Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies (PhD)

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

The Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program (ISGP) at the University of British Columbia was established in 1971, the first of its kind in Canada. It is one of the only Canadian programs to offer doctoral degrees in interdisciplinary studies, and is possibly one of the largest of its kind in North America.

The main purpose of the ISGP is to enable qualified graduate students to pursue advanced interdisciplinary research exceeding the provisions of existing departmental programs. There are no restrictions regarding the topic and in many cases the student draws upon expertise from several distinct faculties. The prospective student has to bring together three or four qualified faculty from different departments or units. Because there are no constraints on which fields are brought together, there are virtually no two students in the same sub-field. The ISGP is designed only for a highly motivated and superb student who can steer an independent course.

What makes the program unique?

ISGP gives you the opportunity to:

  • pursue interdisciplinary research that is individually designed by the student
  • select courses and research supervisors from every department at UBC
  • participate in interdisciplinary lectures, workshops and seminars
  • apply for funding for exceptional students
 

Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

Please see ISGP website for complete list of required documents.

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

Document Requirements

Please see ISGP website for complete list of required documents.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

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 Studies (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

IMPORTANT: In order to ensure stability and appropriate level of support from your supervisory team, it is crucial that at least one of your proposed co-supervisors is a G+PS member who is tenured or tenure track faculty member holding the rank of Assistant/Associate/Full Professor (verify by entering name here).

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.

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 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 from September 2024. 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, 44 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 $17,092.
  • 6 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 6 students was $9,532.
  • 13 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 13 students was $20,892.
  • 8 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 8 students was $7,509.
  • 21 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 21 students was $12,908.
  • 4 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 4 students was $22,917.

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 Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

72 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 66 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 (11)
Simon Fraser University (7)
Western University (Ontario)
Capilano University
Ryerson University
Swinburne University of Technology
University of Alberta
Providence University College
Stanford University
Dalhousie University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Vancouver Coastal Health (2)
BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
Child Health BC
St. Michael's Hospital
TandemLaunch
BC Centre for Improved Cardiovascular Health
Nigel Haggan & Associates
Government of Canada
RCMP
The White Mountain School
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Consultant (5)
International Chief Evaluator, President
General Partner
Developmental Consultant
Psychiatrist
Veterinarian, Animal welfare advocate
Project Manager
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Teacher
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

Many employers are increasingly interested in hiring people with broader backgrounds than are provided by traditional programs. For example, in some academic settings, it is a real advantage to be versatile enough to teach in several areas and to interact with researchers across a broad spectrum of interests. The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers a wide range of seminars and workshops on professional development. The UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers provides support in helping students navigate career options.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

ENROLMENT DATA

 20222021202020192018
Applications2430223631
Offers9912149
New Registrations8911119
Total Enrolment7583778785

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 69% based on 49 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 40 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 2.73 years and the maximum time is 10.64 years with an average of 5.92 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

Friday, 23 February 2024 - 1:00pm - Room 200

Rowenna Gryba
New Approaches to Understand Species-habitat Relationship Using Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Data

Monday, 26 February 2024 - 2:30pm - 316, Liu Institute for Global Issues, 6476 NW Marine Drive

Laura Patricia Castrejon Violante
The Right to Food Matters. Implementing the Constitutional Right to Food in Mexico and Bolivia

Friday, 22 March 2024 - 9:00am - Room 200

David Nicholas Oswald
A Systematic Framework for Coastal Zone Management and Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services in Haida Gwaii

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 Studies (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

IMPORTANT: In order to ensure stability and appropriate level of support from your supervisory team, it is crucial that at least one of your proposed co-supervisors is a G+PS member who is tenured or tenure track faculty member holding the rank of Assistant/Associate/Full Professor (verify by entering name here).

 
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.

