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

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. 

 

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.

2) Meet Deadlines

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 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.

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 Facilities

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

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

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. 

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 8 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 $37,552.
  • 6 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 6 students was $4,230.
  • 8 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 8 students was $8,567.
  • 3 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 3 students was $3,739.
  • 8 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 8 students was $14,161.
  • 4 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 4 students was $20,500.

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 Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator 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

 20232022202120202019
Applications671156
Offers03201
New Registrations02100
Total Enrolment1114141617

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 74% based on 32 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 6 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 4.44 years and the maximum time is 8.54 years with an average of 6.25 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 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.
 
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.

 

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
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.
2014 Dr. Leaney completed his PhD in Geophysics. His thesis dealt with the influence of elastic anisotropy on micro-earthquakes generated during hydraulic fracturing. A data set from central Alberta was analyzed using newly developed techniques, which should benefit the oil and gas industry in Canada, the US and the rest of the world.
2014 Dr. Blanchette-Guertin developed new tools and analytical methods to study seismic energy propagation in highly scattering environments, such as on the Moon. His work resulted in a better understanding of shallow lunar structures and offers new avenues to study the interiors of other scattering bodies, such as asteroids and Mars.
2014 Dr. Royer devised deterministic and statistical models of seismic deconvolution. She exploited the latter model to generate low frequency earthquake templates from tectonic tremor. Its application to the Cascadia subduction zone provides insight into the plate boundary properties.
2014 Dr. Winslow studied Mercury's magnetic field and its interaction with the solar wind. She developed a new method to measure the magnetic field strength at the surface of planets using high altitude spacecraft magnetic field and plasma observations. She applied this technique to Mercury, making the first measurements of its surface magnetic field.

Pages

Further 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

Classification

 
 

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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