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

Geologists study the materials that make up the earth, the features and structures found on Earth as well as the processes by which these features and structures formed. Our department has a wide range of expertise in geological sciences, including field-based studies (e.g., mineral deposit research, volcanology, sedimentology, tectonics, petrology, hydrogeology), experimental research (e.g. hydrofracking, rock deformation, volcanic processes, C02 sequestration), and laboratory analyses (e.g. petrography, petrology, geochronology).

What makes the program unique?

  • The Geological Science program in EOAS is consistently ranked as one of the best geological science programs in Canada, and in the top 20 internationally.
  • We house world-class instrumentation for isotopic and geochemical research (PCIGR), the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU), and Vancouver is the world headquarters for Mineral deposit exploration.
  • British Columbia is an ideal natural laboratory to foster combined field and laboratory research.
  • Industry and government collaborations are extensive and many graduate students are funded by Industrial partnerships, which typically lead to fulltime employment.
 

Program Enquiries

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

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

Reading

22

Writing

22

Speaking

23

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

7.0

Listening

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 not required.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program normally possess a master's degree in an area of science or applied science, with clear evidence of research ability or potential.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2025 Intake

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

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2025

January 2026 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2025
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2025
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2025
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2025

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 Geological Sciences (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.

Prospective students are encouraged to read about the research interests https://www.eoas.ubc.ca/research/areas of individual faculty members to identify who would be a suitable supervisor and to contact this person before applying to the department.

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.

Research Information

Research Focus

Research within our program includes: - the effects of climate change on landscapes, surface processes, and terrestrial sedimentary deposits - carbon sequestration processes at and near the surface of the Earth - processes involved in the genesis of mineral deposits - composition and thermal structure of the mantle underlying the oldest portions of the earth (cratons) - reservoir characterisation of unconventional petroleum resources - strain localization and processes in structural geology - processes operating in subduction zones - the origin and evolution of silicate magmas and mineralization potential - the reconstruction of the elevation of mountain belts through time - constraining the dynamics and geochemistry of the lithosphere through time - the distribution of elements and isotopes in Earth systems - volcanology and igneous petrology as related to the formation, transport and eruption of magma

Research Facilities

Our Geological Science program is housed in the recently constructed Earth System Science Building. Research facilities include, the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR); the Electron Microbeam and XRD Facility (EMXDF), the Centre for Experimental Studies of the Lithosphere (CESL), and the Mineral Deposit Research Unit (MDRU).

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

Ph.D. students are guaranteed minimum funding of CAN $26,530.20 (plus tuition) per year for the first four years, which can consist of research assistantships (RAs) to help professors with their grants and contracts, teaching assistantships (TAs) to help teach courses and labs and grade assignments, scholarships and prizes, and combinations of all of the above.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 20 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 $40,583.
  • 18 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 18 students was $5,436.
  • 20 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 20 students was $13,269.
  • 8 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 8 students was $2,817.
  • 20 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 20 students was $15,111.
  • 7 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 7 students was $17,667.

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

35 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 2 graduates are seeking employment; for 4 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 29 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
Western Michigan University
Memorial University of Newfoundland
University of British Columbia
Monash University
Hawaii Pacific University
British Columbia Institute of Technology
Autonomous University of Barcelona
Carleton University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Dauber Creek Contracting Ltd.
Government of Yukon
Empresa Minera Los Quenuales, a subsidiary of Glencore International AG
Joggins Fossil Institute
SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute
Atlius Minerals Corp.
Mineral Services
Dr. von Moos AG Geotechnical Office
Barrick Gold Exploration
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Geologist (2)
Research Scientist
Senior Project Geologist
Senior Staff Geologist
Internal Controls Administrator
Volcanologist
Gemmologist
Technical Advisor in Geology
Senior Geochemist North America
Senior Geoscientist
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

Our Ph.D. program in Geological Science is designed to prepare students for employment in the public or private sector. Recent graduates have taken positions in mineral exploration companies, such as Teck and Barrick. Others have become bedrock mapping geologists with government geological surveys (for example, the Geological Survey of Canada, the British Columbia Geological Survey and the Yukon Geological Survey. Many former Ph.D. students are faculty members at Earth Science departments worldwide!

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences (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
Applications121521129
Offers46713
New Registrations15713
Total Enrolment2928212328

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 67% based on 21 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 10 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 4.1 years and the maximum time is 7.39 years with an average of 5.25 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.

