Study abroad at UBC Okanagan

okanagan, campus, aerial, university way

UBC Okanagan’s world-class learning opportunities, close-knit campus community, and relaxed natural setting combine to offer exchange students from around the world an unforgettable study-abroad experience.

As a visiting exchange student you can:

  • Study at UBC for one or two terms (semesters)
  • Start your studies in September or January
  • Take a wide range of undergraduate or graduate courses
  • Spend a semester or two doing research here with one of our professors
  • Obtain credit for study at UBC towards your home university degree

 

Download the exchange brochure (PDF) for a quick look at exchanges at UBC Okanagan.

If you’ve been accepted to go on exchange to UBC’s Okanagan campus, explore the pre-arrival checklist.

UBC Okanagan

UBC’s Okanagan campus is a young, exciting, and rapidly growing university nestled in the middle of the stunning Okanagan Valley.

With small class sizes, it is easy to connect with professors who are often on first-name terms with students. UBC’s Okanagan campus also provides numerous opportunities for student involvement in research and hands-on experience in our abundant fields of study.

Our diverse campus community is active and close-knit, with many clubs, societies, and social opportunities providing ways to get involved. As an exchange student at UBC Okanagan, you will see that living and studying in the Okanagan Valley will be an amazing experience.

Go on a virtual tour

City of Kelowna

195,000 people in Kelowna’s metro area. One of Canada’s fastest growing cities—and getting younger. All of this within the stunning natural beauty of BC’s Okanagan Valley.

Learn more

Getting here

Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are located in the southern interior of British Columbia, just over 200 km (120 miles) north of the U.S. border and over 400 km (250 miles) from the Vancouver campus.

By air, Kelowna is a one-hour flight from Vancouver, Calgary, or Seattle. UBC’s Okanagan campus is just a few minutes away from the Kelowna International Airport (YLW) via taxi or car.

Residence living at UBC’s Okanagan campus supports you academically and socially, giving you unique opportunities to meet creative, intelligent people, and develop lifetime friendships.

Our campus community currently houses almost 1,700 students in a wide variety of accommodations: fully-furnished single rooms, semi-suites, quad units, studios, and one-bedroom apartments. Some residences have cooking facilities, while others offer a meal plan.

Accommodation on campus is prioritized for exchange students if you apply by the deadline. Housing is not guaranteed. See the housing website for appropriate deadlines.

There are many different options for residence and they all have very unique aspects. Determine the best fit for you on the housing website.

Apply to housing

UBC’s academic culture may be different from the culture at universities in your country. It is common for students to experience a drop in academic performance when on exchange. If this happens to you, don’t worry. It takes most students time to adjust to a new academic environment.

You can make your transition to life at UBC smoother in the following ways:

  • Be aware that a dip in grades might occur, and don’t panic if this happens.
  • Contact your instructors for tips on how to improve your grades.
  • Sign up for workshops and other academic support services on campus through Academic Advising, or many of the academic resources on campus.

Academic year at UBC

Most visiting exchange students attend UBC during the Winter Session (September to April). Winter Session consists of two terms: Term 1 (early September to late December) and Term 2 (early January to late April). Some exchange students attend UBC for one Winter Session term only. Students from the southern hemisphere may begin their exchange year in Term 2 (January).

Although you can extend your studies into the Summer Session (May to August), you cannot begin your studies during the Summer Session, nor can you study for the Summer Session only.

For a full list of important dates and deadlines, check the academic calendar.

Academic calendar

Program restrictions

Below are the programs and courses that have some restrictions to exchange students. Further course information can be obtained on UBC’s Course Schedule webpage and on the faculty websites.

Faculty Program/course Availability
Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies English Limited availability of first-year courses due to popularity.
Faculty of Education Education Education does not accept incoming exchange students.
Faculty of Health & Social Development Nursing Nursing does not accept incoming exchange students.

Course load requirements

At UBC, a full-time course load varies depending on the faculty and degree program. The average UBC undergraduate degree student registers in 15 credits per term (five courses), but some science and engineering students register in 18 credits (six courses) per term.

We recommend that you register in nine to fifteen credits per term while you are here. We are not able to advise exchange students about the minimum course load required by their home university.

Course numbers and levels

Undergraduate
100 to 199 First-year courses
200 to 299 Second-year courses
300 to 399 Third-year courses
400 to 499 Fourth-year courses
Graduate
500+ Postgraduate-level (supervision required)

At UBC, most undergraduate courses include three hours of class time per week. There are four main course formats:

Lectures

Most courses are offered as lectures. Lectures usually range from 50 to 80 minutes in length and may involve anywhere from 30 to 200 students.

Tutorials

Lecture courses also commonly have tutorials. They provide an opportunity for discussion in smaller groups. You will usually be expected to participate in these group discussions.

Labs

Many Science, Math, and Engineering courses at UBC have laboratory (lab) work, which includes practical activities in addition to lectures or tutorials. Labs require small-group work under the direction of a Teaching Assistant (TA). In some courses, you must pass the lab in order to pass the course. Labs and tutorials are usually mandatory and, in some cases, grades are given for attendance.

Seminars

Many graduate (and some upper-level undergraduate) courses follow a seminar format. These smaller classes are generally less formal, encourage discussion, and sometimes include presentations. Students are often given grades for their presentations and for verbal participation in class.

Instructors

If you’re an undergraduate student, you may find that Teaching Assistants (TA), in addition to professors, lead parts of your classes. The role of the TA varies in each class. Your TA may lead discussions, conduct labs, assist with lectures, grade assignments, hold office hours, or grade exams. TAs are usually graduate students at UBC.

Be sure to speak to your instructor (professor or TA) if you:

  • Can’t submit your assignment on time.
  • Don’t understand a concept that was covered in class.
  • Are feeling challenged by your course load due to circumstances outside of the course (such as difficulties with English).
  • Need more information about an essay, project, or other assignment.

Most instructors hold office hours (regular times they will be in their offices, during which you can drop by). Office hours give you a chance to meet with your instructor to discuss course materials, assignments, your questions, and any concerns. If you can’t drop by during office hours, schedule an appointment with your instructor for another time.

In Canada, student-faculty relationships tend to be informal and students call some instructors by their first names. Professors, however, don’t generally socialize with students, and it is not appropriate for instructors to date students. Instructors also don’t expect gifts from students and they may feel uncomfortable if presented with one.

Canadian students often challenge and question their instructors. This behaviour can seem rude to students from other countries, but in Canada, it is quite acceptable, even desirable at times, to respectfully disagree with your professor’s opinions.