Frequently Asked Questions


How does the credit system work?

Each course at the University of Guelph has been allocated a credit weight in accordance with the number of hours of academic work involved. Most single-semester courses are 0.5 credits (but not all). A majority of our science majors require 20.0 credits or approximately 40 courses to graduate. Guelph runs on a semester system and in each semester most students take 2.5 credits or 5.0 credits in an academic year (2 semesters). Therefore an Honours degree take approximately 4 years to complete and a General degree takes approximately 3 years to complete (15.0 credits).

How much time will I be spending studying compared to high school?

Here is brief outline of the number of hours spent during a week in classes and laboratories for a full-time first year B.Sc. Student:

Science Lectures and Labs: 20 to 21 hours
(Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Calculus)

Elective: 3 or 4 hours>

Total Contact Hours: >24 hours

Study Time: Contact Hours + more if needed = >24 hours

Total = 48 Hours

Being a science student takes up more time than most full-time jobs!!

What am I applying for?

When you apply to a program at a university from high school, you are applying to an undergraduate program. In our Bachelor of Science program (B.Sc.) we offer a General degree (BSCG) and an Honours degree (BSCH). The General B.Sc. program is a three year program (15.0 credits) that covers the basic areas of science. You do not declare a major in the General B.Sc. degree. The Honours B.Sc. is a four year program (20.0 credits minimum) where you choose a major. Many graduate programs (Master's or Ph.D. for example) require you to have an Honours degree.

What can you tell me about majors?

At the University of Guelph we have 27 different majors to choose from in the B.Sc. degree program (2020/21). These cover the biological sciences, physical sciences, mathemaical, environmental and other science subject areas. Please see our programs section to view all the different majors offered by the College of Biological Science. 

All of our majors take essentially the same set of core courses in first year (there are some minor differences between some majors), so this means that you have the flexibility to switch majors within the Bachelor of Science quite easily. Changing majors is very common. Our most flexible and most popular majors are the Biological Science and Physical Science majors. Both of these majors allow you to tailor a program to your interests. Within these majors you have many opportunities to take courses from a wide variety of different science subject areas to build a major all your own. 

What can you tell me about minors?

A minor consists of a minimum of 5.00 credits (approximately 10 courses) within a certain discipline. If you take a non-science minor the science requirements for the B.Sc. degree may be reduced..

For a list of the possible minors within the B.Sc. degree, please see the B.Sc. Academic Advising website.

Before declaring a minor you should see your Program Counsellor and/or theFaculty Advisor for the minor.

What Co-op options does the B.Sc. offer?

Within the B.Sc., there are 10 programs which offer a co-op education option (2016/17). These include: Biochemistry, Biological & Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biological and Medical Physics, Biomedical Toxicology, Chemical Physics, Chemistry, Food Science, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Nanoscience, and Physics.

Students can apply to a co-op program directly from high school. If admitted into co-op this guarantees them a spot in the co-op program during the first year. Students must maintain a 70% average to continue in the co-op program beyond first year. There is also an additional fee for co-op. Students in a co-op program take the same courses as students in non-co-op majors, but in their first Winter semester most co-op students take an additional, non-credit course (COOP 1100: Introduction to Cooperative Education). This course is 1 hour/week and teaches job seeking skills (cover letter and resume writing, mock interviews) as well as business and professional eithics. The first work term will normally be done during the fourth semester (winter). For most programs there are either three or four work terms to be completed.

If a student hasn't been offered admission directly into a co-op program, they can apply during their first year. If space is available and minimum grade requirements are met, then admission may be granted. It is best to apply early in the fall to get on the waiting list. Students are advised to consult with Coop and Career Services as soon as possible, if they are interested in applying to a coop major.

If you apply directly from high school and are not accepted to the co-op program, then you will be automatically considered for the non-co-op major option.

What if I lack 12U science from high school?

