Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Engineering (PhD)
Our program delivers an interdisciplinary experience, combining principles of geotechnical engineering, hydrogeology and geology, to provide a versatile set of skills needed to solve a wide range of practical problems related to engineering interactions with the earth environment.
Faculty members in the Geological Engineering program have research interests in the following general areas:
- landslides, debris flows, runout analysis, hazard assessment
- groundwater hydrology, groundwater contamination & remediation, reactive transport modeling, environmental geochemistry
- rock mechanics & rock engineering, open pit & underground mine design, tunnelling
Other research areas include geotechnical engineering, environmental geology, economic geology and applied geophysics. Students are encouraged to consult individual faculty members for information about current research areas.
What makes the program unique?
Geological Engineering is an interdisciplinary field, in which principles of geoscience are used to solve engineering and environmental problems. It connects geology, physics and chemistry with civil engineering and other fields (e.g. mining, geography, forestry) to provide a versatile set of skills applicable to a wide range of contemporary problems. The qualifications of a geological engineer are similar to those of a civil engineer with geotechnical or environmental specialization; however, our graduates have the advantage of better understanding of geological processes.
Contact the program
Meet a Representative
PhD Funding OpportunitiesDate: Friday, 14 October 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00
In this webinar Professor Julian Dierkes, Senior Associate Dean, Students will provide an overview of PhD and graduate school funding for research-based programs in Canada and at UBC
Focusing on internal funding opportunities, Professor Dierkes will outline different approaches to funding that applicants should expect to see, such as funding through supervisors and funding through programs of study. As well as this Professor Dierkes will detail the specifics of funding at UBC such as our International Tuition Award and PhD Minimum Funding Guarantee. There will also be opportunities to have your funding questions answered.
Who is the webinar for?
The webinar is specifically for prospective students and applicants to PhD programs and students applying to research-based masters programs who have the intention of moving into a PhD program later. This session will not be covering application or admissions questions, please attend one of our other sessions to have your application questions answered.
Admission Information & Requirements
1) Check Eligibility
Minimum Academic Requirements
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:
Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.
English Language Test
Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.
Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:
TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based
Overall score requirement: 100
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 7.0
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is not required.
2) Meet Deadlines
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date01 October 2022
January 2024 Intake
Application Open Date01 April 2023
September 2024 Intake
Application Open Date01 October 2023
3) Prepare Application
All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.
Letters of Reference
A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.
Statement of Interest
Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.
Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.
Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Engineering (PhD)
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.
The Geological Engineering program is housed in the recently constructed Earth Science Building and the associated buildings EOAS-Main and EOAS-South. The $75 million Earth Sciences Building was designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines. Research facilities include the Environmental Interfaces laboratory (EIL), the Centre for Experimental Studies of the Lithosphere (CESL), a wet lab and field staging areas. We have access to cluster-computing facilities in our own department, as well as high-performance computing facilities both at UBC and at large computing centers across Canada. In addition, software licenses paid by UBC covers powerful desktop data analysis, programming, and visualization apps.
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,767.18||$3,104.64|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,057.05 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
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.
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 Ph.D. students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in January 2021 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $25,500 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package consists of any combination of internal or external awards (NSERC scholarships, UBC Four Year Fellowships, departmental awards, etc.), teaching-assistantships and research assistantships. In addition, tuition will be covered for the first four years of the program through a scholarship.
- 6 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 6 students was $6,066.
- 6 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 6 students was $11,691.
- 6 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 6 students was $15,018.
- 2 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 2 students was $16,333.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
7 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; for 1 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 5 graduates:
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationSchlumberger Technology Corp.
BGC Engineering Inc.
Crux Engineering Group (CEG)
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationEngineer
Senior Geotechnical Engineer
Senior Geotechnical Consultant
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Engineering (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
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.
