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Overview

The doctoral (PhD) program in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems creates opportunities for students to develop and strengthen research capabilities and advanced knowledge. Students must plan and complete a doctoral thesis resulting in an original scholarly contribution to knowledge in their field of study. The candidate is expected to initiate and conduct a research project under the general direction of a supervisor and supported by a graduate supervisory committee.

ISLFS students work on diverse and often interdisciplinary research areas that address priority food systems questions and challenges ranging in scope from food production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and dietary practices, to the management of food waste.  Applied research projects in ISLFS often explore sustainable solutions to food systems challenges and at the PhD level may integrate questions and methods for investigating the environmental, economic and/or social dimensions of food systems. 

What makes the program unique?

Arguably the most important challenge for the world community in the 21st Century is Global Food Security – our ability to create a sufficient, healthy, safe, culturally relevant and economically accessible food system for everyone. Sustainable food systems will require more than technological advances, and must integrate economic, social and environmental relationships, thus involving community, land and food systems.  The ISLFS program allows students to cross disciplinary boundaries and incorporate cross-cutting methods and knowledge to address priority questions related to land and food systems

 

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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: 90

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

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

2-year Master's degree plus 4-year Bachelor degree

2) Meet Deadlines

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 September 2024
Transcript Deadline: 01 September 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 September 2024
Transcript Deadline: 01 September 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2024

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 Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

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

New solutions will demand that researchers and policy makers approach the task differently from in the past. We can no longer expect solutions to come from a single discipline. The Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems graduate program offers you the opportunity to focus on such key complex issues. It encourages you to use holistic approaches that integrate knowledge from across disciplines to find solutions relevant to diverse communities.

Program Components

Doctoral students will usually complete coursework and their candidacy exam within three years, and the defence of their doctoral dissertation in their fourth or fifth year.

Coursework, selected in consultation with the student’s supervisory committee, includes graduate courses in Land and Food Systems and from other areas relevant to each student’s research. Please consult the UBC Calendar for course timetable details. Outline of program(s) for typical students (details of the required courses can be found here):

Integrated Studies in Land & Food Systems (MSc, PhD) - Faculty of Land and Food Systems (ubc.ca)

PhD

  1. LFS 500 (3)
  2. LFS 649 (0)

Students are expected to demonstrate a strong competency in methodologies and may, therefore, be required to take additional coursework.

Examinations

  1. a comprehensive examination for PhD students
  2. defence of the thesis for PhD and MSc students

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

From September 2024 all full-time students in UBC-Vancouver PhD programs will be provided with a funding package of at least $24,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $24,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 9 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 $31,081.
  • 6 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 6 students was $5,043.
  • 8 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 8 students was $19,220.
  • 3 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 3 students was $6,129.
  • 9 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 9 students was $7,111.
  • 1 student received external awards valued at $13,333.

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

6 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 5 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):

Sample Employers in Higher Education
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Centre for Disease Control
Agribotix
Government of Canada
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Policy Analyst
Business Owner/Consulting
VP, Sales
Regional Coordinator Environmental Protection Program
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

Graduates from the ISLFS program have the skills necessary to contribute to research, evaluation, policy development, advocacy, and practice and often find employment opportunities in governmental or non-profit organizations.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems (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
Applications74895
Offers21410
New Registrations21310
Total Enrolment1318161515

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 73% based on 11 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 9 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 2.73 years and the maximum time is 7.85 years with an average of 5.45 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 Integrated Studies in Land and Food Systems (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.
 
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.

 

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.

