Doctor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies (PhD)

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

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 November 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 22 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 22 January 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 22 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 22 January 2023

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 supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding 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$110.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,767.18$3,104.64
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,301.54$9,313.92
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,057.05 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)
* 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 who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be provided (either by the ISGP or by faculty supervisors) with a funding package of at least $22,000 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 $22,000 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, 32 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 $26,696.
  • 6 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 6 students was $5,900.
  • 13 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 13 students was $8,953.
  • 32 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 32 students was $13,677.
  • 11 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 11 students was $25,702.

Study Period: Sep 2020 to Aug 2021 - 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.

Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

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

 20212020201920182017
Applications2721292517
Offers101114913
New registrations101112911
Total enrolment8279878389

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 81% based on 36 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 23 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 3.00 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 6.13 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 7 April 2022]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. 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 [data updated: 19 October 2021].

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
2012 Dr. Sarwal examined ways in which International Cancer Control Congresses affect the way cancer, a key global health challenge, is being addressed. Through her investigations, she developed and applied a method for evaluating the impact of such capacity-building efforts. Initial findings show that the Congresses facilitated change, fostered communities of practice and aided in knowledge transfer.
2012 Dr. Green examined how sustainability commitments made by BC universities have influenced introductory economics curriculum. The economy depends upon the environment, but Green found the economic theory taught in first year economics is oversimplified and neglects this dependence. He showed that such courses do little to help students understand sustainability.
2012 Dr. Haggan demonstrated a broad-based demand for the immeasurable values of love, cherishing and protecting, in our relationship with the sea. A concept of the secular sacred can ensure that basic human values of gratitude, generosity and renewal are as well-represented as science and economics in dialogue about farmed salmon and the Enbridge pipeline.
2012 Dr. Virani examined barriers to predictive testing facing individuals in rural communities who are at risk for the inherited brain disorder, Huntington disease. She developed a novel telehealth testing protocol for predictive testing and showed that this model improves access to testing, without compromising quality of care and support.
2012 Dr. Chan used Organization Theory to study professional practice change in health care. She examined the role of physician engagement and inter-organizational collaboration in bringing about practice change among family physicians. Her case study showed that professional boundaries were able to shift among family physicians involved with the Division of Family Practice in BC.
2012 Dr. Zamorano developed a comparative reading of Octavio Paz's poetics in light of existential philosophy. His reading shows that Paz's belief in the poetic essence of being has links to the tenets of Martin Heidegger and José Ortega y Gasset. Such comparisons help to clarify Paz's ambiguous statements on Mexican identity, the poetic existence of individuals and his critique of modernity
2012 Dr. Bunjun studied organizational power relations at Vancouver Status of Women from 1971 to 2008. Using intersectional feminist analysis, she argues that organizations are not neutral, but rather sites of colonial encounters. Based on her findings, she proposes a nuanced understanding of power and entitlement, and a more ethical Affirmative Action Policy.
2012 Dr. McElroy studied the impact of war and displacement on early childhood in northern Uganda. Her research illuminates the disruption of traditional strategies for protecting and nurturing children, leaving them exposed to developmental risk even during resettlement. Findings highlight needed interventions for vulnerable infants and young children.
2011 Dr. Connelly investigated the acoustical characteristics of vegetated roofs, and their contribution to the ecological performance of buildings and to urban soundscapes. She developed methods to evaluate the effectiveness of greening rooftops, to reduce noise and introduce natural sounds for the benefit, health, well-being and liveability of our cities.
2011 Dr. Cabarcas studied the capacity of small farmers in two Ecuadorian indigenous communities to reduce pesticide environmental health risks. The study described important contextual barriers such as inequitable land distribution, unfavourable market policies, and limited state support. He uncovered local and global mechanisms of health inequities.

Pages

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 Website

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-NJ
 
 

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 November 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023
 
Supervisor Search
 

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

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