What courses do you need to get into engineering?

Students in Red at Engineering Welcome

If you’re thinking about studying engineering, it’s good to know what the prerequisites are so that you can meet the admissions criteria. Taking the high school courses you’ll need will enable you to keep all your options open when it comes time to apply to university.

Required courses

If you are a few years away from applying to university and you are even slightly interested in choosing engineering as your major, be sure to take earlier-grade physics, math and chemistry courses so that you can complete the higher-level courses later on in high school.

UBC Admissions is where you’ll find information about admissions requirements, which vary depending on whether you are a domestic or international student. The short answer is that you will need to have the equivalent of English 12, Precalculus 12, Chemistry 12 and Physics 12

UBC Admissions is also the place to learn about specific requirements if you are an Aboriginal student, international student, are pursuing the International Baccalaureate diploma or if you have completed Advanced Placement courses.


Why you need pre-requisites

Of all the majors you can choose in university, engineering has very specific requirements for entry.

Each university has its own admissions requirements, and each degree program will have its own criteria. Each Faculty or program wants to make sure that incoming students have the knowledge and aptitude to succeed in their field.

That’s because engineering touches virtually every aspect of our world, and the challenges that engineers address require creative problem-solvers with wide-ranging knowledge.

By completing the required high school courses for admission, you are demonstrating that you are comfortable with the concepts and ways of thinking that will enable you to be an engineer. But don’t worry! You don’t have to be an expert in these courses or even at the top of your class to do well in engineering.

Here’s a quick overview of the courses that are fundamental to engineering:


Math is the foundation of a lot of engineering work. Engineers apply math in many different scenarios, from using calculus and statistical models to calculate loads on a building or develop techniques to grow spinal cord cells. Engineers also use math to determine if a potential solution is feasible from an economic point of view.

Mend The Gap

Your high school math courses provide a great foundation for the math you’ll learn and use as an engineering student. (Note that unlike some engineering programs, UBC Engineering doesn’t require you to have taken calculus in high school.)

Being able to think mathematically is an important skill for higher-level engineering courses, which is why UBC Engineering students take three math classes in first year.


Students applying to UBC Engineering need to have taken Physics 12 or its equivalent. Why do you need physics? Physics is essential for many engineering disciplines and you’ll use it in countless ways, whether you’re designing more resilient infrastructure to withstand the effects of climate change, creating a prosthetic hand, working as an electrical engineer or developing new quantum materials.

You’ll take several physics classes in first year. These courses are designed specifically for engineering students to give you the foundational physics knowledge you’ll need no matter what engineering specialization you choose.


Engineers use chemistry to develop low-carbon solutions, design processes to make fossil-free materials, remove “forever chemicals” from our water systems, create DNA event-recording technology and much more. You’ll take a first-year chemistry course to give you the fundamental knowledge you’ll need for engineering.


Engineers need to be able to clearly explain their ideas and innovations to technical and non-technical experts alike. As an engineer, you need to know how to write clearly and concisely, present your arguments logically and coherently, and communicate effectively in groups. You’ll have learned some of these skills in high school in your English courses, and in first year you’ll take a course on communication for engineers.

Why Engineers Make Great Leader

It’s all integrated!

No matter what engineering specialization you pursue, you’ll be applying your knowledge of chemistry, physics and math to come up with innovative solutions to challenging problems. And the communication, collaboration and interpersonal skills you’ll learn will enable you to successfully contribute to projects and advance in your career.

An Engineering student in the middle of a presentation

Why Engineering is the most versatile degree

Engineering stands out as the most versatile undergraduate degree due to its interdisciplinary curriculum, critical thinking focus, and adaptability to various industries.

Even if you don’t end up pursuing a career in engineering, you’ll graduate with a strong foundation of knowledge – and strategies for solving problems – that can be applied in medicine, law, entrepreneurship, research, teaching and other fields.

First Year Foundational Courses

Don’t have the pre-reqs or GPA?

If you don’t meet the requirements of Chemistry 12 and Physics 12 (or their equivalents), you can still apply to UBC Engineering. All applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Don’t meet the grade point average? There are several paths to becoming a UBC Engineering student. We have a transfer program in place with nine partner universities and colleges. If you complete the transfer program and meet the requirements, you can be admitted directly into second-year engineering at UBC. Read our Transfer Q&A to learn more about this option. If you are an Indigenous student, the Langara Indigenous Transfer Partnership could be another pathway to consider.

Transfer Q&A

Start planning your future

It’s never too early to start thinking about what you might want to study in university and ensuring you have the requirements to make that a reality. Learn more about choosing a career path that matches your talents and interests and the main differences between choosing engineering or science as your major. Given that you’ll need senior-level math, chemistry and physics to be eligible for UBC Engineering and other STEM fields, why not keep all your options open by enrolling in these courses (and their pre-requisites) early on in high school?

Picking your path - Engineering or Science?

An engineering student at the Design and Innovation day exhibit

Why Engineering is a profession of the future

Due to its capacity to handle global difficulties, ongoing innovation, the versatility of skills, and the high demand for their expertise, engineering is an appealing profession for the future. At UBC, aspiring engineers have the chance to have a substantial impact on society and pursue a rewarding profession.

An engineering student at the Design and Innovation day exhibit

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Design & Innovation Day, Kai Jacobson

Start Your Future at UBC Engineering

You may not know yet if you’re interested in leading an organization. But one thing is certain. Starting your future at UBC Engineering will give you a well-balanced education and sought-after skills – the first step and the foundation for a challenging and rewarding career.

Undergraduate Admissions


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