Joint Doctoral Research Scholar (JDRS)

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Research collaboration between universities, faculty members and doctoral students is a very common, and desired, occurrence. As of August 2022, doctoral students from other universities can now enroll at UBC in a research co-supervision arrangement. This designation is called a Joint Doctoral Research Scholar. The JDRS designation is a unique identifier for those visiting doctoral students who have a substantive academic relationship with a UBC co-supervisor who has been approved by the student’s home university. The benefits of this designation include: 

  • A robust scholarly identity at UBC to attract and help integrate outstanding visiting doctoral students into the academic community  
  • Improved ability to formally recognize and quantify research collaborations and co-supervision provided by UBC faculty  
  • Provides formal recognition to students, via UBC transcript and Dean’s letter, of their experience as Joint Doctoral Research Scholars 
  • Provides a low-barrier avenue to support and recognize collaborative doctoral education with partners



A Joint Doctoral Research Scholar (JDRS) must enrol at UBC as either a Visiting International Research Student (VIRS), or as a Visiting Graduate Student (includes graduate exchange programs), and will be registered in VGRD 699 (Joint Doctoral Research Scholar) for all terms which overlap with their active collaboration with their UBC co-supervisor.

An international student (requiring Canadian study permit) seeking designation as a JDRS will follow the VIRS administrative procedure for enrolment. If an international JDRS student wishes to take UBC courses for credit, they must enrol as a Visiting Graduate Student. Visit UBC’s Go Global website for further information on the VIRS pathway.


Eligibility requirements

International PhD students, (including those who are enrolled at another Canadian university on a study permit), must first apply to Go Global as a Visiting International Research Student, and then apply to join UBC as a Joint Doctoral Research Scholar. Canadian/Permanent Resident of Canada students must enroll at UBC through an exchange agreement (Western Deans Agreement, Graduate Exchange Agreement) or as a Visiting Graduate Student.

To be eligible for the JDRS designation, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. You must be currently registered in a PhD graduate degree program in good standing at a recognized post-secondary institution
  2. You must be enrolled as a Visiting Graduate Student or Visiting International Research Student for the duration of your stay at UBC
  3. You must intend to come to UBC for 1 to 12 months for the primary purpose of research related to your academic program at your home university
  4. You must provide a formal co-supervisory agreement between:
    1. Host supervisor (i.e. a UBC faculty member who has agreed to act as supervisor through the proposed research period at UBC),
    2. Home university supervisor and department of sponsoring program,
    3. UBC Department Head for the unit which the visiting research student will be affiliated,
    4. Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies


Application process and procedures

Establishing a co-supervisory agreement

Incoming students must establish an agreement between their home institution and supervisor and a UBC faculty member that has doctoral student supervision privileges. This agreement is required so that the JDRS can participate in research and collaborative scholarly work at UBC, with approval from a lab or unit at UBC where the student will work.

The agreement should outline

  • Names/departments of co-supervisors at Home Institution and UBC (CVs upon request) 
  • Home institution (graduate school preferred, department head as alternative) validation that UBC co-supervisor is recognized as a formal co-supervisor of student’s doctoral research/dissertation 
  • UBC co-supervisor and program Graduate Advisor confirmation that co-supervisor will serve as a formal co-supervisor of student’s doctoral research/dissertation 
  • Admissions documentation as requested 

Getting a supervisor

It is the responsibility of an individual applicant to identify, contact, and obtain approval from a UBC faculty member who will be their JDRS supervisor. To identify potential supervisors who best match your research interests, explore our research supervisors database to see who is available to host Visiting International Research Students.

Apply for permits

Students are responsible for securing all study permits, visas and appropriate travel documents where needed. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) processing time can take several months, so we encourage you to apply early.

Paying fees and other costs

Visiting students, with the exception of those governed by the Western Deans' Agreement, Graduate Exchange Agreement, and other special agreements, pay tuition fees on a per-credit basis. Fees and other costs are the responsibility of the student, including administrative fees.

A student approved as a Joint Doctoral Research Scholar will be registered in a non-credit activity course VGRD 699 (Joint Doctoral Research Scholar).


Frequently asked questions

What information do I need to apply?

International applicants must provide a completed VIRS form, with all necessary signatures and approvals, at least eight weeks prior to the planned visit. Once the visit is recorded by Go Global in the Student Information Service Centre, and approved by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the prospective VIRS will receive their formal letter of invitation to UBC, suitable for applying for a study or work permit, as appropriate, and be directed to pay the relevant fees through the Student Service Centre.

For Canadian/PR students, please see Western Dean’s Agreement, Graduate Exchange Agreement or Visiting Graduate Student for more information.

Is there an application fee?

There is no application fee for students enrolling through VIRS, Western Deans Agreement and Graduate Exchange Agreement pathways, and registration in the VGRD 699 required course is free. However, some student fees may apply such as administrative fees.  Students who wish to take courses at UBC for credit and who are not eligible to do so under exchange agreements, must submit a formal admission application and fee. 

Why does this pathway exist?

The JDRS is a UBC senate-approved pathway for doctoral students visiting UBC for research purposes under co-supervision of a UBC faculty member. This pathway was created to offer a consistent approach to supervising visiting doctoral students, which allows them to benefit from services, support and formal affiliation with UBC.

What will I have access to?

A VIRS pays an administrative fee which provides access to UBC Library, email services, the campus Wi-Fi network, Go Global services, health/counselling services as needed. VIRS students can apply to UBC student residence housing (Feb-Aug as available). As any new international student, VIRS will participate in the iMED health insurance program.

Use of other services and facilities including but not limited to areas such as athletics and transcripts can be accessed on a fee-paying basis, as available.



If you have questions about the VIRS program visit the Go Global website or email the VIRS advisor. Questions about other visiting graduate student pathways can be submitted to Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies.