Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience (PhD)

Overview

The Graduate Program in Neuroscience strives to educate and support graduate students as they expand the breadth and depth of their knowledge about the brain through enriching research experiences. The program embraces principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and recognizes and accommodates individual needs and academic backgrounds. Through two core courses on molecular/cellular and systems neuroscience, respectively, students in the program develop a broadly based and applicable neuroscientific knowledge base. Additional related courses are available for selection by the student and their supervisor. The program is research-oriented and students engage in research from the start of their studies. Research is undertaken in the laboratory of the supervisor and in their affiliated home department, over a wide range of basic and clinical neuroscience topics. With its inter-departmental structure, the program offers collaborative research opportunities that extend beyond the usual boundaries of neuroscience. 

 

What makes the program unique?

The Graduate Program in Neuroscience is a multidisciplinary program administered under the Faculty of Medicine and the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at the University of British Columbia. It offers a coordinated program of graduate studies leading to MSc and PhD degrees in Neuroscience. The objective of the program is to educate graduate students as neuroscientists with intensive experience in at least one area of research, and to ensure that students in the program develop a broadly based knowledge of the neurosciences.

The program is comprised of more than 120 faculty members representing 20+ departments from the Faculties of Medicine, Science, and Arts at the University of British Columbia. Laboratory and teaching areas are located across the UBC campus, at UBC Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital.

Our faculty have research collaborations that span across departments, industries, and international borders. Although the program is inter-departmental, various regular seminars, journal clubs, and invited lectures provide ample opportunity to meet and discuss current topics in neuroscience. The program encourages its graduate students to participate in the many academic and social events organized by the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health and by the program’s student association.

 

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

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

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 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 15 December 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 Neuroscience (PhD)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Whereas a commitment from a supervisor is not required prior to applying to the program, a supervisor is required for admission. Please view Graduate Program in Neuroscience faculty here: https://neuroscience.ubc.ca/faculty/. When contacting potential supervisors, we recommend including a CV, unofficial academic transcript, and a brief and specific explanation of why you are interested in joining that particular lab.

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.

Research Information

Research Facilities

With more than 155,000 square feet of space, the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health has both laboratory and clinical research areas within the Centre proper and in the UBC Hospital Koerner Pavilion. Our core facilities are essential to ongoing collaboration, teaching, and research.

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

There is a minimum funding stipend provided by each supervisor. For more information, please visit Minimum Funding for Students. For both MSc and PhD students, the Department follows a minimum funding support guideline. For PhD students, from September 2021, the stipend is $22,000 per annum for four years. For MSc students, the stipend is $18,500 per annum for two years. This stipend can come in any form (for example – scholarship, TA-ship, grant funding, or a combination).

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 50 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 $33,355.
  • 23 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 23 students was $12,625.
  • 42 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 42 students was $13,826.
  • 50 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 50 students was $9,580.
  • 11 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 11 students was $28,879.

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

92 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 2 are in non-salaried situations; for 6 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 84 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 (12)
University of Toronto (3)
China Medical University (2)
University of Nevada - Las Vegas (2)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (2)
Western Washington University (2)
University of Ottawa (2)
Simon Fraser University (2)
University of Calgary (2)
Carleton University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
STEMCELL Technologies (3)
Hospital for Sick Children (2)
Johnson and Johnson Inc.
DynaLIFE
Synchronous ERP Inc.
AstraZeneca
Eli Lilly and Company
Focus Eyecare Centre
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Vancouver Coastal Health
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow (6)
Medical Science Liaison (2)
Senior Applications Biologist
Program Manager for PLDP
Neurologist
Medical Liaisons
Director of Technology and Product Development
Audiologist
Senior Software Engineer
Data Scientist
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
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

The 6-7 year PhD in Neuroscience is designed to prepare students for employment in the public or private sector, or to pursue further studies in the PhD program. Recent graduates have taken positions at Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Weston Brain Institute, BC Cancer Center, Science World and many other organizations. Those looking to pursue a postdoc in Neuroscience have gone on to study at other universities such as McGill as well as our own PhD program.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience (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
Applications5039364035
Offers121491313
New registrations101071110
Total enrolment7870697177

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 63% based on 35 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 28 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 3.66 years and the maximum time is 8.66 years with an average of 6.16 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].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Wednesday, 15 June 2022 - 12:30pm

Xiuyun Wu
Motion Processing Across Spatial and Temporal Scales for Human Perception and Eye Movements

Tuesday, 5 July 2022 - 12:30pm - 1330, Life Sciences Institute, 2350 Health Sciences Mall

Ellen Teresa Koch
Altered Cortico-Striatal Signaling and Motor Behaviour in the YAC128 Mouse Model of Huntington Disease

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.

