FAQs for BCS (ICS) Program

The application says that I need two references. Who should these be?

Anyone who can provide a professional appraisal of your work and/or scholastic abilities and potential. This can include employers, professors, teaching assistants or lab instructors. Your references should have known you personally for some length of time, ideally one semester or longer.

Can I submit certified copies of my official documents in place of originals?

Please submit sealed, original, official, documents from the institution at which they were issued directly to UBC Admissions. Do not send transcripts to the CS Department.

Can I have official documents sent directly to the BCS (ICS) office from the institute at which they were issued?

All your transcripts and documents should be submited directly to UBC Admissions.

When will future offerings of the BCS (ICS) program take place?

We admit students to start the program in September only, and the application deadline is usually January 15 of the same year.  The deadline for referees to submit references is January 15 of the same year.

I have never touched a computer before, and I barely know how to turn it on. Is this program for me?

YES! The BCS (ICS) program is designed for people who have little or no computing experience who are interested in getting the knowledge and experience they need to be employable by the information technology industry. However, we recommend that you take a computer literacy course to ensure that you're familiar and comfortable with using computers before beginning the program.

How do I know whether this program is suitable for me?

Generally, if you enjoy problem-solving, puzzles, math and logic, you will enjoy studying Computer Science. If you are a full time parent with young children, please be aware of the time commitment for this program and make necessary arrangements for your children while you attend classes and study.

What are the requirements for applying to BCS (ICS)?
  • A recognized Bachelor's degree
    • in a non-computer related area (e.g. arts, science, commerce, music)
    • in computer science, if your knowledge is very out of date (e.g. 1980s and earlier)
  • Solid academic achievement (at least a 68% (B-) average over the last 30 recognized credits)
  • Little or no programming experience, or outdated programming knowledge
  • BC Principles of Mathematics 12, or equivalent
  • Three credits from any eligible course from the Faculty of Science’s BSc Communication Requirement: https://vancouver.calendar.ubc.ca/faculties-colleges-and-schools/faculty-science/bachelor-science/communication-requirement
  • Feel comfortable using computers

The above prerequisites must be completed by the time of your application or by April 30 at the very latest.

I have finished all the requirements of my degree but it hasn't been officially awarded yet. Can I apply?

Yes, as long as the BCS (ICS) Admissions Committee has a letter from your university saying that you will be recommended for graduation upon completion of all your current course work. Admission to UBC will not be finalized until your degree has been awarded.

Where can I complete my computer literacy and/or Math 12 prerequisites so as to be eligible for BCS (ICS)?

Computer literacy courses and math courses equivalent to high school grade 12 Principles of Mathematics can be taken at most universities, colleges, or senior high school programs. Possible local options are:

  • UBC
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • Capilano University
  • Langara College
  • Kwantlen University College
  • Vancouver School Board
  • etc.
Where can I take my college or university level English course?

You can do it at UBC or at most colleges and universities in North America. You can even take the course as an online course through Thompson Rivers University (via BC's Open Learning program). Important: Before enrolling in an English course at any institution, please review the Faculty of Science’s BSc Communication Requirements: https://vancouver.calendar.ubc.ca/faculties-colleges-and-schools/faculty-science/bachelor-science/communication-requirement

How do I know if I need to take a college or university level English course?

You must have completed three credits from any eligible course from the Faculty of Science’s BSc Communication Requirement: https://vancouver.calendar.ubc.ca/faculties-colleges-and-schools/faculty-science/bachelor-science/communication-requirement

How do I know if I need to take a Math refresher course?

The BC high school Principles of Mathematics 12 (or an equivalent pre-calculus course) requirement is very important. If you believe you have an equivalent course, you will be asked to state this on your application and may be asked to provide your high school record to UBC Admissions along with your application.

How do I know if I need to enroll in a computer readiness course?

