Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy (PhD)
UBC research in astronomy and astrophysics covers most areas of current interest in this broad field, including a wide range of theoretical and observational studies in astronomy, and also experimental and theoretical studies in cosmology. Research at optical wavelengths includes searches and orbital determination for asteroids and comets, photometric studies of stellar populations, particularly globular clusters, studies of distant galaxies and active galactic nuclei, and time-resolved spectroscopy of variable stars and active binary star systems. Studies at microwave and radio frequencies include research on variable radio sources, searches for pulsars, the early stages of star formation, relativistic jets, and balloon-borne measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation. A variety of theoretical work complements this research, with topics that range from planetary dynamics and the structure of neutron stars, to theoretical studies of structure formation in the early universe. Development of astronomical instrumentation is also supported.
What makes the program unique?
The Department of Physics & Astronomy at UBC is noted for the excellence of its research and its high academic standards and integrity. We are constantly rated as one of the top Physics & Astronomy programs in the world.
TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement
IELTS Overall Score Requirement
Applicants who are interested in the production, preparation, and application of nuclear isotopes for science and medicine may consider the IsoSiM program that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities. Applicants who are interested in quantum materials may consider the QuEST program. Applicants who are interested in nanomaterials synthesis, characterization and application, and nanoscience instrumentation may consider the NanoMat program.
All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 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 $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
18 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 15 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):
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 EducationUniversity of Chicago
Open University of Israel
University of Hertfordshire
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
University of British Columbia
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationNational Research Council
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sun Life Financial
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationPlaskett Fellow/Research Assistant
Senior Production Services Technician
Director of Acturial Pricing
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.
Tuition / Program Costs
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,665.26||$2,925.58|
|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)||$930.14 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $16,884.10 (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.
Completion Rates & Times
This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.
Boley, Aaron (Astronomy and Astrophysics; Planet formation, protoplanetary disk evolution, formation of meteorite parent bodies)
Gladman, Brett (Astronomy, Planetary Science, meteorites, astrobiology, Solar system formation and evolution)
Halpern, Mark (Cosmology, Cosmic background radiation, history of star formation, measuring the geometry and contents of the Universe, satellites, balloon-borne telescopes, the physics of music, Physics of music, Cosmic Microwave Background, Physical Cosmology, Star formation history)
Heyl, Jeremy (Quantum Phenomena, Stellar, Astrophysics, Stellar Physics, Quantum-Field Theory)
Hickson, Paul (cosmology, galaxies, telescopes, adaptive optics., Astronomy, astrophysics, Galaxies, clusters, instrumentation, adaptive optics)
Hinshaw, Gary (cosmology, cosmic background radiation, Cosmology, Measuring diffuse background radiations)
Matthews, Jaymie Mark (Stellar seismology, stellar structure and evolution, exoplanets, magnetic peculiar stars, photometry and spectroscopy, space astronomy)
Richer, Harvey (astronomy, stars, galaxies, universe, solar system, stellar astrophysics, tellar populations, Astronomy, Stellar populations, star clusters white dwarfs)
Scott, Douglas (Science and Knowledge, Cosmology)
Sigurdson, Kris (The Universe, Cosmology, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Particle Physics, Astrophysics, Cosmic Microwave Background, Cosmic 21-cm Fluctuations, Radio Astronomy, CHIME )
Stairs, Ingrid (pulsars, gravity, general relativity, radio astronomy, radio pulsars, pulsar searches and long-term timing, Radio astronomy)
Van Waerbeke, Ludovic (astrophysics, cosmology, dark energy, universe, gravitational lensing, galaxy, galaxies, Cosmology, dark matter, galaxy formation, structure formation)
Recent Doctoral Citations
- Dr. Agueda Paula Granados Contreras
"Dr. Granados studied the formation of Jupiter sized planets that are very close to their host star. Using numerical simulations, she found that under certain conditions, these 'close-in Jupiters' can form in the region we observe them today through multiple planet-to-planet collisions while there is still considerable amount of gas present in the protoplanetary disk." (May 2019)
- Dr. Jacob Aaron White
"Dr. White characterized circumstellar disks of gas and debris around distant stars undergoing the late stages of planet formation. He used radio and millimeter wave astronomical data to study the properties of this material and constrain the radio emission of massive stars." (November 2018)
- Dr. Hideki Tanimura
"Dr. Tanimura revealed missing gas and plasma in the universe, which was expected to exist, but not yet observed. His findings help us to understand the entire structure of the universe as well as the evolution of the universe along the time continuum." (November 2017)
- Dr. Emmanuel Fonseca
"Dr. Fonseca analyzed the timing of pulses emitted by radio pulsars in binary systems, in order to measure intrinsic parameters of these systems and constrain Einstein's theory of general relativity. He made a large number of mass measurements that directly contribute to the ongoing analyses of neutron-star masses and nuclear physics in physically extreme environments." (May 2017)
- Dr. Todd Phillip Mackenzie
"Dr. MacKenzie advanced the methods used to study star forming galaxies in the early universe using far-infrared telescopes. His new methods helped overcome the limited resolving power associated with observing at these wavelengths." (May 2016)