Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)


The Department of Physics and Astronomy is a broad-based department with a wide range of research interests covering many key topics in contemporary physics, astronomy, and applied physics. We are a vibrant community that engages in a wide range of research directions, from probing the origin of the universe to exploring emergent phenomena in complex systems, that provide deep insights into the nature of the universe and practical solutions that will help define the world of tomorrow. Departmental research activities are supported by several computing and experimental facilities, and excellent electronics and machine shops.

Our graduate programs include approximately 200 graduate students, working on experiments and theory in research fields that include: Applied Physics, Astronomy/Astrophysics, Atomic/Molecular/Optics, Biophysics, Condensed Matter, Cosmology, Gravity, Medical Physics, Nuclear Physics, Particle Physics, and String Theory.

What makes the program unique?

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at UBC is noted for the excellence of its research and its high academic standards and integrity. It is one of the largest and most diverse physics and astronomy departments in Canada. We are constantly rated as one of the top Physics & Astronomy programs in the world. Much of the Department's research is enhanced by local facilities such as the TRIUMF National Laboratory, the Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory (AMPEL), and the BC Cancer Agency, UBC, and associated teaching hospitals, in addition to many specialized research laboratories housed within the Department. There is a great deal of collaboration and overlap of interests among the various groups.

Each year, our faculty bring over $20 million in research grants. This enables us to maintain world-class research laboratories and computational facilities, attract distinguished post-doctorate researchers, and support highly skilled engineers and technicians whose expertise is critical to our research.

Quick Facts

Doctor of Philosophy
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Program Components
Faculty of Science


TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement


IELTS Overall Score Requirement


Funding Sources

Applicants who are interested in the production, preparation, and application of nuclear isotopes for science and medicine may consider the IsoSiM program that provides additional funding and professional development opportunities. Applicants who are interested in quantum materials may consider the QuEST program. Applicants who are interested in nanomaterials synthesis, characterization and application, and nanoscience instrumentation may consider the NanoMat program.

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 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 provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Career Outcomes

108 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 2 graduates are seeking employment; for 11 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 95 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 (7)
Simon Fraser University (2)
Goethe University Frankfurt
Stanford University
Queen Mary University of London
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Duke University
Washington University in St Louis
Beijing Normal University
Harvard University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Cancer Agency (8)
United States Department of Energy (3)
1QB Information Technologies (1QBit) (2)
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) (2)
MTT Innovation Inc. (2)
Google (2)
Coanda Research and Development Corporation (2)
Bayer (2)
Ottawa Hospital
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Medical Physicist (10)
Data Scientist (2)
Research Scientist (2)
Engineer (2)
Director (2)
Software Engineer (2)
Staff Scientist (2)
Senior Strategy Consultant
Product Engineer
Chief Executive Officer
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
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.

Alumni on Success

Michael Hoff

Job Title
Assistant Professor
University of Washington

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$102.00$165.00
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,632.61$2,868.22
Tuition per year$4,897.83$8,604.66
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$923.38 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,884.10 (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. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

New registrations1412121814
Total enrolment108114120131130

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 77.42% based on 62 students admitted between 2004 - 2007. Based on 53 graduations between 2013 - 2016 the minimum time to completion is 3.33 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 5.57 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 9 March 2018]. 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: 29 September 2017].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Friday, 6 April 2018 - 12:30pm - Room 203

Qingdi Wang
Gravity of Quantum Vacuum and the Cosmological Constant Problem

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.

