Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)

Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Electrical and Computer Engineering Program is for students interested in pursuing advanced studies and research in Biomedical Technologies, Communications Systems, Computer and Software Systems, Energy Systems, or Micro and Nano Technologies. Applicants to the program must have a high scholastic standing and must have demonstrated an aptitude for research to be admitted to the Ph.D. program, as the program is designed to develop the ability for independent research.

Electrical and Computer Engineers develop computing systems, from chip architecture to mobile applications, to communications protocols as well as the energy systems to allow these devices and all other electrical systems to function. The discipline has a huge impact on society because it helps to design the systems we use in everything from health to finance to safety.

In this program students can choose to contribute to research on technologies very close to or already in the market or technologies that are in the early stages of research such as quantum computing or carbon nanotubes.

What makes the program unique?

Electrical and Computer Engineering is one of the largest graduate programs at The University of British Columbia with over 75 faculty members and 400 students. All of our faculty members lead distinguished research programs. The faculty members also collaborate with colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Science as well as with industry leaders. These collaborations allow our students to work beside world-leaders in their area of interest. Our students use cutting-edge technologies at The University of British Columbia’s many research facilities and centres of excellence as well as in the field.

 

 

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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
21
22
21
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0

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 not required.

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.

Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer Engineering (PhD)
The program will review research interests of applicants and recommend/match faculty members during the application/evaluation process. Applicants should not reach out to faculty members directly.

Prior degree requirements

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must have a course and thesis-based Master's degree and references must include a detailed letter from the thesis supervisor. Applicants who have completed a course-based only Master's program are not generally eligible for the Ph.D. program. Applicants who have completed a degree by research only may have to complete a year of additional coursework as part of their Ph.D. program.

Other Requirements

All applicants are welcome to submit a GRE score, and while GRE scores are not mandatory, international students are strongly recommended to submit them. Please ask GRE to submit their examination report to UBC using the institution code 0965 (UBC). Applicants who have recently (within 5 years) completed a degree in one of the following countries do not need to submit a language score: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and the English-speaking countries of the West Indies. Other applicants, including Canadians, who have completed their most recent degree in other countries must submit a current TOEFL or IELTS (academic, not general) score. Unless you have completed a degree from one of the countries mentioned above within the past 5 years of your application, we require an official, current language score and will not waive this requirement. Our department does not consider conditional admission in the case of pending English language training.

Citizenship Verification

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

Application Notes

Applicants are required to upload to their application a PDF version of their Official Transcripts from each post-secondary institution (college, university, etc) that they have attended, showing both sides of the transcript document to include the university grading scale.

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
15 October 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 31 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 31 January 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 31 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 31 January 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.

UBC has launched Canada's first Blockchain training pathway for graduate students. The Graduate Pathway on Blockchain and Decentralized Trust Technologies will be a 12-credit non-degree training program that augments existing Master's and Phd programs. Additional funding may be available for students as part of the Blockchain pathway.

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

211 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 200 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 British Columbia (9)
British Columbia Institute of Technology (3)
Langara College (2)
University of Tehran (2)
University of California - San Diego (2)
Chinese Academy of Science (2)
University of Calgary (2)
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (2)
Qatar University (2)
University of Alberta
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Amazon (6)
Intel Corporation (5)
Qualcomm (4)
Microsoft (4)
BC Hydro (4)
BC Cancer Agency (3)
Point Grey Research (3)
BroadbandTV Corp. (3)
AMD (2)
Fortinet Technologies Inc. (2)
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Software Development Engineer (7)
Engineer (6)
Research Scientist (4)
Research Engineer (4)
Senior Consultant (3)
Senior Engineer (3)
Embedded Software Engineer (3)
Director (3)
Chief Executive Officer (3)
Software Developer (3)
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