A basic computer literacy course usually covers topics such as:

  • Basic hardware components and typical configurations (processors, memory, storage, I/O devices)
  • The role and types of operating systems & GUIs (e.g. Windows, Unix, MacOS)
  • Overview of application software (word processors, spreadsheets, databases, browsers, e-mail, etc.)
  • Introduction to computer networking (basic concepts, Web)
  • File management (e.g. local drives, network drives, files, folders, sub-folders; naming conventions, copying, moving, deleting, renaming, using Windows Explorer)
  • Working in the Windows environment (e.g., common interface elements, basic navigation, multi-tasking, handling applications, customizing the desktop, using Windows accessories, system management features)

If you don't know the following terms or have never used the associated software before, we strongly recommend that you take a computer literacy course. The intensive academic terms in BCS (ICS) require all students to have mastered basic computer literacy skills before commencing the program.

  • e-mail
  • text editor
  • word processor
  • spreadsheet
  • bulletin board (or newsgroup or discussion forum)
  • files and folders
  • network, Internet, Web, hyperlink
  • application software vs. system software vs. hardware
  • GUIs: windows, icons, menus, and pointing devices
I have not completed my English, Math, and computer literacy requirements. Can I still apply?

Yes. The BCS (ICS) Admissions Committee can accept your application, conditionally; however, you must complete and pass the English and Math prerequisite courses before you can be admitted to the university. Please make sure that you have met the admission requirements by April 30 at the latest. 

I am in high school and I want to apply. Can I?

No. You need a bachelor's degree to participate in this program. If you are in high school and you would like to participate in the information technology sector, you may want to take computing courses now, or enter computer science when you pursue post-secondary education after graduation from high school.

What are you looking for in terms of grades?

The BCS (ICS) program is very demanding. Participants have to demonstrate that they will be able to handle the work load. Above average grades in your previous degree are expected. Good math marks are an asset; however, some BCS applicants have few/no Math courses beyond Math 12. Since, the final goal of this program is to produce very employable and desirable graduates, we will be taking all aspects of your application into consideration, including academic background, work history, and references.

I am neither a Canadian Citizen nor a permanent resident in Canada. Does this matter?

To participate in the program you do have to be legally entitled to attend school (and, optionally, work as a co-op student) in Canada. If you are legally entitled to do so, then there should be no problem. Please check our FAQs for International Students.

What if English is not my first language?

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide proof of English proficiency when you apply formally to UBC. Please refer to the UBC Undergraduate Programs and Admissions site for details. Also note that all students applying to the BCS (ICS) program must have at least 3 credits of first year college or university English that are transferable to UBC. Please see Where can I take my college or university level English course?

Can the proof of English proficiency requirements be waived in my case?

If you do not have any of the proofs of English proficiency listed in the UBC Undergraduate Programs and Admissions site, but feel that you have other proof which demonstrates your English ability, please contact the Admissions office at UBC. We must warn you beforehand that excellent communication skills will be a requirement of acceptance to the program. The university has a minimum level of English proficiency established which we must follow. Past experience has shown that most students do poorly in their courses if their English is not sufficient. Please refer to the UBC Undergraduate Programs and Admissions site for more information on this minimum level: English Language Admission Standard.

If I have completed university level calculus during my previous degree, do I need to take Math 180 (Calculus 1) in term 1?

No. If this course was taken recently enough, students with equivalent credit from their previous degree may be able to choose an alternative course (of their choice, usually) in consultation with the BCS (ICS) advisor. Please talk to an BCS (ICS) advisor as soon as possible after being accepted into BCS (ICS), if you are in this situation.

If I am accepted, can I defer my acceptance for a year?

BCS applicants are not eligible to apply for a deferral for reasons such as: https://you.ubc.ca/applying-ubc/admitted/deferring-admission/

  • You have been admitted to the second or upper years of a degree.
  • You have been admitted to a limited enrolment degree, including but not limited to the Bachelor of Computer Science, Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of International Economics, Bachelor of Midwifery, Bachelor of Music, or Bachelor of Nursing at UBC Okanagan.



Program Mechanics
Can I enrol in the program on a part-time basis?