  • Kerr, Thomas (harm reduction, injection drug users, HIV / AIDS, safe injection site, addiction, HIV/AIDS, injection drug use, health policy and service evaluation, and community-based research methods)
  • Kornelsen, Jude (providing an evidence base to inform decisions on the planning of rural maternity services; advancing our understanding of women)
  • Kuhl, David (understanding compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma, burnout, moral distress, grief, and psychological well being in health care providers)
  • Kwon, Brian (Spinal cord injury)
  • Loock, Christine Ann (Brain, Behaviour & Development; Social Pediatrics; Health Inequities; Child-health medical-home: children/families, integration / patient care / community services; Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders; Pediatric Sleep Disorders)
  • Ogrodniczuk, John (Mental Health and Society; Psychodynamic Psychotherapy; Personality Disorders; Group Psychotherapy; Men’s Mental Health; Alexithymia; Athletes)
  • Shannon, Kate (epidemiology, HIV/AIDS, sex work, public health, community health, gender epidemiology, health prevention, social determinants of health, community-based research, gender inequities, sexual health, vulnerable populations, structural determinants, qualitative evaluations, HIV/STI prevention, Social determinants of sexual health, HIV/AIDS and access to care among marginalized populations, particularly youth, sex workers, and women at-risk and living with HIV)

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
2023 Dr. Mayer used critical ethnographic methods to explore how social and structural factors impacted why and how people engage with injectable opioid agonist treatment. Her research examined how people navigate the enabling and constraining aspects of treatment, highlighting the importance of low-threshold, equity-oriented and patient-centred care.
2023 Dr. Pilarinos's research explored young people's perspectives on and experiences with medications for opioid use disorder. In addition to identifying policy barriers to treatment access, retention, and cessation, Dr. Pilarinos's research outlined young people's suggestions on ways to improve treatment services in the context of the overdose crisis.
2023 Dr. Accili investigated the ecological imagination of English playwrights William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. Combining literary and theatre studies with art history and environmental philosophy, her research shows how Renaissance dramatists and artists understood animals and other non-humans in a way that might widen our ecological perspective.
2023 Dr. Kang's doctoral project evaluated how anti-racism and cultural safety paradigms are taken up in local health authorities. The three-phased study highlighted the significant need for provincial and national health organizations to incorporate principles of anti-racism, cultural safety, equity and social justice.
2023 Dr. Mitra examined the role of socioeconomic marginalization in the production of overdose risk in an urban cohort of men and women who use drugs. Findings from this research emphasize the need for gender-informed, multi-level overdose prevention policies and programs to address the ongoing overdose crisis.
2022 Dr. Olding studied overdose prevention sites as a community-based response to the illicit drug poisoning epidemic. Her work highlights the importance of these services being designed by and employing people who use drugs. She identified policy and organizational changes to better support the work of overdose responders with lived expertise.
2022 The most urgent ethical task in the face of genocide is the demand to stop it. Rooted in her experiences and philosophical study of anti-genocide activism, Dr. Adi Burton responds to the ethical, political, and educational crises of recent decades and posits a theory of praxis that aims to address the problem of action or response to genocide.
2022 Dr. Ahadi presents two new models for a critical approach to historical and contemporary issues in art, politics, and philosophy. These models are Thought-Activism and the Visitor. This work is deeply influenced by the philosophy of Alain Badiou, supplemented by the philosophy of language of Martin Heidegger.
2022 Dr. Wilson worked with children and other community members on a participatory study of a municipal Child and Youth Friendly Community Strategy. The research supported thinking about the complex relations of humans and non-humans in policy enactment - and offered insights into the more-than-human potential of efforts to make cities better for kids.
2022 Dr. Akins examined how to safeguard cultural heritage in an era of rapid change. She found that economic security often usurps sociocultural and environmental wellbeing, and that markets are not set up to support small-scale artisans. Collaborating with Andean women in Peru, her work offers solutions to uphold the Quechua textile tradition.

Pages

Sample Thesis Submissions

Further Information

Specialization

Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to design their own graduate program by bringing together three or four qualified faculty from different departments or units. Because there are no constraints on which fields are brought together, there are virtually no two students in the same subfield.

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-NJ
 
 
 
Supervisor Search
 

Departments/Programs may update graduate degree program details through the Faculty & Staff portal. To update contact details for application inquiries, please use this form.

Experience the colours of Vancouver

Great academic programs, great location: the distinct seasons and mild climate are among the reasons why graduate students choose to study here -- from the autumn leaves to cherry blossoms, witness the many colours Vancouver has to offer.