Science 101

Welcome to SFU! In this webinar you will get to know your student support team, hear from current science students about their experience and learn tips to be successful in your first year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can I turn to if I have questions about course selection and differences between courses and degree completion? 

Academic Advisors are a tremendous resource! Each department has an advisor, and there is also an advisor for students at the Surrey campus, an associate academic advisor to help students from any program in Science, and our student success advisor. You can see their contact information here

Q: How do I find Advisor Link? How do I meet with an academic advisor?

Appointments can be booked directly through Advisor Link, and some advisors will also host drop-in sessions (by Zoom or in person) as well, typically posting the hours on their webpages. 

If you would like to meet with Colin Schuler Ram or Aiden Wickey, please email them so they can be added to your Advisor Link. 

Q: What happens with scheduling conflicts during enrollment?

The aforementioned Academic Advisors are the best folks to connect with if you have trouble scheduling your courses. SFU’s enrollment system will not allow students to enroll in classes with conflicts (scheduled at the same time) so you should work with an advisor to find a schedule that works for your program requirements. 

Q: How do I get started with co-op? What are the requirements for co-op? Are they different for international students?

The Science Co-op page is a great resource, and their team often hosts info sessions as well. We recommend starting to attend their information sessions in your first year at SFU, so that you can join the program and start working some time in your second year of study with us.

The requirements for co-op vary a bit by program, but typically it requires a good GPA and having completed around 30 – 45 credits. The sooner students join co-op, especially transfer students, the better!

International students can absolutely do co-op! The International Services for Students Office can even assist with applying for the needed work permits. 

It is not recommended to take courses while completing co-op terms. 

Q: How do labs work? How often do they happen?

Each course is a bit different, but usually labs are weekly or bi-weekly, and can range from having 20-80 students depending on the subject. Many labs will also require safety equipment like goggles and lab coats, which are available through the SFU Book Store.

Q: How do I decide which electives to take? How many classes should I take at a time?

There are hundreds and hundreds of elective courses to choose from! Usually when folks at SFU are talking about electives, they are referring to the 'Breadth' part of the 'Writing, Quantitative, and Breadth' (WQB) graduation requirement. While it is up to you which electives to take to meet WQB requirements, we recommend pursuing subjects that interest you the most. You might even end up pursuing a minor in that subject! 

How many courses you take each semester is up to you! Most full-time students take 3-5 courses each semester, with fewer courses meaning more time for other activities like extra curriculars or working. Taking fewer courses per term can mean your degree takes longer than 4 years, but this is very normal. For many full time students, 4 courses is considered a manageable courseload. For part-time students, this would typically mean taking 1 or 2 courses a term. 

Q: What is a normal size for a course?

Class sizes range - first year lectures can be very large (300-500 students in Burnaby, up to 200 in Surrey), while tutorials cap at around 20 students, and labs around 20-80. Most classes have a combination of lecture, tutorial and/or lab components so there is some variety. As students progress through their degrees class sizes get much smaller. 

Q: How do joint major programs work, and how long do they take to complete? When should I apply to a joint major? 

A Bachelor's Degree is about 120 credits of study, and takes approximately four to five years to complete. Most courses are 3 or 4 credits, so a degree consists of about 30-40 courses. Students can specialize within their degree with majors, minors, and certificates. Majors are usually about 60 credits, which is around half of a degree (though some might be more). Minors and certificates are 30 or so credits, so a bit less than a major but still a significant amount of study. Joint majors are when two programs have some overlap in their content, so students can complete two majors in about 90 credits.

If you are interested in adding a second major (either a joint or double major) it’s a great idea to connect with the academic advisor for the program you are not already in. 

Q: What types of on-campus jobs exist?

On-campus jobs might involve working for the university (Recreation, Residence & Housing, and Student Services are all big employers), or working for shops and restaurants. You can learn more about working on-campus here

Q: What are paths to getting involved in research?

Getting involved with research is often as simple as talking to your professors! Getting to know your professors by visiting them in office hours is a great way to build rapport, and when research opportunities arise professors will often notify students who have previously expressed interest that a position is available. This doesn’t need to be a formal conversation initially (for example, you don’t need to have a resume/cover letter prepared for an initial conversation). Many departments will also let students know about research opportunities through newsletters or on their websites, and you can learn more here

Q: Which campus will I attend? 

Programs within the Faculty of Science are based at the Burnaby campus, meaning that is where the majority of our classes, labs, and offices are located. That being said, many first-year Science courses are also offered at the Surrey campus! If you would like to take courses at the Surrey campus, contact Nadia Williams at and she can make sure you have priority for that campus. 

Q: What are some notetaking strategies for lectures?

Some folks prefer written notes and others typed, but regardless of your preference the Student Learning Commons has amazing resources for note-taking! 

Q: How can I see my transfer credits from AP/IB/college/university? 

Students can can log in to their student centre at to see their transfer credits by selecting “Transfer Credit Report” or “Transfer Credit Summary” under the “Academics” header.  These credits can also be found on your Advising Transcript, available on the same page. 

Q: Will I be taking online courses?

The vast majority of Faculty of Science courses are offered in-person, however a few are available online (and some courses in other Faculties are available online as well). When selecting your courses, you will be able to see whether a course is offered online or in-person. 

Q: How do I access Recreation facilities? 

Rec facilities are available for all students! You can learn more about recreation in Burnaby, Surrey, and Vancouver

Have more questions? Contact the Sci-Space Team.