Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics (PhD)
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.
Contact the program
Meet a Representative
PhD Funding OpportunitiesDate: Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00
Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding and Shane Moore as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarships available to incoming PhD students.
This session will cover:
- Overview of PhD funding at UBC
- PhD minimum funding guarantee
- UBC Awards database
- Advice on writing funding proposals and applications
Who is this webinar for?
This webinar is for those who are applying to PhD programs at UBC and are interested in learning more about internal and external funding opportunities.
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
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 Geophysics (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.
In 2012 the new Earth Sciences Building was completed. The $75 million facility was designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines.
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 $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.
Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.
Program Funding Packages
PhD students are guaranteed a minimum salary of CAN$ 25,500 (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 the above.
- 10 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 10 students was $6,667.
- 11 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 11 students was $7,938.
- 11 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 11 students was $13,292.
- 6 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 6 students was $24,500.
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.
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 EducationUniversity of British Columbia
Columbia University in the City of New York
University of Ottawa
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationBlack Tusk Geophysics (3)
Arcis Seismic Solutions (2)
High Power Exploration
Dead Sea and Arava Science Center
Computational Geosciences Inc.
Oyu Tolgoi LLC
Baziw Consulting Engineers Ltd.
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationGeophysicist (3)
Geologist, Research scientist
Lead Backend Developer
Advanced Geophysical Software Developer
Senior Earth Scientist
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 Geophysics (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
|2017||Dr. Devriese showed that electromagnetic methods can be used to monitor steam floods below the ground surface over time. The work was primarily geared towards enhanced hydrocarbon recovery. However, her findings are also applicable to improving management of other subsurface resources, such as groundwater and contamination plumes.|
|2016||To report hazardous rockfalls, railway operators currently use trip wire alarm systems which are prone to frequent and prolonged false triggers that delay traffic. Dr. Nedilko developed an autonomous seismic rockfall monitoring system that helps to reduce the number of delayed trains.|
|2016||Do all volcanoes shake the ground in the same way when they erupt? Dr. Unglert studied volcanic tremor, a type of earthquake that often happens before or during volcanic eruptions. Her work showed for the first time that the features of a tremor might be similar for different volcanoes, depending on the volcano type or the depth of the magma reservoirs.|
|2016||Dr. Fohring developed and tested mathematical methodologies for non-invasive monitoring of water flow in an aquifer, using synthetic numerical models of seismic tomography surveys. These studies help to determine optimal survey designs for seismic tomography while generating the best images of water flow underground.|
|2016||Dr. Lin studied the echoes that seismic waves create as they move through the earth. He examined how they can be mapped back to their sources with the help of computer clusters and clever algorithms. This mapping can then be used to help understand and image underground geological structures in more detail than ever before.|
|2015||Ice streams are narrow, fast-flowing regions within an ice sheet, and they account for the majority of the Antarctic ice loss. Dr. Haseloff studied the migration of ice streams. Her work allows us to include this process in models of the Antarctic ice sheet, and improves our ability to predict Antarctic ice loss and contribution to sea level rise.|
|2015||Dr. Tu's research focuses on using sound waves to detect the internal structure of the earth. He developed a method that uses echoes from the sound waves to reveal more details of the shallow earth structure. By producing a more accurate prediction of geological hazards near the surface, this new approach will lead to much safer drilling operations.|
|2015||Dr. Li studied ways to reduce the costs of the technology for seismology imaging. He proposed a new method that can reduce the prohibitively expensive computational cost of imaging and inversion techniques. With his method, the oil and gas industry can obtain images of subsurface oil and gas reservoirs at feasible costs, without sacrificing quality.|
|2015||Dr. Marchant studied the ways in which electromagnetic geophysical experiments are affected by chargeability. Chargeable materials can indicate the presence of metals and mineral deposits. His work resulted in new methods to simulate and recognize the effects of chargeability, and provided new tools that will benefit the mineral exploration industry.|
|2014||Dr. Yang proposes a new framework for numerical modeling of electromagnetic data in geophysics. This approach is able to dramatically speed up the processing of data, making the interpretation much more efficient than before. His research provides geoscientists with a more powerful tool for imaging the earth's structure in a variety of problems.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
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.