Frequently Asked Questions

Prospective Students


The Global Resource Systems (GRS) program is a Bachelor of Science degree program which combines both arts and science courses. This program gives each student the flexibility to build their own degree around a region of the world and a resource from within the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. GRS graduates are well rounded, having challenged themselves academically by taking diverse courses offered throughout various faculties. In addition, graduates grow as a result of international and local experiences available within the program.

Global Resource Systems (GRS) is a "second-year entry" program. In order to apply for the GRS program:

  1. You should have an average grade on all completed university-level courses equal to at least 70% (or 2.80 on a 4-point scale). If you are taking university or college courses at the time you apply, UBC Admissions will wait to receive your transcript for these courses and the grades received for them will be included in your average.
  2. You should be enrolled in (or have completed) first year. "First-year" is defined as the equivalent of 24 UBC credits of university-level courses. A full load for first-year students at UBC is 30 credits. See Preparing for Global Resources Systems: First-year Courses for details.

GRS is a second-year entry program; therefore, students can only apply if they will have completed 24 credits before their preferred start date. Typically, students apply to GRS between December and February so they can begin the GRS program in September. The application deadline is January 15. Most students apply during their first year of university or college, although it is possible to apply during or after second year.

No, you can transfer into the GRS program from local or international colleges or universities.

Program Requirements

"First, you must meet UBC’s General Admission requirements, including the English Language Requirement and the High School Requirements. Detailed information can be found here

Second, you must meet the program-specific requirements (select Agroecology or Food, Nutrition and Health).

If you attended an international high school, please visit here. Visit the International Student Guide for more information for incoming international students.

For first-year requirements for the GRS program, visit here.

It is advantageous to complete as many requirements as you can during your first year of university or college. Because GRS students come from different backgrounds, it is common for students to enter the program without having completed all of the required first-year courses. This is not a problem as any first-year gaps can be filled after you enter the GRS program. For example, if you were enrolled in first-year Arts and lack Biology and Chemistry, you can take these courses in your first year in GRS.

You can apply to one of the following Faculties and programs at UBC, and later apply to GRS when you meet the two requirements:

  • Faculty of Land & Food Systems
    • B.Sc. (Applied Biology)
    • B.Sc. Food Nutrition, and Health (FNH)
  • Faculty of Arts
    • BA (Various programs)
  • Faculty of Science
    • B.Sc.

Course Based Information

Students coming to UBC for first-year should apply to either the Applied Biology or Food, Nutrition and Health (FNH) programs in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Otherwise, students can complete first-year courses within the Faculty of Arts or the Faculty of Science. 

Students enrolled in the Langara College Environmental Studies Diploma should review the UBC Calendar for information relevant to them. Students should try to complete as many of the first-year requirements for GRS in their first year of studies, but first-year gaps can be filled after you enter the GRS program.

You should apply to the GRS program with a focus, having thought out what region and resource you would like to concentrate on during your time in the program. This should be communicated in your Letter of Intent when applying to the program.

For the region specialization, students can choose to narrow their focus to one city or region or broaden their focus to encompass a country or continent. Region specializations can be developed by taking relevant courses at UBC or partner universities, as well as international or local placements.

Options include Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and The Americas.

Options include, but are not limited to:

  • Environment
  • Food and Resource Economics
  • Global Health and Nutrition
  • First Nations and Indigenous Studies
  • Food Security
  • International Trade and Development
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Animal Behaviour and Welfare
  • Planning and Sustainability
  • Horticulture
  • Organic Agriculture
  • Resource-Based Tourism and Viticulture


Current Students

Regional Specialization

This is a good question to ask, but should not form the basis for choosing your regional specialization. There will be job opportunities in each of these regions, as well as in Canada because Canada has active trade and other links with these regions. It's also important to note that you are not limited to those six regions listed above. Choose the region that interests you the most - follow your passion!

For example, if I choose the Americas because I am interested in Mexico, should I take as many courses as possible about Mexico, or take more general courses about Latin America?
Both ways have advantages, so a combination is best. A more in-depth understanding of one country is useful, but regional awareness is increasingly important.

