Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)


Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the natural and built environment. It is a very broad field made up of several sub-disciplines such as environmental engineering, construction engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydrotechnical engineering, materials engineering, structural engineering, and transportation engineering. Many of the sub-disciplines of civil engineering are themselves very broad and are made up of further distinguishable sub-disciplines. For example, hydrotechnical engineering includes water resources engineering, offshore engineering and coastal engineering.


Program Enquiries

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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: 100









IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0









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 optional.

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


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 Civil Engineering (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.

Research Information

Research Focus

Civil Engineering Materials, Environmental Engineering (Environmental Fluid Mechanics, Geo-Environmental, Pollution Control & Wastewater Management), Geotechnical Engineering, Hydrotechnical Engineering, Project & Construction Management, Structural Enginering (Earthquake Engineering), Transportation Engineering

Tuition & Financial Support


FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (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.

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

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.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 44 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 $28,993.
  • 27 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 27 students was $5,271.
  • 31 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 31 students was $20,428.
  • 44 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 44 students was $9,435.
  • 2 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 2 students was $42,500.

Study Period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2020 - 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.

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.

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

96 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; for 12 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 83 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
University of British Columbia (5)
British Columbia Institute of Technology (3)
University of Lethbridge
American University of Sharjah
University Centre in Svalbard
Cairo University
University of Chile
King Mongkut's University of Technology
Carleton University
University of Toronto
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Hydro (5)
Golder Associates (3)
City of Vancouver (2)
Klohn Crippen Berger (2)
Tetra Tech EBA (2)
General Electric
Sightline Engineering Ltd.
Glotman Simpson
Ecofish Research
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Senior Geotechnical Engineer (6)
President (3)
Senior Project Engineer (2)
Engineer (2)
Structural Engineer (2)
Geotechnical Engineer (2)
Principal Consultant (2)
Principal (2)
Associate (2)
Founder, CEO
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
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

Many graduates from the Civil Engineering program at UBC use the knowledge and experience they gain from the broad academic program as a stepping stone to non-engineering careers, such as in business and management, or go on to other academic disciplines such as architecture or medicine.

Graduates from the Civil Engineering program at UBC who go on to practice as professional engineers are employed by small and large consulting engineering companies – some providing more specialized services and others more comprehensive services; engineering companies that provide large-scale infrastructure projects; crown corporations such as BC Hydro; and various levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal governments, and government branches and agencies

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

Enrolment Data

New registrations119111611
Total enrolment7169767559

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 89.66% based on 29 students admitted between 2007 - 2010. Based on 29 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 3.33 years and the maximum time is 8.33 years with an average of 6.08 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 10 March 2020]. 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: 29 October 2020].

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.

  • Adebar, Perry Erwin (Concrete structures, seismic design, high-rise buildings, shear design, evaluation and repair of structures)
  • Banthia, Nemkumar (Materials engineering, concrete, advanced composite materials, shotcrete, fibre reinforcement, rebound mechanics, kinamatic studies, optimization, supplementary cementing materials in concrete)
  • Berube, Pierre (Water treatment, trace organic contaminants, membrane and advanced oxidation technologies., Drinking water treatment, filtration/membrane processes for water and wastewater treatment, distribution system water quality, advanced oxidation, wastewater reuse)
  • Bigazzi, Alex (Civil engineering; Urban and regional planning; active transportation; Air quality; bicycles; motor vehicle emissions; Transportation Systems; travel behaviour)
  • Fannin, R Jonathan (Shear wave velocity for the detection of fines loss in soils, internal erosion in earth dams, seepage-induced instability in gap-graded soils, grain shape and the strength of sands, filtration compatibility of woven and nonwoven geotextiles, pullout resistance of geogrids in static and dynamic loading, debris flow travel distance on steep mountainous terrain, slope stability in engineering practice)
  • Haukaas, Terje (Risk, structures, structural safety, seismic, earthquake, probability, computer analysis, Structures, Probabilistic mechanics, structural reliability and optimization, timber engineering, earthquake engineering, decision making, risk, advanced structural analysis, finite elements, response sensitivity analysis, software development)
  • Isaacson, Michael D (Coastal and offshore hydrodynamics, with a particular emphasis on ocean waves and their effects on structures.)
  • Jelovica, Jasmin (Civil engineering; Mechanical engineering; Finite element analysis; Metals and Alloys; Production and Process Optimization; Sandwich structures; Solid Mechanics; Stress Analysis; Structural optimization; Ultimate, fatigue and impact strength; Welding and joining of metals)
  • Laval, Bernard (Civil engineering; Oceanography; Environmental Fluid Mechanics; Physical Limnology)
  • Lawrence, Gregory (Environmental fluid mechanics, hydraulics, hydrodynamic stability and mixing, physical limnology, water quality management)
  • Lee, Jongho (Membranes, Water/Wastewater Treatment, Desalination, Resource Harvesting, Nanoporous Media, Electrokinetics )
  • Lence, Barbara Jean (Hydrotechnical, Optimizing design and operational strategies of water resources projects, reliable withdrawal-treatment strategies for contaminated groundwater supply systems, asset management strategies for mid-sized water utilities with limited break data, water distribution system operational procedures to meet hydraulic and water quality objectives)
  • Li, Loretta (Contaminated site investigation and management, environmental monitoring, risk and impact assessment, soil-contaminant interactions, mobility and migration of contaminants, remediation technology, mine tailings waste disposal and treatment processes)
  • Molina Hutt, Carlos (Earthquake engineering, performance-based seismic design, seismic resilience, risk analysis, high-rise buildings, innovative structural systems)
  • Sayed, Tarek (transportation engineering, Transportation, Full Bayes safety models, Automated safety analysis using computer vision techniques, Safety evaluations, Traffic conflicts techniques, Pedestrian modeling, and ITS)
  • Shawwash, Ziad K (Modeling and optimization of large-scale civil engineering systems; planning, design and operation of hydroelectric generating facilities; use of decision, policy and risk analysis techniques in water resource planning and management; use of artificial intelligence systems in water resource and hydroelectric systems.)
  • Staub-French, Sheryl (Virtual Design and Construction (VDC), Building Information Modeling (BIM), collaboration and integrated project delivery, design and construction coordination, 4D (3D + time) visualization, interactive workspaces)
  • Swei, Omar (Asset Management, Life Cycle Modeling, Optimization Methods, Real Options, Reinforcement Learning, Risk Analysis, Sequential Decision-Making, Stochastic Modeling, Sustainable Infrastructure Management, Time-Series Methods, Uncertainty Estimation and Propagation)
  • Taiebat, Mahdi (static and dynamic soil-structure interaction, Theoretical and computational geomechanics, constitutive modeling of engineering materials, geotechnical earthquake engineering, static and dynamic soil-structure-interaction)
  • Vaziri, Reza (Finite element analysis, Mechanics of composite materials, Constitutive modeling of engineering materials, Plasticity, Damage mechanics, Process modeling of composite structures, Analysis of impact and blast loading of metallic and composite structures)
  • Ventura, Carlos Estuardo (Earthquake engineering, structural dynamics, full scale vibration testing, shake table testing Seismic risk evaluation and hazard management studies Investigation of earthquake effects on man-made structures)
  • Weijs, Steven (Civil engineering; Water; Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs; Drinking Water; Fresh Water; Information; Hydroelectricity; Ice and Snow; control of water systems; droughts; experimental hydrology; floods; Hydrological Prediction; Hydrology; information theory; mountain hydrology; sensors; uncertainty; water resources management)
  • Wijewickreme, Dharmapriya (Geotechnical, pipeline geotechnical engineering)
  • Yang, Tsung-Yuan (Seismic behavior and design of steel, concrete and composite structures, seismic behavior and design of tall buildings, develop performance-based evaluation methodology and code design procedures for new and existing structures, using innovative structural component and systems to improve structural performance, including the use of innovative active, semi-active and passive energy dissipation systems, develop accurate and cost effective experimental methods to analyze structural response under extreme loading conditions.)
  • Zanotti, Cristina (Civil engineering; Alternative cementitious materials; Concrete-concrete bond; Durability of concrete structures; Early-age thermal cracking; Fiber reinforced concrete; Historical heritage structures; Infrastructure repair and durability; Numerical analysis of reinforced concrete structures; Sustainable construction materials)


