Applying for the IDST BA Program

I am joining IDST only because I was rejected by the ECON (or POLI or IR or whatever) major.  It will now be my primary discipline, but I also want to take ECON (or. . . .) courses as electives.  Is this possible

  • No, it is not.  IDST programs are, first and foremost, interdisciplinary: they are based on an underlying pattern of academic interests and goals that unites studies in a number of subjects and fields, with no single element dominating to the extent that it would in a major.
  • To protect this interdisciplinary character IDST students are not permitted to earn countable elective credit in the subject chosen as their primary discipline, a rule that is enforced by a credit block on Degree Navigator.  They may not create a de facto major in a single subject out of a combination of their primary discipline and elective courses.
  • The best way to create a de facto major in a subject that you may not major in officially is to declare a major in some other subject (almost all majors in Arts are declarable) and to add to it a minor in the subject that rejected you (all minors in Arts disciplines are declarable)
  • Since interdisciplinary balance is not a fundamental principle of majors in individual subjects, there is no reason to limit the number of credits their students may earn in other subjects, and no such restriction, in fact, exists:  SOCI majors minoring in ECON, for instance, are free to add to their minor as many ECON courses as they like.


What if I already have too many credits, but am willing to take more than 120 credits to graduate?

  • Many students take a few credits in excess of the requisite 120 before they graduate. Some do this to meet future needs (as an extra qualification for a teaching concentration for instance, or as preparation for a professional program).
  • Some students may create their IDST program late in their undergraduate career  because they have changed their minds about the course of study they want to pursue, and the requirements for a fresh discipline in the Primary Category, may call for more than 120 credits in total.
  • But although graduation may be delayed by this extra coursework and expense, sometimes considerable, will be incurred, any students prepared to make these sacrifices are welcome to earn credits beyond the normal 120.

If I go on exchange, can I count my course credits from abroad towards the IDST Program?

In principle yes, but be careful:  the requirements of the IDST program in the primary discipline, in the balance of the primary category and in the secondary category can be satisfied only by UBC credits.  This does not mean that courses taken on exchange cannot be applied to those requirements – they regularly are –  but it does entail a two-stage  process that is not always necessary for the application of exchange credits to discipline-based majors or minors:

  • First, there is the standard procedure for all exchange courses:  each one is submitted through the Transfer Credit Portal to be articulated by Arts Advising, Go Global and the relevant UBC department for transfer to UBC as a specific course, as unassigned credit in a specific subject or as unassigned credit in ARTS or in the even broader category of ELEV (Elective), to be posted to the returning exchange student’s UBC Academic Record when the transcript arrives.
  • In addition, however, the applicability of the agreed UBC transfer credits to the exchange student’s IDST coursework requirements is assessed by the IDST Chair in light of the student’s chosen categories of study and program statement; and applicable credits are posted to the student’s program on Degree Navigator to await the arrival of the transcript.

While it is far from being an insuperable barrier to the incorporation of exchange study into an IDST program, this process does have certain consequences that IDST students going on exchange should bear in mind.

  • First, and most importantly, it means that the IDST Chair alone cannot guarantee the applicability to an IDST program of any course taken elsewhere.  The applicability of many such courses is, of course, easily predictable:  for example, that a seminar, from the sixth semester of the Sorbonne’s Licence, on Voltaire: philosophe et homme de lettres will find its place in the coursework of a student whose primary category is the Humanities, whose primary discipline is French Literature and whose program statement reveals a fascination with the Enlightenment is as close to a done deal as any articulation could be.
  • But Voltaire also played a major role in 18th century history; he was a political and social thinker and activist; he was fairly prominent in the theater of his day; and he wrote many works in such an accessible, popular style that he can easily be studied at a lower post-secondary level (or even in high school).  So, a course on Voltaire is not guaranteed to transfer to UBC as French Literature or in the Humanities or at the 300- or 400-level; and this very specific example is meant to explain why students seeking a guarantee that a course that they are planning to take on exchange will find its way into their IDST program need to turn first to the appropriate UBC department to find out if that department will accept it for upper-level credit in their field and, if so, whether or not they are prepared to link it to one of their specific courses.
  • Sometimes the articulation recommended by a department may be a course that is already part of the student’s proposed IDST coursework: many students search their host institution’s offerings very thoroughly before choosing their exchange courses, and this result is more common than you might expect.  In most cases, however, the IDST Chair will then have to be asked to accept the proposed course for inclusion in one of the IDST categories or in the primary discipline:  a request, by the way, to which an answer should be expected quite quickly if it is made at this stage, with the course’s UBC equivalent already determined and with only its relevance to the program statement still to be determined.

What if one of the courses I indicated on my proposal is not offered during either my third or fourth year?

In this case, you will have to choose another appropriate course that is in the same category (or discipline if the course is from your primary concentration) as the unavailable course. Submit your proposed change(s) on a Coursework Revision form, either directly to the Chair or as an attachment to an e-mail message, well in advance of the start of the term in which you propose to take the new course(s), since any such change is subject to the Chair’s approval.

Can I declare a minor or a major in something if I have enough credits to do so?

No. The purpose of the IDST program is to do something less narrowly focused than the usual major/minor combinations. If you feel that you need to declare a second specialization, then you should reconsider your application for the IDST Program, as your interests are probably more suited to traditional department-based major or minor programs.