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.

Apply Now

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

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

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$1,767.18$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 $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, 12 December 2022 - 1:00pm - 1330, Life Sciences Centre, 2350 Health Sciences Mall

Aarya Vaikakkara Chithran
Maintenance of Neural Circuits in the Adult Nervous System

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.

  • Panenka, William (Brain, Behaviour & Development )
  • Pavlidis, Paul (Basic medicine and life sciences; genomics; Bioinformatics; cellular and molecular neuroscience; Genetics; disorders of the nervous system)
  • Penninger, Josef (Genetic medicine; Medical and biomedical engineering; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; BH4; Blood vessel engineering; Bone Remodeling; Cancer; Cardiovascular Regeneration; Glycoproteomics in cancer; Haploid stem cells; Immunopathology; Neurodegenerative diseases; Tissue Engineering)
  • Phillips, Anthony (Addictions Psychiatry, Basic Neurosciences)
  • Pollock, Courtney (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation medicine; impact of neurological changes associated with aging, disease and injury on motor control; motor control of walking balance and balance reactions)
  • Puterman, Eli (Kinesiology; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Acute exercise; cellular aging; chronic stress; Exercise interventions; Health Psychology; Physical Activity; Physical literacy; Stress physiology; telomeres)
  • Quandt, Jacqueline (Neuroinflammation in damage and repair relevant to multiple sclerosis and other nervous system disorders)
  • Ramer, Matthew (Pain, Plasticity, Regeneration, Sensory neurons, Sympathetic neurons)
  • Ranger, Manon (Neurodevelopment; Clinical nursing, secondary (acute care); neurodevelopment; Early-adversity; Biomarkers of early stress exposure; Brain development; pain; Prematurity)
  • Rankin, Catharine (Effects of experience early in development on adult behaviour and the nervous system, adult learning and memory)
  • Rauscher, Alexander (Physical sciences; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; magnetic resonance imaging; physics; quantitative susceptibility mapping; myelin water imaging; brain; maschine learning)
  • Raymond, Lynn (Huntington's Disease)
  • Reiner, Peter (All other social sciences, n.e.c.; Neuroethics; Artificial Intelligence)
  • Robillard, Julie (Medical, health and life sciences; Patient experience/patient engagement; eHealth; Assistive technology; Neuroethics; Brain health technology; Artificial Intelligence; Dementia; mental health; Social robots)
  • Ross, Colin (Genetic medicine; Genomics; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences (except clinical aspects); Biomedical Technologies; Drug Metabolism; Gene Therapy; Gene-based therapeutics; Pharmacogenomics; Precision Medicine; Transgenic Model)
  • Schuetz, Christian (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Addiction, Cognitive Control, Treatment; Psychology - Biological Aspects; Social and Cultural Psychiatry)
  • Seamans, Jeremy (Schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder and addiction)
  • Shadgan, Babak (Medical biotechnology diagnostics (including biosensors); Biomedical instrumentation (including diagnostics); Orthopedics; Sports medicine; Bone, skin and cartilage science; Central nervous system; Implantable Biosensing; sensor and system design, clinical application development; Wearable Biosensors; design and application development in health care and exercise sciences; Musculoskeletal, Sports & Exercise Medicine; Bone Fracture Healing; Spinal Cord Injuries)
  • Shahnaz, Navid (Hearing, noise, audiology, ears,  effect of personal listening devices (iPods) on hearing, hearing in infants and adults,   high frequency thresholds, Diagnostic audiology, including multifrequency tympanometry and acoustic reflex studies in adults and newborns)
  • Shaw, Christopher (Paralympics)
  • Simpson, Elizabeth (Bioinformatics; Genetic medicine; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Aniridia; CRISPR; Congenital Anomalies; Congenital blindness; Eye and Visual System Diseases; Gene therapy for brain and eye diseases; In vivo gene augmentation and genome editing (CRISPR/CAS9); MiniPromoters for restricted expression; Rare diseases)
  • Snutch, Terrance Preston (Molecular and genetic analysis of the nervous system)
  • Snyder, Jason (plasticity, learning, memory, stress, mental health, emotional behaviour )
  • Soja, Peter (how synaptic transmission through identified ascending spinal sensory pathways and motoneuron pools differs during distinct behavioral states such as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and REM sleep, or general anesthesia vs. wakefulness)

Pages

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
2019 Dr. Cahill looked at cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory. She found a different pattern of survival between cells born during adulthood and development and that adult-born cells can inhibit development cells. This research allows some insight into where importance should be placed on finding treatments for memory loss.
2019 Dr. McGirr used mouse models of stress to study large scale brain network changes. He also studied how existing and novel treatments rescue normative network function.
2018 Dr. Shafai studied visual perception in adults with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. Results show that the earliest levels of visual processing are typical, but face perception skills were impaired in ASD. There was a correlation between expression perception and social competence, providing insight into potential avenues for intervention.
2018 Dr. Song studied why individuals with Down syndrome inevitably develop Alzheimer's diseases. She discovered a gene overexpressed in Down syndrome that promotes neurodegeneration and supresses neurogenesis. This work provides insights for the development of potential interventions to treat Alzheimer's in Down syndrome by targeting the USP25 gene.
2018 Dr. Ashby studied the synaptic and cellular mechanisms that contribute to memory formation. Through his research he described a new role for the weakening of connections between brain cells during the memory formation process.
2018 Dr. Vila investigated the role of the apoliprotein E gene in schizophrenia patients. He demonstrated that this gene has both positive and negative effects in the presentation of schizophrenia, highlighting the complexity of genetic influences. These studies expand our understanding of the neurobiological underpinnings of schizophrenia.
2018 Dr. Lam studied the neurobiological basis of mental health problems associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. She found that alcohol exposure increased vulnerability to stress by changing how the brain and endocrine systems regulate emotion and respond to stress. Her work contributes to understanding the connection between early alcohol exposure and mental health.
2018 Dr. Lin investigated neural communication between brain regions and how these neuronal connections are related to cognitive performance in Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. The research strengthens our understanding of disease effects in neurological diseases and provides insights to treatment development for cognitive impairments.
2018 Dr. Ko studied brain cells known as astrocytes, and identified a novel protein that mediates calcium signals in them. Findings revealed that the protein is activated by mechanical force, raising interesting possibilities for the role of astrocytes in conditions such as stroke and traumatic brain injury.
2018 Dr. Auger studied how deficits in the neurotransmitter, GABA, within the prefrontal cortex impact upon behavior and patterns of activity throughout the brain. Her research provides insight into how imbalances in this neurotransmitter may be involved in cognitive deficits observed in schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

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 2023 Intake

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

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.