  • Fedida, David (How the heart generates, maintains and regulates electrical activity, Anesthesiology)
  • Floresco, Stanley Bogdan (Neural circuits subserving learning and executive functions, behavioural and electrophysiological analyses of limbic-cortical-striatal interactions involved in decision making and behavioural flexibility, animal models of schizophrenia and drug addiction)
  • Frangou, Sophia (the study of the human brain in health and disease)
  • Galea, Liisa Ann Margaret (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Psychology and cognitive sciences; Aging Process; Alzheimer's disease; cognition; depression; Drugs and Pregnancy / Breast Feeding; estrogens; hippocampus; Hormones and Growth Factors; Learning and Memory; Neurogenesis and Gliogenesis; neuroplasticity; Postpartum Depression; Sex differences; women's health)
  • Giaschi, Deborah (Other health sciences; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; amblyopia; reading)
  • Goldowitz, Daniel (Genetic basis of brain disease, neurobiology of autism, Huntingtong's gene, mouse/mice epigenetics, gene regulatory network)
  • Gordon, Michael (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Chemosensation; Drosophila; Feeding; Gustation; Neural circuits; Neuronal Systems; neuroscience; Sensory systems; Taste)
  • Graf, Peter (Memory (including episodic and semantic memory, and working memory); Human memory; Prospective memory; Affect and cognition)
  • Gregory-Evans, Cheryl (Tissue fusion during development, Aniridia, retinal therapeutics)
  • Gregory-Evans, Kevin (retina, stem cells, gene therapy, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease, Best’s disease, x-linked retinoschisis, electroretinography., Eye, novel molcular approaches in the treatment of retinal disease, cell-based therapeutics ofr age-related macular degenration and retinitis pigmentosa, molecular defects underlying retinal disease)
  • Grunau, Ruth V (Biobehavioural regulation, brain and neurodevelopment in premature infants and children, Long-term effects of neonatal pain on stress regulation, brain, behavior, neurodevelopment, Infant pain and stress, Parenting stress, parent-infant interaction)
  • Haas, Kurt (Medical and biomedical engineering; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Autism; Brain Circuit Development; Dendritogenesis; Epilepsy; Genetics of Neurological and Psychiatric Diseases; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Neurological diseases; Neuronal Communication and Neurotransmission; Neuronal Computation; Neuronal Modeling; Neuronal Systems; Neuronal and Synaptic Activity; Plasticity / Neuronal Regeneration; Synaptic Plasticity)
  • Hayden, Michael (Genetic medicine; Health counselling; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Diabetes; Disease progression; Drug development; Gene Therapy; Genetic Diseases; Huntington disease; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neurodegenerative disorders)
  • Herdman, Anthony (Auditory System; Visual System; Audiovisual, Visual, Audio and Written Communications; Electrophysiology; Language and Cognitive Processes; Neuroimaging Methods (EEG/MEG); Central auditory processing; Auditory and visual perecptions related to reading acquisition (1st and 2nd languages); Brain computer interface)
  • Holt, Robert (Immunogenetics, Metagenomics - Infectious agents in Cancer, Cancer Genomes, Neurobiology, DNA Sequencing)
  • Honer, William (Brain disorders, risk factors for disease )
  • Hsiung, Ging-Yuek Robin (Dementia, Cognitive and Behavioural Neurology, Neurodegeneration, Alzheimer Disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Music Therapy in Dementia, Genetics of Dementia, Dementia Clinical Trials )
  • Illes, Judy (Medical, health and life sciences; Biomedical Ethics; Aging and dementia; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Brain Injury; Stem Cells; Neurotechnology; Neuroethics)
  • Inglis, J Timothy (Exercise science, neurophysiology, biomechanics, stance and balance control, human microneurography, physical therapy and rehabilitation, vestibular system)
  • Kastrukoff, Lorne (MS; human immunology and multiple sclerosis particularly T-cell responses and most recently NK or natural killer cell responses)
  • Kingstone, Alan (Human cognition and social attention in complex settings behavioral, neuropsychological, and functional neuroimaging research)
  • Kolind, Shannon (Medical physics; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; brain; Imaging; MRI; medical physics; multiple sclerosis; myelin; Neurological Disease; spinal cord)
  • Krassioukov, Andrei (autonomic dysfunctions following spinal cord injury (SCI))
  • Krausz, Reinhard (addiction, complex concurrent disorders, E -Mental Health, Internet based healthcare, vulnerable urban populaton, Psychosis, opiate addiction, e-mental health, internet based healthcare, vulnerbale urban population, trauma, homelessness and mental health)
  • Kumar, Ujendra (Somatostatin hormone, molecular pharmacology, Somatostatin, , Hormones, somatostatin, locomotor and cognitive function, neurodegenerative diseases, drugs)

