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Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

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.

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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 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2023
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2024
Referee Deadline: 15 December 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 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$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

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, 54 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 $33,871.
  • 20 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 20 students was $9,880.
  • 48 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 48 students was $20,943.
  • 12 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 12 students was $2,526.
  • 51 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 51 students was $7,922.
  • 11 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 11 students was $17,439.

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 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

 20222021202020192018
Applications5853434040
Offers121213913
New Registrations81010711
Total Enrolment8876686471

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 75% based on 69 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 22 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 3.76 years and the maximum time is 8.2 years with an average of 6.01 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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Monday, 11 March 2024 - 9:00am - Room 200

Kelly Hrelja
Towards a Better Understanding of the Bidirectional Relationship Between Decision-Making and Addiction Vulnerability

Friday, 22 March 2024 - 9:00am

Man Yeung Tai
A Machine Learning Approach to Overdose Risk Assessment

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 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.

 
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
2010 Dr. Titterness studied the effects of prenatal ethanol exposure on hippocampal function in adolescent rodents. She discovered that prenatal ethanol exposure does not uniformly impair hippocampal cell communication in males and females. Her work highlights the need to consider sex differences when designing treatment strategies for fetal alcohol syndrome.
2010 Dr. Epp examined the impact of spatial learning on the generation of neurons in the adult mammalian brain. He demonstrated that spatial learning influences the survival and integration of new neurons in the hippocampus. These studies help shed light on the function of adult neurogenesis and have clarified numerous conflicting studies.
2010 Dr. Robillard studied the impact of aging on a cellular model for learning and memory in the brain. She found that oral supplementation with an antioxidant can restore some of the plasticity deficits observed in aged animals. Her research gives new insights into healthy aging.
2010 Dr. Adams explored how human mutations that cause migraine headaches alter the function of proteins in the brain. The work has provided greater understanding of how communication between neurons is disrupted during migraine.
2010 Dr. Liu studied the growth of neurons in the developing brain. Using techniques to label and genetically modify individual neurons he showed that their growth and maturation is regulated by the same molecular pathway regulating memory maintenance as in the adult brain. His work illuminates a mechanism underlying developmental plasticity and provides new insights on origins of developmental neurological disorders.
2010 Dr. Barakauskas measured several presynaptic proteins in brain samples, developing and validating new methods to do so. Some of these proteins were altered in distinct regions of the striatum in post-mortem brain samples of subjects with schizophrenia. These findings implicate these proteins in brain dysfunction in patients.
2010 Dr. Zhou studied the cellular mechanisms underlying spreading depression, the propagating depolarization that underlies the aura of migraine. She discovered that a novel form of regenerative glutamate-release generates spreading depression independent of classical synaptic transmission. This research provides insight into migraine pathophysiology and potential new therapeutic targets.
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.

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
 

Apply Now

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

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 July 2023
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 December 2024
International Applicant Deadline
01 December 2024
 
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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