Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology and Immunology (PhD)

Overview

The Microbiology and Immunology programme involves immune cells, bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Students can investigate the ecology, evolution and environments of micro-organisms, the diseases they cause, the microbiome and its influence on the immune system and our health, immunity and disease. We are seeking solutions to the problem of antibiotic resistance; designing new, combination drug therapies; using microbial engineering in industrial processing and environmental remediation; determining how our immune system can best protect us against infection and cancer; using this information to design new immunotherapies and treatments for inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Our projects span population and systems biology and ecology, organism behavior and function, cell interactions and molecular mechanisms, and our students graduate with extensive training in analytical thinking, creative innovation and effective communication. Degrees in our programme accelerate students in a great variety of careers in industry, academia, non-for-profit organisations and the business world.

What makes the program unique?

Microbiology has been an integral part of UBC since the university's inception in 1915. Our program is a strong and collaborative community of microbiologists, immunologists, biochemists and cell biologists, based at UBC and affiliated hospitals. We promote fundamental and translational research and we enjoy strong connections to clinical colleagues across Canada. Many of our students are located in the Life Sciences Institute, a world-class collection of scientists with facilities including advanced flow cytometry, microscopy and imaging, together with the Facility for Infectious Disease and Epidemic Research, the Advanced Structural Biology for Re-emerging Infectious Diseases group, and the Genome Sciences Centre. We work closely with the Centres for Drug Research and Development and for High-Throughput Biology, emphasising commercialisation and entrepreneurship.

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.
 

Program Enquiries

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

Meet a UBC representative

Reaching Out Strategies: Approaching letter writers and potential supervisors

Date: Thursday, 22 October 2020
Time: 11:00 to 12:00

An essential part of the graduate school application process is reaching out to potential supervisors and referees. Learn strategies on how to do this and make your application as strong as possible from graduate programs team members and current students.

Register

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: 100

Reading

25

Writing

25

Speaking

25

Listening

25

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

6.5

Listening

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 required by some applicants. Please check the program website.

2) Meet Deadlines

May 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 October 2020
Transcript Deadline: 30 November 2020
Referee Deadline: 30 November 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 14 February 2021
Transcript Deadline: 21 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 21 February 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 February 2021
Transcript Deadline: 21 February 2021
Referee Deadline: 21 February 2021

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
30 January 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 August 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 August 2021
Transcript Deadline: 30 August 2021
Referee Deadline: 30 August 2021

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 Microbiology and Immunology (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.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (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 PhD students in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology will be provided with a funding package of $24,000 stipend plus a life supplement equivalent to tuition and fees for up to five 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.

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

75 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 7 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 66 graduates:


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 (10)
McGill University (4)
Dalhousie University (2)
McMaster University (2)
University of Newcastle
Universite de Montreal
University of Alberta
Kyushu University
University of South Florida
Langara College
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Zymeworks Inc. (3)
STEMCELL Technologies (3)
BC Cancer Agency (2)
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Anadiomena's Designs
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
ME Therapeutics Inc.
Bio-Rad Laboratories
Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping
BC Cancer Research Centre
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Scientist (4)
Research Scientist (4)
Staff Scientist (2)
Senior Scientist (2)
Vice President
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Program Manager, Informatics and Bio-computing
Business Development Specialist
Policy Analyst
Owner and President
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
This program underwent a name or structural change in the study time frame, and all alumni from the previous program were included in these summaries. 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

A PhD in M&I prepares students for demanding high profile scientific positions in academia, biotechnology, government and charitable organisations, and entrepreneurial start-up companies. Our PhD graduates who plan an academic career proceed to postdoctoral positions across the globe and become professors at universities, research institutes and teaching hospitals. PhD graduates interested in scientific management and policy work within Government agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Revenue Agency and the National Research Council of Canada. Many graduates employ their specialization in professional careers such as Law and Medicine while a large percentage are senior scientists in Biotechnology companies around the world such as Novartis, Genentech, Pfizer, BioRad and Tekmira.  

