergraduates to meet before being permitted to register in any graduate courses. An undergraduate student who meets all of these criteria may be allowed to take a graduate course after completing and submitting the enrolment form.