F.A.Q. For Students and Co-op Employers

Here are some common questions about Biotech.

Getting
Started
What is Biotechnology?

In a nutshell, it’s using life to make life better! Biotechnology is a cross-functional and integrative approach that uses living organisms or their products for human or environmental benefit, to make a product, or solve a problem. Biotechnology encompasses all the biological sciences, as well as information technology and health care. Real-life applications include stem cell research, making edible vaccines in fruits, developing new pharmaceuticals, finding uses of the human genome, discovering cancer targets, working on space colonization, and much, much more. If you’re familiar with films: Jurassic Park, X-men, Gattaca, Splice, and more, they do show some aspects of Biotechnology, although movies can show some huge scientific misrepresentations.

What is the Biotechnology program?

Established as a joint program between BCIT and UBC’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the Biotechnology program offers the best of both institutions. Through the 5 years of the UBC-BCIT Biotechnology program (3 years at UBC and 2 at BCIT), you’ll get two certifications: a B.Sc. Honours in Biotechnology and a Diploma of Technology in Biotechnology. Additionally, you’ll get 16 months of paid Co-op work experience and Honours standing, which means you may be eligible to bypass a Masters program and go straight into a PhD after graduation.

About The Program

How competitive is the admission?

If you’re discouraged from applying because you don’t think your application will be strong enough for one of the 20 or so spots in each year, please reconsider! In fact, a little reverse psychology goes on and students who may have been accepted don’t apply because they don’t think they’ll get in. We’re not saying admission is guaranteed, but your chances are a lot better if you apply. (For context, the lowest average in the 2018/2019 year was 70%)

What are the entry requirements and cost?

 

Courses 
Credits
UBC Equivalency
Biology (2)
6
Two of BIOL 111, 112, 121, or other 100-level BIOL
Chemistry (2)
8
CHEM 121+123 OR CHEM 111+113
English (2)
6
Any two 100-level English or SCIE 113
Math (1)
3
One of MATH 100/102/104 (or 110, 120, 180, 184)
Physics (1)
3
One 100-level PHYS course (not including PHYS 100)
Electives (2)
4
Non-Science Courses; One must be computational (Stats, CPSC or another Math Course)
Total Credits
30

(Info from UBC Calendar, BCIT Program Entry )

Requirements must have been completed within the past 3 years

There is no interview, and you will mostly be admitted according to GPA. Extracurriculars and personal achievements may be taken into account, so don’t let bad grades prevent you from applying!

22 students are accepted each year.

More program entry information can be found here.

First Year Science Students:

If you are from UBC, have completed the requirements in the table above, and have a GPA of 70% or better, you will be directed by UBC sometime in late May to go online and select your top 3 choices for your major. Simply select Biotech as your first choice and you’re done!
Students from other institutions (eg. SFU, BCIT degree transfer, Douglas College, etc), please apply though BCIT directly, as below.

Second Year Students or Students With GPA <70%:

You will need to apply through the BCIT Biotechnology Program Head, Carol Fong (Carol_Fong@bcit.ca). You can also apply through the BCIT Biotech website. You will need to submit your resume and a completed questionnaire form (PDF) before June 1.

Students Missing Prerequisites:

You should still apply! If you are missing one or two of the prerequisite courses, these can be taken at UBC over the summer. You can be granted conditional acceptance (a spot in the program) if you successfully complete the missing prerequisite courses.

You will need to apply through the BCIT Biotechnology Program Head, Carol Fong (Carol_Fong@bcit.ca). You can also apply through the BCIT Biotech website. You will need to submit your resume and a filled out questionnaire form (PDF) before June 1.

Non-UBC Students:

If you have a GPA over 70%, you should submit required forms to UBC Admissions before January 31. More details are at BCIT’s program entry site.

Cost:

Tuition fees are similar to the cost of tuition at UBC. Domestic fees (tuition, student fees, insurance) for the 2017/2018 year were $3608.92 per term and $715.53 for the 2017 Co-op term. You will spend much less on books and supplies than suggested on BCIT’s program costs site, as you’ll be able to get a good deal from students in years above you and some textbooks will be optional. BCIT also offers the U-Pass, so you’ll get the extra benefit paying significantly less than $93-172 for a monthly transit pass!

What are the entry requirements and cost?

 

Courses 
Number of Courses
Credits
UBC Equivalency
Biology
2
6
Two of BIOL 111, 112, 121, or other 100-level BIOL
Chemistry
2
8
CHEM 121+123 OR CHEM 111+113
English
2
6
Any two 100-level English or SCIE 113
Math
1
3
One of MATH 100/102/104 (or 110, 120, 180, 184)
Physics
1
3
One 100-level PHYS course (not including PHYS 100)
Electives
2
4
Non-Science Courses; One must be computational (Stats, CPSC or another Math Course)
Total Credits
30

(Info from UBC Calendar, BCIT Program Entry )

Requirements must have been completed within the past 3 years

There is no interview, and you will mostly be admitted according to GPA. Extracurriculars and personal achievements may be taken into account, so don’t let bad grades prevent you from applying!