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

Enrolment Data

 20192018201720162015
Applications3123292318
Offers473610
New registrations27367
Total enrolment6162646764

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 90.91% based on 11 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 13 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.33 years and the maximum time is 7.33 years with an average of 5.48 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: 10 March 2020]. 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: 27 October 2019].

Research Supervisors

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.

  • Abraham, Ninan (Mammals, pathogens, genetic analysis, proper cell funtion, development, maintenance and proper functioning of T- and B-cells )
  • Av-Gay, Yossef (Infectious Diseases; Microbiology; drug discovery; Macrophage biology; Tuberculosis)
  • Beatty, John (Bacteria; Molecular Genetics; Regulation; Molecular Structure and Sizing; Gene transfer mediated by virus-like particles; Light-driven reactions in photosynthesis proteins; Applications of photosynthesis proteins to solar energy)
  • Brown, Kelly (Diseases of the Immune System; Immune Mediators: Cytokines and Chemokines; Cell Signaling and Infectious and Immune Diseases; childhood rheumatic diseases; phagocytes)
  • Crowe, Sean (Geobiology, biogeochemistry, microbial evolution)
  • Eltis, Lindsay (Microbiology; Enzymes and Proteins; Metabolism (Living Organisms); Bacterial catabolism of steroids and lignin; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; biocatalyst development)
  • Fernandez, Rachel (Bordetella pertusis, whooping cough, lipopolysaccharide)
  • Finlay, B Brett (Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it)
  • Gantt, Soren (cytomegalovirus, Burkitt’s lymphoma, Cytomegalovirus, epstein-barr virus, herpes simplex virus, congenital infection, newborn infection, Burkitt)
  • Gaynor, Erin (Molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis, foodborne human pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni)
  • Gold, Michael (understanding cell signaling, morphology, trafficking, and effector function of immune cells and tumour cells)
  • Hallam, Steven (methanogenesis, methane oxidation, methyl coenzyme M reductase, metagenomics, environmental microbiology, genomics, proteomics, microbial ecology, systems biology, archaea, energy, bioinformatics, Microbial communities, construction and interpretation of environmental genomic libraries, generation of computational tools and workflows for taxonomic and functional binning, population genome assembly, and comparative community analysis, development and functional screens to interrogate environmental genomic libraries for bioactive small molecules and biocatalysis)
  • Hancock, Robert E (Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides, Host Defence Peptides and Innate Immunity, Functional Genomics of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Regulation of Antibiotic Resistance, Array Data, Self-promoted uptake hypothesis)
  • Haney, Cara (genetic and metabolic factors that regulate assembly of host-associated microbial communities ()
  • Harder, Kenneth (Host-pathogen, tumours, infection, immunity, atherosclerosis, role of macrophages in inflammation)
  • Hirst, Martin (Carcinogenesis; Leukemia; Cellular Differentiation; Bioinformatics; Genomics; Molecular Genetics; Epigenomics)
  • Horwitz, Marc (Mechanisms of viral-induced immune disease in a variety of complex chronic disorders)
  • Jean, Francois (Medical virology; Protein trafficking in cell biology; Proteomics; Enzymes (including kinetics and mechanisms, and biocatalyst); Organelle function; Virology; Systems biology; Cellular virology; Emerging human viruses; COVID-19; Host-virus interactions; Broad-based antiviral agents; Antiviral agents; Natural products as antiviral agents; Lipid-modulating drugs; Cellular protease inhibitors; Viral protease inhibitors; Human coronaviruses; SARS-CoV-2; Human flaviviruses; Dengue virus; Zika virus; West Nile virus; Influenza A virus; Human microRNAs; Therapeutic microRNA; Viral and cellular biomarkers; Molecular diagnostics for detecting viral infection; Circulating exosomes; Exosomal microRNAs; Proteomics-based technologies; Multiplexed and Mass Spectrometric quantitation assays)
  • Jefferies, Wilfred Arthur (Iron transport molecules)
  • Johnson, Pauline (Diseases of the Immune System; Immunology; Inflammation; Immune-cancer interactions; Innate immunity; Macrophages and myeloid cells)
  • Kronstad, James (Microbiology; Molecular Genetics; Genomics and Proteomics; Pathogenesis of infectious diseases; Medical Mycology; Plant-Microbe Interactions; Fungal diseases of plants)
  • Levings, Megan (Immune homeostasis)
  • Manges, Amee (Epidemiology; Molecular epidemiology; Public health)
  • McMaster, W Robert (Molecular Immunology)
  • Mohn, William (pollutant biodegradation, pollutant bioremediation, biological treatment of forest industry effluents and wastes, microbial ecology, environmental biotechnology, forest soil microbial ecology, tuberculosis, microbial genomics, Microbial ecology)

