Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
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.
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
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
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
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date01 October 2022
3) Prepare Application
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.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Asian Studies (PhD)
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
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,767.18||$3,104.64|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,057.05 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
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.
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
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 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 $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
- 7 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 7 students was $14,721.
- 11 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 11 students was $10,255.
- 16 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 16 students was $20,448.
- 1 student received an external award valued at $20,000.
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.
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.
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 direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
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 EducationSimon Fraser University (2)
University of Lethbridge
Montana State University
City University of Hong Kong
Miyazaki Sangyokeiei University
SUNY New Paltz
University of Macau
University of York
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationIndependent Scholar
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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.
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.
Completion Rates & Times
Upcoming Doctoral Exams
Friday, 27 May 2022 - 4:00pm
|2012||Dr. Sze studied the ways in which Chinese people in early medieval times understood and built Buddhist stûpas, the monuments housing sacred relics. She found they did not adopt the unique symbolic meanings narrated in Buddhist scriptures, but considered them to be just like other Buddhist buildings, and often linked them with political dignitaries.|
|2012||Dr. Park studied stories written in Classical Chinese which are included in Korean story collections from the 17th- to the 19th century. Her research highlights the diversity of the historical contexts of that period, challenges existing nationalistic scholarship, and opens up new possibilities for studying Korean literary culture.|
|2012||Dr. Ivanova studied 11th century Japanese women writers, and how their work was adapted in the 16th to 19th centuries. She found the images of those women were transformed as political contexts, readerships, and socio-cultural conditions changed. She demonstrated the role of genre and gender in the canonization of Japanese women's literature.|
|2012||Dr. Kim examined multiple images of Korean shamanism, both positive and negative. His goal was to discover how those images affect the shamans' view of themselves, and influence their rituals. It is hoped this study will contribute to overcoming criticisms against various shamanic practices which are not regarded as following the traditional way.|
|2011||Dr. Rausch studied the writings of two Korean Catholics from the Choson dynasty to see how violence is sometimes justified by appeals to religious and secular worldviews. He argued that the key to understanding why people turn to violence is the study of the narratives they deploy to justify it.|
|2011||Dr. Budiman studied the ways in which Indonesian women authors who emerged after the fall of Suharto's New Order in 1998 re-imagine the nation and respond critically to the New Order's ideology of unity. This research revealed that these authors provided new understanding of Indonesian-ness by taking heterogeneity and women's perspectives into account.|
|2011||Dr. Zur examined how the child became the focus of contesting ideologies in children's magazines of colonial and post- liberation Korea. She traces the changing notions of national subjectivity in text and images, and also exposes voices that offered an alternative view of the child as a complex individual.|
|2011||Dr. Benesch examined the creation and development of the Japanese ethic of bushido, or the "way of the samurai." Dr. Benesch argues that bushido is essentially a modern construct that first developed largely as a response to foreign ideas during Japan's modernization process in the late nineteenth century.|
|2011||Dr. Liu examined representations of female Daoists in poetic works from the eighth to the twelfth centuries in China. This study contributes to our knowledge of Daoist women and male intellectuals' views about them as well as the social and literary milieus from the Tang to the Song dynasties.|
|2011||Dr. Ngai studied a Buddhist board game of a gambling nature developed as propaganda in ancient China and similar religious devices found in other Asian countries. She drew new attention to the device's basic didactic function and rediscovered this otherwise unknown cross-border cultural phenomenon that has been neglected by historians.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
Asian Studies encompasses Chinese, Japanese, Korean, East Asian Buddhism, and South Asian culture, including literature, visual and popular culture, linguistics, pre-modern history, religion, and philosophy.