Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics (PhD)

Overview

Theoretically, experimentally, and observationally oriented Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Applied Science (M.A.Sc.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs are offered in a number of key areas of geophysics. Current interests include topics in observational and theoretical glaciology; climate variability; geodynamics of the crust, mantle, and core of Earth and other planets; geological fluid mechanics; volcanic processes; surface processes on Earth and other planets; origin and structure of planetary magnetic fields; inversion methodologies with application to reflection seismology, mineral exploration, and environmental studies; computational electrodynamics; seismology with observational programs in crustal and upper mantle studies; earthquake studies focused on understanding past and current tectonic processes in Western Canada, and data science including applications of machine learning to Earth scientific problems.

What makes the program unique?

Geophysics at UBC was originally a subprogram within the Department of Physics until 1963 when the Department of Geophysics was formed. In 1972 the Department of Geophysics changed its name to the Department of Geophysics & Astronomy reflecting increased activity in astronomical research and teaching. This department was dissolved in 1996, and geophysics faculty were merged with colleagues from geology, oceanography and, later, atmospheric sciences to become the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS). EOAS is the largest and most diverse department of its kind in Canada and, accordingly, geophysics graduate students have unparalleled opportunities for engaging in cutting-edge pure and applied research in both traditional geophysical topics and those that cross disciplinary boundaries. 

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Program Enquiries

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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.

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.

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.

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:

100
22
22
22
23
7.0
6.5
6.5
6.5
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.

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 Geophysics (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.

Citizenship Verification

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

Research Information

Research Facilities

In 2012 the new Earth Sciences Building was completed. The $75 million facility was designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines.

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.

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

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.

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

PhD students are guaranteed a minimum of salary of CAN$ 21,240.00 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 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 and Research Assistantships

Student service appointments are intended to help qualified graduate students meet the cost of their studies at the University. Student appointments may involve part-time duties in teaching, research, or other academic activities.

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

18 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 18 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):


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
University of British Columbia
Columbia University in the City of New York
University of Ottawa
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Black Tusk Geophysics (3)
Arcis Seismic Solutions (2)
3point Science
High Power Exploration
Dead Sea and Arava Science Center
Computational Geosciences Inc.
Seabed Geosolutions
Oyu Tolgoi LLC
Baziw Consulting Engineers Ltd.
Chevron
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Geophysicist (3)
Consulting Geophysicist
Geologist, Research scientist
Lead Backend Developer
Advanced Geophysical Software Developer
Senior Geophysicist
President
Senior Earth Scientist
Principal Geophysicist
Superintendent
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

Geophysics graduate programs prepare students for work in a wide range of Earth science disciplines. The programs afford students with strong critical thinking, analytical problem solving, communication, statistical, computational and research skills, and the ability to work effectively in teams.These skills are highly sought after and are transferable to many workplaces. Recent graduates have found employment in academia (universities in Canada, United States, Europe and Australia), government (Geological Survey of Canada), environmental monitoring and mineral exploration industries, hydrocarbon exploration, software engineering (Google) and elsewhere in the technology sector (Tesla).

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics (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
Applications511272216
Offers 2234
New registrations  234
Total enrolment1919303537

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 85.71% based on 7 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 12 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 7.49 years with an average of 5.55 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: 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.

  • Bostock, Michael (structure of the Canadian upper mantle, Geophysics, formation and evolution of the first continental landmasses, the structure and dynamics of subduction zones)
  • Haber, Eldad (Scientific computing and its application to geophysical and medical imaging)
  • Jellinek, Mark (Volcanology, Geodynamics, Planetary Science, Geological Fluid Mechanics)
  • Johnson, Catherine (Lunar geophysics, Evolution of Mars' Magnetic Field and Atmosphere)
  • Radic, Valentina (Climate Changes and Impacts, Glaciology, Meteorology, Climate Science)
  • Schoof, Christian (Ice and Snow, Transformation and Evolution of the Earth Surface, Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulic, Asymptotic and Classical Applied Analysis, Differential Equation, Glaciology, ice sheet dynamics, glacier hydrology, applied mathematics)

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
2019 Dr. Fournier's research builds upon well established imaging technologies used by earth scientists to better understand the sub surface and interior of our planet. He focused on the processing of surface gravity and magnetic field data -- an active field of research in applied geophysics. His work is frequently used in the scientific community.
2019 Dr. Peters developed mathematical tools and software to merge measurements and prior knowledge to improve the quality of imaging methods. His work focussed on imaging applications in the earth sciences.
2019 Dr. Belliveau developed algorithms that produce three-dimensional images of the interior of the earth from remotely collected electrical and magnetic measurements. These images help scientists understand the Earth's interior.
2019 Dr. Mittelholz explored the magnetic field environment of Mars, addressing the crustal, ionospheric and magnetospheric fields from satellite data. Her work also addressed the longevity of the ancient dynamo field, a constraint on Mars' early thermal evolution.
2019 Dr. Heagy studied the use of electromagnetic data for monitoring hydraulic fracturing operations. Her work contributed to the understanding of electromagnetic fields and fluxes in settings with steel-cased wells, as well as the development of open-source software tools for building models of the subsurface from geophysical data.
2018 Dr. Aubry investigated how weather conditions during an eruption control the rise of explosive volcanic columns. His research unravels how long-term climate changes affect the delivery of volcanic gases into the atmosphere and suggests that global warming will hinder volcanoes' ability to cool Earth.
2018 Did rivers ever flow on Mars? The remnants of channels on its surface suggest they did. Dr. Grau Galofre showed that although rivers existed, the majority flowed beneath hundreds of meters of glacial ice. This discovery may help to understand the climate and hydrology of ancient Mars and to focus the search for life outside of our planet.
2018 Dr. Fang studied how to use seismic data to create an image of the Earth's interior. He developed a technique to achieve this goal without knowing the original signal characteristics. This technique can help oil and gas industries make better exploration decisions.
2018 Improved geophysical imaging requires coordinated advances from the disciplines of geology, hydrology and computer science. Dr. Cockett proposed and implemented a computational framework for this interdisciplinary research and focused on improving the scalability of numerical techniques used in near-surface hydrogeophysics.
2018 Electrical chargeability is a diagnostic physical property for various geoscience applications such as mining. Dr. Kang's doctoral studies focused on developing a workflow that extracts a three-dimensional chargeability model from airborne electromagnetic geophysical surveys. This work facilitates locating mineral ores from the air.

Pages

Further Program Information

Specialization

Current interests include topics in observational and theoretical glaciology; climate variability; geodynamics of the crust, mantle, and core of Earth and other planets; geological fluid mechanics; volcanic processes; origin and structure of planetary magnetic fields; reflection seismology; time-series analysis and wavelet processing; inversion methodologies with application to reflection seismology, mineral exploration, and environmental studies; computational electrodynamics; seismology with observational programs in crustal and upper mantle studies; earthquake studies focused on understanding past and current tectonic processes in Western Canada; and theoretical model studies to investigate wave propagation in laterally heterogeneous media.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-KX
 

Apply Now

If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

January 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 June 2020
International Applicant Deadline
15 June 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2021
 

Supervisor Search

 

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