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 Geological Sciences (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.

Prospective students are encouraged to read about the research interests https://www.eoas.ubc.ca/research/areas of individual faculty members to identify who would be a suitable supervisor and to contact this person before applying to the department.

 
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.

 

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; Ground Water and Water Tables; Groundwater Ecohydrology; Groundwater-Surfacewater & land Interaction; Hydro-geological Engineering; Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs; Numerical analysis; Watershed Management)
  • Beckie, Roger (Other environmental engineering and related engineering; Hydrogeology; Mine drainage; physical hydrogeology; groundwater geochemistry; groundwater contamination)
  • Bustin, Robert Marc (Unconventional Petroleum Reservoirs)
  • Chritz, Kendra (Anthropocene, Onset, tempo, and trajectory of human impacts on biological processes and environmental change)
  • Crowe, Sean (Geobiology, biogeochemistry, microbial evolution)
  • d'Arcy, Mitch (Earth and related environmental sciences; Geomorphology; Climate/palaeoclimate; Sedimentology; Geochronology; remote sensing)
  • Dipple, Gregory (carbon sequestration, geologic fluid flow, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions )
  • Eberhardt, Erik (Geotechnical engineering; Mining engineering; Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering; Deep Underground Excavations; Rock Slope Engineering; Block Cave Mining)
  • Groat, Lee (Mineralogy and crystallography (except soil mineralogy and chemicals aspects of crystallography); Inorganic geochemistry; Economic geology; mineralogy; crystal chemistry; Geochemistry; economic geology; gem deposits; pegmatites)
  • Hickey, Kenneth (understand the processes involved in the genesis of mineral deposits from a multidisciplinary perspective; Post-mineralization weathering, denudation and subsequent burial of Carlin-type Au-mineralization at the Cortez Hills deposit: Implications for finding Au-deposits in bedrock under cover.)
  • Jellinek, Mark (Volcanology, Geodynamics, Planetary Science, Geological Fluid Mechanics)
  • Johnson, Mark (Geology; Natural environment sciences; Agriculture; Biogeochemistry; Carbon cycle; Climate Changes and Impacts; data science; Ecohydrology; Ecology and Quality of the Environment; Fresh Water; Ground Water and Water Tables; Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs; Land and Soil; land use; Running Water Hydrosystem; Water and Sustainability)
  • Kennedy, Lori (Geological science, structural geology, development of large-scale fault systems and shear zones, displacements, fluid-rock interactions, strain localization, confining pressure)
  • Kopylova, Maya (diamond ore deposits, Diamond exploration, petrology and volcanology)
  • Lukes, Laura (Earth and related environmental sciences; Psychology and cognitive sciences; Education; Geoscience Education Research (Discipline-Based Education Research); Self-regulated Learning; field-based experiential learning; learning in informal settings (e.g., museums, parks, science centers); crowdsourced and citizen science; teacher beliefs; motivation, emotion, and beliefs in learning; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM; learning engineering)
  • Mayer, Ulrich (Geology; groundwater contamination; groundwater remediation; hydrogeology; low-temperature geochemistry; mine waste management)
  • McDougall, Scott (Other earth and related environmental sciences, n.e.c.; Geotechnical engineering; Debris flows / floods; Geohazards; Landslide-generated waves; Landslides; Natural and man-made geological hazards; Rock avalanches; Shoreline erosion; Tailings dam breaches)
  • Peacock, Simon (Natural sciences; metamorphic petrology; Tectonics; earthquakes)
  • Russell, Kelly (Physical sciences; volcanology; petrology; magma rheology; geochemical thermodynamics)
  • Saylor, Joel Edward (Paleoaltimetry; Paleoclimatology; Tectonic Basin analysis; Quantitative sediment provenance analysis; Rivers; Tectonics; Sedimentary Basins; Structural Geology; Field Geology; Sedimentology; Stratigraphy; Sequence Stratigraphy; Sediments; Geology)
  • Scoates, James (Origin and evolution of silicate magmas and mineralization potential; Applications of geochemistry and isotopic geochemistry to problems in petrology and mineral deposit geology; Physical volcanology and geochemical evolution of Large Igneous Provinces; Origin of igneous layering and the development of layered igneous intrusions; Petrologic, geochemical, isotopic, and geochronological aspects of Proterozoic anorthosite plutonic suites; Origin of magmatic Fe-Ti oxide, Cr, Ni, and PGE deposits)
  • Smit, Matthijs (1) timing and duration of)
  • Weis, Dominique (Isotope geochemistry; Environmental geochemistry; Earth Structure and Composition; Geodynamics; Chemical Pollutants; Earth Sciences; Geochemistry; High-precision/sensitivity geochemical analyses; Indigenous studies; Oceanic islands and mantle plumes)

