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Doctoral Degrees

An applicant may apply for admission to the degree program by reviewing application requirements on the websites of the graduate program and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and completing the online application available on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

Students are normally admitted to study only in fields that are formally authorized by Senate to offer doctoral programs. All applications must be accompanied by an application fee at the time of submission. Consult the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for current information on admissions and application fees.

The number of students that can be accommodated is limited and graduate programs will accept the best qualified students as vacancies occur. Most students begin their program of study at the start of the Winter Session (the beginning of September) but other start dates may be available, depending on the specific program. Limitations on the number of students that can be accommodated require that applicants be selected well before the start date. Students are encouraged to submit applications for admission as early as possible.

Applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) must have completed one of the following requirements prior to admission:

  1. In the case of the Ph.D., a master's degree (or equivalent) from an approved institution with clear evidence of research ability or potential, or in the case of the D.M.A., a master's degree (or equivalent) from an approved institution with outstanding ability in performance or composition.
  2. In the case of the Ed.D., a master's degree in Education (or equivalent degree) from an approved institution.
  3. A bachelor's degree with one year of study in a master's program with 9 credits at the 500-level or above and of first class standing. Students entering the doctoral program after partial completion of the master’s degree must, during the first two years of study at the graduate level, complete a total of 12 credits with a first-class average (of which at least 9 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 9 credits must be of first-class standing) to maintain registration as a doctoral student. Also:
    1. (for Ph.D.) clear evidence of research ability or potential;
    2. (for Ph.D., Elementary Education) first class standing in Teacher Training or a B.Ed.;
    3. (for Ed.D.) first class standing and first class standing in such prerequisite work as may have been required, and five years professional experience; or
    4. (for D.M.A.) outstanding ability in performance or composition.

    Transfer directly into a doctoral program is normally accomplished after completion of the first year of study at the master's level and will not be permitted after completion of the second year.
  4. In exceptional cases, applicants who hold a bachelor's degree with an overall average in the A grade range and who demonstrate advanced research ability may be granted direct admission to a doctoral degree program on recommendation of the admitting graduate program and approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Students entering directly from a bachelor's degree must, during the first two years of study, complete a total of 12 credits with a first class average, of which at least 9 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 9 credits must be of first class standing, to maintain registration as a doctoral student.

Individuals of Aboriginal ancestry are encouraged to apply. Additional information for Aboriginal applicants to graduate programs can be found on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

Students with Credentials from International Institutions

Applications for admission to doctoral programs at UBC are welcomed and encouraged from students who hold a credential deemed comparable to a Canadian master's degree and who demonstrate superior academic standing. Specific minimum admission requirements established by the Faculty for graduates of different countries may be found at Graduate Studies Admissions. These are minimum requirements; specific programs may have higher requirements.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must present evidence of competency to pursue studies in the English language prior to being extended an unconditional offer of admission. English language proficiency tests taken more than two years prior to application will not be considered. Unless otherwise stated, the score is the minimum on each part of the examination. Minimum scores must be achieved in a single sitting of the test (i.e., scores across multiple instances of a test may not be used to satisfy minimum component requirements). Minimum acceptable English language proficiency scores for applicants to Graduate Studies are:

  • CAE (Certificate in Advanced English): B
  • CAEL (Canadian Academic English Language Assessment): overall 70, with 60 on the speaking sub-test
  • CEL (UBC Certificate in English Language): 600
  • CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program)
          CELPIT-A (Academic Reading and Writing): 4L
          CELL (Listening): 4L
          CELTOP (Speaking): 4L
  • CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English): C
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System - Academic): 6.5 with no part less than 6.0
  • MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery): 85 final score, with 3 in the speaking test
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): 65 overall score, with 60 reading, 60 writing, 60 listening, and 60 speaking
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
          either the paper based test: 55 each for reading, listening, and writing, with 4.0 on the
          Test of Written English (TWE);
          or the internet-based test: 90 overall score, with 22 reading, 21 writing, 22 listening, and
          21 speaking

Individual graduate programs may require higher English language proficiency scores than those listed above. See English Language Proficiency Standards and GRE Requirements.

