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How did I choose what to do in Level II?

Coming to McMaster, I had a vague idea of the specializations I was interested in pursuing in Level II. However, with the diversity of programs offered, I knew that no matter what I would be able to find the right specialization for me. Additionally, I knew I wanted to specialize further in Level III, but I wasn't too worried about that until I started Level II.

Picking my Level II specialization, I knew I wanted to pick a program that had courses I was interested in. That was my top priority, and a lot of my upper year friends suggested I do this. I narrowed down my choices to Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biochemistry, and Biology and PNB, because the courses stood out to me based on my interests in Level I. Thus, I suggest when looking at Year II specializations, to look at the programs courses and structure using the McMaster Undergraduate Calendar (

By doing this, I narrowed down my choices to Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Biochemistry. Furthermore, both these programs offered co-op, which interested me greatly, while Biology and PNB did not offer a co-op option ( Specifically, I love that co-op offers hands on learning experiences based on real-life challenges that arise in the workplace (Note: you apply for co-op once you’re in Year II, not Year I).

All the while, I was reaching out to many upper year students, asking for their opinions on the Year II specializations I was interested in. I definitely recommend doing this, because it gives you a holistic perspective on what you’d be doing in each program, which you cannot fully grasp only from program descriptions.

Finally, after completing all my research, which I had been doing for months, it was time to pick my first choice. However, I did not know how to choose. Both Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Biochemistry interested me greatly, and each had its own set of advantages and disadvantages. I simply did not know how to pick. Thus, I resorted to the only method left, picking the program that I would have been sad about missing out on, if I did not at least try it.

That program was Molecular Biology and Genetics. It just had something extra that made me feel it was the right choice, and I ended up being extremely happy with my decision. I do not know exactly what the extra element was; it was simply a gut feeling. What I learned through this experience is that sometimes you can do endless research, and you still won’t know what to do. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, and know that the decision you make is not permanent, and that it is possible to switch programs.

I wish everyone the best of luck picking Level II specializations! Please feel free to reach out to me through social media if you have any questions.

- Jessica Moreira

Molecular Biology and Genetics