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
2020 Dr. Ashkani developed a methodology for seismic assessment of reinforced concrete bridges. He also investigated the role of soil-structure interaction in the probability of collapse of reinforced concrete bridges and studied variation of the bridge foundation motions from the earthquake ground motions at the ground surface.
2020 Dr. Gavrilovic examined the lifecycle performance of buildings that have been damaged during earthquakes. Simulating the repair of damage on a computer, new results provide insights into the costs, repairability, and sustainability of several structural materials. This research will assist in the design of more resilient and sustainable buildings.
2020 Dr. Yang studied the fundamental aspects of soil liquefaction on the grain-scale level. He developed a state-of-the-art practical model to simulate the cyclic response of sands. His research contributes to the high-fidelity modeling of civil infrastructure problems involving earthquake-induced cyclic liquefaction.
2020 Dr. Hamid studied the transformation of fluorotelomer compounds by bacterial communities and in presence of sunlight. These compounds are widely used for waterproofing consumer products and packaging. Her research provides a better understanding of their fate in the environment, allowing more realistic risk assessment and mitigation strategies.
2020 Dr. Robazza's research focused on the seismic performance of slender ductile reinforced masonry shear walls. His research included both extensive experimental testing and numerical analyses, which demonstrated that properly detailed reinforced masonry shear walls can possess very good energy dissipation and offer reliable seismic force resistance.
2020 Dr. Costa studied how physical, economic, and social infrastructure in urban communities interact and affect recovery from earthquakes. Using computer models to simulate an earthquake in Vancouver, he estimates that recovery would take more than four years. These findings can inform decision-making and improve our capacity to prepare for disasters.
2020 Dr. Barrero carried out a multi-scale study on the cyclic liquefaction of granular soils. He analyzed the mechanisms involved in the loss of grain contacts and developed a model for reliable simulation of liquefaction-induced deformations. His findings improve our ability to predict the behaviour of granular materials during liquefaction.
2020 Dr. Abdelsalam developed a lightweight protective system to help shallow underground structures withstand blast attacks. Using an advanced validated numerical model, his findings show that these composite reinforced concrete panels, which are inexpensive and easy to repair, help to dissipate blast energy and prevent structures from being damaged.
2020 Dr. Verma explored fundamental silt behavior and various parameters that affect its behavior under earthquake loading. Through extensive laboratory testing, he produced an experimental database which will serve to enhance and refine the current state of knowledge about the behavior of silts under earthquake loading.
2020 Dr. Li used large databases of thermal comfort field studies to challenge the current criteria in international standards. She developed new ways of measuring and analyzing thermal comfort, and proposed improvements to building design and operation strategies that can both improve human comfort and reduce energy and carbon emissions.


Further Information


Civil Engineering covers the following areas of specialization: civil engineering materials, environmental fluid mechanics, environmental systems engineering, geo-environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydrotechnical engineering, project & construction management, structural & earthquake engineering, transportation engineering

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