22 students are accepted each year.

More program entry information can be found here.

First Year Science Students:

If you are from UBC, have completed the requirements in the table above, and have a GPA of 70% or better, you will be directed by UBC sometime in late May to go online and select your top 3 choices for your major. Simply select Biotech as your first choice and you’re done!
Students from other institutions (eg. SFU, BCIT degree transfer, Douglas College, etc), please apply though BCIT directly, as below.

Second Year Students or Students With GPA <70%:

You will need to apply through the BCIT Biotechnology Program Head, Carol Fong (Carol_Fong@bcit.ca). You can also apply through the BCIT Biotech website. You will need to submit your resume and a completed questionnaire form (PDF) before June 1.

Students Missing Prerequisites:

You should still apply! If you are missing one or two of the prerequisite courses, these can be taken at UBC over the summer. You can be granted conditional acceptance (a spot in the program) if you successfully complete the missing prerequisite courses.

You will need to apply through the BCIT Biotechnology Program Head, Carol Fong (Carol_Fong@bcit.ca). You can also apply through the BCIT Biotech website. You will need to submit your resume and a filled out questionnaire form (PDF) before June 1.

Non-UBC Students:

If you have a GPA over 70%, you should submit required forms to UBC Admissions before January 31. More details are at BCIT’s program entry site.

Cost:

Tuition fees are similar to the cost of tuition at UBC. Domestic fees (tuition, student fees, insurance) for the 2017/2018 year were $3608.92 per term and $715.53 for the 2017 Co-op term. You will spend much less on books and supplies than suggested on BCIT’s program costs site, as you’ll be able to get a good deal from students in years above you and some textbooks will be optional. BCIT also offers the U-Pass, so you’ll get the extra benefit paying significantly less than $93-172 for a monthly transit pass!

What is the workload like?

Like any Honours program, the workload will probably be heavier than in first-year university. You can expect around 20 hours of classes per week, as well as 4-5 3+ hour labs. A benefit of this workload type is that grading is spread out over the term, so instead of your final mark being dependent on a 40% midterm and a 60% final, it will be broken down into smaller assignments, reports, and quizzes. We find that another benefit of this is that it forces you to stay on top of what’s going on in class, so you’re not scrambling to re-learn a whole term’s worth of material before the final. Students who took IB and AP in high school will find the workload fairly easy to adjust to.

Which courses will I take?

Another advantage of the Biotech program is that you take a wide variety of courses, so you learn a lot from different fields and get to see them integrate and overlap in labs and lectures. You also take non-Science courses designed to build your soft skills and improve your communication, critical thinking, and presentation skills. You’ll learn more about the industry and how it works, as well as branch out into areas like business. More detailed course descriptions are available here.

BCIT First Year → Lab Safety, Microbiology, Intro to Biotech, Health Product Regulation, Animal Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Communications, Animal Cell Biotechnology, Plant Anatomy and Physiology, Communications Workshop, Probability and Statistics

BCIT Second Year → Molecular Genetics, Plant Cell Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Intro to Pharmaceutical Development, Process Systems, Analytical Chemistry, Bioethics, Management and Regulatory Affairs, Management Skills and Applications, Critical Reading and Writing

UBC Fourth and Fifth Years → A HUGE selection of courses in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Commerce, Biology, and Medical Genetics. A full list is available here.

What sort of lab experience will I get?

If you like labs, you will love this program! Not only does the joint UBC-BCIT Biotechnology program provide you with academic rigour at UBC, you get extensive laboratory training at BCIT. You’ll get an awesome 12-15 hours per week in our very own lab, where you will gain hands-on experience. By the end of it, you will have an expansive range of lab skills including PCR, gel-electrophoresis, Western blot, bacterial culture, cell passaging, and plant micropropagation. Most employers and co-workers are impressed by our technical proficiency and we’ve even been compared to Masters and PhD students in terms of our lab skills! Some examples of our experiments include using microarray chips to compare expression of a gene, determining the efficiency of transfection methods on animal cell cultures, and using recombinant viruses to infect cells and measure their level of fluorescence. Don’t know what any of that means? Don’t worry! We didn’t either; all you really need is an enthusiasm for science!

Co-op Help 

What is Co-op?

One of the advantages of coming into the Biotechnology program is the automatic enrollment into our Co-op program, meaning you will get 16 months of paid work experience related to Biotechnology. You get access to job websites, workshops, and resources while building up some great work experience in the field and opening up the possibilities in your future career. You can check out what we’ve written about Co-op, or the official UBC Science Co-op and BCIT Co-op sites.

Student Information

Through your 4 Co-op work terms in the program, you’ll get the chance to gain 16 months of paid work experience in any field related to Biotechnology.  You’ll be able to apply for jobs in private companies, academic settings, and public health centres, such as

  • Amgen
  • BC Cancer Agency
  • National Research Council
  • Lignol
  • Cantest
  • UBC (various departments, including Michael Smith Labs)
  • SFU Biological Sciences Dept
  • Institut de Recherches Clinques de Montreal

in a wide range of fields including

  • Medicine
  • Immunology and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Zoology
  • Botany
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture
  • Food Science.

