Adding Business to a Science Degree
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Written By Komal Patel
Hi! I’m Komal, a third year student pursuing a dual degree in Medical Sciences (Medsci) and Business at Ivey Business School. I’ll focus on first year Medsci and Western for this article because I was never an AEO student, but I will talk about changing programs and why I chose to do that.
First Year Medsci Courses
In first year, you pretty much have to take chemistry, physics, biology, and math both semesters, with one elective. Most people take 2 semesters of psychology to pre-emptively prepare for the MCAT, but I didn’t do this for a few reasons:
I wanted a more chill course that I was interested in
My elective wasn’t memorization-heavy and allowed me to focus on getting higher grades in my science courses
The MCAT focuses on social psychology, which you can take in second year with no prerequisite
I took Spanish as my elective, and I loved it! I would recommend branching out into interest-based courses for your elective because it’s helpful to have a more chill course, or something that you’re really interested in learning about. That being said, psychology is still a very interesting course, so if you’re interested in it, go ahead and take it. It’s also a prerequisite for some upper year psych courses, so bear that in mind.
Study Habits for Medsci
I can’t stress enough how important it is to develop a good work ethic and study habits in first year — it really helps you out when second year doubles your workload. Some of the strategies that worked for me included:
Making flashcards on the textbook and lectures for biology courses — this allowed me to test myself later, instead of passively reading notes
Re-listening to lectures and taking notes in biology — they record them for you, but that doesn’t mean you should skip class!
Doing all the practice problems for math and physics — I wasn’t as strong in these subjects, so doing a lot of practice problems helped prepare me better for the exams
Doing practice problems and going to the lectures in chemistry
Making use of office hours and TA review sessions — this was super helpful in anticipating what to focus on for exams
Taking breaks — I used a 50/10 mins or 25/5 mins schedule for work and breaks, and this allowed me to remain focused for longer periods of time
Not spending every second of my study time at the library — I liked to switch it up! Studying in residence, other buildings, and other cool study spots on campus made grinding through work a lot less monotonous
Adding on an HBA (Ivey Business) Degree
In my second year, I decided to apply for Ivey and take the prerequisite course, Business 2257, the summer between second and third year. As a medsci student, I had never had a strong interest in going to medical school, and in second year I found myself getting bored with the constant memorization that my courses demanded. I had heard that Ivey teaches using a very application-based method, and a year into my HBA degree, I’m happy to say that I made the right choice. I love how Ivey has exposed me to a broader worldview and opportunities beyond the realm of grad school or professional school.
I haven’t dropped my medsci degree — I’ll be graduating university with both degrees, completed over the course of 5 years, as opposed to one degree completed over 4 years. The dual degree program is structured as follows: 2 years of any degree, 1 year of just Ivey, and then 2 years where you’re taking Ivey and (in my case) medsci courses.
Making the decision to switch or add degrees is never easy, but my best advice is to constantly look out for opportunities, and to seize the ones that feel right for you. First year me would never have dreamed that I’d be in a business program one day, but getting the best of both worlds with science and business has been fantastic for my growth both academically and personally.
Advice for my First Year Self
More contact with professors and TAs: this helps a lot when looking for research positions, because who knows professors and research departments better than other professors?
Take advantage of resources on campus: from resume and essay help to wellness education, free tutoring and review sessions, there’s so much that Western offers their students to set them up for success.
Be proactive about securing a research position: it could be washing glassware in a lab, summarizing articles, or a million other tedious things, but your first research position opens the door to your next one, and so on. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic position in second year, but getting in earlier would have been great.
Get more involved: first year is hard. Being away from home, handling 5 courses at once, and figuring out a social circle all take up time. That being said, getting involved in one of Western’s 200+ clubs ended up giving me a family away from home, and I wish I’d been active in more extracurriculars in that first year.
Don’t be too hard on yourself: I learned super late into first year that I wasn’t slacking if I took some time for myself. For some people this means writing, drawing, going to the gym, or joining intramurals. Taking breaks made me more energized to work, and ended up improving the quality of my schoolwork.
That’s all from me, I hope that you found my perspective helpful! If you have any additional questions for me, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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