Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

Overview

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.

 

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: 90

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5

Reading

6.0

Writing

6.0

Speaking

6.0

Listening

6.0

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 2020 Intake

Application Open Date
15 October 2019
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2019
Transcript Deadline: 25 August 2020
Referee Deadline: 25 August 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 December 2019
Transcript Deadline: 31 May 2020
Referee Deadline: 31 May 2020

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 Physics (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.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

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%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
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.

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

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.

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

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)
FINCAD (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 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.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

Enrolment Data

 20192018201720162015
Applications85989788118
Offers1914231318
New registrations1612141212
Total enrolment117114108114120

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.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 10 March 2020]. 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].

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.

  • 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)
  • Ye, Ziliang (Optics and Photonics, Nanomaterials)
  • 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))

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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. Held studied the interaction process between two fundamental particles, the Higgs boson and the top quark. He contributed to the observation of this rare process by analyzing proton-proton collisions recorded by the ATLAS detector. The measurement experimentally confirms an important prediction by the Standard Model of particle physics.
2019 Dr. Nigge studied the design of novel quantum phenomena. He used the two-dimensional, atomically thin material of graphene as a platform. His research paves the way towards the on demand engineering of quantum materials.
2019 Myelin is a material in the brain which is damaged by certain diseases. Dr. Manning researched techniques to better detect myelin with an MRI scan.
2019 Dr. Maki studied the motion of expanding strongly interacting atomic gases. His research showed that the symmetry associated with fractals, a type of geometric figure, enables predictions about the rate of expansion for these gases. This research improves our understanding of atomic gases, which are a prime candidate for novel quantum technologies.
2019 Dr. Sous studied bipolarons, a type of paired electron, and localization. His results show that bipolarons can be very light, opening the possibility to a new mechanism for high-temperature superconductivity. His work also explains the non-equilibrium behaviour of quenched molecular gases in terms of the quantum phenomenon of localization.
2019 Dr. Bernier investigated the nuclear structure of neutron-rich cadmium isotopes relevant to nuclear astrophysics using gamma-ray spectroscopy. Her work contributed to explain how the nuclear force holds atomic nuclei together and how heavy elements are created in stars.
2019 New understanding of space and time arises in the fundamental realization of the Universe. Dr. Yeh studied space as a pixel picture encoded in a set of matrices. He found how matrices reconstruct smooth spaces. His research contributes to revealing the origin of the Universe.
2019 Dr. Khazraie studied the electronic structure of bismuth oxides. He showed that holes form on oxygen ions in contradiction to the ideas of charge fluctuations in Bismuths. His work can create a new class of materials that can host coexisting electron and hole gasses and lead to the realization of excitonic insulators.
2019 Dr. Ruocco developed a new analytical model for exploring the effects of quantum coherence in macroscopic systems. He found that in certain photosynthetic systems, quantum mechanics can play a significant role in facilitating highly efficient energy transfer.
2019 Dr. Page developed sensitive detectors designed to detect dark matter particles. To search for the dark matter particles, he operated the detectors from a low-radiation cavern in a mine half a mile underground. Analysis of data from the detectors ruled out certain dark matter particles with a mass close to the proton mass.

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Further Program Information

Specialization

Physics provides research opportunities in many subfields of physics, including

  • applied physics: this effort has spawned a number of spin-off companies.
  • medical physics: be involved in a broad range of medical physics research in the areas of radiation therapy, medical imaging, biomedical optics and radiation biophysics.
  • biophysics: the application of quantitative principles and methods to biological systems.
  • nuclear and particle physics: the aim of subatomic physics is to understand matter and the fundamental forces in the universe and ultimately form a Theory of Everything.
  • astronomy and astrophysics: study stars, galaxies, the material in between, and the Universe as a whole.
  • atomic, molecular, and optical physics: this field is rapidly expanding and serves as the basis for many modern technological innovations.
  • condensed matter physics is concerned with understanding and exploiting the properties of solids and liquids and the large area that this covers makes it the largest field of contemporary physics.
  • theoretical physics: Gravity and Relativity, String Theory, High Energy Physics, and Condensed Matter Theory, to Quantum Information and Biophysics

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-T5
 
 

September 2020 Intake

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

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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