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Soil Science

Degrees Offered: Ph.D., M.Sc., M.L.W.S.


Professors Emeriti

L. M. Lavkulich, H. E. Schreier.


A. Black, C. Chanway, S. Grayston.

Associate Professors

M. Krzic.

Assistant Professor

S. M. Smukler.

Program Overview

Soil Science offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees in the areas of soil microbial ecology, organic matter, soil physics, irrigation and drainage, biometeorology, soil pollution, soil and water conservation, soil management, and land use, with application to forest, agricultural, urban, and range soils, as well as a professional Master of Land and Water Systems (M.L.W.S.) degree. The Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees include a combination of courses in both basic and applied sciences, with research leading to the completion of a thesis/dissertation. The M.L.W.S. degree is intended for students seeking a post-baccalaureate degree for professional practice in the land and water resources management realm. The program is designed to be completed in one calendar year.

Soil Sciences programs are enriched through collaboration with: colleagues in other graduate programs, such as Forestry, Geography, Plant Science, Institute for Resources and Environment, Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems, and Landscape Architecture; and agencies such as Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, BC Ministry of Forests and Range, and other provincial, municipal, and regional government agencies.

Research facilities are housed both within the MacMillan and Forest Sciences Buildings and, on a shared basis, in other buildings on campus. Research facilities within the MacMillan Building include modern analytical laboratories and other equipment for conducting chemical and biometeorological research, while excellent facilities for soil biological research are located in the Forest Sciences Centre.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program normally possess an M.Sc. degree in soil science or a related area, with clear evidence of research ability or potential. Transfer from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program is permitted under regulations Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations.

Program Requirements

Appropriate coursework may be selected in consultation with the student's supervisory committee. All doctoral students are required to successfully complete a comprehensive examination. The major requirement for the Ph.D. is completion of a research dissertation meeting the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requirements.

Master of Science

Admission Requirements

Students admitted to the M.Sc. degree program normally possess a four-year B.Sc. degree in soil science or a related area, and must meet the general admission requirements for master's degree programs set by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Program Requirements

The program consists of a minimum of 30 credits of coursework selected in consultation with the student's supervisory committee, and includes graduate courses in soil science and other areas relevant to the student's research. At least 24 credits must be at the 500-level or higher.

Master of Land and Water Systems

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for admission to the Master of Land and Water Systems (M.L.W.S.) degree program, applicants must (1) meet the admissions requirements of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and (2) have a science-based bachelor’s degree preferably in one of the following disciplines: soil science, agricultural sciences, environmental science, geology, geography, ecology, forestry, or civil engineering. In addition, a background in introductory (first-year university equivalence) economics, geology, physical geography and soil science is beneficial but not required for admission into the Program.

Application for admission must include a statement or letter outlining the applicant’s career objectives and job experience. All applicants will be interviewed by an advisor from the M.L.W.S. degree program to determine their candidacy and suggest ways to address any subject matter deficiencies.

A total of 25 applicants will be admitted to the program yearly. Admission may be contingent on concurrent completion of first-year introductory courses in deficient area(s) at UBC or a recognized post-secondary institution to meet the graduating requirements of the Program.

Program Requirements

The M.L.W.S. degree requires 33 credits of coursework consisting of 21 credits of required courses (LWS 501, LWS 510, LWS 515 or LWS 517, LWS 550, FRE 302 or equivalent, and LWS 548) plus 12 credits of restricted electives depending on which research stream the student has chosen. Of the 33 credits, a maximum of 6 credits may be at the 300 - 400 level, and 27 credits must be at the 500 - level or higher.

The M.L.W.S. degree offers two fields of concentration:
     a) Land and Water Systems
     b) Sustainable Soil Systems
Each of these options has a separate set of 9 credits of option electives. Please check with the Program’s website for details.

The M.L.W.S. degree is available on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students will normally begin in September and complete their program at the end of August in the following year, thus completing the degree in 12 months of intensive study. Part-time students can proceed at their own pace, except that they must complete, as a minimum, one academic term at the UBC Vancouver Campus.

Each student will be required to complete a “professional paper” (LWS 548). This may be conducted off-campus and is co-supervised by a recognized professional (such as a Professional Agrologist, Biologist, Forester, Geoscientist), and a member of the UBC Soil Science group.

The M.L.W.S. program will allow students to gain credit towards accreditation in existing appropriate professional organizations and does not propose any new professional accreditation.

Contact Information

Graduate Programs Manager
Faculty of Land and Food Systems
344-2357 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4
Tel: 604.822.4593
Fax: 604.822.4400
Web (SOIL):
Web (MLWS):
Shelley Small, Graduate Programs Manager

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