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 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
15 June 2023
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2023

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$112.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,802.52$3,166.73
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,407.56$9,500.19
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,081.64 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $18,517.90 (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 2023, the stipend is $26,000 per annum for four years. For MSc students, the stipend is $22,500 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

Monday, 30 January 2023 - 12:30pm

Shunya Yagi
Sex Differences in Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis and the Influence of Estradiol

Friday, 10 February 2023 - 4:00pm

Wenlin Chen
Tailoring Allosteric Modulators of NMDA Receptors and GABA-A Receptors for Neurological Disorders

Tuesday, 21 March 2023 - 12:30pm

Yundi Wang
Examining Excitability: From Electrophysiology to Mesoscale Calcium Imaging

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
2010 Dr. Palmer used functional imaging methods to study the compensatory mechanisms used by the brain in Parkinson's Disease. She identified a compensatory switch to alternative motor networks including the cerebellum. Understanding these mechanisms is important for development of new drug targets and better therapies.
2010 Dr. Barker showed that new neurons in the adult rat brain respond to the presence of estradiol in females but not in males. This research highlights the importance of studying both sexes when developing basic descriptions of biological phenomena and potential therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.
2010 Dr. Ge studied the role of synaptic plasticity in spatial memory, and how synaptic plasticity is modulated by AMPA receptor trafficking. Her work provides a better understanding of how different forms of synaptic plasticity contribute to the process of spatial memory formation.
2010 Dr. Vasuta examined how the function of a major receptor in the brain is regulated. This receptor mediates excitation in the nervous system, and is linked to learning and memory formation. She proved that exercise influences synaptic phenomena that may be the basis of memory acquisition and consolidation.
2010 Dr. Wong identified the first natural marine compound that can enhance axon outgrowth in the adult central nervous system. Using motile cells to model the neuronal growth cone, the basic machinery underlying axon outgrowth, she designed a high-throughput screen to identify the first cyclic dipeptide that promoted axon regeneration in vitro, as well as axon sprouting and behavioural improvements in vivo.
2009 Dr. Hewapathirane created a novel experimental model to study the effects of seizures on brain development. Using this system, he found that early-life seizures inhibit the structural maturation of neuronal cells within the brain. His findings uncovered a potential mechanism through which childhood seizures may induce neurological deficits.
2009 Dr. Tai studied the cholinergic modulation of three Ca2+-permable ion channels (R-type VGCCs, TRPC5 channels and NMDA receptors) in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons and the potential functional roles of these modulations in both physiological and pathophysiological conditions. His finding helps to develop treatments for epilepsy and ischemia.
2009 Dr. Lett used a mouse model system to demonstrate how a previously unknown guidance cue is critical for the proper formation of specific tracts during neurodevelopment. This research provides novel insight toward a better understanding of neural network formation and neurological dysfunction resulting from erroneous neurodevelopment.
2009 Dr Lisé examined the role of a specific class of motor proteins in the intracellular transport of molecules important for proper neuronal function. Her work provided a better understanding of how synaptic connections are formed during brain development, learning, and memory formation.
2009 Dr. Xiong explored the molecular mechanisms underlying experience-dependent brain plasticity. His study provides insightful understanding about how experience in early life shapes the neuronal network. Furthermore, his work leads to the development of a potential treatment for amblyopia (lazy eye).

Pages

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 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
15 June 2023
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 December 2023
International Applicant Deadline
01 December 2023
 
Supervisor Search
 

Departments/Programs may update graduate degree program details through the Faculty & Staff portal. To update the application inquiries contact details please use this form.

Considering UBC for your graduate studies?

Here, you can choose from more than 300 graduate degree program options and 2000+ research supervisors. You can even design your own program.