  • Affleck, Ian Keith (Condensed matter theory, quantum magnetism, quantum impurities, high-Tc superconductivity, low dimensional magnetism, quantum wires and dots, high energy theory, impurities in metals)
  • Berciu, Mona (condensed matter theory, strongly correlated systems, polarons, bipolarons)
  • Boley, Aaron (Astronomy and Astrophysics; Planet formation, protoplanetary disk evolution, formation of meteorite parent bodies)
  • Bonn, Douglas Andrew (Condensed matter, high temperature superconductors, microwave measurements, crystal growth)
  • Bryman, Douglas (Experimental Particle Physics, Applied physics)
  • Burke, Sarah (Scanning probe microscopy, organic materials, nanoscale materials, surface physics, photovoltaics )
  • Choptuik, Matthew (Theoretical physics, Relativity/Computational Physics )
  • Damascelli, Andrea (Electronic structure of solids, strongly correlated electron systems, low dimensional spin systems, thin films and nanostructures, transition metal oxides, high-Tc superconductors, linear and nonlinear optical spectroscopies, angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, photoelectron spectroscopy, synchrotron based spectroscopies., Electronic structure of novel complex systems in nanostructured materials)
  • Folk, Joshua (Quantum devices, Majorana fermions , Strongly correlated electronics, Topological phenomena, Fractional quantum Hall effect, Vanderwaals heterostructures)
  • Franz, Marcel (Condensed matter theory )
  • Gay, Colin (Experimental subatomic physics, Beyond Standard Model physics, Extra dimensions)
  • Gladman, Brett (Astronomy, Planetary Science, meteorites, astrobiology, Solar system formation and evolution)
  • Halpern, Mark (Cosmology, Cosmic background radiation, history of star formation, measuring the geometry and contents of the Universe, satellites, balloon-borne telescopes, the physics of music, Physics of music, Cosmic Microwave Background, Physical Cosmology, Star formation history)
  • Hansen, Carl (Single-Cell Analysis, Molecular Diagnostics, genomics)
  • Hasinoff, Michael (Low-energy particle physics)
  • Hearty, Christopher (Subatomic physics, Experimental Particle Physics Research)
  • Heyl, Jeremy (Quantum Phenomena, StellarAstrophysics, Stellar Physics, Quantum-Field Theory)
  • Hickson, Paul (cosmology, galaxies, telescopes, adaptive optics., Astronomy, astrophysics, Galaxies, clusters, instrumentation, adaptive optics)
  • Hinshaw, Gary (cosmology, cosmic background radiation, Cosmology, Measuring diffuse background radiations)
  • Jones, David (Atomic, optical and molecular physics,Ultrafast Optics, Spectroscopy)
  • Karczmarek, Joanna (String theory, Matrix models, Emergent spacetime and gravity, Noncommutative geometry)
  • Kiefl, Robert (Quantum Phenomenacondensed matter physics)
  • Kruecken, Reiner (Elementary Particles, Universe StructureNuclear Physics, Nuclear Astrophysics, Neutrino Physics)
  • Lister, Alison (Elementary ParticlesLarge Hadron Collier (LHC), ATLAS experiment, Search for physics beyond the standard model, top quarks)


Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Matthew Gignac
    "Dr. Gignac performed two searches for particles predicted by Supersymmetry using proton-proton collision data collected by the ATLAS detector. Findings showed no evidence for Supersymmetric particles. In addition, he studied next generation detectors that will be used to continue searches for new physics with the ATLAS detector." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Ellen Natalie Schelew
    "Dr. Schelew designed a photonic integrated circuit in a silicon microchip with potential applications in information processing. She developed a novel protocol for extracting all relevant information about the circuits' optical response. The results of this work will help guide future designs of circuit components used to process optical signals." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Shirin Sabouri
    "Dr. Sabouri's doctoral studies focused on the development and evaluation of a new magnetic resonance imaging technique for diagnosis of prostate cancer. The proposed technique provides higher accuracy than the conventional clinical protocols, and can be incorporated into clinical settings to improve the screening and monitoring of prostate cancer." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Zheng Shi
    "In recognition of his accomplishment, we are pleased to congratulate Dr. Zheng on the completion of his doctoral program in Physics." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Ali Khademi
    "Dr. Khademi studied the effect of depositing metal atoms on a sheet of graphene, the first known two-dimensional material. His research advanced our understanding of interactions between graphene and atoms laying on it. He also found an experimental solution to an outstanding inconsistency between predictions and experiments in this field." (November 2017)

Further Program Information


Program Information

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