  • Barichello, Richard (Agricultural economics)
  • Black, Jennifer (Human nutrition and dietetics; Community Health / Public Health; food banks; food environments; Nutrition; Public health; school food environments; social determinants of health)
  • Carrillo, Juli (Plant-insect interactions; Agroecology; Invasive species; evolution; Ecology; community ecology; Environmental Change; Plant evolution; Population Ecology)
  • Cornelis, Jean Thomas (Earth and related environmental sciences; Pedology; Biogeochemistry; Soil-Plant Interactions)
  • Gulati, Sumeet (Agricultural economics; Economics of Human Wildlife Conflict; Economics of Urban Transportation; Effectiveness of Carbon Taxes; Effectiveness of Environmental Policy; International Trade and its Effect on the Environment; Political Economy of Environmental and Trade Policy)
  • Jovel Ayala, Eduardo (Ethnobotany, mycology, natural product chemistry and Aboriginal health)
  • Margulis, Matias (International Organization; Globalization; Human Rights and Liberties, Collective Rights; Global Governance; International Political Economy; United Nations; World Trade Organization; Food and Agriculture; Human Rights)
  • McAusland, Carol (Interactions between globalization and public good provision, impacts of trade liberalization on environmental politics, potential use of trade policy to stem damages from exotic species introductions and biological invasions Environmental impacts of international trade, implications of skilled labor migration for the global provision of public goods)
  • Noack, Frederik (Interaction of economic development and the environment)
  • Riseman, Andrew (plant breeding; plant genetics; horticulture; roots; stress physiology, Plant breeding, intercrop interactions, nutrient use efficiency, root physiology, biotic/abtioic stressor)
  • Smukler, Sean (Natural sciences; Agricultural ecology; Soil health; Climate change adaptation and mitigation; Ecosystem services)
  • Wittman, Hannah (Sociology and related studies; Farming systems research; food sovereignty; Sustainable agriculture; socio-ecological systems; Agroecology)

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
2024 Dr. Ha investigated the impact of elevated carbon dioxide on plant-insect interactions across multiple insect species. His work narrowed knowledge gaps on how different insect species respond to feeding on CO2-enriched host plants, and contributed towards gaining a deeper understanding of how plant-insect interactions can change in the near future.
2023 Dr. Zarate-Barrera combines economics and computational methods with large-scale data to understand the effects of environmental stressors on non-health-related outcomes and the causes and consequences of female empowerment in violent contexts.
2023 Dr. Madhok conducted his doctoral studies in environmental and development economics. His work documents how economic activity shapes the environment in developing nations, with emphasis on biodiversity loss, air quality, and land use change. His findings inform the design of policies that balance economic growth and environmental conservation.
2023 Dr. Rinaldi examined public discourse and planning processes involving water science and democracy in extractive frontiers in Colombia. She found that narratives are shifting towards a more nuanced understanding of complexity, uncertainty and the role of expert knowledge at the water-energy nexus.
2023 Dr. Ravani Cecato studied topics in environmental economics. Her research showed that information dissemination contributes to enforcing environmental regulations. She also showed that migration is an important adaptation strategy to climate change.
2023 Dr. Solis-Becerra examined how indigenous cuisine can serve as an effective tool to achieve local Food sovereignty while preserving regional biocultural diversity. Both are key aspects in the development of sustainable food systems and food security strategies aligned with culturally respectful initiatives.
2023 Dr. Dring studied how municipal governance of agricultural systems in Southwestern British Columbia, Canada contributes to social justice. Through exploration of the politics of conflict and dissent over land use, Dr. Dring argues for the importance of municipal roles in planning just food futures.
2023 Dr. Leepile evaluated the prevalence of household insecurity, undernutrition, and anemia among the Indigenous San people in rural Botswana. She also documented the communities' lived experiences, perceptions, and recommendations. Her findings will inform and guide targeted and culturally responsive nutrition and health policies for the San people.
2020 Dr. Grenz showed how reclaiming an Indigenous Ecology redefines how we approach land and water healing. She has created a values-based decision-making tool that will help lead us toward ecological reconciliation. Her work provides a path forward for scientists to unleash the potential of an Indigenous worldview to illuminate new paths of inquiry.
2019 Dr. Heckelman evaluated different agricultural development approaches underway in the Philippine rice sector and examined the resilience outcomes of conventional and organic rice systems in the country. This research illuminates the necessary conditions and factors for building farmer capacities to enhance climate resilience.

Pages

Further Information

ISLFS students work on diverse and often interdisciplinary research areas to address priority food systems questions and challenges ranging in scope from food production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and dietary practices, to the management of food waste. Applied research projects in ISLFS often address sustainable solutions to food systems challenges that may address environmental, economic and social dimensions of food systems.

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-N1
 

Apply Now

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

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 September 2024
International Applicant Deadline
01 September 2024
 
Supervisor Search
 

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