Frequently Asked Questions - Future Students

What am I applying for?

When you apply to a program at the university from high school, you are applying to an undergraduate degree. 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) will 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 (2019/20). These cover the biological sciences, physical sciences and other science subject areas. Please see our Programs section to view all the different majors we offer.

All of our majors take essentially the same set of core courses in first year (there are some minor differences in 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. You have the opportunity to take courses from a wide variety of different science subject areas.


What major/program should I take to get into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (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 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 the average of your last two valid semesters before applying, and an interview score.


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 can you tell me about Minors?

A minor consists of a minimum of 5.00 credits (usually 10 courses) within a certain discipline. If you take a non-science minor, the science elective requirements for the B.Sc. degree may be reduced, to allow additional courses to be taken from the minor.

For a list of the possible minors within the B.Sc. degree, please see our Majors/Minors page.

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

Why are there 2 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.

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 Liberal Education electives (formerly referred to as 'Arts or Social Science' electives. This is your chance to take something outside the B.Sc. program. There is a long list of acceptable Liberal Education courses from Accounting, Art History, 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 possible courses that you could take, and you must select 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 can chose to fill some of the elective spaces in your program. You have the choice (science, arts, social science, others). The number of Free Electives available varies among majors.

If you are lacking 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 from the High School level may still exist. For example, in the case of chemistry, the normal university introductory level is CHEM 1040 - General Chemistry I. This course requires that you have completed Grade 12 or 4U chemistry (or equivalent). If you have not successfully completed this level of chemistry, then you must take CHEM 1060 (a Grade 12 equivalent course) before taking CHEM 1040. Other examples of first year courses where these prerequisites exist include:

  • Physics - If you have not taken Grade 12 Physics, then you would register for PHYS 1300 in the Fall semester. Please see our Revised Schedule of Studies page for further information.
  • If you have not take Grade 12 Biology, please contact your Program Counsellor for further advice.

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

Within the B.Sc., there are 12 programs which offer a co-op education option (2019/20). These include: Biochemistry, Biological & Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biological & Medical Physics, Biomedical Toxicology, Chemical Physics, Chemistry, Food Science, Marine and Freshwater Biology, Microbiology, Nanoscience, and Physics. New for 2019/20 - a co-op option is now available in Environmental Geomatics!

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 will also 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). 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 often still apply during their first year. If space is available and minimum grade requirements are met, then admission may be granted. Please see the Co-op and Career Services website for further details.

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.

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 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 section to view links to professional programs or Career Services for career options in your major.

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).

What opportunities are available for studying abroad?

There are lots of opportunities to study abroad during your time here as a student. 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.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

If you have looked through our website and have further questions, please email us at