How arts stream students can get science degree - Feature
8 Dec 2017

Are You an Arts Stream Student? Here’s How You Can Still Pursue a Science Degree

You may have been a happy camper as an Arts stream student in Form 4 and Form 5, but have you toyed with the idea of pursuing a Science-related degree in your tertiary education?

While being in the Arts stream is rife with misconceptions (e.g. Arts stream students are less intelligent than their Science stream counterparts, which is completely untrue), we’re here to tell you that it’s not too late to change your mind and prove the naysayers wrong!

Here’s how you can pursue a Science-related degree after SPM.

A word of caution: Certain Science Degree programmes such as Medicine have stringent requirements.

#1. Pursue a diploma programme

How arts stream students can get science degree - 1 Pursue a diploma programme

A science-related diploma is a great option for Arts students if all you have is a background in General Science at SPM level and not in any Pure Science subjects. For example, if you’ve set your mind on pursuing Engineering, one of your options is to pursue a Diploma in Engineering with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics and Science.

This is unlike pre-university courses such as A-Level, Australian Matriculation and STPM, where you must have taken SPM Pure Science subjects such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry in order to take these same subjects at A-Level or equivalent.

If you take this diploma route, you can either enter the workforce after completing your diploma or continue to a degree, where you can enter Year 2 of the programme if you have obtained the required CGPA.

#2. Enrol in the Canadian Pre-University Programme

How arts stream students can get science degree - 2 Enrol in the Canadian Pre-University Programme

Another option you can consider when pursuing your Science Degree is to enrol in a Canadian Pre-University (CPU) programme, either locally or abroad.

CPU is equivalent to 12th Grade in a Canadian high school and requires you to take 6 subjects over a duration of 12 to 15 months, including English. A CPU qualification is well recognised, with many students gaining entry into universities in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, among others.

What makes this programme different from the other pre-university programmes such as A-Level and Australian Matriculation is that CPU offers Grade 11 Pure Science subjects. These act as a replacement to your missing SPM Pure Science subjects, subsequently allowing you to pursue a Science Degree.

However, this means that you will be taking more subjects than your Science stream peers, and that your duration of study with CPU will be longer. In addition, not all colleges in Malaysia offer Grade 11 subjects, so be sure to check.

#3. Consider an American Degree Program (ADP)

How arts stream students can get science degree - 3 Consider an American Degree Program (ADP)

The American Degree Program (ADP) is a 4-year programme with a direct entry into university level from SPM. Many ADP courses in Malaysia enable you to transfer to universities abroad to complete your studies in the USA or Canada (e.g. 1+3 or 2+2).

ADP is a flexible course where you can choose a wide range of subjects for your general courses (generally completed within your first 2 years in university, alongside your core courses), including English, Social Science, Mathematics and Science, before progressing deeper into your major courses from your third year onwards.

The ADP can enable you to pursue a Science Degree since you can build a solid foundation in Science subjects through the programme’s general courses. From there, you can progress to a Science Degree by taking more advanced Science modules.

It’s important to note that entry requirements may differ between universities, so it’s best to do your research.

#4. Retake your SPM

How arts stream students can get science degree - 4 Retake your SPM

If you’re determined to pursue a Science-related degree that requires you to have SPM-level Pure Science subjects, you may want to retake SPM as a private candidate.

Instead of returning to secondary school and start all over again, what you can do is to register as a private candidate and self-study the subjects you want to take before sitting for the exam in November. It is worth noting that SPM Ulangan (usually held in June) is only applicable for Bahasa Malaysia, Mathematics and History only.

So if the entry requirements to enrol in a Chemical Engineering Degree requires you to have a pass in at least one Pure Science subject, such as Chemistry, you’ll need to sit for the subject and pass it.

Bear in mind that because you will be sitting for SPM again, you’ll not only delay your enrolment in college, but your friends will also have at least a year’s head start by the time you receive your second SPM results.

Bonus: Check out these science-related options

How arts stream students can get science degree - Bonus - Check out some of these science-related options

Contrary to popular belief, Science Degrees are not limited to courses such as Medicine or Dentistry — there are other courses that award you with a Bachelor of Science (BSc.).

Here are some Science courses that you can consider enrolling in with your SPM Arts qualification.

Caveat: Do note that we’ve curated the following based on a combination of general guidelines from universities and MQA guidelinesCertain universities may have higher entry requirements than stated here, so do your research before making a decision!
CourseRecommended Pathway & Requirements
Actuarial ScienceSome universities accept Foundation in Arts/Foundation in Business, which you can enter with your SPM Arts qualification.
ArchitectureTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics, English and a Drawing subject (i.e. Art).

Some universities accept Foundation in Arts, which you can enter with your SPM Arts qualification.
Bioscience (Biochemistry, Biotechnology)Take the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including English, Bahasa Malaysia and General Science.
Computer ScienceTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics or Additional Mathematics, Bahasa Malaysia and History.

Some universities accept Foundation in Arts, which you can enter with your SPM Arts qualification.
Dental TechnologyTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including Bahasa Malaysia, Mathematics and General Science.

Important: You will not be able to progress to a Degree in Dentistry by taking a Diploma in Dental Technology.
DentistryRetake SPM with a minimum of 5Bs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics or Additional Mathematics. Progress to a pre-university course or Foundation in Science, and then a Degree in Dentistry.
EngineeringTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics, English and General Science.
Medical ImagingTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including English, Bahasa Malaysia and General Science.
Medical Laboratory TechnologyTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including English, Bahasa Malaysia and General Science.
MedicineRetake SPM with a minimum of 5Bs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics or Additional Mathematics. Progress to a pre-university course or Foundation in Science, and then a Degree in Medicine.
NursingTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including Bahasa Malaysia, Mathematics and General Science.
OptometryRetake SPM with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including 2 Pure Science subjects or Mathematics, and English, Bahasa Malaysia and History.
PharmacyRetake SPM with a minimum of 5Bs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics or Additional Mathematics. Progress to a pre-university course or Foundation in Science, and then a Degree in Pharmacy.
PhysiotherapyTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 5 credits in SPM, including Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics and General Science.
PsychologyTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics, General Science and English.

Some universities accept Foundation in Arts, which you can enter with your SPM Arts qualification.
Quantity SurveyingTake the diploma pathway with a minimum of 3 credits in SPM, including Mathematics, Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Pro Tip: Not all universities’ programmes are structured the same! We strongly recommend that you read through each university’s entry requirements thoroughly before applying. Alternatively, reach out to us at [email protected] for free counselling services.

Given the misconceptions surrounding Arts stream students, remember not to force yourself to give in to societal pressure by feeling like you’re not smart enough to pursue a Science course and abandon your hopes altogether.

While there may be many factors to consider when choosing between an Arts or Science degree, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your passion. After all, your future is your own, so go out there and make it happen!

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