Ameli, Ali (Geology; Applied Hydro-geochemistry; Climate Changes and Impacts; Environmental Tracer; Green Infrastructure; Ground Water and Water Tables; Groundwater Ecohydrology; Groundwater-Surfacewater & land Interaction; Hydro-geological Engineering; Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs; Numerical analysis; Watershed Management)
Beckie, Roger ( Ground hydrology, geotechnical engineering)
Eberhardt, Erik (landslides, rockslides, tunnelling, mining, rock mechanics, geotechnical engineering, Rock Mechanics & Rock Engineering)
Mayer, Ulrich (Geology; groundwater contamination; groundwater remediation; hydrogeology; low-temperature geochemistry; mine waste management)
McDougall, Scott (Debris flows / floods, Geohazards, Landslide-generated waves, Landslides, Natural and man-made geological hazards, Rock avalanches, Shoreline erosion, Tailings dam breaches)
|2022||Dr. Mitchell developed methods to examine the variability in flowing landslide movement to better estimate the areas potentially impacted by landslides, and the range of depth and velocity of those impacts. This was done using a combination of statistical modelling of observations of past events, and computer simulations of flowing landslides.|
|2019||Dr. Rahjoo investigated the mechanics of rock fracturing, strength and deformation, and developed models for the behaviour of fracturing rocks. With tunnels and mines heading towards greater depths, this knowledge is critical for safe and stable excavations. His findings contribute to the advancement of rock mechanics and rock engineering.|
|2019||Dr. Javadi studied the waste rock piles that mining companies pile up following excavation. She developed numerical models to investigate and understand flow rates, and the chemistry of the water that discharges from stockpiled waste. These models can help industry make more informed decisions to manage the potential effects of contaminated water.|
|2018||Dr. Snauffer applied machine learning techniques to assessments of snow in British Columbia. He built an artificial neural network using gridded data products and a snow model to better estimate snow water equivalent across the region. This work will lead to improved avalanche and runoff forecasts as well as new tools for water resources managers.|
|2017||Dr. Aaron developed new techniques to understand the mechanisms governing flow-like landslides, as well as methodologies to predict their motion. This research has resulted in practical tools that can be used to protect society from certain landslide hazards.|
|2017||Reactive transport is a powerful tool to help understand water and rock interactions and processes related to groundwater and soil contamination. Dr. Rasouli's doctoral research was focused on the development and application of multicomponent diffusion and electrochemical migration models for reactive transport in porous media.|
|2017||Dr. Severin's research focused on the impact of geological faults on both displacement and stress heterogeneity within large open pit mines. He was responsible for a unique experiment using radar to monitor slope movement and his work will help the safe design and application of open pit mining.|
|2016||Dr. Dorador studied the fragmentation process of block caving, an underground mining method. He developed a new approach to estimate block size distribution at drawpoints. His research contributes to the design of block cave mining projects during early stage engineering.|
|2015||Dr. Wyllie's research involved two aspect of rock fall hazards. First, actual rock fall events were carefully documented to provide data for calibration of rock fall computer models. Second, an improved rock fall protection net has been developed which minimizes the absorption of impact energy and reduces construction costs for these structures.|
|2013||Dr. Zangeneh examined the influence of geology on the design of hydraulic fracturing, to improve extraction from natural gas reservoirs. She developed procedures to design effective hydraulic fractures, and to mitigate against induced seismicity. Her study will help operators to maximize oil and natural gas extraction in a safe and sustainable manner.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
Geological Engineering applies earth sciences principles to engineering problems. Research interests include
- landslides, debris flows, engineering geology, slope stability
- groundwater hydrology, groundwater contamination and remediation, reactive transport modeling, environmental geochemistry
- rock engineering, rock slopes, and tunneling
Other research areas include geotechnical engineering, environmental geology, engineering geology, economic geology, and applied geophysics. The specific fields of study may involve geomorphology and terrain analysis, groundwater hydrology, natural hazards, slope stability, petroleum and coal geology, coalbed methane, mineral prospecting and valuation, and other similar subjects.