Doctor of Philosophy in Oceanography (PhD)

Overview

Oceanographers investigate both fundamental and applied problems relating to the physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and geology of the sea, often working across traditional academic disciplines. Research carried out both independently and in collaboration with federal government laboratories occurs in many different oceanographic regimes, including coastal BC fjords, the inland sea of the Strait of Georgia, open ocean regions of the Subarctic Pacific, and many other locations, including the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The types of problems that can be studied include fundamental questions about the flow of stratified fluids at scales ranging from tens of meters to thousands of kilometers, applied research in estuaries, coastal, and deep-ocean processes, general ocean circulation and climate change issues, marine chemistry, geochemistry, and biogeochemistry, natural product chemistry, marine viruses, fisheries oceanography, plankton ecology and physiology, and primary production of the sea. The Department is well equipped to carry out research in the field (using either its own boat or larger vessels in the oceanographic fleet), at the laboratory bench, and in the numerical heart of a computer. Most problems involve aspects of all three.

Students in Oceanography may select courses, depending on their interest, from the following areas of specialization:

-biological oceanography

-marine chemistry and geochemistry

-physical oceanography and atmospheric sciences

Students are encouraged to broaden their knowledge by taking courses outside their area of specialization. Courses related to Oceanography are also offered in the Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Geography, Physics and Astronomy, and Zoology.

What makes the program unique?

The Program builds on a proven record of accomplishments of the core faculty of the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Department that supervised several hundred graduate students. The program brings together 12 full-time faculty allowing students to choose from wide range of concentrations such as biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, and physical oceanography.

 

Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Meet a Representative

PhD Funding Opportunities

Date: Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding and Shane Moore as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarships available to incoming PhD students.

This session will cover:

  • Overview of PhD funding at UBC
  • PhD minimum funding guarantee
  • UBC Awards database
  • Advice on writing funding proposals and applications
  • Q&A

Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is for those who are applying to PhD programs at UBC and are interested in learning more about internal and external funding opportunities. 

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

22

Speaking

23

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

7.0

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
01 October 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2023

January 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2023
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 June 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 June 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 June 2023
Referee Deadline: 15 June 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 Oceanography (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.

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

In 2012 the new Earth Sciences Building was completed. The $75 million facility was designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines.

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

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September or January will be provided with a funding package of at least $25,500.00 CAD plus tuition fee coverage for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs may provide funding packages that are substantially greater than above amount per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 10 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 $36,408.
  • 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $4,815.
  • 9 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 9 students was $7,525.
  • 10 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 10 students was $24,617.
  • 1 student received an external award valued at $11,667.

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

17 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 15 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):


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
Oregon State University (2)
Dalhousie University
Douglas College
University of Victoria
Princeton University
Oregon Health and Science University
Universidad Santo Tomás
University of Connecticut
University of California - Santa Cruz
University of British Columbia
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES)
Government of Canada
Hakai Institute
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Research Scientist (2)
Visiting 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 Program would provide graduates with collaborative research skills to lead marine and freshwater research, to address critical challenges of direct and indirect impacts of anthropogenic and climate change effects on aquatic ecosystems and coastal communities. In addition to academia, program graduates will be well placed for academic and/or government research careers, intergovernmental agencies, industry and positions with environmental consulting firms.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Oceanography (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
Applications1261486
Offers41521
New registrations41421
Total enrolment2320242021

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 78% based on 9 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 5 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 5.66 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 7.56 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].

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
2018 A quarter of the oxygen we breathe is produced by oceanic algae called diatoms. Using physiological and proteomic approaches, Dr. Hippmann identified the diverse response of diatoms to trace metal limitations. Her work highlights the importance of using a multi-facetted approach to increase our ability to predict population dynamics on a global scale.
2017 Dr. Finke investigated the abundance and genetic diversity of marine viruses. He also studied the composition of viral communities and how the dynamics of viral replication is affected by in situ environmental conditions.
2017 Dr. Posacka examined the biogeochemical cycle of copper in the ocean. Her research identified major processes that influence copper concentrations in the Northeast Pacific and highlighted the importance of copper nutrition in marine bacteria. This work provides insights into how copper regulates biological processes in the ocean.
2016 Phytoplankton are the forests of the ocean. Invisible to the naked eye, these organisms take up as much CO2 and evolve as much O2 as all the plants on land combined, which makes them a crucial component of our planet's climate. Dr. Schuback's work helps to more accurately estimate rates of 'phytoplankton primary productivity' in the oceans.
2016 Dr. Capelle investigated the role oceans play in controlling atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. His work identified the key processes responsible for the production and transport of the potent greenhouse gases nitrous-oxide and methane in coastal British Columbia waters and how they may respond to climate-driven ocean change.
2016 Dr. De Baere developed a continuous-flow chemical leaching module, known within the department as the 'Belgomatic'. This novel instrumentation has been used to study the behaviour of minerals as they dissolve into a solution. The technology from this work has been applied to help predict drainage quality from mine waste.
2015 The marine gas dimethyl sulfide plays a role in natural climate regulation by bridging the atmospheric and oceanic sulfur cycles. Dr. Asher developed new methods to measure the variability and production of this gas across time and space. Her work advances our understanding of the marine sulfur cycle and informs climate change research.
2015 Dr. Montes-Aste found fractal patterns in the temporal dynamics of commercial shrimp catches off the BC coast. He discovered a close link between a long-range temporal memory in fisheries and oceanographic variability. This led to development of a novel early warning indicator to be used in predicting major changes through the history of the fishery.
2015 Dr. McAlister measured trace metals in both the Pacific and Arctic oceans. His research identified new applications to determine how the sources of trace metals and nutrients in those oceans vary with depth, location and, importantly, time. These findings contribute to research investigating the influence of the oceans on global climate change.
2014 Dr. Semeniuk investigated how naturally occurring chemical forms of copper in seawater affect the growth of microscopic plants in the northeast Pacific Ocean. His work demonstrates that copper plays a significant role in determining the success of different microscopic plants in marine ecosystems.

Pages

Further Information

Specialization

Oceanographers investigate both fundamental and applied problems relating to the physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and geology of the sea, often working across traditional academic disciplines. Research carried out both independently and in collaboration with federal government laboratories occurs in many different oceanographic regimes, including coastal BC fjords, the inland sea of the Strait of Georgia, open ocean regions of the Subarctic Pacific, and many other locations, including the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The types of problems that can be studied include fundamental questions about the flow of stratified fluids at scales ranging from tens of meters to thousands of kilometers, applied research in estuaries, coastal, and deep-ocean processes, general ocean circulation and climate change issues, marine chemistry, geochemistry, and biogeochemistry, natural product chemistry, marine viruses, fisheries oceanography, plankton ecology and physiology, and primary production of the sea.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-SW

Classification

 
 

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023

January 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
01 April 2023
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 June 2023
International Applicant Deadline
15 June 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.

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