Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences (PhD)
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.
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
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.
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
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date01 October 2022
January 2024 Intake
Application Open Date01 April 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 Sciences (PhD)
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.
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 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
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
|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
Ph.D. students are guaranteed minimum funding of CAN $26,010 (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.
- 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $3,982.
- 10 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 10 students was $13,380.
- 12 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 12 students was $16,009.
- 1 student received an external award valued at $12,833.
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.
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 EducationWestern Michigan University
Memorial University of Newfoundland
University of British Columbia
Hawaii Pacific University
British Columbia Institute of Technology
Autonomous University of Barcelona
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationDauber 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.
Dr. von Moos AG Geotechnical Office
Barrick Gold Exploration
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationGeologist (2)
Senior Project Geologist
Senior Staff Geologist
Internal Controls Administrator
Technical Advisor in Geology
Senior Geochemist North America
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 Sciences (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
Upcoming Doctoral Exams
Thursday, 14 July 2022 - 9:00am - Room 5108, Earth Sciences Building, 2207 Main Mall
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)
Bustin, Robert Marc (Unconventional Petroleum Reservoirs)
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 (landslides, rockslides, tunnelling, mining, rock mechanics, geotechnical engineering, Rock Mechanics & Rock Engineering)
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 (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 Stewart (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 (Geology; Earth Structure and Composition; Geodynamics; Chemical Pollutants; Earth Sciences; Environmental geochemistry; Geochemistry; High-precision/sensitivity geochemical analyses; Indigenous studies; Oceanic islands and mantle plumes)
|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.|
|2020||Dr. Wilson used volcanoes that erupt beneath glaciers to reveal the existence of ancient continental-scale ice sheets in Southern British Columbia. His work helps us to understand the nature of rapid climate fluctuation and suggests that melting glaciers may be an important trigger for global volcanic eruption rates.|
|2020||Dr. McMillan developed and applied sophisticated geochemical approaches to stakeholder- and Indigenous-led investigations of archaeological biominerals and mineraloids, encompassing a large span of human history on two continents. The resulting techniques and data provided key information for addressing modern questions about the human journey.|
|2020||Dr. Forde investigated the behaviour of fugitive gas, which occurs when damaged oil and gas wells leak natural gas into the surrounding environment. Fugitive gas poses environmental risks for groundwater contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. Her findings will improve oil and gas well site monitoring to identify and assess gas migration.|
|2019||Dr. Scribner demonstrated the effect of contamination on the mineralogy of the Rau pegmatite group. Her research provides strong evidence that contamination has a more prominent influence on the chemical signature of pegmatites than previously recognized. She also developed a validated assessment to measure learning gains in mineralogy courses.|
|2019||Dr. Bauer studied the geochemistry of chromium and iron in modern and ancient rock and sediments. He created new knowledge about the implementation of these two transition metals as paleoredox proxies that will allow for more nuanced reconstructions of the complex history of oxygen in Earth's surface environments.|
|2019||Dr. Hund investigated the impacts of climate change and population growth on water supplies in the seasonally-dry tropics. She monitored streams and groundwater, modelled future climate scenarios, and worked with communities to develop novel tools to support adaptation to drought.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
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)