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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
2020 Dr. Shimell studied a gene that is disrupted in many patients with intellectual disability and epilepsy. His work demonstrates how this gene can guide the development of brain connections and how disrupting the proper function of this gene may lead to disorders of the brain.
2020 Dr. Mahmoud used preclinical models to examine how ovarian hormones impact risk or resilience to depression. Her work revealed novel insights into neuroimmune and neuroplastic mechanisms through which ovarian hormones may influence mental health outcomes. These findings contribute to the understudied field of women's mental health.
2020 Dr. Sacheli used fMRI and PET brain imaging techniques to show that exercise can increase dopamine release in people with Parkinson's disease. This shows why exercise is specifically beneficial for people with Parkinson's disease, and supports the use of exercise as an adjunction therapy.
2020 Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder often accompanied by brain changes and cardiovascular problems. Following an exercise program with schizophrenia patients, Dr. Woodward showed regional brain growth with improvements in clinical symptoms and cardiovascular health, showing a critical need for exercise as a part of mental health treatment.
2020 Dr. Sanford examined brain activity and working memory deficits in schizophrenia. Using a novel multi-dataset approach, she found that a brain network that activated during initial memory encoding predicted both verbal and visual memory capacity. This will inform the development of treatments to improve working memory in schizophrenia patients.
2020 Dr. Bashir investigated the behavioural and neuropathological consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI). She showed that CHIMERA, a rodent model of head injury, can replicate many features of human TBI. Dr. Bashir hopes that, in the future, CHIMERA can be used to validate promising drug targets to help in the treatment of TBI.
2019 Dr. Hunter studied the impact of spinal cord injury on pelvic peripheral neurons and organs. She characterized changes in input and output neurons supplying pelvic organs, and differences in bladder activity following high and low transections. This work paves the way for the treatment of important secondary consequences of spinal cord injury.
2019 Dr. York examined how metabolic reprogramming shapes the brain's immune system. Both her results and methodological contributions to the research community have provided a clearer understanding of the link between cellular metabolism and the immune state of the brain.
2019 Dr. Smith-Dijak demonstrated that processes regulating the stability of brain cell function are disrupted in Huntington disease, and can be restored by treatment with drugs that stimulate the sigma-1 receptor. This helps us better understand the processes underlying neurodegenerative diseases and how to treat them.
2019 Dr. Herculano developed a novel method for evaluating the enzymatic activity of Beta-secretase in living cells, making it easier to test new treatments for Alzheimer's Disease in laboratory settings. He also studied the effects of point mutations in familial cases of Multiple Sclerosis and how they can contribute to the onset of the disease.

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Further Information

Specialization

Neuroscience offers these core courses: Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology, Neurochemistry, Psychobiology, Molecular Neurobiology, and Neuropharmacology.

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-SG
 
 

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 December 2022
International Applicant Deadline
01 December 2022
 
Supervisor Search
 

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