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Applicants to master’s and doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

Overview

The Interdisciplinary Oncology program (IOP) is a graduate program designed to appeal to a broad range of students interested in cancer research. IOP offers advanced study and research in a variety of fields relating to oncology. Those fields include: molecular and cellular biology, genetics, biophysics, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical sciences, radiological sciences, immunology, molecular pathology, sociobehavioral studies, epidemiology and health economics. The goal of the program is to provide graduate students from diverse backgrounds, with an education in a number of disciplines relating to oncology, and to provide training opportunities for intensive training in specialized aspects of cancer research. For more than ten years, the program has been training the next generation of cancer research leaders.

What makes the program unique?

IOP integrates the diverse areas of oncology by offering two required courses which provide an interdisciplinary perspective on oncology in a form that is accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. The elective courses provide intensive training in one or more subjects specific to the student's research, and also gives the student an opportunity to gain expertise in other disciplines that have potential for synergy with their primary specialization. Students have access to clinicians and university faculty through the world-renowned BC Cancer Agency, to get a practical perspective on oncology treatments and outcomes. An innovative rotation course is a unique option for students to gain hands-on experience by rotating through specialty laboratories and by shadowing clinicians. 

Apply Now

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

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

Students must secure a supervisor before they can be admitted into the program. As well, they must meet the minimum admission requirements set out by Graduate and Post-doctoral Studies at UBC.

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

24

Speaking

22

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

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

A B.Sc is the minimum requirement.

Document Requirements

CV, Official transcripts, three letters of reference, Official English exam scores (if required)

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
11 March 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 August 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 August 2024
Referee Deadline: 30 August 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 August 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 August 2024
Referee Deadline: 30 August 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 March 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 October 2024
Transcript Deadline: 31 October 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 November 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 31 October 2024
Transcript Deadline: 31 October 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 November 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 March 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 March 2025
Transcript Deadline: 01 March 2025
Referee Deadline: 14 March 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 March 2025
Transcript Deadline: 01 March 2025
Referee Deadline: 14 March 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 Interdisciplinary Oncology (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

Program Components

Once students are enrolled in the program, they will have an opportunity to design a program that allows for rotations through other IOP faculty's labs to gain insight into other research areas other than their specific supervisor's research.

Research Facilities

Most IOP supervisors reside off-campus at the BC Cancer Research Centre, the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital or other hospital-related buildings.

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

All students who secure a supervisor and who are enrolled in the program will be paid a minimum stipend of $24,300/year.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 36 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 $25,375.
  • 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $6,093.
  • 17 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 17 students was $23,759.
  • 3 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 3 students was $2,530.
  • 36 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 36 students was $8,795.
  • 5 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 5 students was $27,333.

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

7 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 0 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 6 graduates:

Sample Employers in Higher Education
Queen's University Belfast
University of Toronto
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Johnson and Johnson Inc.
Princess Margaret hospital
RepliCel Life Sciences Inc.
BC Cancer Agency
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Senior Scientist
Postdoctoral Fellow
Director
Staff Scientist
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 have a wide range of options from working in government institutions to academia to biotechnology and bio-pharm companies. Those looking to further their academic career have are undertaking post-doctoral positions in Canada and abroad.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Oncology (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
Applications1916201414
Offers156977
New Registrations135666
Total Enrolment6656514240

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 96% based on 25 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 8 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 4.78 years and the maximum time is 6.83 years with an average of 5.79 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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Thursday, 15 August 2024 - 2:00pm - Dorothy Lam Boardroom, BC Cancer Research Institute, 675 West 10th Avenue

Chong Sun
Unraveling Human T-Cell Leukemogenesis: Insights From Combinatorial Oncogene Interactions

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 Interdisciplinary Oncology (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.