It is possible to enroll in the BCS (ICS) program on a part-time basis. This will obviously defer your graduation date. If you anticipate taking more than 4 years to complete your BCS degree, you should discuss this with a BCS advisor. Students are expected to complete CPSC 110, 121, and 210 in first year. Note that Computer Science courses tend to have long prerequisite chains, and poor course scheduling/planning can significantly impact your choice of future courses. Some senior Computer Science courses and bridging electives may only be offered once per year.

How much does it cost to participate in the BCS (ICS) program?

Students pay regular Science undergraduate tuition fees on a per-credit basis. The BCS (ICS) program requires a minimum of 63 credits for graduation (i.e. 21 courses, although some courses are worth 4 credits each; so this can bring the total to 70 credits, if you do not have any course exemptions). For more information, please refer to the online calendar: Fees.

What is the difference between BCS (ICS) and computing programs at say, BCIT or Vancouver's ITI?

BCS (ICS) is an academically challenging program with significant conceptual, design, and theory components; whereas programs at BCIT and ITI are more professionally oriented.

What kind of certification will I graduate with upon completion of this program?

BCS (ICS) students will receive a Bachelor of Computer Science (ICS) degree upon successful completion of the two-year program.

Will I be able to keep a part-time job and do this program full time?

Probably not. The BCS (ICS) program makes heavy time demands of its students, especially in the first 8 months. Previous BCS (ICS) students spent approximately 65 hours per week for the first two terms. The time breakdown per week is approximately 20 hours in lectures, labs, and tutorials; and 45 hours in lab preparation, readings, assignments, projects, and programming. Given the program's intensity and challenging curriculum, it is not recommended that students work part-time or have other regular time commitments.

I don't live in the Lower Mainland, but I really want to participate. Can I do this program by correspondence?

No. UBC offers very few online or correspondence courses -- and none in Computer Science. This program is also designed to take advantage of mentorships, tutoring, and the relationship with the other BCS (ICS) participants. Therefore, it is mandatory that you are able to attend classes at UBC. If you do not live in the Lower Mainland, but are willing to move to the area, then feel free to apply.

Do I need to have a computer to participate in BCS (ICS)?

UBC is fully equipped with state of the art computer labs. These labs will be accessible to you, including on evenings and weekends. Therefore, you do not need to have your own computer, though many students find it preferable to be able to do their programming assignments from home.

How does the co-op option of BCS (ICS) work?

It follows the university co-op process. BCS (ICS) students will submit their resumes to the jobs posted by the co-op office and then potential employers will interview those they are interested in hiring.  The employer then makes a job offer to a chosen student through the student's co-op coordinator. When you are placed with a company, you will be registered in the "co-op" course at UBC by the Science Co-op office.  You will be charged a fee for each co-op term, as it is considered an essential academic activity. For more information, please refer to the Co-op section.

Will I be guaranteed jobs during my work terms?

No. If you are not hired by any employer, then you're strongly encouraged to take more Computer Science courses, and then go through the co-op process again the following term, when you have more credits.

Will the jobs be related to my background?

Not necessarily. The jobs will be in the information technology field, but we can't guarantee that they will relate to your background.

Am I guaranteed to get a job after the completion of BCS (ICS)?

While it is hoped that the BCS (ICS) program will produce very employable and desirable graduates, we can't guarantee your employment following the program. However, given that BCS (ICS) graduates have training in more than one discipline, possess good communication skills, and are generally more mature and equipped with work experience and leadership skills, it is likely that you won't have a problem finding employment after graduation.

Will there be any evening classes?

There is the possibility of evening classes for some of your electives. However, almost all classes will be held in the daytime. Almost no Computer Science courses are offered in the evenings, or on weekends. Occasionally, a lab section, or an exam, will be offered in the evening.

What's the difference between doing a BCS degree and, say, a second Bachelor of Science degree?