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
2020 Dr. Heieis investigated how cellular metabolism allows immune cells to respond in various scenarios of disease. He found that T cells have different requirements for glucose when fighting parasites versus bacterial infections. This research will have future implications in the development of immune-based therapies for infection and autoimmunity.
2020 Dr. Sedivy-Haley studied responses to Salmonella infection in macrophage activation states, including the "tolerant" state seen in sepsis. She identified differences in gene expression that may account for different levels of resistance to Salmonella. This could help us to improve the ability of macrophages to resist infection and treat sepsis.
2020 Dr. Coleman studied the regulation of swarming motility in the pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes lung and hospital-acquired infections. Her findings show that swarming, a multicellular movement that enables pathogens to spread over surfaces, is a complex behaviour that increases antibiotic resistance and influences disease virulence.
2020 The entry of calcium ions into immune cells stimulates cellular replication. Calcium channels participate in mediating calcium entry. Dr. Stanwood characterized antibodies against voltage-dependent calcium channels and discovered growth inhibitory effects against cells of lymphoma. The findings contribute to the field of cancer research.
2020 Dr. Shim found that the protein CD45 regulates red blood cell progenitors in the spleen, which protect mice from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) by interacting with cells in the spleen. This work shows the importance of CD45 as a modulator of immune response and suggests a novel approach to treating the systemic inflammation associated with IBD.
2020 Dr. Bolger-Munro investigated the role of the actin cytoskeleton in B cells, which are the antibody-producing cell of the immune system. Using sophisticated microscopy, her findings show the importance of the actin-related protein complex in amplifying B cell responses. This study provides new insights into how B cell activation is controlled.
2020 Dr. Brown studied the bacterium that causes Tuberculosis (TB), called Mycobacterium tuberculosis (or Mtb). She investigated how Mtb uses host-produced cholesterol as a source of nutrients during infection. She demonstrated the importance of cholesterol for the survival of Mtb within the lung and identified novel targets for TB drug development.
2020 Dr. Lorzadeh developed a sensitive method to study how the composition of chromatin in normal blood cell precursors changes during blood cell production and how it is altered in certain types of leukemia. His research advances our understanding of the molecular processes that regulate the production of normal and malignant blood cells.
2019 A controlled CD4+ T cell response is essential for protective immunity against influenza. Dr. Fonseca showed that CD4+ T cells are modulated by the infection-induced cytokine IL-27 and dynamic histone modifications during infection. Her work provides insight into the mechanisms that balance effective immunity and immunopathology during disease.
2019 Dr. Sun used a model of the cystic fibrosis lung to study how bacteria use motility to adapt to these kinds of environments. She studied a new form of bacterial motility known as surfing and found that it contributes to virulence and antibiotic resistance regulated by complex genetic networks.

Pages

Further Program Information

Microbiology and Immunology offers opportunities for original research in the areas of molecular and applied microbiology, biotechnology, cell and developmental biology, epigenetics, geomicrobiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics, molecular immunology, microbial ecology, microbial pathogenesis, and virology.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-QX
 

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.
 

May 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2020
International Applicant Deadline
30 October 2020

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
14 February 2021
International Applicant Deadline
01 February 2021

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
30 January 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 August 2021
International Applicant Deadline
15 August 2021
 

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.

Considering Vancouver as your next home?

This city won’t disappoint. It has it all: sea, parks, mountains, beaches and all four seasons, including beautiful summers and mild, wet winters with snow.