Diversifying Your Science Degree

There are so many reasons why I love science. Science answers questions about everyday life, it gives order to complex phenomena, it solves problems with facts and it gives us the tools to answer new questions. I’m sure you have many reasons, too — that’s why you’re doing a degree in it! But science has a way of putting us in a certain mindset where we get fixated on numbers, rules and graphs — and for good reason! The first year or two of a science degree teach us the fundamentals of our field and train us in scientific thinking. This is important, but it is just as important to diversify this thinking in upper years.

Too often I hear science students staying away from more “subjective” courses in the humanities and arts (and I’m guilty of this too!). Students have many diverse passions and hobbies but lose them when starting university. You can rekindle your old passions and broaden your scientific mindset by incorporating a minor or an option! Not only is this a good way to integrate leisure with studies to balance out stress — read this article about integrating leisure and studies — but it will help you explore how science can apply to seemingly unrelated fields. It will help you better enjoy your degree, compared to taking random courses that seem easy, and it will build you a unique profile to boost your future career. Who knows, you might find a whole new career path while you’re at it!

Minors

A minor is typically 30 units (usually 10 courses), which provides solid education in your field of interest. See this list of undergraduate minors.

Some cool programs for a minor include:

  • Law
  • Management
  • Psychology
  • Linguistics
  • Women’s Studies
  • Greek and Roman Studies
  • Music
  • Aging Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Criminology
  • Economics
  • Indigenous Studies

Options

Options range from nine to 18 units (three to six courses) and offer micro-credentials that customize your degree. Since they require fewer courses, they are often easier to incorporate in your degree. See this list of options.

Some cool programs for an option include:

  • Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Social Innovation
  • Animal Studies
  • Science Entrepreneurship
  • Science Policy

Should I really take the chance?

It can be scary to take a class that none of your science classmates are taking, but getting out of your comfort zone in this way is incredibly important for your growth! I feel strongly about this because it made a huge difference in my degree. In my second year of biomedical science, I started a minor in music. Teaching and playing the piano have been and continue to be a big part of my personal life and leisure, so they added balance to my science degree. Needless to say, music differs greatly from science, but it’s not completely unrelated! 

If you have any questions, don’t be nervous about approaching a prof — they’ll be thrilled to speak to a science student with a passion for another field!

Taking a minor also opened the door to other opportunities. I did a UROP research project with a professor in the School of Music about the transfer of motor skills from piano to surgery (pretty scientific if you ask me!). All faculties do research, and while it’s not always the same as the wet lab research done in science, your scientific training will give you a huge advantage no matter where you go. Remember that your degree trains you in scientific thought and the workings of the world we live in. This is valuable in many fields. Don’t be afraid to apply it outside of the basic sciences!

''You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take'' – Wayne Gretzky

You have nothing to lose! You have to take electives anyway — all programs in the Faculty of Science require a minimum of 12 units (four courses) from the Faculty of Arts, Education, Law or Social Sciences, or the Telfer School of Management. You also don’t need to add a minor right away. You can use the course sequence for a minor as a guideline for what courses to take to indulge your interests. At the end of the day, if you have a real interest in the class you’re taking, you will excel! Find the thing that you could talk about for hours on end.

If you’re considering a minor, feel free to come speak to some of our mentors, or visit the mentoring centre for the faculty of your minor! See the list of faculty mentoring centres.  

To add the minor, contact the Faculty of Science academic advisers (not the advisers for the faculty of your minor).

Remember that you came to university not only to get a degree, but to learn and grow as a person. There is no right or wrong way to do this. You don’t have to follow a typical path to get to your end goal. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. You don’t need to cast aside your passions because they are “useless.” You are incredibly unique, and your degree should be, too.

- Rahna Rasouli, 3rd year, Biomedical Science

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