First, there is a decreased emphasis on non-CPSC science courses, including a reduced MATH component. Second, there is a slight increase in the ENGL requirements: we require ENGL 301, because one of the features of the BCS program is that we are trying to produce good communicators and leaders. Third, there is an emphasis on bridging modules, as we are trying to integrate your past academic and work experience with Computer Science. (Note, however, that BCS students also have the option of making a clean start, with a focus in another area that interests them, and which they would like to integrate with Computer Science. This may require taking a few extra electives, some of which may be used to replace courses for which you are exempted (if any).

What is meant by the term "course exemption"?

If you are exempted from a course, this means you can replace it with another course. For example, if you have already taken an acceptable post-secondary calculus course, then you will be exempted from MATH 180. This does not reduce your graduation requirements by 3 or 4 credits; instead, it means that you must replace MATH 180 with another course of your choice that you haven't taken before. A good choice of replacement is a lower-level (1st or 2nd year) course that is a prerequisite to an upper-level course that you want to take later, and which you may have had to take anyway. For example, some BCS students want to take Computer Graphics (CPSC 314) or Machine Learning (CPSC 340), but these courses require MATH 221 (among others) as a prerequisite. Thus, taking MATH 221 using the replacement course is a wise idea. Then, you might not have to increase your time, or number of credits, to graduation (depending on your other prerequisites, of course). If you are exempted from an upper-year course (like ENGL 301), then you need to replace it with another upper-level course. Note that any 4-credit course from which you are exempted can be replaced by a 3-credit course.

Am I allowed to take a grad course during my BCS degree?

It is rare for a BCS student to take a grad course. However, students with an exceptionally strong background, a serious interest in the course content, and a focus on research, may apply. Students should be aware that grad courses often consume substantially more time than an undergraduate course, and the expectations are considerably higher. The Faculty of Graduate Studies controls admission to grad courses, not BCS, and not the instructor of the course. In order to take a grad course, you must follow the rules agreed to by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Faculty of Science, and BCS, which are as follows:

  • A BCS student can register in a graduate-level course for which s/he has the prerequisites and the instructor's approval if, in addition, s/he:
    1. Has completed 15 of the 22 upper-level CPSC credits required by the BCS program;
    2. Has completed an additional 24 upper-level credits in courses deemed by the Dean of Science (or designate) to be broadly relevant to the graduate course being requested; and
    3. Has an overall average of 76% or better in the 39 credits selected to satisfy items 1 and 2.

Outstanding BCS students who don't quite meet the above requirements can apply to take a Directed Studies (e.g. CPSC 448) version of the same course with the same instructor (providing the instructor agrees). This way, the student can do a substantial subset of the grad course.

University Procedures
With this program, am I eligible for a student loan?

If your financial situation warrants it, and you are taking the required minimum number of credit hours, you will be eligible for financial aid through government student loan programs. Consult the Student Loans page of the Student Services website for more information.

As a BCS (ICS) student, will I be eligible for the scholarships or bursaries available to Computer Science students?

The Computer Science department does not offer any entrance scholarships or bursaries to incoming BCS students. The requirements for the different scholarships and bursaries vary, so we suggest that each student look at the different scholarships and bursaries individually. Please consult UBC for more information. The following link is only intended as a starting point: Awards and Scholarships. Some applicants may be entitled to external awards provided by a current employer, union, or social/cultural organization, but you'll need to explore these opportunities on your own.

If I'm accepted in Part 2 of the BCS (ICS) application process, am I automatically accepted to the university?

No. You will be accepted in the BCS (ICS) program only if you're accepted in part 2 of the application process and the formal university admission application process (part 1).

When will I have to pay tuition?

UBC sets deadlines for tuition payment. Your tuition will be due at those times. Check the online Calendar for details.

When will I have to pay my tuition deposit?

You have to pay your deposit before you can register. Please refer to the online Calendar for due dates.

What happens when I have to register?