There are two things you can do. One is to choose global courses that are relevant to your region. For example, if there is no economics/business course specific to Asia, such as the Economic Development of Japan, you can use a more general International Economics course. Out of the 18 regional credits, a maximum of 9 credits of global courses (not specific to your region) can be used. This ensures that at least 9 credits of your regional courses will relate specifically to your region and thus will give you some more fundamental understanding about your region.
The other thing you can do is make sure you take some of your regional courses while on exchange.  Even if it is a global course and not specific to Asia, such as International Economics, if you take it while on exchange in Japan it will no doubt involve perspectives and insights from the specific region.

Resource Specializations

In GRS, you (the student) are in charge of mapping out a program that fits your interests, background, and learning objectives. If a resource specialization makes academic sense for you, then it will be possible under GRS. For example, if you want to follow a resource specialization such as Sustainable Agriculture and Health, which is not listed, then map out the courses you would like to take, and discuss your plan with your Academic Program Advisor. In these current times, combining fields – such as Sustainable Agriculture and Health – makes sense because of the increasingly interdisciplinary and integrated approaches currently practiced. 

In the case of Applied Biology, if you want to take as many Applied Biology courses as possible, you should probably choose the B.Sc. (APBI) degree program. But if you want to study Applied Biology in a broader global context, then GRS is probably the right choice for you. The main difference is that in GRS you need to take social science courses that relate to your region of interest. Thus, you will be able to take fewer Applied Biology courses, but you will gain regional knowledge, language skills and cultural awareness to supplement your knowledge of Applied Biology. 
Note that if you choose the B.Sc. (APBI) or the B.Sc. (FNH), you can still obtain global experience by participating in international learning opportunities. An exchange will give you new perspectives and insights on your area (APBI or FNH) from studying at a different university and living in a different culture.

It depends on your interests. More depth in the environmental area will be better for some jobs, while more breadth plus global exposure from the GRS program will be better for other jobs. For example, the Fraser River Estuary Association may want more environmental depth, whereas the Vancouver Parks Authority may want someone who has environmental training but also understands what parks mean to different cultures. It is also useful to think about what happens if funding in the environmental area declines and your job is eliminated in two years time. Long term, the breadth and global perspectives provided by GRS will make you more adaptable for a wider variety of jobs.  

If you know that you want to pursue a Master’s degree in a particular area, such as Food Science, you are probably better to do a Bachelor’s degree in FNH with a major in Food Science or a double major in Food and Nutritional Sciences.  However, most students who are just starting their undergraduate degree program and anticipating going on for a Master’s are not sure what specific area they would want to specialize in for the Master’s. GRS offers a lot of flexibility, not only for the job market but also for further studies. You could go on to a Master’s degree in a number of different areas, including Agricultural Economics, Business Administration, International Relations, Resource Management Science, as well as Food Science.  
If you choose GRS and want to prepare yourself for a Master in Food Science, the important thing is to discuss courses early on with your Program Advisor to ensure that you take the most appropriate courses in your resource specialization. Because GRS requires you to take social science courses that relate to your area of interest, you will not take as many food science courses as students from food science undergraduate programs. Thus, you will likely have to take upper level, undergraduate food science courses in your first semester as a graduate student. This may mean that by taking GRS you lose one semester of time. Nonetheless, it is common for students entering graduate school to have to pick up a few undergraduate courses in preparation for the Master’s degree.

Global Experience

For most GRS students, an exchange fits in well with their learning objectives, and they benefit immensely from it. If your region is the Americas, your exchange could be to another Canadian university or another university or college in British Columbia. While most students choose an exchange to meet the global experience requirement, there are other ways of meeting it, such as through an internship or a service-based learning project. The “mandatory” aspect is that GRS students get away from the UBC campus for at least 3-4 months and have a different learning experience in a region of their choosing.

Unfortunately, this experience cannot be used to meet the global experience requirement. The global experience requirement is intended to be an integral and planned part of your program and must be pre-approved by your Program Advisor.  Most students coming into GRS already have global experience. They build on it with additional experience through the GRS program.

