Canadian Immigration Updates

Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

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.

Every year, our department admits students to the PhD program from around the globe.  We currently have students enrolled from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Korea ,Taiwan ,Turkey, and Vietnam.

 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

At least one of the required reference letters submitted to an application must be an academic reference. If all three reference letters are professional, it will be noted on your application that you do not meet this department requirement. 

Applicants are required to upload PDF versions of their Official Transcripts from every post-secondary institution (college, university, etc.) that they have attended, showing both sides of the transcript document to include the university grading scale.  All transcripts must be official and signed/endorsed by the university in order to be accepted. Uploading Secondary/High School transcripts is not necessary.

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

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

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.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Admission to the PhD Program with a Previous Course and Thesis-based Master's Degree

Applicants applying should have:
- A recognized course and thesis-based Master’s degree which includes graduate level courses and a written thesis
- References should include a detailed letter from the thesis supervisor
- North American degree holders must have an overall average of B+ (76% at UBC) in your master’s degree program
- Non-North American degree holders must review the academic entrance requirements for students from your country at the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
- 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.

Admission to the PhD Program with a Previous Undergraduate Degree

This is also known as a direct entry PhD. In addition to the usual M.A.Sc. requirements, you must have:
- A first class standing in your bachelor’s degree and evidence of prior research ability. First class standing is indicated for each nation by UBC G+PS guidelines (80% minimum or equivalent for Canadian institutions). It is understood that such a grade-average is a minimum requirement and depending on the overall applicant profile, higher grades can be expected.
- Hard evidence of research experience and ability, by way of previous research internships, for example. Ideally, you should be a co-author on a manuscript or paper accepted in a high visibility, rigorously peer reviewed academic venue, e.g., an internationally recognized journal, or, in certain disciplines (especially computer and software engineering), top tier conferences.
- Prospective supervisors of direct entry students must submit a maximum one page explanation of why the student is deemed sufficiently-prepared to be directly admitted to the Ph.D. program.

Admission to the PhD Program with a Previous Course-based Master's Degree

In addition to the usual M.A.Sc. requirements, you must have:
- Hard evidence of research experience and ability, by way of previous research internships, for example. Ideally, you should be a co-author on a manuscript or paper accepted in a high visibility, rigorously peer reviewed academic venue, e.g., an internationally recognized journal, or, in certain disciplines (especially computer and software engineering), top tier conferences.
- Prospective supervisors of students with a previous course-based masters degree must submit a maximum one page explanation of why the student is deemed sufficiently-prepared to be directly admitted to the Ph.D. program.

Other Requirements

GRE scores are not mandatory for applying to our PhD program. You are welcome to submit GRE scores if you have them, to provide further support to your application. Please ask GRE to submit their examination report to UBC using the institution code 0965 (UBC).

Applicants who have recently completed a degree in one of the following countries do not need to submit a language score. Degrees must have been completed within the past 5 years of the date of application to our department in order for this language score requirement to be waived.

Australia, Botswana, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, 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 Academic IELTS score. We will not waive this requirement for you. Our department does not consider conditional admission in the case of pending English language training.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 June 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 June 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2024

3) Prepare Application

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.

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

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer 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.

Faculty members will review applications based on research interests and availability of student positions during the application/evaluation process.

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.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,838.57$3,230.06
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,515.71$9,690.18
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
* 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

From September 2024 all full-time students in UBC-Vancouver PhD programs will be provided with a funding package of at least $24,000 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 $24,000 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.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 102 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 $37,430.
  • 58 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 58 students was $7,360.
  • 91 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 91 students was $23,513.
  • 16 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 16 students was $4,758.
  • 92 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 92 students was $10,146.
  • 10 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 10 students was $24,100.

Study Period: Sep 2022 to Aug 2023 - 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.

Graduate 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 supervision. The duties constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is considered a form of fellowship for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement. Stipends vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded.

Graduate 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.

Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA)

Academic Assistantships are employment opportunities to perform work that is relevant to the university or to an individual faculty member, but not to support the student’s graduate research and thesis. Wages are considered regular earnings and when paid monthly, include vacation pay.

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

 20222021202020192018
Applications221223237214262
Offers3946584145
New Registrations2627342523
Total Enrolment180175169169176

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 76% based on 174 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 83 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 1.7 years and the maximum time is 8.53 years with an average of 5.39 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. 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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Tuesday, 26 March 2024 - 4:00pm

Mehdi Setayesh
Machine Learning-Based Algorithms Design for Network Slicing, Federated Learning, and 360° Video Streaming in Wireless Systems

Friday, 12 April 2024 - 4:00pm - Room 200

Jose Pablo Pinilla Gomez
Context-aware Minor-embedding for Quantum Annealing Processors

Research Supervisors

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Computer 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.

Faculty members will review applications based on research interests and availability of student positions during the application/evaluation process.

 
Advice and insights from UBC Faculty on reaching out to supervisors

These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a supervisor. They are not program specific.

 

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
2009 Dr Vogt created a software framework for modeling the human upper airway to enable models of speaking, breathing and swallowing. He created an interactive 3-D finite-element tongue model to study dynamics for speech tasks.
2009 Dr. Zhang applied Shifted Frequency Analysis theory to accelerate the solution of electromagnetic transient algorithms for the simulation of power system dynamics. His dissertation work is the first practical step towards building a unified power system dynamic analysis tool based on these algorithms.
2009 Dr. Zhang has designed and evaluated new simple high performance resource allocation algorithms for cognitive radio systems. These are intelligent wireless communication systems that allow unlicensed sharing of the radio spectrum. Her algorithms provide substantial energy savings or improved quality of service for ad hoc or infrastructure networks.
2009 Dr. Jalali Mazlouman has innovated a new architecture for analog to digital converters that is fabricated on a chip using deep submicron technology. This converter can operate at Gigahertz speeds and can be used to enhance the performance of measurement instruments such as real-time oscilloscopes, and wireless communication circuits such as ultra-wideband systems.
2009 Dr. Wrinch developed an inexpensive protective sensor for alternative energy power sources to prevent electrical shock and fire. This sensor works with installations of small to medium sized three phase electricity generators. The sensor is called an anti-islanding detector.
2009 Dr Sheikhaei studied the circuit techniques for speed and power improvement of analog-to-digital converters, a ubiquitous block in communication systems. Using current mode logic and pipelining as well as reformulating the conventional encoding function, he achieved more than 2 times improvement in power as compared to the state-of-the-art designs.
2009 Dr. Pillutla looked at ways to improve the performance of wireless networks. He used novel techniques to improve energy efficiency and channel usage of general wireless networks.
2008 Dr. Mohsenian presented several simple, robust, and optimal resource management schemes for wireless access networks. Different from most of the previous heuristic design schemes in the literature, the algorithms in this thesis are designed within the unified analytical framework of network utility maximization, a concept borrowed from microeconomics.
2008 Dr. Khabbazian designed and developed new reliable protocols for wireless ad hoc networks, the main communication option in scenarios where having a communication infrastructure is not practical or the existing infrastructure has been destroyed by for example a natural disaster such as earthquake or hurricane.
2008 Dr Hennessey developed techniques for improving eye-gaze tracking and the ability to determine where one is looking in 3D space. The methods developed provide a novel means for human computer interaction, and may help to improve the quality of life of the disabled who use eye-gaze for communication.

Pages

Further 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
 
 

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 June 2024
International Applicant Deadline
01 June 2024
 
Supervisor Search
 

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

Considering UBC for your graduate studies?

Here, you can choose from more than 300 graduate degree program options and 2000+ research supervisors. You can even design your own program.