How to transfer from an American school to UBC

photo Geoff Lister / The Ubyssey

Trending directly below the US election on Facebook was Immigration Canada. Last night during the election, the website crashed from the overwhelming number of Americans trying to research how to get out of dodge as soon as it was clear that things were going south.

While immigrating to Canada might be a bit more difficult than you thought, transferring to UBC might be more popular than you thought. Hell, it might even be easier too, depending on your subject of study.

Yes, rising international student tuition will be an obstacle to many, but it’s still one option to escape to Canada. Here’s what it takes to transfer to UBC from a university in the (United) States:

Basic transfer eligibility

Second-year applicants looking to transfer to UBC from outside of Canada need at least a C average/2.0 grade average, and to have completed 30 credits — 24 of those being transferable credits, which we will get into later. Third-year applicants, however, require 48–60 completed credits.

Don’t have 24 completed credits? Your application will then be evaluated on a combination of your final high school grades and the classes you’ve already taken at post-secondary. Again, your GPA needs to be good in order to not only meet all of the high school curriculum requirements, but also to be a competitive applicant.

Here’s a breakdown of how UBC calculates your admission average based on the post-secondary credits you’ve already completed:

  • 0–6 credits: Admission is based solely on high school average.
  • 7–23 credits: Admission is based on a combination of high school average and post-secondary GPA calculated using all transferable credits (there’s the mysterious term again) taken
  • 24–30 credits: Admission is based on post-secondary GPA calculated using all transferable credits taken
  • 30< credits: Admission is based on post-secondary GPA calculated using the most recent 30 transferable credits taken

The UBCO requirements are similar, but slightly different in that minimum GPA are not mentioned on the website. If you want to eventually transfer to the Vancouver campus, you must complete one year at UBCO first before applying.

Faculty-specific requirements

So you’ve got the basic requirements down pat — congrats! Now get ready for the faculty-specific requirements. While faculties and schools such as land and food systems, Sauder (business), forestry and arts might be more straightforward, science, applied sciences and engineering are a bit trickier to maneuver.

It's important to take prerequisite and transferable courses — such as chemistry, math and physics — into consideration. The following example is outlined on the faculty of science website to serve as an example of requirements you might need to meet:

“For example, the first year of CHEM at UBC consists of two courses, the second of which addresses organic chemistry in more depth than at most universities. You may be given credit for the first term (CHEM 121), but generic credit (CHEM1st) for a second course.

That combination usually will allow you to move into second-year CHEM courses at UBC, but you may need to do additional preparation for your second-year courses. ”

The faculty-specific requirements are lengthy and tough if you don't have them, but they can be deciphered with the help of an academic advisor at your current post-secondary institution to figure out what you have and what you need.

How transfer credits work

You don’t want those thousands of dollars you spent at your current university to go to waste by retaking that organic chemistry class you already took somewhere else, so pay close attention at how this system works. If it makes you feel better, this is something that UBC students have to deal with too when switching faculties or majors.

What’s written below is a general outline of a highly complex system that is often specific to faculties as outlined above. We highly encourage you to check out these other resources as well.

Transfer credits are granted when course curriculums are identical or closely similar to ones already existing at UBC. If there is no close or equivalent courses at UBC, the credits will be turned into general study credits.

Once you've been accepted to UBC, your transfer credits will be listed in the Student Service Centre website under Grades and Records. This is a bit frustrating because you don't really have a concrete idea of how successfully your credits are going to transfer until after it happens.

If there are credits that you feel match a specific course equivalent at UBC, talk to an academic advisor as soon as you can, as the process can require numerous documents and months to fix.

Things that might slow down your application

English requirement

UBC is very clear that if you do not meet academic English language requirements, testing or additional credits are required of you either pre or post application, depending on your situation. To take English classes at UBC, you must have the minimum grade outlined in the basic requirements in Grade 12 English, or a score of at least five on the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) test.

Maximum allowable transfer credit

Do you have loads of transferable credits? That's great, but you're limited to only using credits from the first two years of your undergraduate degree at your university. The cap sits at 60 credits or 50 per cent of the required credits for the UBC program that you've been accepted in to. This means that you can jump into the beginning of your third year of undergraduate study at best.

Prerequisites that are UBC specific

If you lack the post-secondary course requirements, you may be evaluated on your high school transcript and have to start your undergraduate degree back in first-year standing. If your high school transcript doesn't have the equivalent classes or grades required for basic admission, you're going to have more problems.

Like outlined above in faculty-specific requirements, you might be a master at organic chemistry. However, if you haven't taken UBC's specific chem courses, you might still run into trouble even though you might have learned from a very similar curriculum. Again, talk to your school's academic advisor to figure out where you stand — it would suck for the classes that you paid for and toiled in to go to waste.

Required two-year diploma from some institutions

If you're transferring from a recognized polytechnic institute, institution of technology or junior college, UBC requires that you complete your two-year diploma. Words of caution emphasize that you “be aware, though, that courses are generally not transferable.”

Additionally, here is some more info on UBC dates and deadlines for applications.

Is getting into UBC easier or harder than immigrating to Canada? You be the judge. But please don’t crash the UBC website — we have enough problems with Connect already.