When Do I Declare My Program as a Science Student?

It’s December, which means it’s been three years since I applied to UVic. Yet, I still vividly remember sitting at my desk in twelfth grade, staring at my application. I had filled out everything; I just hadn’t selected my program of interest.

The inside of the undergraduate viewbook from 2018-2019.

On the application, the choices were: Area Undecided, Astronomy, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Mathematics, Microbiology, Physics, Pre-Education (undeclared), and Statistics.

By that point, I had taken Biology 12, was finishing Chemistry 12, was in the middle of AP Statistics 12, and hadn’t even touched Pre-Calculus 12 yet.

And I was looking at an application that listed programs that I’d either never studied or learned very little about in class. I was interested in biochemistry, but I didn’t want to choose a program that I had only learned about during one unit in Biology 12. It seemed a bit pompous.

There were a lot of choices; how could I choose that one thing I would study for the next 4+ years?

I thought I had to choose something, and I didn’t want to leave my program of interest as “area undecided”. So naturally, I chose the Science 11 I received the highest grade in as my program of interest, biology.

Spoiler alert: I gave up on that program after completing my first Biology class, Biology 184. And I ended up in a combined major, so I didn’t have to choose one thing.

Before and after of what it looks like to declare a program (on the program declaration page).

As a high school student, you may have chosen a program on your application but when/if the time comes, you will be admitted to the Faculty of Science itself, not a department.

This is because (as of right now) none of the programs in the Faculty of Science are direct entry programs. Examples of direct entry programs at UVic include Health Information Science, Writing, and Teacher Education (Elementary). So, essentially, there are absolutely no strings attached by choosing a program of interest on your application.

But when you decide what program you want to be in. You can formally declare your program after successfully completing 12 units (or 8 courses).

Typically this is after your second term at UVic. And because the first year in the Faculty of Science allows you to explore different disciplines, you will have more of a clue of what you find exciting and what you excel in. You could also be accepted into the Faculty of Science and choose to complete the requirements for a particular program without declaring a program for the first couple of years.

So why would you declare a program? To gain access to your CAPP report so you can plan out your degree, make sure you are taking the correct courses, and to give yourself more opportunities. You also need to declare your program to eventually be able to graduate!

When you declare a program, you will start to receive emails from your department, get the chance to apply to the co-op program, etc.

Personally, I declared after my first year because I was extremely excited to do so. But if I didn’t want the opportunities like I listed above, I didn’t actually need to be declared until I started registering for courses in my third year. This was only because a required third-year lab in my department (BCMB) requires students to be declared in either a biochemistry or chemistry program. But of course, this isn’t the case for every department.

I would say that the majority of students change their minds about what they will study. It’s completely okay to choose a program of interest (or not) and change your mind. You can even change your declared program. You have time to figure it out.

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