There are a lot of reasons to want to attend any of the dozens of universities in BC, as a few are some of the best universities in Canada. If you know anything about British Columbia, then you know it’s a magical place. But if you don’t know a lot about British Columbia then we’ll expand on the some of the reasons why people love living and studying there, but also give you detailed information about how to get into universities in BC, which include universities in Vancouver, one of the best medical schools in Canada, and one of the best universities in Canada for engineering. This blog will give you up-to-date information on the best universities in BC, admission information, academic offerings and great tips on how to apply and stand out. 

Disclaimer: Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.

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Article Contents
14 min read

Universities in BC Admission Statistics How to Apply to Universities in BC How to Get into Universities in BC How to Get into Universities in BC FAQs

Universities in BC

  1. University of British Columbia
  2. Simon Fraser University
  3. British Columbia Institute of Technology
  4. University of Victoria
  5. Thompson Rivers University
  6. University of Northern British Columbia
  7. University of the Fraser Valley
  8. Vancouver Island University

Want to get into top colleges with a low GPA? Watch this video:

Admission Statistics

How to Apply to Universities in BC

Universities in BC use a centralized application service, as is the case in every Canadian province, from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre in Ontario to the Apply Alberta service in Alberta. It doesn’t matter if you are applying as a high school student from BC or from out-of-province, or even an international student, everyone uses the EducationPlannerBC online application form.

Of course, the admission and program requirements are all specific to each university and each program that you are applying to. What’s more, various universities in BC have various admission pathways for you to apply, which are based on whether the program is competitive, non-competitive, or limited admission. You also use the EPBC application to upload various application materials that your program may or may not ask for, such as your college essays and college letters of recommendation.

You also have to upload your transcripts from any secondary institution in Canada, the US or abroad, if you are applying as an international student, if you are wondering how to apply to university as an international student. There are more admission requirements for specific programs you can apply to, including any fine arts or music programs, where you have to submit a portfolio, or an artistic work such as a sculpture or piece of music. Once you have compiled all the necessary documents and are sure that you meet with the specific academic requirements, you can start your application.

How to Get into Universities in BC

1. University of British Columbia

The province’s flagship post-secondary institution, the University of British Columbia is the largest university in BC and received almost 56,000 undergraduate applications last year. If you apply to UBC, you have to choose between whether you want to attend the Vancouver or Okanagan campus, but there is no division of programs between the campuses so your choice of campus is strictly up to you based on your personal preferences.

There are over 26 different faculties or departments at both campuses, including the Faculty of Applied Science; the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine; the Faculty of Arts; and the Sauder School of Business; all of them offer over 60 undergraduate bachelor degree programs but when you apply to UBC you choose the specific degree you want to apply for, rather than the program.

Admission Requirements

Even though you apply for a specific degree at UBC, you still have to meet the program requirements of each program. For example, regardless of what degree you apply for (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Applied Science; Bachelor of Fine Arts) you must first make sure that you meet with the program’s requirements, which can vary across all the various departments and faculties. The requirements for the Faculty of Science and School of Social Work are not the same as Applied Biology, Engineering or Music.

But the general admission requirements for Canadian high-school graduates are:

  • A high school degree
  • Minimum grade average of 70% for final two years
  • Minimum of six completed Grade 12 courses (recommended)

The requirements for international students or anyone who has graduated from the International Baccalaureate program are not that stringent; you have to have completed high school in your home country, and upload a copy of your diploma and your last transcript.

Choosing a Program

If you have already decided on your program, you can choose it as your first choice, and list two more as potential back-ups when you apply online. But if you are still unsure what program you want to enroll in, you can choose your degree first (BA; BSc; BFA), and then choose two programs that you think you will like, and then decide in your second year which program you want to make your major.

For example, in your first year, if you are pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, you can major in both Canadian Studies and Sociology, but you do not have to commit to those programs yet. You can choose one over the other, or a completely new program, in your second year.

This format lets you explore one discipline and program for at least a year, and gives you time to decide whether the program is for you or not. This may sound confusing, but the fact is that UBC wants to give you time to decide on a major, as it understands that not all undergraduates will have a firm idea of what program they want to follow.

