Doctor of Philosophy in Astronomy (PhD)

Overview

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.

Quick Facts

Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Subject
Science
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Full-time
Specialization
Astronomy
Program Components
Dissertation
Faculty
Faculty of Science

Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry

Admission Information & Requirements

In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.

Online Application

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

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.

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. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.

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.

English Language Proficiency

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:

90
22
21
22
21
6.5
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Depending on program, applicants either reach out to faculty members directly or the program supports this process in different ways.

This program has not specified whether applicants should reach out to faculty members. Please review the program website for additional details.

Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)

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.

Citizenship Verification

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

Funding Sources

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.

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.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your 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.

In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.

Career Outcomes

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 Education
University of Chicago
Tufts University
Open University of Israel
University of Hertfordshire
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
McGill University
University of British Columbia
Princeton University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
National Research Council
Sony Pictures Entertainment
SETI Institute
Sun Life Financial
Powerex Corp.
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Plaskett Fellow/Research Assistant
Senior Production Services Technician
Research Scientist
Director of Acturial Pricing
Power Trader
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.

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)
* 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.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

 20182017201620152014
Applications142114179
Offers33341
New registrations1222 
Total enrolment810899

Completion Rates & Times

Based on 8 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 5.33 years with an average of 4.50 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 March 2019]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. 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 [data updated: 27 October 2019].

Research Supervisors

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)
  • Hallas, Alannah (Quantum materials, Materials design and discovery, Magnetism)
  • 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 (Astrophysics, Stellar Physics, Quantum-Field Theory, Neutron Stars, Black Holes)
  • 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 (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)
 
 
 

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