Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)

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Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

Overview

UBC's Asian Studies Department is the flagship Asian Studies department in Canada and is widely acknowledged as one of the finest in North America. The Department awards a PhD in Asian Studies to students working in a variety of regions and disciplines.

The department boasts over 20 graduate faculty, as well as a many tenure-track instructors and lecturers with wide-ranging expertise. Our more than 60 graduate students specialize in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and South Asian Studies and craft individual programs within and across various humanities disciplines, including linguistics, literary study, history, philosophy, religious studies, and popular and visual culture. The Department offers instruction in the following languages: Cantonese, Modern and Classical Chinese, Hindi/Urdu, Modern and Classical Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, and Sanskrit.

The department is a hub for research activities related to Asia, including large collaborative projects, multiple lecture series and workshops, and professional development opportunities, which provide students ample opportunities to develop their expertise, pursue their interests, and develop professional connections with scholars from around the world. It also regularly hosts postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars. In addition to the guaranteed four years of funding to all PhD students, the program offers a range of funding opportunities and support for research activities.

What makes the program unique?

In addition to our strengths in language and literary studies, the Asian Studies Department stands out for the geographic and disciplinary breadth of its faculty. It offers a range of coursework, from specialized research seminars to comparative Pan-Asian, methodological and professional development courses, drawing on the diversity of faculty and student specializations.

The UBC Library is the second-largest research library in Canada and the Asian Library boasts one of the finest Asian collections in North America, with a particular strength in East Asian materials.

 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 90

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

3) Prepare Application

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

4) Apply Online

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,838.57$3,230.06
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,515.71$9,690.18
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

From September 2024 all full-time students in UBC-Vancouver PhD programs will be provided with a funding package of at least $24,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $24,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 10 students within this program were included in this study because they received funding through UBC in the form of teaching, research, academic assistantships or internal or external awards averaging $31,123.
  • 5 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 5 students was $12,054.
  • 5 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 5 students was $8,317.
  • 4 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 4 students was $640.
  • 8 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 8 students was $25,852.

Study Period: Sep 2022 to Aug 2023 - average funding for full-time PhD students enrolled in three terms per academic year in this program across years 1-4, the period covered by UBC's Minimum Funding Guarantee. Averages might mask variability in sources and amounts of funding received by individual students. Beyond year 4, funding packages become even more individualized.
Review methodology
Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their supervision. The duties constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is considered a form of fellowship for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement. Stipends vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA)

Academic Assistantships are employment opportunities to perform work that is relevant to the university or to an individual faculty member, but not to support the student’s graduate research and thesis. Wages are considered regular earnings and when paid monthly, include vacation pay.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

30 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 4 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 24 graduates:


RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher Education
Simon Fraser University (2)
University of Lethbridge
Montana State University
City University of Hong Kong
Miyazaki Sangyokeiei University
SUNY New Paltz
Augustana College
Oita University
University of Macau
University of York
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Independent Scholar
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Career Options

Recent PhDs in Asian Studies have landed postdoctoral fellowships and academic positions at institutions across the globe, including teaching positions at the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, Victoria, Lethbridge, and Winnipeg in Canada; University of Cincinnati, Harvard, Stanford, SUNY New Paltz, and the University of Montana, in the US; and York (UK), Ritsumeikan (Japan), and the University of Indonesia.

 

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

ENROLMENT DATA

 20222021202020192018
Applications5752554053
Offers7011715
New Registrations40517
Total Enrolment3635353642

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 60% based on 25 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 12 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 5.12 years and the maximum time is 10.13 years with an average of 8.17 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Friday, 5 April 2024 - 12:30pm - Room 200

Xiaoyi Ze
The "Short-Lived" Challengers: The Qing Merchants in Late Chosŏn Korea, 1882-1895

Research Supervisors

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.
 
Advice and insights from UBC Faculty on reaching out to supervisors

These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a supervisor. They are not program specific.

 

Doctoral Citations

A doctoral citation summarizes the nature of the independent research, provides a high-level overview of the study, states the significance of the work and says who will benefit from the findings in clear, non-specialized language, so that members of a lay audience will understand it.
Year Citation
2017 Dr. Okawa explored how people in the past created order by overcoming conflicts, using the example of the Buddhist temple of Koyasan in Japan. He argued that the indescribable power of divine beings morphed onto their geography and was the source of order for a regional society before the advent of the early modern state at the turn of the 17th century.
2017 Dr. Son examined the ways Koreans living in Japan transmit their Korean language to their children who were born in Japan. The study reveals Korean children are socialized into multiple perceptions of language and identities through everyday interactions with others. She highlights the relationship between their perceptions and identities and their language usage.
2016 Dr. Guo examines how the extensive use of an extraordinary punishment gave rise to the culture of rough justice and significantly transformed the criminal justice system before the advent of Westernization. His research advances our understanding about law and violence in late imperial China.
2016 Dr. Whaley studied how a selection of Japanese video games simulate and respond to issues of national trauma. While video games are often regarded solely as an entertainment medium, Dr. Whaley argues that specific design strategies promote empathy for real-world victims, teach valuable coping skills, and promote player self-reflection.
2016 Dr. Park studied the issue of clerical marriage in modern Korean Buddhism. Her research showed that this practice among Korean monks during the Japanese colonial period was a phenomenon of Buddhist modernity. These findings advance a more complete understanding of the way in which Buddhist ethics were intertwined with modernity and colonialism.
2016 Dr. Maeshima studied the history of print and reading culture in modern Japan. She examined the significance of the mass-market women's magazine in the interwar period. This study explains the interrelations among magazine genres, gender categories, the formation of cultural hierarchies and the sense of national unity.
2016 Dr. Kreger examined the philosophical and religious aspects of the Chinese text the Liezi. His findings show that the text takes Nonbeing, or absolute nothingness, as not only the basic nature of reality, but also as an ethical teaching. This research clarifies our understanding of philosophical discourse in early medieval China.
2016 Dr. Ohsawa examined the relationship between popular culture and social change in modern Japan. She explored the conceptualization of the human body and mind in relation to technologically enhanced beings in postwar Japanese science fiction. This research contributes to debates around the ethics of future mind/body/machine relations.
2015 Dr. Milutin studied Japanese court tales written between the 9th and 13th centuries. She examined the representations of sexual violence in those tales and the cohesive patterns used by women to write about rape. Her research revealed that due to its fictional nature the tale genre provided the necessary safe space for addressing sexual violence.
2015 Dr. Toleno studied food and morality in the history of premodern Chinese Buddhism. Translating passages from a tenth-century Buddhist encyclopedia, he found eating portrayed as a skilled activity rather than one governed by rules. His study will help scholars of Chinese religion re-evaluate the question of what motivated Buddhist food practices.

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Further Information

 
 
 
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