Applying to UBC has one more interesting feature that other universities in BC do not have, which is you must submit a personal profile. The profile is a written essay that you write in response to the dreaded “tell me about yourself” college interview question but there are other questions and prompts that you can respond to, depending on the program you are applying to; the Bachelor of Education program asks why you want to be a teacher; the Bachelor of Commerce asks about your views on diversity.

As part of your personal profile, you must also submit contact information for two personal references who can speak to your positive qualities, such as leadership, perseverance, compassion as well as your involvement in any of your extracurriculars for college. Your submitted profile will be judged on four important criteria:

  • Engagement and accomplishment
  • Leadership
  • Substance
  • Voice

So, you have to be as original as possible, and not recite your past accomplishments. Focus on a single event or experience that made you interested in the field or program you are applying to and show (don’t tell) what you have done to live up to that interest. Your personal profile will be scored and graded and it could tip the scales in your favor, if your other metrics (GPA, number of courses) are lacking. Up to 14% of all admitted undergraduate students were admitted on the strength of their personal profile, so give yourself a lot of time to write one, and write multiple drafts to make sure it's perfect.

2. Simon Fraser University

The second largest public university in BC, Simon Fraser has three campuses spread out over the province. Its main and original campus is in Burnaby, while Vancouver and Surrey host the school’s other two campuses. The school has eight different faculties, including a business school (Beedie School of Business); Faculty of Applied Sciences; and Faculty of the Environment. There is not as much to choose from as with UBC, but SFU is regularly ranked as one of the most comprehensive universities in Canada for its breadth of programs, both major and minor, as well as its research capabilities and achievements.

Admission Requirements

If you are a Canadian high school graduate, you must meet both general and program-specific requirements to be admitted. If you have your heart set on getting into Simon Fraser, you should explore the requirements before your final two years of high school, since those are the courses that will be evaluated on your transcript.

The school uses two lists of approved Grade 12 courses – List A and List B – to help high school students determine which courses they should take in their last two years of high school. All programs have required Grade 11 courses that are separate from the Grade 12 requirements, even though you must meet both requirements. Complicating things even more is that these lists of requirements are unique to each faculty and program, so the list of required courses varies.

SFU’s general admissions requirements include:

  • Graduated high school
  • Completed required Grade 11 courses (program-dependent)
  • Completed at least five (six preferred) Grade 12 List A courses
  • 70% minimum GPA for those six courses

Let’s break this down so you can get an idea of what we’re talking about. If you want to enter the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the required Grade 11 courses include:

  • One English course
  • Either a Functions, or, Functions and Applications course
  • One Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Environmental Science course

But the required Grade 12 courses aka List A courses include:

  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Language

List B courses include:

  • Arts Education

Again, every faculty has its own combination of requirements you have to meet, so make sure you research each of them carefully before you choose your Grade 11 or Grade 12 courses.

3. British Columbia Institute of Technology 

The British Columbia Institute of Technology is the province’s premier technical school and has five different locations spread across Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver. BCIT has six unique schools that range from the School of Business and School of Energy to the School of Transportation and the School of Computing and Academic Studies. Within these various schools are a 300+ degree programs that you can choose from that are delivered in small cohorts to create a collaborative learning environment, regardless of the program you choose.

Admission Requirements

You have to select from various pathways to apply to BCIT, depending on your academic history, including if you are a mature or international student, if you are applying for an apprentice program, or if you are transferring from another school. You must also choose between whether you want to study full-time or part-time, which can also affect the application requirements you have to meet.

But what’s different about applying to BCIT is that the school uses its proprietary online application form, and does not participate in the EducationPlannerBC program. You have to set up your account with the myBCIT platform and then upload all your required documents and application materials, such as:

  • Transcripts
  • Letters of refence
  • Essays or portfolio (program-dependent)

BCIT also divides their programs into competitive and non-competitive programs; the former being courses where you must have a stronger application (GPA of 70% or higher; completed a list of prerequisites; perform well on pre-application assessments), while you can gain admission to the latter only by meeting the minimum admission requirements, and are granted admission on a first-come, first-qualified basis.

