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.

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Program Enquiries

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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

September 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2023
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 March 2024
Transcript Deadline: 12 March 2024
Referee Deadline: 12 March 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 February 2024
Transcript Deadline: 28 February 2024
Referee Deadline: 28 February 2024

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 living (yearly)starting at $19,323.20 (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, 34 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 $38,350.
  • 16 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 16 students was $8,219.
  • 31 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 31 students was $13,416.
  • 3 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 3 students was $10,448.
  • 34 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 34 students was $18,194.
  • 8 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 8 students was $12,542.

Study Period: Sep 2021 to Aug 2022 - 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 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

 20222021202020192018
Applications3828383025
Offers710637
New Registrations79727
Total Enrolment6365595962

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 94% based on 49 students admitted between 2009 - 2012. Based on 14 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 5.35 years and the maximum time is 8.88 years with an average of 6.61 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.

 

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
2016 Dr. Wilhelm's research contributes to our growing appreciation of the diversity of microorganisms and the richness of their natural history. He studied microbial communities in forest soil impacted by clearcutting and his results indicate long-term changes that favour stress-tolerant groups over more vulnerable populations.
2016 Dr. Christian studied how changes in the extracellular matrix regulate the expression of genes that are linked to cancer progression. She showed that two focal adhesion proteins, FAK and talin, are important for these gene expression changes. Her work could contribute to the development of new drugs for treating cancer.
2016 Dr. Attarian studied the fungal pathogen that causes meningitis in patients living with HIV/AIDS and identified potential targets for therapeutic interventions. Her research contributed to our understanding of the cryptococcal disease process, and will benefit the HIV and infectious diseases research community.
2016 Dr. Tang's thesis work focused on the identification of cellular signalling pathways involved in diseases like cystic fibrosis and cancer. His research has shown that key inflammatory molecules can be manipulated to improve existing treatments.
2016 Dr. Plumb studied the role of the immune signaling protein, Interleukin-7, in the immune response. He discovered novel roles for IL-7 in the development of T lymphocytes and in T cell response and protection against Influenza A infection. This work will inform the development of IL-7 related therapies for immune modulation and reconstitution.
2016 Dr. Westbye studied how bacteria transfer DNA using specialized particles. He characterized regulation of particle production and release from cells. The findings contribute to our understanding of bacterial diversity.
2016 Dr. Afacan studied microbiology and immunology. Specifically she investigated the link between cellular metabolism and the activity of immune modulating peptides. Her results furthered our understanding of how these peptides act and revealed a potential new role for the peptides in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
2016 Dr. Kobylarz studied specialized iron chelators of the human superbug Staphylococcus aureus. His studies showed how the production of these chelators is linked to growth and revealed a unique approach for bacterial survival in blood. This research opens new prospects for diagnostics for S. aureus.
2016 Dr. Farr designed a microbicide gel that was able to prevent vaginal infection with HIV/AIDS and genital herpes. She developed mice with human immune systems for these studies. This research could lead to the development of an effective strategy to prevent sexual transmission of these viruses, leading to considerable improvement in global health.
2015 In her research, Dr. Gies illuminated a unique and previously unrecognized microbial community that thrives in the dark, methane-saturated waters of Sakinaw Lake. Using cutting edge technologies she gained insight into their ability to produce methane, and unveiled an economic potential that could eventually lead to a more sustainable future.

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.
 

September 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
30 September 2023
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 March 2024
International Applicant Deadline
15 February 2024
 
Supervisor Search
 

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