Science X Technology Undergrads

Image made by the author.

What happens when you combine two of the most important fields of our time, biology and technology? You create a field of study that is no longer restrained by the constraints of nucleic acids or microchips. If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing study called biotechnology, the University of Toronto’s Biotechnology specialization may be the right choice for you.

What You Will Study

First things first: you’re likely wondering how an interdisciplinary program like this would work. Let’s first discuss what you’d be learning about.

The University of Toronto defines biotechnology as the “application of scientific and technical advances in life science to develop commercial products.” And to help you achieve a depth of knowledge in this, you’re required to take the following courses in your first year:

  • Introduction to Evolution and Evolutionary Genetics
  • Diversity of Organisms
  • Chemical Principles I
  • Chemical Principles II
  • Calculus for Life Sciences

Though the first year course load focuses heavily on the sciences, later years require you to take more interdisciplinary courses like Biotechnology & Society, Biometrics I, and Introduction to Applied Statistics.

Apart from that, this specialist allows you to personalize your experience to your liking. You could take BIO400, for example, if you’d like to get some hands-on experience through an internship. You will also have a few elective courses where you get to choose between a variety of options, and of course, you can always explore an entirely different topic by enrolling in another course.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

How Does the Program Work?

Let’s take a step back; I’ve used the word specialist multiple times but what does that mean? At the University of Toronto Mississauga, there are three main types of programs: specialists, majors, and minors.

To complete your degree, you need to take either one specialist, two majors, or one major and two minors; in their most basic forms, the difference between specialists, majors, and minors is the number of credits required to obtain each one, with the specialist requiring the highest number of credits.

So if you choose to enroll in the biotechnology specialist, it’s the only program you’ll have to worry about! But not so fast. Other than the high school requirements that are listed below, getting into this specialist has some university-specific requirements.

After your first year, you must have 4.0 credits, must get at least a C in two chemistry courses (specifically CHM110H5 and CHM120H5) and have a cumulative GPA of 2.50+.

It’s also good to keep in mind that there are limited spots in the specialty.

Though it may seem complicated right now, in the end, you’ll graduate with an Honours Bachelor of Science, and you’ll have lots of experience under your belt!

High School Requirements

This sounds great, so how do you take the step to apply? All you need to know is the courses required to apply which are:

  • Advanced Functions (MHF4U)
  • Biology (SBI4U)
  • Chemistry (SCH4U)
  • English (ENG4U)
  • Recommended: Calculus & Vectors (MCV4U)
  • One other 4U/M course of your choice

All of these courses are similar across most life and health science undergraduate programs so if you’re planning on applying to those, you should have no problem fulfilling these requirements. Something else to keep in mind is that a good, competitive average for the program is in the low to mid-80s.

Now you have all the tools needed to conquer this program; good luck!


About the Author

Parmin Sedigh is a 16-year-old stem cell and science communications enthusiast as well as a student researcher, based in Kingston, ON. She’s also the Director of Writing at Superposition. You can usually find her on her computer following her curiosity. Connect with her on LinkedIn.



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