Some of the courses may have special sections or reserved seats for BCS students. You should register for these seats so that you are with other BCS students. For all courses, you are required to register through UBC's regular student registration process, online -- we do not do this for you. Students should register for their courses as soon as their registration date and time occurs, because some courses, especially CPSC courses fill up very quickly! Be sure that you have the prerequisites needed for a course. Plan your future semesters' courses, too, to make sure that you have the prerequisites lined up by then. Important: The Computer Science department enforces prerequisites for its courses. If you do not have the prerequisite(s) or equivalent course(s) for a given CPSC course, then you will be dropped from the course two weeks into the term. Students are permitted to appeal to the undergraduate appeals committee; however, the committee only lets students proceed with the course if the student has compelling reasons to bypass the prerequisite or corequisite. Also, be aware that you cannot take the same (or similar) course for credit, if you took it previously, either at UBC or elsewhere. Finally, you should check the Faculty of Science's Credit Exclusion List to make sure that you are not taking two courses with significant overlap; otherwise, you will not gain credit for one. For example, STAT 200, STAT 203, PSYC 218, BIOL 300, etc., appear on the same credit exclusion list. Therefore, you can only receive credit for one of these courses.

Do I need to confirm my course selections with an advisor before I register?

Feel free to go ahead and register for the appropriate sections of the courses you need to take. You will not have any choice for some of your required BCS (ICS) courses, but you are permitted some leeway in your choice of bridging electives, replacements for exempted courses, and any electives that you choose over and above your BCS (ICS) program requirements. For some of your courses, you will have several sections to choose from. For lecture and lab sections in CPSC, we strongly encourage you to register for the BCS reserved seats, if possible. For your bridging electives, it is very important to clear these with a BCS advisor. Courses that are not appropriate bridging choices may delay your graduation. In the interest of time, if you have not confirmed your bridging electives with a BCS advisor, and the registration date has arrived, don't panic! You can go ahead and register for an appropriate set of courses as soon as UBC permits you to register. You can always consult an advisor in the days or weeks that follow, and then drop a course if need be (and pick up other courses). However, we strongly recommend that you have your course selections mapped out and approved by a BCS advisor well before registration time. Remember, some courses fill up quickly!

Is there an application fee to apply to BCS (ICS)?

Yes. The BCS (ICS) application fee is $100 per person. It is payable with part 2 of your application and it is non-refundable. Note that this is not the same as the application fee you pay to apply to the university, or the tuition fee deposit mentioned above. Additional application fees will be required when you make a formal application to UBC during part 1 of the admission process (see the Application and Administrative Fees section in the UBC Calendar).

Will the BCS (ICS) application fee be refunded if I am not accepted into the program?

No. The BCS (ICS) application fee is non-refundable.

If I am accepted into BCS (ICS), am I qualified to apply to university housing?

BCS (ICS) is a full-time program, so you should be eligible to apply to housing provided that you meet their rules and regulations. If you're from out of province, it's a good idea to apply to housing early, as may be a long waiting list. Alternatively, you can seek off-campus housing alternatives (see UBC Housing).

I have been out of school for a long time. Will this present an extra challenge?

Part of BCS (ICS)'s mandate is to assist people who have been away from school and/or the work force for an extended period of time, and who now wish to upgrade their skills so that they can enter the information technology sector. We realize that the intensity of this program will be intimidating to many people, especially to those who have been away from school for some time. To help make sure that you are successful, part of this program includes having extra tutoring, mentors, and other help, such as a support network provided by other BCS (ICS) students. You'll find that most of your instructors offer frequent office hours, and TA help is also available. Furthermore, we encourage BCS students to participate in the department by volunteering for committees or attending the many events put on by the department. Most of these events and opportunities are well-advertized, and they are great ways of getting to know the faculty, staff, grad students, other BCS students, and our regular undergraduates.

I am a full time parent. Are there daycare centers near UBC?

The daycare information phone number is 604-709-5699. They have information and contact names and numbers of all the licensed facilities in Vancouver. On the UBC Campus, there is Berwick Preschool at 604-822-6616, and UBC Child Care Services at 604-822-5343.

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