admissions,  science,  subject POST


hiya there aska! i’m from al(aska) [hehehe] and was wondering what the difference is between a specialist science program and a major science program. also what do the 300 or 400 level thingies mean on the courses? also does uoft accept AP physics taken taken in high school? probably right, idk. also does uoft require a language 12 credit for science? yuh muchthank and muchappreciate bye


hey there, from al(aska),

what’s the difference between a specialist and major in the sciences?

basically, you’d opt for a specialist if you:

  • heckin love the subject material so so much and want to dedicate most of your degree to it
  • are really set on doing grad school in a specific discipline and want to specialize early
  • or otherwise have a very intent and specific interest in a program (or an intent and specific disinterest in everything else, i guess???)
  • want to become a !specialist! at something during your undergrad
  • want opportunities that are only available to specialists, like specific research openings or sometimes even specific classes

if you do a major you’ll need to do it in conjunction with another major or two minors, meaning with a major you can:

  • diversify! you’ll choose concentrations in multiple subject areas, and have a lot of leeway with what those subject areas are. you can choose one major in the sciences and one in the arts, for example, and still graduate with a bachelor’s of science; or you can choose two majors in very different scientific fields; etc etc. round your education out, friends.
  • explore your interest in a certain program by committing to more extensive study than a minor, without going to the lengths that a specialist would

this is because a specialist will require you to take more classes (or credits) in a specific department than a major will. usually, the credit breakdown for specialist, majors, and minors is as follows:

  • specialist: between 10 and 14 FCEs
  • major: between 6 and 8
  • minor: 4 FCEs

if you think about each credit as a yearlong course OR two half-year courses, then that means a minor would account for almost a year’s worth of courses, while a specialist would account for about two to (almost) three years’ worth. a major, then, would be about a year and a half’s worth of courses. obviously, you don’t usually complete one program in one fell swoop then move onto the next one– they’re usually completed alongside each other, in fact. i just thought that might be a helpful way to kind of account for the level of study expected from each type of program. following me so far?

a few things to note:

  • not all programs will offer all three options (minor, major, specialist). some won’t have the capacity to offer any more than a minor. meanwhile, some bigger departments won’t have built-in allowances for minors, maybe because that level of study isn’t plausible for the subject
  • you can technically choose up to 3 programs in general, as long as that third one is a minor. this means if you really hated yourself, you could do a specialist and a major, or a double major and a minor. i don’t know what would happen if you tried to do 2 specialists and a minor, or a specialist, a major, and a minor. just like,,,,,,, don’t. i guess you could? but don’t.
  • it doesn’t matter if you’re in the arts or sciences! the number of credits required for each program type is the same.

what do the 300 or 400 level thingies mean?

how many minutes a day you spend doing classwork. if you do the math, 400 minutes/60 minutes in an hour = 6.67 hours.

haha the internet already has so much misinformation on it and adding to that doesn’t make me special. the 100/200/300/400 level designations are really meant to indicate what year level the courses are designed for. for example, 100-level courses typically provide general overviews of a topic for first-years, and as you go up the chain, your class sizes will grow smaller and the topics will become more specialized. once you get to 400-level courses, you’re typically looking at very small seminars that will do a deep-dive into a topic, and mark you far more stringently than you would be marked in a 100-level course. this is because most 400-level students will be fourth years.

in short, the “300/400 level thingies” are indicators of topic depth and coursework expectations! it’s important to note, though, that you don’t need to be a fourth year to take a 400 level course. you just need to meet the prerequisites. i took a 200-level course in first year just for the kicks, because it had no prereqs and i thought it would make me cool. it didn’t. no one cares.

does uoft accept AP physics taken in high school? 

heck yea. all the AP physics courses translate to first-year equivalents– you can see the full list here. as you’ll notice, not all AP courses are accepted for credit/accepted as equivalents. the physics APs are probably some of the best to take if you want u of t credit.

does uoft require a language 12 credit for science?

haha what. i’m not aware of one. like, if the language you mean is english then yeah, but other than that i don’t think so. i would check the high school prerequisites for the specific programs you’re interested in on this website just to be safe– it’ll vary from department to department, i think. but no, i don’t think you’ll find a language 12 among them.

i hope this was helpful!

be Boundless,



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