  • Aparicio, Samuel (Breast cancer, genome sequencing )
  • Bally, Marcel Bertran (Pancreas centre)
  • Baumbusch, Jennifer (long-term residential care, family caregiving, Intellectual Disability, nursing care of older adults )
  • Benard, Francois (Medical isotopes Radioisotopes Nuclear Medicine Cancer Imaging Molecular imaging of cancer Radionuclide therapy, Cancer division, radiology, pancreas centre)
  • Bennewith, Kevin (Oncology; Molecular Pathology & Cell Biology; Cancer research; Solid tumour microenvironment; Hypoxia; Metastasis research; Pre-metastatic niche; Targeting hypoxic tumour cells in therapy; Radiation biology)
  • Brooks-Wilson, Angela (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; cancer families; cancer genetics; genetic susceptibility; human genetics; longevity; Super seniors)
  • Brown, Carolyn Janet (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genetic medicine; Genomics; Health counselling; Applied Genetics; Chromosomes: Structure / Organization; DNA methylation; Epigenetic control of gene expression; Gene Regulation and Expression; Genes escaping X-chromosome inactivation; Long non-coding RNAs; X-chromosome inactivation; XIST RNA)
  • Campbell, Kristin (Clinical oncology; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation medicine; Biomarkers; Breast Cancer; Exercise Physiology; oncology; physical function; Physiology; Quality of Life and Aging; rehabilitation)
  • Cherkasov, Artem (Drug design; Bioinformatics, Molecular modeling; Proteomics; Artificial intelligence; Antibiotics )
  • Collins, Colin (translational genomics where mathematics, genomics, computer science, and clinical science converge in diagnostics and therapeutics)
  • Cox, Michael (genetic testing, experiences of hereditary risk, social and ethical implications of genetics, interpersonal and family communication, qualitative research, narrative and story, Prostate cancer)
  • Daugaard, Mads (Cancer progression and metastasis; Mechanisms of carcinogenesis; Cancer Diagnosis and Detection; Cancer biology; Cancer diagnostics; Cancer therapy; Cell Signaling and Cancer; Cell Therapy of Cancer; Chemotherapy; DNA damage response pathways; glycobiology; Immunotherapy; Radiotherapy; Cell stress and Cancer; Cell stress signalling in cancer)
  • Dedhar, Shoukat (molecular biology, molecular biology as it relates to disease; developing new theraputics for cancer; how brain cells (neurons)make connections, therapeutics for cancer; molecular genetics and cancer; medical research, cancer, inflammatory diseases, cariovascular diseases, Cellular proteins, extracellular martrix, integrins, signal transduction, calreticulin, protein kinase, gene expression, cell differentiation)
  • Dong, Xuesen (Cancer progression and metastasis; Gene and molecular therapy; Prostate Cancer; RNA splicing and Gene Regulation; Drug development; Hormone Dependent Cancers; Endocrine Regulation; Premature Labour)
  • Garnis, Catherine (Cancer biology; Tumor progression; Oral premalignant lesions; Head and neck cancer; RNA biology, microRNAs; Alternative splicing; Biomarkers)
  • Gleave, Martin (Infectious diseases, interdisciplinary oncology, prostate)
  • Haase, Kristen (Nursing, n.e.c.; oncology; Older Adults; Geriatric oncology; Health systems research; Mixed Methods Research; Qualitative research; Self-management; E-health)
  • Hieter, Philip (Molecular biology of eukaryotic chromosome transmission )
  • Hirst, Martin (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genomics; Immunology; Microbiology; Carcinogenesis; Cellular Differentiation; Epigenomics; Leukemia; Molecular Genetics)
  • Holt, Robert (Immunogenetics, Metagenomics - Infectious agents in Cancer, Cancer Genomes, Neurobiology, DNA Sequencing)
  • Howard, Fuchsia (health service needs of vulnerable, high-risk survivors of acute life-threatening illness, specifically, cancer survivors and survivors of critical illnesses; hereditary cancer prevention and risk management and psychosocial and ethnocultural factors that shape health and illness experiences)
  • Huntsman, David (hereditary cancer, molecular pathology, cancer biomarkers, Pancreas centre)
  • Jiang, Xiaoyan (Cancer drug development and therapeutics)

Pages

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. Foo's research aimed to develop novel drugs that target the drivers of prostate and breast cancers. By screening hundreds of compounds, Dr. Foo characterized the activity of new molecules that effectively inhibit cancer growth. This work will provide new therapeutic avenues to address the needs of patients who no longer respond to current treatments.
2024 Dr. Turgu explored the link between HACE1 gene, and mTOR, a key growth regulator in cancers. Her findings revealed that HACE1 significantly reduces mTOR activity, revealing a novel mechanism to control growth in tumor cells. Targeting this mechanism pathway can inhibit cancer cells' growth, and survival, leading the way for new therapeutic approaches.
2024 Dr. Segat studied how intrinsic and extrinsic factors can influence the onset of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She showed that inflammation favors the development of a more immature disease subtype, and that a gene called MYCN is essential for this subtype. She also found indirect ways to inhibit MYCN which could guide therapy development.
2024 Dr. May classified a set of molecules produced by tumours which inhibit the immune response and enhance tumour growth. To combat this, he developed multiple approaches to engineer immune cells to overcome this inhibition. When applied to cell-based therapies, this has a potential to result in improved efficacy across diverse cancer types.
2024 Dr. Fournier uncovered a new role for ARID1A, a gene lost in about 7% of all cancers, in the maintenance of genome integrity. Using CRISPR screening, he also identified vulnerabilities of cancer cells that lose ARID1A. This work expands our understanding of how these tumours develop and provides potential new avenues for treatment.
2024 Dr. Bhasin investigated a novel drug target for breast cancer treatment, where his research revealed that this target is involved in poor patient survival, promotes pro-cancer signals, and drives treatment resistance. Further exploration confirmed its high druggability potential, paving the way for a new mechanism of action for anti-cancer drugs.
2023 Dr. Lu's investigation looked at oncogenic splice errors in the human MET receptor. This receptor acts like an engine that drives cancer metastasis, and his results uncovered functional dependencies that can be targeted to properly shut it down. These findings can be translated to improve treatments for those battling advanced stages of lung cancer.
2023 Dr. Langman studied mechanisms of stress adaptation in cancer cells and identified novel functions of stress granule proteins in tumor growth and metastasis. Her research revealed new therapeutic targets for some of the deadliest pediatric cancers.
2023 Dr. MacAldaz examined blood stem cells capable of life-long blood production. She identified a strategy to isolate these cells at high purity from fetal sources and discovered culture conditions that preserve their potent regenerative properties. This research will enable the development of ways to manipulate these cells for clinical applications.
2023 Dr. Wells studied how our DNA faces internal obstacles and proposed a model featuring multiple repair pathways that work to tolerate this stress and prevent DNA damage. This work enhances our understanding of genome instability, a feature of cancer development and treatment.

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Sample Thesis Submissions

Further Information

Interdisciplinary Oncology offers advanced study and research in a variety of fields relating to oncology. The focus on interdisciplinarity is accomplished through a breadth of coverage in the following disciplines: molecular and cellular biology, genetics, biophysics, bioinformatics, pharmaceutical sciences, radiological sciences, immunology, socio-behavioural studies, and epidemiology.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-S1

Classification

 

Apply Now

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

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
11 March 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 August 2024
International Applicant Deadline
15 August 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 March 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 October 2024
International Applicant Deadline
31 October 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
31 March 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 March 2025
International Applicant Deadline
01 March 2025
 
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