Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering (PhD)
The thesis-based Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mechanical Engineering is an advanced research-based degree. The program offers students an opportunity to work at the highest level of research, under the supervision of a faculty member. Students complete their candidacy examination within 18 months and complete their doctoral dissertation research within three to four years. It is normal department practice to initially register students in the M.A.Sc. program, and to transfer them to the Ph.D. program upon completion of the M.A.Sc. (or earlier if recommended by the supervising faculty member).
Students taking their Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering can select one of the below research areas:
- Applied Solid Mechanics
- Biomechanics & Biomedical Engineering
- Computational Engineering
- Energy & Environment
- Fluid Mechanics
- Manufacturing Automation & Robotics
- Mechatronics & Instrumentation
- Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering
What makes the program unique?
With eight Research Chairs and almost every research faculty member holding a least one NSERC grant, we have one of the most active research programs in Canada and consistently produce industry and academic leaders.
UBC is ranked in the World’s Top 40 Universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Institute of Higher Education and our Mechanical Engineering professors are recognized nationally and internationally as leaders in their fields.
We offer affordable, competitive tuition fees and extend a number of scholarships, awards, top-ups to external awards, entrance fellowships, Research Assistantships (RA's) and Teaching Assistantships (TA's) to our students.
I chose to attend UBC for a PhD because of the proposed research project, my supervisors, and the availability of a broader community studying air quality and the social aspects of environmental issues. Both of my supervisors are appointed in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability so even though I am registered in Mechanical Engineering, I have access to a highly interdisciplinary department to inform my research.
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: 93
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 6.5
Other Test Scores
Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:
The GRE is optional.
2) Meet Deadlines
September 2023 Intake
Application Open Date13 September 2022
January 2024 Intake
Application Open Date01 June 2023
3) Prepare Application
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.
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 Mechanical Engineering (PhD)
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
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,802.52||$3,166.73|
|Tuition per year|
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
|Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible)||$3,200.00 (-)|
|Other Fees and Costs|
|Student Fees (yearly)||$1,081.64 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,366.20 (check cost calculator)|
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.
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 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.
- 41 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 41 students was $6,670.
- 58 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 58 students was $18,308.
- 64 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 64 students was $11,734.
- 2 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 2 students was $24,500.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
87 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 78 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 EducationUniversity of British Columbia (4)
King Saud University (2)
University of Saskatchewan (2)
University of Adelaide
UNIKA Atma Jaya
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
University of Tehran
Abu Dhabi University
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationPratt & Whitney Canada (3)
Coanda Research and Development Corporation (3)
Westport Innovations (3)
Candu Energy Inc. (2)
Vanmok Innovative Engineering Solutions
WK Investment Network
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationSenior Mechanical Engineer (4)
Project Engineer (2)
Senior Piping Engineer (2)
Research Engineer (2)
Business Development Manager
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
Completion Rates & Times
Upcoming Doctoral Exams
Thursday, 8 December 2022 - 12:00pm
Thursday, 15 December 2022 - 3:00pm - BC Hydro Theatre, Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), 2260 West Mall
|2016||Dr. Nikbakht studied fibre suspension dynamics. He found that the addition of fibres reduces the drag of turbulent flow. This increases our understanding of fluid drag and turbulent flow and can be applied to the pulp and paper industry.|
|2016||Dr. Gustafson applied mechanical engineering to investigate bone properties. She used digital image correlation to measure the displacement on the surface of human vertebral bones. Her research improves our understanding of vertebral mechanics, which is useful for evaluating patients at risk for vertebral fracture and reducing spinal fractures.|
|2016||What's the best way to move an object? Dr. Usman developed a new magnetic levitation motor that controls the position of a single floating body without contact or additional moving structure. This novel high performance levitation device has many immediate applications in industrial automation and robotics.|
|2016||Depleting carbon-fuel reserves and increasing environmental impacts drive the development of clean alternatives. Fuel cells promise clean energy for mobility. Dr. Schwager developed novel methods to analyze fuel cell degradation. This work contributes valuable information to improve fuel cell performance and reliability.|
|2016||Dr. Khameneifar's doctoral research focused on precision inspection of jet engine blades. He developed advanced geometric computing algorithms that enable accurate automated geometric inspection of airfoil blades based on digitized surface data. His research contributions significantly enhance productivity and quality in aerospace manufacturing.|
|2016||Dr. Tufail developed a haptic teleoperation system that is applicable in home-care robotics for the elderly. He focused on controlling the robotic manipulators so that they could interact with objects in the environment in a safe and compliant manner.|
|2016||Dr. Roustaei studied fundamental and theoretical fluid mechanics related to the oil and gas well construction to make them safer, last longer and more environmentally friendly.|
|2016||Robots that can efficiently seek out objects are useful in applications ranging from manufacturing lines to home care robotics. Dr. Radmard's work enables camera-equipped robots to search for interesting things in their environment. His research improves robot autonomy and permits practical and user-friendly human-robot interaction.|
|2016||Our carbon-fuelled transportation infrastructure drives global warming and climate change. Dr. Todd studied hydrogen fuel cells as a sustainable alternative to power our vehicles. He developed new methods to manufacture and characterize fuel cell transport layers. His research supports integration of renewable energy with society's mobility needs.|
|2016||Dr. Faghani studied the emission formation in natural gas engines focussing on particulate matter emissions. He developed two injection strategies for natural gas engines resulting in very low emissions. The outome of his thesis will aid in the development of natural gas and diesel engines and contribute to the issue of global warming.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
Fields of research in Mechanical Engineering include: acoustics; aerodynamics and fluid mechanics; automatic controls; robotics and industrial automation; energy conversion, combustion, thermodynamics and heat transfer; vibrations and space dynamics; solid mechanics; bioengineering and biomechanics; design and manufacturing processes; industrial engineering, fuel cells, micro-electromechanical systems, mechatronics, and CAD; and naval architecture.