The Doctoral program in Electrical and Computer Engineering prepares students for employment directly after completing the degree or to pursue further a career in research at a public institution. Some of our recent graduates are now working with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Samsung, D-wave, BC Hydro, Bell Mobility, Sierra Wireless, PMC-Sierra, TELUS, Bank of Montreal, BC Children’s Hospital, The Government of Canada, Drobo, Siemens Canada, Celestica, Cisco, Alpha Technologies, etc. Many of our M.A.Sc. graduates have also gone on to pursue their Ph.D. with us at UBC. Some graduates have completed their PhDs at institutions such as Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley and The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Some of our graduate students have also founded companies; a recent example is Veridae that was acquired by Tektronix.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer 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
Applications195246267172161
Offers3842503947
New registrations2423373535
Total enrolment175182186188199

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 78.13% based on 160 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 124 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 2.33 years and the maximum time is 8.66 years with an average of 5.10 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.

  • Michelson, David (wireless communications, Propagation and channel modeling, low profile antenna design, wireless communication system performance, EMI/EMC)
  • Mirabbasi, Shahriar (Analog and mixed-signal intergrated circuits and systems design, intergrated circuit design with an emphasis on high-speed data communication and signal processing applications)
  • Nasiopoulos, Panos (Interactive multimedia (eg, iDTV, DVD), video broadcasting and streaming, multimedia middleware, video indexing and retrieval, digital video watermarking, next generation video and audio processing and compression)
  • Nojeh, Alireza (Nanostructures (esp based on carbon nanotubes), controlled nanofabrication, electron emission phenomena, electron microscopy, modeling and simulation of nanoscale systems)
  • Ordonez, Martin (Energy systems, renewable energy, wind power, solar power, battery systems, fuel cells, electric vehicles, smart grid. )
  • Pattabiraman, Karthik (Software Reliability, Computer Security, Fault-tolerant computing, Software Security, Computer System Reliability, Computer Failures, Safety-critical computer systems, software failures, software faults, hardware faults, hardware failures )
  • Ripeanu, Matei (Computer Systems, distributed systems, High performance computing, Storage Systems, Data Analytics, Graph Analytics, Social Networks)
  • Rohling, Robert (Medical Imaging, Medical Information Systems, Robotics, Interventional Ultrasound, 3D Imaging, Spatial Compounding, Robotic System Calibration, Elastography, BioMEMS, Biomedical Engineering, Medical imaging and information systems, robetics, ultrasound imaging in 2D and 3D, biomedical technologies)
  • Rubin, Julia (Computer Systems, Software (Tools), Computer Science and Statistics, software engineering, security and privacy, energy-efficiency, developer productivity, mobile and cloud-native software)
  • Salcudean, Septimiu (Biomedical technologies, Haptic interfaces, teleoperation and simulators, medical robotics, imaging and interfaces, optimization-based design, prostate cancer)
  • Salfi, Joseph (Quantum Physics, Quantum Information, Solid State Physics, Electronic Transport, Mesoscopic Physics, Nanoelectronicx, Micro Technologies, Nano Technologies, Quantum information science and technology, Quantum computers, Quantum Simulators, Machine Learning, Information security)
  • Servati, Peyman (Energy Systems, Emerging Micro/Nano Technologies)
  • Shekhar, Sudip (Chip design, radio communication, mobile communication, data links, integrated circuits, photonics, CMOS, wireless, electronics, Internet of Things. )
  • Stoeber, Boris (Microelectromechanical Systems, MEMS, Microfluidics, Sensor Technology, Biomedical Microdevices, Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), Microflow Phenomena, Sensor technology, Integrated microsystems for biomedical applications and for environmental control)
  • Takahata, Kenichi (Biomedical Technologies, Emerging Micro/Nano Technologies)
  • Tang, Shuo (Biophotonics, biomedical optics, optical tissue imaging instrumentation, optical coherence tomography, multiphoton microscopy)
  • Turner, Robin (Biomedical Technologies)
  • Walus, Konrad (Nanoelectronic devices and circuits, quantum-dot cellular automata, single-electron transistors, quantum mechanical simulations)
  • Wang, Zhen (Signal processing theory and applications, bioinformatics)
  • Wang, Lele (information theory, Coding theory, Communication theory, Mathematical data science, Practical low-complexity algorithms for communication and compression, Theoretical limits on information flow over networks, Graph theory, Graphs, Combinatorics)
  • Wilton, Steven (Integrated Circuits, Computer Architecture, Computer Hardware, Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, Computer-Aided Design Algorithms, High-Level Synthesis)
  • Wong, Vincent (Telecommunication networks, Computer Systems, Network Analysis (Information), wireless networks, communication systems, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile computing, Internet, smart grid, energy systems, Machine Learning, protocol design)
  • Yedlin, Matthew (earthquakes, nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear weapons, flipped classroom pedagogy, geophysics, digital signal processing, electroencephalography )

