Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

Overview

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.

 

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Program Enquiries

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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.

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.

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.

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:

100
22
25
22
21
7.0
6.5
6.5
6.5
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 optional.

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 supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

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

Citizenship Verification

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

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

Deadline Details

Application Deadline

Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.

Transcript Deadline

Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.

Referee Deadline

Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 June 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 February 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 February 2021

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

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.

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 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.

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 and Research Assistantships

Student service appointments are intended to help qualified graduate students meet the cost of their studies at the University. Student appointments may involve part-time duties in teaching, research, or other academic activities.

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
AECOM
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 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

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

 20192018201720162015
Applications12011517213665
Offers1213131817
New registrations119111611
Total enrolment7169767559

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 87.5% based on 24 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 32 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 8.33 years with an average of 5.97 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: 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: 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.

  • 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, Alexander York (Transportation Systems, active transportation, bicycles, Air quality, motor vehicle emissions, 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)
  • Howie, John (Field and laboratory characterization of soils for geotechnical engineering design, ground improvement, foundation engineering)
  • Isaacson, Michael D (Coastal and offshore hydrodynamics, with a particular emphasis on ocean waves and their effects on structures.)
  • Jelovica, Jasmin (Stress Analysis, Production and Process Optimization, Metals and Alloys, Solid Mechanics, Finite element analysis, Structural optimization, Welding and joining of metals, Sandwich structures, Ultimate, fatigue and impact strength)
  • Laval, Bernard (physical limnology fluid mechanics environmental fluid mechanics underwater robotics, Field and 3D numerical modeling techniques to describe the spatial and temporal variations of physical processes and their impacts on transport in lakes and coastal waters)
  • 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 (Water, Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs, Drinking Water, Fresh Water, Information, Hydroelectricity, Ice and Snow, Hydrological Prediction, Hydrology, water resources management, information theory, uncertainty, experimental hydrology, sensors, mountain hydrology, droughts, floods, control of water systems)
  • 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.)

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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
2019 Many sites in Canada and elsewhere are contaminated by both aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Dr. Saeedi's doctoral studies improved our understanding of these contaminants' behavior in soil. This research also provided insights into the remediation of real soils contaminated by both aromatic hydrocarbons and heavy metal.
2019 Water distribution networks are one of the most important elements in urban infrastructure systems and require huge investment for construction. Dr. Moosavian studied several optimization methods and applied multi-objective models for a reliable design of pipe networks. This work will contribute to more efficient evaluation and optimal design of water systems.
2019 Geosynthetics are synthetic sheets that can be used to reinforce soil to improve the stability of earth retaining walls. Dr. Rouse proposed a numerical model that helps to have a better understanding of the factors that influence the soil-geosynthetic interaction for design purposes.
2019 Phosphorus is recovered from wastewater as a compound called struvite. Dr. Fromberg studied how struvite pellets form and how to maximize pellet-formation in UBC's previously pioneered, phosphorus-recovery technology. Maximizing yield increases the value of the technology, and results in greater recovery of this valuable and dwindling resource.
2019 Dr. Ashtari evaluated the performance-based seismic design provisions of the 2014 Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code for reinforced concrete bridges. She identified, for the first time, the challenges of implementing the provisions in practice and addressed them with regards to design framework, performance criteria, analysis, and performance verification.
2018 Dr. Capraro studied the impact of subduction motions on the seismic performance of buildings. Her research showed that the long duration of subduction motions leads to higher collapse probabilities and that the magnitude of this effect depends on the fundamental period, the ductility of the structure and the intensity of the motions.
2018 Road collisions are a severe epidemic that cause the loss of millions of lives. Dr. Ahmed introduced measures of road safety for less-organized traffic environments. He developed evasive action measures to detect road users in close collisions. His research helps practitioners to objectively assess road safety in less-organized traffic environments.
2018 Dr. Sanjuan studied project management best practices in construction projects and their relationship with project outcomes. He developed an integrated framework of standards to build an assessment tool. Results show that the stronger the adherence to best practices the better the projects' outcomes in terms of scope, cost, time and client satisfaction.
2018 Dr. Robinson studied the long-term use of membranes to treat drinking water for communities. She discovered that membrane performance deteriorates over time, due to changing membrane physical and chemical properties. Her work has established methods to better understand membrane ageing, as well as recommendations to prolong membrane service life.
2018 Dr. Pan's PhD dissertation is the first detailed study of the effects of long duration earthquakes on the collapse risk of timber buildings. This research is very timely for building developments in southwestern British Columbia. The study is expected to have a significant impact on future building codes for timber structures.

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Sample Thesis Submissions

Further Program Information

Specialization

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

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-ED
 

Apply Now

If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 June 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
31 January 2021
 

Supervisor Search

 

Departments/Programs may update graduate degree program details through the Faculty & Staff portal. To update the application inquiries contact details please use this form.

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