Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences (PhD)

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

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

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 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)
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$108.00$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)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (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.

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 $25,000 (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.

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.

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

 20192018201720162015
Applications119171318
Offers13522
New registrations13422
Total enrolment2328323031

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 62.5% based on 16 students admitted between 2007 - 2010. Based on 9 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 7.00 years with an average of 5.68 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: 10 March 2020]. 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: 29 October 2020].

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
2018 Dr. MacWilliam studied gold mineralization in western Yukon and eastern Alaska. She found that different styles of gold mineralization are genetically related. Her results advance the understanding of gold deposit models, which can be applied for the benefit of exploration in the northern Cordillera as well as globally.
2018 Dr. Skierszkan studied the mobility of two metallic contaminants, molybdenum and zinc, in mine waste rock and tailings by using stable isotope analyses. His research provides practitioners with a new tool to trace the release and attenuation of metals in mine waste and thus improve environmental management at mine sites.
2018 Dr. Rabayrol studied the formation of gold deposits in Anatolia in Turkey. He showed the genetic relationship between the Arabian continental collision, mantle flow, magmatism and gold mineralization. His research provides the mining industry with a new exploration model in Anatolia, and insights into metallogeny in collisional tectonic domains.
2018 Dr. Fourny studied layered intrusions, which are fossil magma chambers that represent natural laboratories, to examine how magma solidifies. She analyzed the chemistry of samples from the Kiglapait layered intrusion of coastal Labrador in northern Canada to reconstruct its entire crystallization history. These results can be used as a template for examining other geologically more complex intrusions worldwide.
2018 Dr. Fagan investigated the ruby and pink sapphire deposits of southwest Greenland. He found that gem corundum forms in unusual mafic-ultramafic rocks that have metamorphosed at high pressure and temperature. This study illuminates the role of recrystallization and hydrous-halide fluids in the formation of coloured gemstone deposits.
2018 Dr. Hilchie developed new methods to rigorously test for the action of chemical processes that produce and differentiate rocks. His applications of these methods inform the nature of chemical variability in some of the oldest volcanic rocks on Earth.
2018 Dr. Letham developed new laboratory techniques for analyzing fine-grained sedimentary reservoir rocks. Application of these techniques will lead to more efficient exploitation of shale oil and shale gas reservoirs.
2017 Dr. Harrison studied the elemental and isotopic composition of volcanoes along the 2300 km Northwest Hawaiian Ridge. She integrated those results with the entire 5800 km-long chain, and showed the chemistry varies temporally. This implies that the deep mantle contains distinct reservoirs sampled episodically by the moving Hawaiian plume.
2016 Dr. Wall examined rates of magmatic processes in the Earth's crust using precise radiometric dating of some of the world's largest plutonic bodies. He developed a technique to extract mineral chronometers from rocks that had previously been considered undateable. His results provide key insights into the timescales of magmatism in the Earth's history.
2015 Dr. Milton studied the geology of the copper deposits of the Mackenzie Mountains, in the Northwest Territories. He discovered that the copper was concentrated by the convection of hot, salty fluids, long after the sedimentary host-rocks were formed. His research will aid explorers and prospectors in their search for Earth's copper resources.

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

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