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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
2020 Dr. Siksik developed a machine learning-based framework for modeling cellular ion channels. This opens the door for new types of experiments that were previously computationally prohibitive. The framework has the potential to reduce the cost of drug development and enable advanced medical research focused on understanding ion-channel diseases.
2020 Dr. Pesteie explored machine learning algorithms to improve image-guided procedures in healthcare. He devised models that can learn from partial or limited expert supervision in environments, where data annotation is costly and time consuming. His methods can provide automatic feedback for more accurate decision making in clinics.
2020 Dr. Shu addressed power management issues in a mobile sensor network, with specific application to automated water quality monitoring. He developed energy-efficient methods to prolong the lifetime of the sensor network, which could be applied to various other environmental monitoring systems.
2020 Dr. Azimi developed an efficient representation for digital colors based on the human visual system in order to improve the color quality of HDR videos without increasing the required bandwidth. Her results showed that her method can be effectively used for efficient compression in video transmission, outperforming current practices.
2020 Dr. Jana explored the application of faster-than-Nyquist technology to compete with the skyrocketing traffic demands in the existing fixed transmission networks, which serve as the backbone for the Internet and the cellular data traffic. The powerful signal processing techniques he designed can significantly enhance the capacity of these networks.
2020 Dr. Cheng studied the spectral design of silicon waveguide-based integrated Bragg gratings (IBGs), which are used as filters to block certain wavelengths, or as wavelength-specific reflectors. This work facilitates the use of IBGs in applications where customized spectral responses are required, like optical communications and signal processing.
2020 Dr. Yun studied and developed high-performance integrated optical couplers and filters on silicon photonics chips. He proposed novel sub-wavelength waveguide structures and used low-cost, silicon-based technology to improve device performance. This work can be applied in next generation optical communications and sensing systems.
2020 Dr. Giang studied a new class of computer applications that run in fog computing infrastructure, which exploits devices across the edge network (e.g. smartphones), the access network (e.g. Wi-Fi routers, cell towers), and the cloud. His work will impact the development of data intensive applications such as real-time AI-powered video processing.
2020 Dr. Mohammadi developed a patented technology to improve the visual quality of images and videos by modeling the capabilities of the human eye. This research revolutionizes the field of digital media and is of huge importance to many industries in the digital economy, including autonomous driving, virtual and augmented reality, and digital health.
2019 Dr. Hussein developed methods to help people who suffer from epilepsy. These methods analyze the brain data of the patient to determine whether a person is experiencing a seizure or whether a seizure is imminent. This knowledge is used to warn patients of upcoming seizures so they stop unsafe activities and better regulate their medication intake.

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Further Program Information

Electrical and Computer Engineering provides advanced study and research for graduates of electrical or computer engineering, engineering physics, physics, computer science or other related subjects. Facilities are provided for research in: communications and signal processing; computers and computer applications; digital system design, VLSI design and software engineering; electromagnetics; power systems and power electronics; solid state devices; microelectronics, nanoelectronics and optoelectronics; robotics and telerobotics; and systems and control.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-HA
 
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
15 October 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
15 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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