Doctor of Philosophy in Geography (PhD)

Overview

Our program introduces students to independent research while broadening and deepening their contact with a selected aspect of Geography. Research can be conducted in these general thematic sub-disciplines: Biogeography; Climatology; Economic Geography; Environment and Sustainability; Feminist Geography; Geographic Information Science; Geomorphology; Historical Geography; Hydrology and Glaciology Indigenous Geographies; Political Geography; Social and Cultural Geography; and Urban Geography.

What makes the program unique?

Our PhD program is flexible, research-intensive, and student-driven. Students come to the program from a variety of backgrounds and are mentored by outstanding scholars in geographical science, human geography, and geographical computational science. They are prepared for careers in academia, government, the private sector, or non-profit organizations, based on the expertise they develop in a specific field of research.

Quick Facts

Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Subject
Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Full-time
Specialization
Geography
Program Components
Dissertation
Faculty
Faculty of Arts

Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

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

Online Application

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

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve process.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications. 

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

Document Requirements

Applicants are required to upload a copy of their CV (maximum three pages).

English Language Proficiency

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

100
22
21
22
21
7.0
6.5
6.5
6.5
6.5

Supervision

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

Supervisor commitment required prior to application?
No

Test Scores (GRE / GMAT or similar)

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

Citizenship Verification

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

Research Information

Research Focus

Research can be conducted in, but are not limited to, these themes: Climate and Global Change; Cities; Forests and People; Geographical Analysis/GIScience; Geomorphology, Hydrology and Glaciology; Geopolitics, Biopolitics and Security; Globalization and Development; Nature, Society, and Sustainability; Social Theory; Water, Snow, and Ice.

Research Facilities

The Geography Department at UBC has had its own building with nearly 50 graduate office desk spaces and research labs combined together. One of the main resources located inside the Geography building is the Geographic Information Centre, which offers support services for Geography undergraduate & graduate students, faculty and the general public. Holdings include maps specializing in BC, atlases, books, video recordings, course reserves on geographical topics, and BC’s largest air photo collection. The holdings form a teaching, reference and research centre located in the Department of Geography.

The new Biogeomorphology Experimental Laboratory in Ponderosa Commons officially opened on January 23rd 2014, the outcome of four CFI grants amounting to approximately $3 million.
In particular, this new lab is designed to establish an experimental laboratory to conduct innovative research on the interface between hydrology, geomorphology, ecology and climate (environmental sciences). Such a lab is unique in Canada with only one or two in the U.S.; this lab will put UBC research on the frontiers of science as there are both great scope and great demand for innovative and fundamental research in environmental sciences. Doctoral students conducting research on those themes will be able to utilize the new lab for their research work.

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
14 September 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 01 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 01 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021

Funding Sources

The Department of Geography ensures all incoming PhD students a minimum level of $23,000 per year for a duration of four years through scholarships, teaching assistant and/or research assistant positions. However, if students are successful in their scholarship applications, their financial support will be adjusted. Students without external funding are required to apply for the Affiliated Fellowship, SSHRC or NSERC scholarships (where eligible).

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

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

Career Outcomes

65 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; for 6 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 58 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
McGill University (2)
Memorial University of Newfoundland (2)
York University (2)
University of British Columbia (2)
Northwest Indian College
University of Edinburgh
Carleton University
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Bologna
University of Alberta
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Engineered Compost Systems
Glasgow Museums
Northwest Hydraulic Consultants
International Settlement Services of British Columbia
Ontario College of Trades
Marine Protected Areas
British Council
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Airports Council International
Natural Resources Canada
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Writer
Regional Aquatic Ecologist
Architect
Director of Consulting Services
Editorial
Co-owner
Policy Analyst
River Geomorphologist
Facilitator
Climate Change Programme Manager
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 majority of students who completes their PhD program continue in the world of academia to become instructors, professors and postdoctoral fellows at other educational institutions. Others are hired as professionals in government, consulting agencies, non-governmental organizations and businesses.