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
2023 Dr. Gatz-Miller investigated the biogeochemical and physical relationship between soil, water, and plants using reactive transport numerical modelling. Dr. Gatz-Miller's work highlights the benefit of strategic complexity in numerical modelling to explore these nonlinear, interrelated, and diverse processes.
2023 Hawaiian volcanoes are direct windows into the chemical composition of Earth's deep interior. Dr. Williamson's research on Hawaiian lavas revealed a change in mantle chemistry along the Hawaiian Islands about 5 million years ago. Her work provides new insight for tracking the distribution of chemical reservoirs in the Earth's mantle through time.
2022 Dr. D'Acunha compared carbon and water fluxes from natural and managed ecosystems in Brazil. She found that the magnitude, seasonality and drivers of these fluxes change with biome, land use and management. Her research increases our understanding of tropical ecosystems, and helps inform policies for land management and climate change mitigation.
2022 Dr. Henry has demonstrated that H2O content within the beryl crystal structure can be calculated using measured Na. She determined additional chemical differences between gem beryl varieties. She has created a model to predict beryl structural details and used this to explore possible chemistries and limitations to the mineral.
2022 Dr. Jia developed and compared various modeling approaches to assess the mechanisms of GHG production, consumption, transport and emissions from macroporous agricultural soils, and interpret the simulation results in the context of observations from a field site in Ontario, Canada.
2022 Dr. Steiner found that ancient gold-rich fluids in the Osiris gold deposit preferentially flowed through veins in rigid, folded rocks. The fluids deposited gold where local variations in rock permeability forced the fluids to flow into non-fractured rocks. These results will help geologists find and develop other ore deposits more efficiently.
2021 Petroleum resource development has raised concerns about fugitive natural gas leakage into the environment. Dr. Chao's research advances the understanding of the transport and fate of natural gas in a typical groundwater system of Western Canada. Her findings address the potential environmental impacts of fugitive gas and contribute to environmental practices at sites impacted by gas leakage.
2021 Dr. Silva studied rocks formed in a sea that existed 240 million years ago in present-day British Columbia and Alberta. His research reconstructs how these rocks were deposited and describes how the minerals and rock properties vary across space, contributing to the understanding of the geologic history and energy resources of western Canada.
2020 Dr. Ryan used analyses of rocks from dome-building volcanoes in tandem with high-temperature, high-pressure experimentation to show that crystalline granular materials in volcanic environments heal on short timescales. This research demonstrates that the healing of crystalline granular materials can trigger cyclical explosive eruptions.
2020 Dr. Lesage studied geological controls on the district-scale footprints of porphyry deposits. He found that the formation of copper deposits affects the surrounding rock to distances up to several kilometers away. This research improves mineral deposit genetic models and will help to increase the success rate of future mineral exploration efforts.

Pages

Further Information

Specialization

UBC and the Province of British Columbia offer exceptional opportunity for combined field and laboratory research. The Canadian Cordillera offers research opportunities in:

  • petrology of intrusive and volcanic rocks of many kinds, and of metamorphic rocks of all grades
  • structural studies of complex metamorphic terrains exposed in three dimensions
  • metalliferous deposits of varied genetic types
  • mineral exploration methods; mineralogy associated with many different environments
  • complexly folded and faulted successions of bedded rocks in the mountain belts and plateaus, and in virtually undisturbed coal- and gas-bearing strata of the north-eastern province
  • numerous problems of engineering, environmental geology-related to water, slope stability, natural geological hazards, and hydrogeology (lakes, fjords, deltas, tidal flats, continental shelf, and oceanic depths provide a wide range of aquatic environments for students interested in sedimentology, geochemistry, biostratigraphy, and geological oceanography)

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-KW

Classification

 
 

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 June 2024
International Applicant Deadline
15 June 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2025
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2025

January 2026 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2025
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 June 2025
International Applicant Deadline
15 June 2025
 
Supervisor Search
 

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