Some ways to find a job are through personal contacts, applying to postings on your institution’s Co-op website, and by contacting potential employers (usually academic) by email.  Of course, it’s important that you have a strong resume and a professional, eye-catching cover letter. You could ask your Co-op coordinator to look over your resume and cover letter, and there are various workshops at BCIT and UBC for this purpose as well.  Most students get jobs in March and April, although some have been know to be placed as early as December and as late as June (for summer terms).

Although the dates of your first work terms are quite set, you do have some flexibility over when you want your other work terms to take place (more info here).
1st work term – May to Aug after 1st year of program
2nd work term – May to Aug after 2nd year of program
3rd and 4th work terms – any 8 months, in one 8-month chunk, or two 4-month chunks, between Sept after 2nd year of program to Dec of your last year

Your job will be full time (35-40 hours/week), usually Monday to Friday (some have worked part of the weekend depending on the employer) for 3-4 (or 8) months, and you’ll be supervised by someone at your workplace. You will be paid anywhere from minimum wage to over $16/hour, and there is a Co-op work term fee of about $700 (2017), which applies to all Co-op programs.  In return, you’ll get training relevant to your field, some new contacts, and hopefully some insight on your future career!

For more information, check out the FAQs by BCIT Co-op or UBC Science Co-op‘s site.

Employer Information

One of the greatest advantages of this program is the combination of extensive lab experience with 16 months of Co-op work. This provides our graduates with an edge when it comes to working in any lab setting, as the studentship are familiar with a wide variety of techniques in microbiology, genetics, tissue culture, and chemistry.

According to UBC’s Co-op Office, in 2016 Life Sciences student made an average of $2192/month during their Co-op term. If you are a prospective student or a potential employer and want to learn more about the skills students gain through this program, visit the BCIT and UBC Co-op websites for more information.

Your Future

Are there any difficulties in transferring from UBC to BCIT?

The people in charge of admissions have made things pretty seamless, so we don’t know of any major difficulties. Going back to UBC is also pretty easy; most of us just have to adjust to course selection, which we haven’t done in two years. Academically, the instructors always prepare you and challenge you in lectures and labs so you won’t have a difficult time when you get back to UBC. Bill Ramey, the Undergraduate Advisor for UBC Microbiology and Immunology, also has an information session with the BCIT 2nd years to prep them on the transition to UBC.

What is BCIT like?

You may be hesitant to join the program because you don’t know much about BCIT and are worried about switching schools. Located in Burnaby, BCIT’s main campus actually does quite well in offering good facilities and student life. Some of our students use the gym and basketball courts on a regular basis, and others have taken dance or fitness classes at the recreation centre. There’s also a nice trail that wraps around the field, which the teachers use to go for lunch walks.

The library has lots of study areas, including the workspace downstairs, called the ehPod. The hidden gems of BCIT are probably the numerous computer labs; they are open late (some say as late as 1am) and have updated hardware. There are enough of the computer labs so you don’t have to wait around for someone to leave, like in Irving, and you don’t have to wait for the computer’s lag, like in Woodward (two of the libraries at UBC). SW-1 has a brand new Gateway building, which houses student services, labs, classrooms, exam and project rooms, and study areas.

There are many student clubs (the UBC-BCIT Biotechnology Club being one of them!) and something is usually going on in the Great Hall, the main lounge space at the Burnaby campus, or Habitat Pub, the campus bar. Additionally, Metrotown, the largest mall in British Columbia, is just a 10 minute transit away, and the campus is well-connected by frequent buses and Skytrain stations to the North and South. On-campus housing is available (see BCIT’s housing site for more details), and off-campus housing is another good alternative.

If you can’t bear the thought of being away from UBC, remember, it’s temporary and after two years, you’ll be right back! Additionally, you can choose to do your Co-op terms or some summer courses at UBC. Some of our students have maintained close bonds with their UBC friends and clubs, so it’s definitely possible to stay connected.

What are the teachers like?

The instructors at BCIT are probably the best part of this program. Take Robert (Rob) Forsyth for example. You can talk to him about anything from bioreactors and pharmaceutical regulations to Harry Potter and conspiracy theories.  He is just one of the many knowledgeable, caring, funny Biotechnology program instructors who will help you learn and grow. Our instructors have experience in academia as well as working in industry settings, and they always make themselves available for questions or chats. Each instructor will know your first name, last name, tendency to ask questions, how well you usually come prepared for lab, and more. Basically, you’ll know them on a first-name basis!

What can I do after graduation?

Our alumni are everywhere: Med school, Law school, Business school, Dental school, getting higher degrees, in the workforce right after grad, and much more. Really, the degree is flexible enough to get you anywhere you want to be.

Still need help? 

You can visit BCIT’s program site and the UBC Calendar as well as email ubc.bcit.biotech@gmail.com, or browse around our website!