Depending on your program of choice, you may have other admission requirements to meet. The Bachelor of Accounting degree is a competitive program and you must:

  • Complete a pre-application assessment 

After you complete this assessment, you’ll receive an email from a program coordinator who will either approve you to apply or recommend that you take “bridging” courses to improve your knowledge of accounting. You can only apply to the Bachelor of Accounting program after you have received approval, but, if you have been approved, you must have:

  • Completed at least two years of English
  • A post-secondary diploma in related subjects

If your post-secondary diploma is from BCIT, you will be considered more competitive than others. So, there are no general application requirements, as each program will have its own requirements and pathways for you to apply.

4. University of Victoria

While UBC is the largest among all the universities in BC, the University of Victoria is the oldest university in the province, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. UVic has only one campus, which is not actually in the city of Victoria, but in the outer suburbs of Saanich and Oak Bay. If you’re a nature or ocean-lover, the main school building is only a few meters from the Salish Sea and there are many popular beaches near the campus. The school has ten different faculties and has several different pathways for you to apply, as either a Canadian high school, international, or transfer student.

Admission Requirements

UVic uses mostly program-specific requirements, and there are no general requirements that you must meet. You need to review the program you are interested in and check to see if you meet the requirements, or not, and also which pathway you can take to apply.

If you are applying as a recent Canadian high school graduate, most of the school’s undergraduate, degree programs (BA or BSc) require you:

  • Complete a single English course
  • Complete at least five or six Grade 11 or Grade 12 courses
  • Complete them with at least a 67% grade average

These requirements are for a majority of the undergraduate programs, but with ten different faculties ranging from Business, Economics and Law; People and Society; Health and Life Sciences; and Indigenous Focus, you need to explore what exactly each program asks for and make sure you meet them. 

5. Thompson Rivers University 

Thompson Rivers University is one of the newer post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, and it offers a wide-range of degree programs, from undergraduate to graduate degrees, as well as diplomas and certificates of completion for vocational or technical fields. The school is based in Kamloops and has only one campus, although there is a smaller satellite campus near Vancouver. Despite its small size and rustic location, the TRU has both a law school and a nursing school, among the professional degrees it offers.

Admissions Requirements

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of TRU, there are multiple pathways you can choose to get in. The most common pathway is for Canadian and BC high school graduates, who only have to have graduated high school and completed a set of prerequisites courses, such as English, Chemistry or Physics. The other pathways are based on the type of program you are applying to, which TRU classifies as either:

  • Open, non-competitive program – the program is open to anyone who at least meets the minimum academic requirements and there are unlimited spaces.
  • Limited program – the program accepts only a limited number of students each term, and they must meet or exceed the stated requirements
  • Selective/competitive programs – these are the hardest to get into because they take only a limited number of students and have higher academic requirements

If you apply to an open, non-competitive program and do not meet all the admission requirements, you can upgrade, which means you can take a preparatory class before you apply to increase your stats. It’s a common method for how to get into college with a low GPA in Canada, especially for non-competitive programs at schools like TRU that are focused on helping all students enter higher education.

6. University of Northern British Columbia 

The University of Northern British Columbia was created to fill the need for a higher education institution in the vast Northern part of the province similar to the way the Northern Ontario School of Medicine fills the need for a medical education institution to serve underserved populations in Ontario, namely rural ones. The majority of students at UNBC are from the region, but there are no geographic requirements and the school does not show a preference for students from Northern BC or BC at all.

Admission Requirements

The school does not show preference for students from BC or surrounding provinces and territories such as the Yukon, but it does offer you a special admission pathway, including early admission for students who have completed the prerequisites, which apply to all applicants. The prerequisites are both general and program-specific, so you need to check the requirements for the program you want to apply to. The general requirements include:

  • Completion of a high school
  • Completion of at least five Grade 12 courses
  • Minimum 65% grade average (75% for some programs)

The school offers you nine different bachelor degree options in faculties ranging from arts to commerce and fine arts. The school also has certificate and diploma programs for people who want to enter fields such as social work, child care and nursing. The Indigenous studies program is also another feature of UNBC, although students can also learn more about Indigenous languages and culture through diploma programs that are taught by Native instructors and faculty.