Most university courses have prerequisites, which are prior requirements for entry into a course. Where a course is specified as a prerequisite, a pass standing in that course is required for entry into the course. In the case of introductory science courses, certain prerequisites may still exist. For example, in the case of the first chemistry course, CHEM 1040 - General Chemistry a students must have completed Grade 12 or 4U chemistry (or equivalent) prior to entering into CHEM 1040. If you have not successfully completed this level of chemistry, then you must take CHEM 1060 before taking CHEM 1040. Other examples of first year courses where these prerequisites exist include:

  • When PHYS*1070 is suggested in first semester - if no Grade 12 or 4U Physics (or equivalent), then you must take PHYS 1300 in your first semester
  • When PHYS*1080 is suggested in first semester  - if no Grade12 or 4U Physics (or equivalent), then you must take PHYS 1300 in your first semester
  • When IPS*1500 is suggested in first semester  - if no Grade 12 or 4U Physics (or equivalent), then you must take PHYS 1300 and MATH 1200 in your first semester

PHYS 1300 will be used to meet one of your physics course requirements for the degree. Following the completion of PHYS 1300, student would be require to complete only 1 additional physics course to meet their first year physics requirement. 

For the first year biology courses, please contact your Program Counsellor for further advice.

What major should I be in to gain admissions into the DVM program?

The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) does not base its admission decisions on a specific major. Instead, the requirements specify certain prerequisite courses that must be completed before applying to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. Therefore - simply choose the major that you find the most interesting, and make sure you take the necessary courses that are needed to apply to veterinary program. Most B.Sc. majors here at Guelph will include the core courses needed to apply - or you can take them as electives. You can find the specific course requirements and much more on the Future DVM Students page. For entrance into the DVM program they will also consider your MCAT and interview score.

Information related to DVM admissions

What major/program should I take to get into medical school?

Please check with the Medical Schools directly for admission information. Some schools may require that you complete specific courses, so be sure that your major will have sufficient flexibility to take the courses you need. You can check out the Ontario Universities' Application Centre Web site for more information on specific medical school requirements in Ontario. It is also a good idea to have a back up plan. What would you like to do if you don't get into medical school?

What opportunities are available for studying abroad?

There are a number of opportunities to study abroad during the B.Sc. degree. The Centre for International Programs helps initiate and coordinate study abroad opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

There are two ways to study abroad. One way is to go to an Exchange at an institution that has a formal agreement with the University of Guelph. On an Exchange, you pay tuition to the University of Guelph. Another option is to go and study at another institution on a Letter of Permission (in which case you apply to attend the other school as a Visiting Student). If on a Letter of Permission, you pay tuition to the university that you would be attending. Please note that courses taken on a Letter of Permission do not appear on your U of G transcript - they appear on our system with "credit standing" so that they may be applied towards your degree requirements. In all cases, courses taken at another institution must be approved - in advance - by your Program Counsellor.

What postgraduate options exist?

When it comes to postgraduate studies, your options include: graduate programs; professional schools (e.g., teacher's college, medical school, law school, etc.) and much more.

Check out our resources link to view links to professional programs or Career Services for career options in your major.

Which elective should I take?

There are different types of electives. Electives are just that - what you elect (or choose) to take as your other courses. All science majors require students to take a certain number of Arts or Social Science electives. This is your chance to take something outside the B.Sc. program. There is a long list of acceptable Arts or Social Science courses from Art History and Economics, through to Music, Psychology, Sociology and Languages.

Within certain majors, restricted electives may be needed (these are considered requirements for the major). Restricted Electives are usually a list of courses whereby you must complete a certain number of courses from the list. You still have a choice, but this choice is restricted to the courses on the list. You can view major specific restricted electives in the Undergraduate Calendar under each major.

There are also free electives. As the name implies, these are open electives that you must complete however you chose which elective you will complete. You have the choice of science, arts, social science, business, management, communication etc to fulfill this requirement. The number of free electives available varies among majors.

Why are there different types of calculus & physics courses at Guelph?

The B.Sc. program has been designed to give you a common year of science, no matter whether you are following a biological or physical science major. Most first year students within the B.Sc. program will take: biology, chemistry, calculus & physics, plus two other courses in their first year. The difference in the physics and calculus courses is due to one stream focusing its examples and problems on biological sciences and the other stream focusing on physical science examples. Each of the courses cover similar content. Most students entering in to a physical science major will normally select our Integrated Physical Science courses (IPS) which combine math and physics into one course that has the equivalent weighting of two individual courses, i.e. 1.00 credits.