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

Program Enquiries

If you have reviewed the information on this program page and understand the requirements for this program, you may send an enquiry


TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement


IELTS Overall Score Requirement


Deadline Details

Application Deadline

Deadline to submit online application. No changes can be made to the application after submission.

Transcript Deadline

Deadline to upload scans of official transcripts through the applicant portal in support of a submitted application. Information for accessing the applicant portal will be provided after submitting an online application for admission.

Referee Deadline

Deadline for the referees identified in the application for admission to submit references. See Letters of Reference for more information.

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
15 October 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2019
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2019
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2019
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2019
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2019
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2019

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.

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.

We encourage all applicants to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund your 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.

In addition to scholarships and awards, applicants may be eligible to apply for financial aid or other benefits in the form of loans, bursaries, tax credits, or similar.

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$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (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.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

New registrations1214121218
Total enrolment114108114120131

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 84.72% based on 72 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 59 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 3.33 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 5.81 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: 22 March 2019]. 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: 27 October 2019].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Tuesday, 10 December 2019 - 12:30pm - 309, Hennings Building, 6224 Agricultural Road

Shiqin Su
A Monte Carlo Inverse Treatment Planning Algorithm for Trajectory-Based Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy with Applications in Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Total Body Irradiation and Patient-Specific Quality Assurance

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.

  • Unruh, William (black holes; cosmology; quantum computers; theory of gravity )
  • Van Raamsdonk, Mark (elementary particle theory, high energy theory.  , String theory, quantum field theory, quantum gravity)
  • Van Waerbeke, Ludovic (astrophysics, cosmology, dark energy, universe, gravitational lensing, galaxy, galaxies, Cosmology, dark matter, galaxy formation, structure formation)
  • Waltham, Christopher (Musical Acoustics)
  • Whitehead, Lorne (Applied physics, especially novel geometrical approaches, Applied optics, Illuminating engineering and display technology)
  • Young, Jeff (Photonics, condensed matter physics, atomic, molecular, and optical physics, photonic crystals, nonlinear optics, spintronics)
  • Zhitnitsky, Ariel (Particle theory, cosmology, quantum chromodymics, hadrons, axion physics, physcs of neutron stars, inflation models, dark matter problem)
  • Zhou, Fei (Condensed matter and theoretical physics, Ultra Cold Atoms Near Resonances)
  • Zou, Ke (2D crystals, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) synthesis, heterostructures, gated field effect transistors (FETs))


Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Anffany Chen
    "Using numerical simulations, Dr. Chen demonstrated the emergence of high-energy physics phenomena in topological quantum matter. She proposed the creation of Majorana particles, chiral anomalies, and black hole holograms in mesoscopic quantum systems. Her proposals allow us to probe these elusive physics concepts in cost-effective table-top experiments." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Timothy Cox
    "Dr. Cox studied models of the loss of information in quantum systems. He developed a way of understanding how the information stored in a quantum system can be divided into its constituent parts and how this information can be transferred to the environment." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Erich Leistenschneider
    "Dr. Leistenschneider studied how neutrons form shell structures in the nucleus of titanium and vanadium atoms. The imprints that nuclear shells leave on the mass of the atom were investigated in several isotopes of these elements using high precision mass spectrometry techniques. The results served as stringent tests for modern nuclear theories." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Saul Cuen-Rochin
    "Dr. Cuen-Rochin participated in precise measurements of rare pion decays. His analysis of an extensive data set recorded by the PIENU experiment at TRIUMF, and evaluation of experimental systematic effects allowed high precision measurements to be obtained. This work will lead to stringent tests of the Standard Model of particle physics." (November 2019)
  • Dr. Tianyu Liu
    "Dr. Liu studied a special type of quantum materials called Dirac materials. He proved that the response of Dirac materials to elastic deformation highly mimics that to electromagnetic fields. This unique feature makes Dirac materials stand out from other quantum materials and renders them useful for the future application in quantum technologies." (November 2019)

September 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
15 October 2019
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 December 2019
International Applicant Deadline
01 December 2019

Supervisor Search


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