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 Microbiology and Immunology programme includes the study of bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites as well as the immune system. Students can investigate the ecology, evolution and environments of microorganisms, 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; 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 research spans population and systems biology and ecology, organism behavior and function, as well as cell interactions and molecular mechanisms. Our graduates are extensively trained in analytical thinking, creative innovation, and effective communication. Degrees in our programme accelerate students in a wide variety of careers in industry, academia, not-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 programme 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 clinicians, engineers, and epidemiologists across Canada. Many of our students are located in the Life Sciences Institute, a world-class collection of scientists with core facilities for advanced flow cytometry, microscopy and imaging, and high-throughput biology together with the Facility for Infectious Disease and Epidemic Research. Other researchers are located in the Michael Smith Laboratories. We also work closely with a variety of local organizations such as adMare Bioinnovations and the Genome Sciences Centre, with opportunities for commercialisation and entrepreneurship.

 

 

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

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 30 November 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 February 2025
Transcript Deadline: 01 March 2025
Referee Deadline: 01 March 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 February 2025
Transcript Deadline: 15 February 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 February 2025

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 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$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 PhD students in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology will be provided with a funding package of $29,270 stipend plus a life supplement equivalent to tuition 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, 37 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 $41,401.
  • 19 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 19 students was $6,612.
  • 34 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 34 students was $18,034.
  • 7 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 7 students was $2,749.
  • 37 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 37 students was $15,581.
  • 11 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 11 students was $17,939.

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 Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator 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

 20232022202120202019
Applications4137283830
Offers1071063
New Registrations87962
Total Enrolment6763655959

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 95% based on 44 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 20 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 4.44 years and the maximum time is 9.22 years with an average of 6.66 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.

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 Microbiology and Immunology (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.
 
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.

  • Abraham, Ninan (Mammals, pathogens, genetic analysis, proper cell funtion, development, maintenance and proper functioning of T- and B-cells )
  • Av-Gay, Yossef (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)
  • 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)
  • 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; Mycology; 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 (Medical, health and life sciences; Reproductive Infectious Diseases,; Vaccine studies, vaginal microbiome, HIV, COVID in pregnancy)
  • 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)
  • Osborne, Lisa (influence that the bacteria that live on and in our intestines, lungs and skin have on human health; understanding how the host recognizes the diverse species that reside in the gut - from microscopic viruses to large, multicellular helminthic worms - and tailors an immune response of the appropriate scope and magnitude necessary to achieve homeostasis)

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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. Huggins studied how microorganisms use nitrogen in low-oxygen marine waters. She found that, in some cases, nitrogen can be recycled faster than it is lost from the environment. Her work adds to our knowledge about the impacts of oxygen loss and climate change in the oceans.
2023 Dr. Dostert studied communities of the highly antibiotic resistant bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. She identified genes mediating community growth in diverse environments. Her research demonstrated the strong influence of the growth environment on the entire gene network and provided interesting gene candidates for the design of novel drugs.
2023 Dr. Morales Duran found that acidic environmental pH decreased the activity of antibiotics against the CF pathogen B. cenocepacia, and induced changes in the bacterium that are associated with host colonization and pathogenicity.
2023 Dr. Krekhno investigated mechanisms of pathogenic E. coli-caused infantile diarrhea, providing insights into host-microbe interactions. He employed computational and molecular biology tools to provide the first comprehensive overview of the changes in the regulation of gene expression during infection.
2023 Dr. Liu explored how plant-associated bacteria influence plant immunity and shield plants from pathogens. She discovered that bacteria dampen immunity through root acidification and protect plants via biofilm formation. Her work advances our grasp of plant-microbe interactions, offering insights into agricultural microbiome engineering.
2023 Dr. Morse worked on how a common intestinal virus infection influences the immune system and the gut microbiome to trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes. His research shows how environmental stressors engage in cross-communication with the host to impact development of autoimmune diseases.
2023 Dr. Niemietz defined mechanisms by which hyaluronan influences human neutrophil functionality and how this potentially contributes to childhood-onset rheumatic diseases. Her research significantly expands our understanding of neutrophils in the human inflammatory response.
2023 Dr. Cirstea explored the role of gut microbiota in Parkinson's disease. Using human clinical studies and experimental models, he discovered several new connections between the bacteria in our guts and disease-relevant features.
2023 Dr. Peña Díaz studied a group of molecules utilized by intestinal bacteria to perform cell-to-cell communication, and investigated their importance both during health and disease. His research will help in the development of novel therapeutics that could be used to manipulate bacterial behaviour as a method to treat infections.
2023 Dr. Woodward used genetic barcoding to study population dynamics of intestinal pathogens. She found that manipulating host protective barriers to infection determines overall disease outcome. This research provides insights into infection ecology and how the gut environment can shape the population-level diversity of outbreaks.

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Sample Thesis Submissions

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

 
 

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
30 May 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2024
International Applicant Deadline
30 November 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 February 2025
International Applicant Deadline
15 February 2025
 
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.

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