New To Arts: Student Checklist

Welcome to the Faculty of Arts. Prepare to transition into your first year at UBC with this eight-step checklist.

You do not declare your major in first year. Instead, choose one of three study options:

  • Coordinated Arts Program (CAP) – choose a theme of study and explore it through a grouping of courses (18-credit program + 12 credits).
  • Arts One – examine great works of literature and philosophy in a small group setting (18-credit program + 12 credits)
  • Custom Timetable – build your own timetable from the many offerings in Arts (up to 32 credits)


Arts students must take 72 or more credits within the Faculty of Arts throughout their degree, so it is important to include as many Arts courses as possible in your first year. Browse Faculty of Arts courses listed on the UBC Course Schedule. Read the course descriptions and write down specific Arts courses (with their numbers) that sound interesting.

You may also browse 100-level courses by visiting the UBC Course Schedule’s search: Enter 1* in the “course number field” to limit your search and select the correct session and campus from the top right dropdowns.

As a first year student, you should avoid registering for courses with C/D/F eligibility. Also, watch for courses that have high school pre-requisites (e.g. language or science courses) or that require that you take a placement test or speak with a departmental advisor before registration.

If you're thinking about majoring in Math, Computer Science or Economics:

Be sure to take the lower-level non-Arts prerequisite courses listed in the UBC Calendar for these specializations in your first and second year:

Another way to explore first-year courses is to browse majors available within the Faculty of Arts. Click on the Majors that interest you and find their lower level course (100 or 200) requirements through the UBC Calendar program requirements link. It is important to plan ahead and think about your specialization early, as you should declare or apply for your major before third year.  While most Arts students complete a single specialization (major) many will add a minor. There are also honours programs and combined majors.

Arts students are required to fulfill faculty-wide requirements for their degrees. The Writing Component of the Writing and Research Requirement is the only requirement that must be attempted in your first year. If you choose a Custom Timetable you should register in WRDS 150 or ENGL 100 (recommended for students interested in an English major). If you enrol in Arts One or Coordinated Arts Program (CAP), you will satisfy the Writing Component of the Writing and Research Requirement as well as 3 credits towards the Literature Requirement.

Should you cover other degree requirements in first-year?

In some cases, it makes sense to begin the requirements early on in your degree. For example, if you if you still need to satisfy the language requirement, consider beginning this early.

Helpful Hint: You need 120 credits to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree.

To achieve this in four years, you will need to take 30 credits each winter session (September through April), typically divided into 15 credits in term 1 and 15 credits in term 2. Most courses are 3 credits. Some students prefer to take fewer courses in the Winter Session and add Summer Session courses.

You may spread your degree out over more than four years, taking fewer courses per term to spend time working, volunteering or getting involved in extra-curricular activities. Note: there are minimum credit requirements to consider if you have a student loan, live in student housing, are a varsity athlete or wish to be eligible for academic scholarships.

The First-Year Planning Tool for the Bachelor of Arts is designed to help you plan your courses effectively and ensure you are on the right track before registration.

The Tool is not a registration form nor an approval form and does not guarantee registration in the courses you write down on the sheet. The Tool is tailored for students entering UBC from a secondary school. The First-Year Planning Tool is available before winter registration each May.

UBC Student Services' website features a Registration Guide with detailed information on:

  • Building a schedule (timetable) or creating a worklist
  • Registering for courses
  • Making changes to your schedule

Some courses fill up quickly so choose your courses in advance and be prepared to register on your registration day. Learn what to do if your course is full.

After you are admitted to the Faculty of Arts, you will receive a four-part email series from the Arts Peer Advisors. They will help you navigate your transition to UBC and share information on degree requirements, course selection, and the registration process.

Contact Arts Advising.

If you're looking to develop strong time management skills and explore different ways to get involved on campus, the Aspire Academic Mentorship Program is a great fit for you.

In this program, first-year students select an upper-year Arts Peer Academic Coach to connect with, and meet with them three times in first term.

Jump Start
If you are coming to UBC directly from high school attend Jump Start, UBC’s multi-day Summer orientation designed to introduce you to the University, your faculty, and new friends.

Imagine UBC
All Students should attend Imagine UBC. For most students, the first day of classes is replaced with Imagine UBC. The entire UBC community comes together to welcome new students and celebrate the beginning of the new academic year. You'll have a chance to make friends and meet your Dean, professors, and senior students from your Faculty. You can expect an email with your Imagine UBC schedule in late August.

Aboriginal student events
In addition to Jump Start and Imagine UBC, the UBC Longhouse hosts a wide range of events to welcome new Aboriginal students. View the event schedule here and check back regularly for updates.