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.
 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
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: 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 not required.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 January 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 August 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 September 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 September 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 July 2022
Transcript Deadline: 30 August 2022
Referee Deadline: 30 September 2022

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 October 2022
Transcript Deadline: 30 November 2022
Referee Deadline: 30 November 2022

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$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 PhD students in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology will be provided with a funding package of $24,480 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.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 27 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 $41,174.
  • 17 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 17 students was $9,600.
  • 25 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 25 students was $13,085.
  • 27 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 27 students was $16,902.
  • 7 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 7 students was $23,571.

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

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

 20212020201920182017
Applications2836312329
Offers108473
New registrations97273
Total enrolment7061616264

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 78% based on 18 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 6 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 4.33 years and the maximum time is 7.33 years with an average of 5.80 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].

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)
  • Brown, Kelly (Medical, health and life sciences; childhood rheumatic diseases; Inflammation; phagocytes)
  • Crowe, Sean (Geobiology, biogeochemistry, microbial evolution)
  • Eltis, Lindsay (Biochemistry; Genomics; Immunology; Microbiology; Bacterial catabolism of steroids and lignin; biocatalyst development; Enzymes and Proteins; Metabolism (Living Organisms); Mycobacterium tuberculosis)
  • Fernandez, Rachel (Bordetella pertusis, whooping cough, lipopolysaccharide)
  • Finlay, B Brett (Infectious agents, bacteria, microbial infections and how humans react to it)
  • 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 (Microbiome; Microbial ecology; metagenomics; Biological engineering; Synthetic biology; Bioinformatics; Machine Learning; Entrepreneurship)
  • 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 (Bioinformatics; Clinical oncology; Genomics; Immunology; Microbiology; Carcinogenesis; Cellular Differentiation; Epigenomics; Leukemia; Molecular Genetics)
  • 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 (Bioinformatics; Immunology; Microbiology; Plant biology; Fungal diseases of plants; Genomics and Proteomics; Medical Mycology; Molecular Genetics; Pathogenesis of infectious diseases; Plant-Microbe Interactions)
  • Levings, Megan (Immunology; Cell therapy; Immune tolerance; Transplantation; Autoimmunity; Gene Therapy; Regulatory T cells)
  • Manges, Amee (Health sciences; Immunology; Microbiology; Public and population health; 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)
  • Money, Deborah (Reproductive Infectious Diseases, Infectious in pregnancy, vaginal microbiome, HPV vaccine, HIV in women, HIV in pregnancy, Perinatal transmission of viral pathogens and infectious etiology of preterm labour)
  • Murphy, Michael (Bacteriology; Enzymes (including kinetics and mechanisms, and biocatalyst); Alternatives to antibiotics; Bacterial pathogenesis; Biological and Biochemical Mechanisms; Functional and Structural Proteomics; Microbial metal metabolism)

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
2021 Dr. Barvalia has characterized the immune system using high dimensional single cell systems immunology techniques. He has discovered marked heterogeneity in myeloid cells and identified discrete immune perturbation states in Lyn kinase deficiency and colorectal cancer. His research can further guide the development of novel immunotherapies.
2021 Dr. Lin studied how Campylobacter jejuni helical cell shape is generated by enzyme actions. She found the shape-determining enzymes digest sites in the cell wall structure. This knowledge adds mechanistic insight on bacterial morphology maintenance, and provides a platform to design drugs targeting the helical cell shape necessary for infection.
2021 Dr. Sheikh studied lung viral infections caused by influenza and how the cytokine IL-7 contributes to immunity against it. His work identified new roles for IL-7 in enhancing the function of immune cells in response to lung influenza infection. His findings provide insights into development of clinical interventions in lung inflammation.
2021 Dr. Belanger studied antibiotic susceptibility of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She identified altered susceptibility and genetic requirements in conditions relevant to human infection. Her research advanced our understanding of antibiotic resistance and advocates for more appropriate antibiotic testing conditions.
2021 Dr. Janzen systematically studied the establishment of a replicative niche by Salmonella bacteria within host cells. Her findings set a new paradigm for future Salmonella research and demonstrated the necessity of a wholistic view of Salmonella-host interactions to illuminate the poorly understood Salmonella replicative niche.
2021 Dr. Horianopoulos characterized the roles of heat shock proteins in the disease-causing fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, focusing on the family of co-chaperone proteins containing the J domain. She identified proteins that allow this fungus to grow at human body temperature and adapt to the human host environment in order to establish infection.
2021 The human intestine contains trillions of microbes. Dr. Huus studied how these intestinal bacteria respond to malnutrition, a serious global health issue. She found that malnourished gut bacteria change their metabolism and interact differently with the immune system. Understanding these differences may help to improve treatments for malnutrition.
2021 Dr. Pena studied the bacteria that causes tuberculosis and how it interacts with the human host cell, the macrophage, during infection. Her research resulted in the discovery of a group of compounds that help the macrophage eliminate the tuberculosis bacteria. These compounds could potentially be developed into a novel therapy for tuberculosis.
2020 Dr. Thompson examined modern bacteria from an iron-rich lake to address questions about the growth and interactions of microbial communities in the global oceans three billion years ago. Ancestors of these modern bacteria likely supported life for over a billion years by fueling the production of a warming climate under the faint early Sun.
2020 Dr. Bauer explored the influence of gut microbes on early-life malnutrition. This work revealed key gut microbiota-brain interactions linked to cognitive function and glial biology. In addition, Dr. Bauer assessed how dietary intervention impacts the malnourished microbiome and improves fatty liver pathology.

Pages

Further 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

Classification

 

Apply Now

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

January 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 January 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 August 2022
International Applicant Deadline
30 July 2022

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2022
International Applicant Deadline
30 October 2022
 
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.

Curious about life in Vancouver?

From the land on which it is situated and the languages spoken here to the thriving arts and culture scene, there are many facets that contribute to this city’s diversity.