Before You Come

Have You Recently Been Accepted for Graduate Study at UBC? Congratulations!

Successful graduate students begin planning and collecting information before they arrive at UBC.

The key to success in graduate education lies in your ability and willingness to be proactive – to take responsibility for your own graduate school experiences. Pursuit of a graduate degree is an important investment in your personal growth and future career. In order to gain the most value from your investment, you should make an effort to accomplish the following before you arrive:


Locate and thoroughly review your UBC departmental website

Each graduate program maintains a website that provides an overview of the graduate degree programs and timelines.

When visiting your program's website, you should acquaint yourself with all available information pertaining to graduate students and graduate studies, including (if available) the latest online edition of the department's graduate student handbook.

A comprehensive index to all graduate programs at UBC is available.

Contact your research supervisor or graduate program advisor

It's a good idea to communicate with your advisor or supervisor during the summer before you come. Your advisor can assist you in understanding what is crucial for successful integration into your academic program during your first year of study. Make an effort to correspond with or even visit your supervisor at least a few weeks before your first term of enrollment on campus.

You can even start reading material to develop ideas for your thesis/dissertation before you come to campus. Your research supervisor may be able to suggest important publications with which you should become acquainted in your area of scholarly interest.

If you have been awarded an appointment as a teaching or research assistant for your first term on campus, you should also inquire about any initial requirements. Find out ahead of time when your supervisor will want to set up an initial meeting with you.

Learn about all scholarship deadlines and application procedures

It is in your interest to limit the long-term cost of your graduate education as much as possible. Getting a scholarship and understanding the full range of available funding options for your graduate program is important for your career.

A scholarship at the beginning of your graduate study is particularly valuable. It can provide money so that you don't have to take time away from your studies to work. It is a mark of excellence that will facilitate your entire career. It defines you as an emerging scholar and can have significant positive impact on your confidence in attaining your graduate degree in a timely manner. It also can open doors for you to work with different researchers in the future. Scholarship application deadlines at UBC come soon after you arrive. Therefore, you are more likely to be successful at winning a scholarship if you develop a careful strategy for scholarship application before you arrive on campus. Here are some things you should do as soon as you are accepted into your graduate program:

  • Discuss Scholarship Issues with your Research Supervisor. During your first telephone or e-mail contact with your advisor or research supervisor, you should raise questions about procedures and deadlines for scholarship and fellowship applications in your program. Be sure to find out about all awards for which graduate students in your program are eligible.
  • Thoroughly Review the UBC Grad Studies Awards and Financial Aid Web Site. The web site gives details about the range of financial assistance available for graduate students including academic merit-based and need-based funds
  • Learn About How to Write an Award-Winning Scholarship at UBC. There is excellent advice available through the Hot Tips for Scholarships Guide.

Find out about all upcoming graduate orientation sessions campus-wide and in your particular program

Program Graduate Student Orientation

Most graduate programs hold student orientation activities for new students. You should receive information about your program's orientation schedule well before you arrive on campus in the fall. Make plans to attend all orientation activities offered by your program to new graduate students.

Campus-wide Graduate Student Orientation

All new graduate students at UBC are welcome and strongly encouraged to attend the campus-wide new graduate student orientation sessions offered by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies prior to the beginning of the fall and winter semesters.

View complete details of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' Orientation.

Conduct a review of your career goals and objectives

Before you arrive, you should do some proactive career planning- What do YOU want to get out of your graduate years?

You will get more from your graduate program if you carefully identify your immediate and long-term career aspirations. An examination of your career goals should include an assessment of your current skills, interests, and abilities.

Career planning begins with self-awareness

Deciding what type of work you want to pursue requires knowledge and understanding of your interests, your values, what motivates you, and the skills you enjoy using the most. Ideally, you want a career that gives you a sense of purpose, expresses your talents and passions, and is consistent with your values.

There are some exercises on the Career Development guide to help increase your career self-awareness.

What if you just don't know yet about your ultimate career objectives during and after your graduate years?

Don't Panic! It's common when embarking upon a program of graduate study to have a number of questions about career options. As you begin your studies, you will meet other students in your program who have questions similar to yours. Build networks with your student colleagues to collect information about career paths available to graduates from your program.

Develop a plan to collect career-related information. Plan to discuss career options with your supervisor and other faculty. Make a note to conduct yearly appraisals of your career goals.

Plan to attend career-related workshops. Your department and faculty may offer workshops about careers. Be sure to attend. In addition, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies sponsors career-related workshops through its Graduate Pathways to Success program.