While this would be unfortunate, there are still some options available to you:
 (a) You could choose another country in the Asia & Oceania Region as your second choice for exchange; e.g. Australia, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines or Thailand.
 (b) Our partner in Japan, the Tokyo University of Agriculture, is offering a program in “Agriculture, Environment and Food Safety” that is taught in English.

It is possible. However, one semester abroad has been proven to be too short to be immersed in another culture. You will get much more out of the experience if you can spend a full academic year (two semesters) on exchange.

Students in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems are allowed to go to two different exchange partners. For most students, it is not desirable to split their exchange. One semester is too short to really get oriented into your new academic environment and culture. In some cases, an academic argument can be made to split the exchange. For example, if your regional specialization is Asia and your resource specialization is Organic Agriculture, it may make sense to spend one semester in Asia (for your regional specialization), and one semester in Europe (for your resource specialization) because it is one of the few places that you can take courses in Organic Agriculture. 

That is not only possible but desirable. Study tours, field studies, academic exchange and internships all provide different learning experiences. Going on a study tour to Japan or Mexico would be a good way to get introduced to these countries before going there on the Student Exchange Program. Similarly, doing a work internship abroad after you have completed your academic exchange will provide work experience to complement your academic experience.

It depends on where you want to work, and what you want to do. The GRS program has developed a series of contacts and partners that can offer internships to GRS students, so you should discuss your internship plans with the GRS Program Advisor or Director. If you want to do a work internship in a place where the GRS program does not have contacts, then it will be up to you to make the arrangements and have them pre-approved by your Program Advisor. In all cases, it is important to discuss your learning objectives for an internship with your Program Advisor well before making any arrangements.

This will depend on your situation and the opportunities that exist for internships pre-graduation versus post-graduation.  One advantage of incorporating an internship in your GRS program is that the work experience gives added relevance to the courses you will take to complete your degree. A disadvantage is that your undergraduate degree may take longer to complete, whereas an academic exchange does not cost you in time because you can transfer back full credit.  While many GRS students do not mind taking an extra semester or two if they are getting good work experience, time is a consideration for others. 
Another consideration is the difficulty/ease of getting an internship after graduation. Many times even volunteer agencies require some international work experience before granting internships. Therefore, you would be ahead of the game if you have completed an internship within your undergrad program.  
On the other hand, some internship opportunities require to have already graduated. One such opportunity currently available for Canadian citizens is the Youth International Internship Program (YIIP).  Because of the opportunity (and pay) offered by YIIP, as a Canadian citizen, it is probably in your interest to postpone your internship until after graduating from GRS.


In the Philippines, people primarily speak Filipino and English, as well as other local languages. Courses at the University of the Philippines are taught in English. Unfortunately, UBC does not offer courses in Filipino. However, if possible, you should study Filipino before or during your exchange, as it will enable you to get more out of your stay and to interact at a different level with locals. If you are unable to study Filipino, you can use any other language spoken in Asia (e.g. Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Punjabi) to meet the language requirement. Spanish can also be used because Filipino is about 50% Spanish, and Spanish is a language spoken widely in the  Pacific Rim.

In Malaysia, people speak Bahasa Malay and English. Because Bahasa Indonesian and Bahasa Malay are strikingly similar, you should take Indonesian at UBC (INDO 101 and 102). You can build on this by taking an intensive course in Bahasa Malay when you get to Malaysia.

Yes, you can use any language relevant to the Asia region (except English). Although you could use your Cantonese to meet the language requirement, you are encouraged to improve your language skills in one way or another. You could take credit courses at UBC or your exchange university to improve your Cantonese, or take 12 credits of another Asian language.  Alternatively, some of our exchange partners offer non-credit language courses.  The important thing with the language requirement is not the 12 credits, but rather improving your language skills in a way that will enhance your exchange experience and/or improve your job prospects. 

GRS is for students who view language as an integral part of their undergraduate program. Nearly all GRS students have viewed the language requirement as an opportunity to improve their language skills, not as a requirement to get done with.