Conditional Admission Program

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies may extend a conditional offer of admission to a highly-qualified graduate applicant who does not quite meet the minimum English language proficiency requirement set by the graduate program to which the student has applied.

A conditional admission allows a student to obtain a study permit (if necessary) and begin their studies in the UBC English Language Institute (ELI) or an equivalent institution approved by the Provost. Upon successful completion of the prescribed terms of study in the ELI Intensive Academic English Program (or pre-approved, equivalent alternative), the student will proceed directly into the graduate degree program.

To be eligible for the Conditional Admission Program (CAP), the applicant must:

  • possess a "first-class average" (or established equivalent) in a degree deemed as an eligible basis for admission, OR have academic qualifications that would have ranked them in the top 33% of students admitted to the graduate program to which they are applying, for the year prior to the date of their application;
  • have English language proficiency, demonstrated via an accepted test, that can reasonably be expected to be brought up to the standard required by the graduate program to which the student has applied by completing ELI (or accepted equivalent) training in no more than a year; and
  • be recommended for the CAP by a UBC graduate program.

In recommending conditional admission, graduate programs guarantee a student admission at the date specified in the admission letter, assuming the student's successful completion of the terms of the ELI program (or approved equivalent). Students admitted via the CAP are not allowed to make academic progress toward their graduate degree before they successfully complete the English language training program and are admitted without condition to the graduate program.

Required Documentation

The following information is required for the application and admission process for the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies:

  • Graduate Studies Application Form (online system).
  • Application fee.
  • Three confidential reference reports. Reports must be uploaded by the referees directly to the online application system, or sent by post (must contain original signature and be received in sealed envelopes endorsed by referees).
  • Transcripts/Academic Records. Upon initial application, applicants must provide copies of their academic records for all postsecondary institutions they have attended. These required records (and translations if necessary) may initially be provided as electronic copies of official documents which are uploaded by the applicant to the online application system. Some graduate programs may also require official paper documents to be submitted as part of the initial application process. Conditional admission offers may be made based on unofficial documents. However, admission offers will not be finalized and applicants will not be allowed to register in a graduate program until all required official academic records are received and validated by the University. To finalize an admission offer and allow registration, official transcripts must be received by the University for every postsecondary institution an applicant has attended, unless otherwise indicated to an individual applicant by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. To be considered official, academic records must be received either in official university envelopes, sealed and endorsed by the issuing institution, or be sent via secure electronic delivery by the issuing institution. If transcripts are not issued in English, official academic records in original language and certified English translation are required (if originals cannot be obtained by applicant, then attested, certified copies of originals are acceptable). If the official transcript does not indicate the degree name and the degree conferral date, an official copy of the degree certificate is required.
  • Evidence of adequate English proficiency where applicable (TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB are all acceptable).
  • Supplementary information as may be required by admitting graduate program (e.g. GRE, statement of intent, research proposal, etc.).

Types of Admission Offers

Admission to the Ph.D., D.M.A. or Ed.D. program will be in one of the following categories:

  1. Unconditional admission. Granted when the applicant meets all admission requirements and all final official documentation has been received. Applicants who have a bachelor's degree, or its academic equivalent, which does not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience to offset such deficiencies, may be granted admission on the recommendation of the appropriate graduate program or faculty and approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  2. Conditional admission. Contains condition(s) that must be met before an offer can be considered final. Such conditions may include the provision of official transcripts or other academic records, final documentation showing degree conferred, or completion of the terms of the Conditional Admission Program. Admission offers will not be finalized and an applicant will not be allowed to register in a graduate program until the University receives and validates the required official documentation which substantiates scanned documents previously submitted in the online system. The Letter of Admission stipulates deadlines as to when the conditions must be met. Failure to meet an admission condition by stated deadlines will normally result in an admission offer being revoked, or a student being required to withdraw from the program.

International Students

Students who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents must apply for a study permit (student visa) to enter Canada. Applications can be made at any Canadian Consulate or High Commission.

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