How to Get into Universities in BC

1. Exceed the Admission Requirements, Don’t Just Meet Them

Of course, you have to meet the specific admissions requirements of the school and program you want to apply to, but going beyond what is required will make you stand out. You have to get better grades than just the minimum. The median grade average for students admitted to universities in BC is between 80-90% so try to aim for that when completing your final years of high school. If you still haven’t hit that goal by the time you apply, you can try to upgrade your grades or take additional courses during the summer in the run-up to your applying or while your application is being processed.

2. Get Great Letters of Reference

Letters of reference are not usually part of how to get accepted to Canadian universities but the EducationPlannerBC lets you upload letters of reference, and other supplemental materials, so you should take advantage of this feature to make your application stand out. The most natural choice to write your letters of recommendation are the teachers who know you best, but if you are applying to a specific program (English; STEM or fine arts), try to get a letter from a teacher in that subject. Avoid asking personal contacts or anyone not associated with your studies, but you can ask other people involved in your academic journey from coaches to advisors and guidance counsellors, and one or two letters will be enough.

3. Write About Yourself in a Personal Statement or Other Supplemental Essays

The EducationPlannerBC application service lets you submit additional application materials, such as a personal statement, college letters of recommendation, and a college interest statement or something similar. While not required, these materials will help you stand out from those applicants who choose not to do them. You can use these essays to write about what your passionate about and how you’ve realized this passion during high school.

Write multiple drafts of a personal statement and try to answer questions such as “why should we accept you?”, “why this college?” and “tell me about yourself”. If you’re not sure how to start a college essay, start by writing about something personal to you and how it affected your decision to go to college or university. If that doesn’t help you can read this article about how to start a college essay and then start writing your own. 

4. Choose a School That’s Right for You

With so many universities in BC to choose from and in so many different settings, you need to choose a school that is right for you, and not simply the one with the best reputation. Sure, everyone knows about UBC and it is an excellent school, but maybe class size and faculty-to-student ratio is more important to you, which is something a school such as the University of Northern British Columbia excels at. However, the flipside of that is that UNBC’s student population is mostly (65%) from the region, so maybe it is not right for you if you want a more diverse student body or access to other educational and professional opportunities. If you have the time, and resources, you can always visit the campus to meet faculty and students, or, if you do not, you can do a virtual visit to get a better idea of what life will be like at these various places.

5. Explore the School’s Mission/Values/History

Apart from campus visits and speaking to a school’s advisors, you can learn a lot online about a particular school by reading about its history, mission and its “strategic plan”, although the latter may be too technical and laden with jargon. But if you read about why the school came into being, how it approaches education and professional development and what kind of social commitments it strives to embody, you may find that you agree with those values, and commitments. If you feel like a school embodies the same values as you, it will make it easier to decide, as you would not want to go to a school that does not share your values.


1. How many universities are in BC?

There are 12 public universities in BC, which do not count private universities, of which there are 7. Also, this figure does not count colleges in BC. 

2. What can you study at universities in BC?

You can study everything from philosophy and political science to business management and the Metis language in BC. The province’s variety of institutions means that whatever you are interested in, from being a nurse, doctor or teacher, you can learn in BC. 

3. What are the best universities in BC?

The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University are the two institutions most associated with the province, although it does not mean they are the “best”, only most well-known. The “best” university in BC for you could be any one of the schools we mentioned based on a variety of factors. 

4. What is the best university in BC for international students?

Again, the top universities in BC – UBC and Simon Fraser – are typically ranked as the best for international students, as they are the universities in BC that receive the most international applications. 

5. What GPA do you need to get into universities in BC?

You need at least a 60% grade average for at least five of your Grade 12 courses to apply, but each program and university will have their own minimum GPA requirements. 

6. How do I get into universities in BC as an international student?

You don’t have to go through any additional admission steps when you are applying as an international student other than having an official copy of your high school transcripts (translated into English if applicable) meeting the English language requirement (TOEFL scores, or completing high school in Canada), having a student visa or other permission to live and work in Canada and meeting the requirements of your specific program. 

7. How do I apply to universities in BC?

All universities and colleges in BC are moving toward using the Education Planner BC program, which is how you will apply to any post-secondary school in BC in the future. 

8. Is it hard to get into universities in BC?

No, it is not hard to get into universities in BC, especially if you meet and exceed the requirements, apply on time, and write great personal statements or other supplemental essays. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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