Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Science (PhD)
Plant Science graduate program offers advanced study in applied plant biology, with a commitment to development of sustainable managed agroecosystems. Our graduate program offers opportunities for advanced studies in basic and applied research, leading to M.Sc. or Ph.D. degrees, in plant production, plant protection, plant biotechnology, plant physiology and biochemistry, and plant-environment interaction.
Graduate students have the option to develop research programs that address problems through an interdisciplinary approach involving collaboration with faculty members in other graduate programs (e.g. Soil Science, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, and Forest Science) on the campus.
What makes the program unique?
Our graduate program offers students the opportunity to develop their graduate studies uniquely tailored to their professional goals and research interests in consultation with their research supervisor. The diversity of plant agriculture in British Columbia provides excellent opportunities for students to select a cropping system most suitable for their thesis research. Students have the opportunity and are encouraged to develop their research programs through an interdisciplinary approach involving other departments on the campus.
Excellent facilities for thesis research are available on the UBC campus in the MacMillan Building, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm, Totem Field Laboratory, UBC Wine Research Centre, the Michael Smith Laboratories, and the Horticulture Glasshouse. Some Plant Science graduate students also work with our Adjunct Professors, spread throughout the province of British Columbia.
Admission Information & Requirements
In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.
All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.
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. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitve 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:
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:
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.
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 Plant Science (PhD)
Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.
Specific areas of specialization include:
Plant-microbe interaction, bacterial and fungal diseases, plant virology, biological control of pests and diseases, insect physiology, natural insecticides, insect ecology and behaviour, and weed biology, ecology and control;
Seed physiology, plant nutrition, plant growth analysis, plant-plant interaction, biotic and abiotic stressor resistance, and environmental plant physiology;
Vegetable culture, ornamental horticulture, plant breeding, and post-harvest physiology;
Plant biochemistry, tissue culture, genetic engineering, and plant, fungal, and viral molecular genetics;
Rangeland ecology, and wildlife habitat studies
Before you apply, please make sure you meet/exceed the admission requirements and most importantly have a supervisor confirmed.
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.
January 2021 Intake
Application Open Date15 April 2020
Tuition & Financial Support
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|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)|
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.
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 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 and Research Assistantships
Student service appointments are intended to help qualified graduate students meet the cost of their studies at the University. Student appointments may involve part-time duties in teaching, research, or other academic activities.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
16 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 13 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 EducationUniversity of Massachusetts - Amherst
University of Massachusetts
Ubon Ratchathani Rajabhat University
Montana State University
Council of International Schools
University of British Columbia
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationBio-Act Technology Ltd.
Government of Canada
Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc.
Best Buy Canada
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationPresident
Biologist - Evaluation Officer
Research Scientist/Business Owner
Chief Executive Officer
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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 Plant Science (PhD). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.
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.
Brar, Gurcharn (Cereal pathology (wheat and barley in particular), Genetics of host-pathogen interactions - disease resistance in crop plants, Resistance breeding, Plant imaging, Fungal biology, Population genetics and genomics, Functional pathogenomics)
Castellarin, Simone (viticulture and grapevine physiology; physiological and molecular aspects that underlay fruit ripening and the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites, and how they are modulated by the environment and viticultural practices; molecular viticulture)
Jovel, Eduardo (Ethnobotany, mycology, natural product chemistry and Aboriginal health)
Kronstad, James (Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Genomics and Proteomics, Pathogenesis of infectious diseases, Medical Mycology, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Fungal diseases of plants)
Riseman, Andrew (plant breeding; plant genetics; horticulture; roots; stress physiology, Plant breeding, intercrop interactions, nutrient use efficiency, root physiology, biotic/abtioic stressor)
|2017||Dr. Alam studied the infection process of plant viruses. She examined and clarified the mechanism underlying two essential aspects of the viral infection cycle - virion assembly and disassembly. Her work furthers our understanding of how plant viruses establish infection, how new viruses form, and virus disease control.|
|2017||Dr. Ma investigated eco-physiology of effects of red/far-red light ratio on tomato and common weeds. Her research improves our understanding of how red/far-red ratio modifies plant growth, which affects plant-plant interactions. This understanding will help in management of agro-ecosystems to minimize crop losses due to weeds.|
|2017||Dr. Biswas studied the molecular mechanisms by which virus particles escape infected cells. Utilizing insect viruses, he discovered novel methods by which virus particles interact with host proteins to enable the rapid escape from infected cells. This information is critical for understanding virus pathology and disease spread.|
|2015||Dr. Tak studied plant-based insecticides, especially plant essential oils. He found that a synergy between the essential oil components was produced by increased penetration of the compounds through the insect's skin, which is called a cuticle layer. These studies may guide us to develop more efficient botanical insecticides for pest control.|
|2014||Dr. Chapagain compared two food production systems: growing one crop alone versus growing multiple crops together. He demonstrated that together, multiple crops improve land and ecosystem productivity and water use efficiency. These studies will assist farmers in transitioning from chemical intensive production to eco-friendly production systems.|
|2011||Dr. Foroud studied a fungal disease of wheat known as Fusarium Head Blight. She contributed to the understanding of mechanisms of disease resistance by oserving that different molecular mechanisms of resistance are conferred in different genetic backgrounds. This knowledge will help breeders to select better resistance for wheat farmers.|
|2010||Dr. Machial investigated the comparative toxicity of selected plant essential oils to four agricultural insect pests, and assessed the effects of the most toxic oil, patchouli oil, on the detoxicative abilities of these insects. Development of reduced risk plant essential oil-based pesticides is warranted despite technical and practical challenges.|
|2010||Dr. Moreau explored manipulation of insect behaviour as an alternative to pesticides for management of greenhouse whiteflies on sweet pepper crops. She found that whiteflies can be diverted away from the crop using combinations of traps and reduced risk sprays. Her work provides greenhouse growers with whitefly management options that have lower environmental impacts and greater compatibility with biological control programs.|
|2010||Dr. Nie investigated protein-protein interactions of the major regulatory proteins, IE0 and IE1, of the baculovirus AcMNPV. She identified a domain required for binding viral proteins that were shown to play a critical role in the production of virus particles by enabling the rapid start of viral gene expression.|
|2009||Dr. Miresmailli demonstrated that the detection of volatile compounds emitted by plants under attack by pests can be used as an alternative source of information to help monitor insect pests in greenhouses. This research will assist in the development of new tools for pest monitoring and management.|
Further Program Information
Plant Science covers topics related to plant production, plant protection, biotechnology, plant physiology and biochemistry, and plant-environment interactions. Specific areas of specialization include:
- plant-microbe interaction, bacterial and fungal diseases, plant virology, biological control of pests and diseases, insect physiology, natural insecticides, insect ecology and behaviour, and weed biology, ecology, and control, invasive species biology pollination biology
- plant nutrition, plant growth analysis, plant-plant interaction, biotic and abiotic stressor resistance, and environmental plant physiology
- vegetable culture, ornamental horticulture, plant breeding, and post-harvest physiology
- plant biochemistry, tissue culture, genetic engineering, and plant, fungal, and viral molecular genetics
- rangeland ecology and wildlife habitat studies
- cereal pathology, host-pathogen interactions, genetics of disease resistance, plant imaging, cereal and pathogen genomics, resistance breeding.