Alumni on Success

Anne Bjorkman

Job Title
Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor)
Employer
University of Gothenburg

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

 20182017201620152014
Applications4150374948
Offers911131611
New registrations911131510
Total enrolment7574777172

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 73.81% based on 42 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 9.00 years with an average of 6.05 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 March 2019]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 27 October 2019].

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Bakker, Karen Jessica (Political economy, political ecology, environmental studies, development studies, and resource and environmental management)
  • Barnes, Trevor (Vancouver)
  • Dempsey, Jessica (wrestle with the theoretical and historical-geographical complexities of environmental politics as it shapes and is shaped by the entanglement of state, economy, science, and culture)
  • Donner, Simon (Climate change science, Climate policy, Science communication, Coastal Ecosystems)
  • Evenden, Matthew (Environmental history and water history, with a regional specialization in Canada, particularly Alberta and British Columbia)
  • Glassman, James Francis (Development Geography, Third World Urbanization, Economic Geography, Political Economy, Political Geography, Southeast Asia, Pacific Rim)
  • Gregory, Derek John (Political Geography War in the miiddle east, bombing)
  • Hassan, Marwan (Fluvial Geomorphology, Sediment transport, Channel Stability, Landscape evolution, Surface hydrology)
  • Henry, Gregory H (tundra ecosystems, experimental climate change, plant-animal interactions, Arctic environments, vegetation change, plant traits)
  • Hiebert, Daniel Joseph (immigration, diversity, national security, social policy, urban geography)
  • Klinkenberg, Brian (Geographic Information Science, Environmental Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) and Citizen Science Initiatives)
  • Knox, Sara (Micrometeorology, Biogeochemistry, Hydrology, Ecology, Climate Change)
  • Koppes, Michele (climate change, glaciers, natural hazards, landscape change, polar regions, ice-ocean interactions )
  • Kuus, Merje (transnational regulatory practices in contemporary Europe, but the empirical focus undergirds a broader interest in knowledge and power, structure and agency, in bureaucratic and policy-making settings; political identity, subject-formation, and center-periphery relations, especially in contemporary Europe)
  • Le Billon, Philippe (Geography, politics, africa, environmental, human geography, development, security)
  • McKendry, Ian (Air pollution Climatology)
  • Moore, Robert Daniel (hydrology, hydroclimatology, stream temperature, fish habitat, forest hydrology, glacier hydrology, snow hydrology)
  • Peck, Jamie (Economic geography)
  • Pratt, Geraldine (Feminist Geographies)
  • Sundberg, Juanita (Militarization and Everyday Life in the US-Mexico Borderlands, environmental dimensions of US's border security policies in the Mexican border)
  • Wyly, Elvin (gentrification, housing, the politics of data and quantitative methods, U.S. politics)

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Jeffrey O'Connor Whyte
    "Dr. Whyte examined the historical origins and political geographies of American psychological warfare. His work has challenged convention and increased our understanding of communication and warfare." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Melanie Erin Sommerville
    "Dr. Sommerville researched recent agricultural investment ventures pairing marginalized communities with wealthy investors in Canada and South Africa. She found that the schemes allow investors to benefit from land claims and land reform programs, compromising the benefits offered by such programs to First Nations and black African communities." (November 2019)
  • Dr. David Andrew Reid
    "Dr. Reid showed how glaciation, landslides, and forestry practices impact mountain stream channels and salmon habitat through time and across space. This study helps watershed managers predict effects of land cover changes and water widthdrawals on sensitive fish habitat." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Lucy MacKenzie
    "Dr. MacKenzie investigated the processes that control bank erosion in steep, gravel-bed channels. She found that a small number of large grains stabilize the channel regardless of the amount of water and sediment supplied to the system. These results have implications for hazard mitigation and infrastructure design in mountainous regions." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Elanna Nolan
    "Dr. Nolan studied the contradictory relationship between terrorism prevention and multiculturalism in Australia. She argued that combining the two can undermine positive community relations and service delivery for marginalised communities. Her research illuminates the unique role of local council workers to resist these effects." (November 2019)

Further Program Information

 
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
14 September 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
01 January 2021
 

Supervisor Search

 

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