Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (PhD)

Overview

The Department of Political Science offers Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs that are structured around five substantive fields: Canadian politics, international relations, comparative politics, political theory, and U.S. Politics.

We offer in the range of 25 graduate seminar courses per year and ample support for mentoring grad students in their professional development, through research collaboration, workshops, and colloquia. We have the most successful doctoral graduates of any program in Canada, judged by our record of placing graduates in academic positions in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and elsewhere.

What makes the program unique?

One of the key criteria that sets the Political Science department at UBC apart is the methodological breadth and diversity of research interests of faculty members, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. We have particular strengths for graduate students in:

  • indigenous politics, with indigenous faculty members in two different subfields
  • critical political theory and identity politics
  • democratic theory and practise
  • political behaviour, parties and elections
  • comparative public policy and institutions
  • migration, social diversity, and identity
  • environmental politics
  • international norms, institutions and goverance, and human security.

Quantitative Methods: we are particularly strong on quantitative methods for students using this kind of approach, with the deepest lineup of persons engaged in systematic quantitative research and the country’s most robust sequence of graduate methods courses for those students wishing to acquire a sophisticated understanding of quantitative analysis.

Regional Area Strengths: we are exceptionally strong in the study of Asian politics, the politics of the Americas, European politics, U.S. politics, and Canadian politics.

 

Program Enquiries

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

Admission Information & Requirements

In order to apply to this program, the following components may be required.

Online Application

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.

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.

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:

92
22
25
22
23
6.5
6.0
6.0
6.0
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 required by some applicants. Please check the program website.

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.

This program has not specified whether applicants should reach out to faculty members. Please review the program website for additional details.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

Research Information

Research Focus

Canadian Politics: federalism, the Canadian electoral system, the constitution, the courts, electoral reform, parliamentary institutions, political parties, Canadian public policy, Canadian political thought, voting behaviour
Comparative Politics: democratization and democratic institutions, state-society relations, comparative public policy, comparative political economy, constitutional design and comparative political institutions, executive politics, separation of powers, governance, non-governmental organizations, and immigration politics
International Relations: International Relations Theory, International Political Economy, International Security, International Law and Organization, International Norms, Human Security, the politics of international law, and global governance
Political Theory: democratic theory, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, feminism, multiculturalism, nationalism, identity politics, critical theory, history of political thought

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 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
17 July 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 December 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2020
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 December 2020
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2020
Referee Deadline: 15 December 2020

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

We offer a full five-year funding package for our PhD students, which generally consists of a combination of UBC Four-Year Fellowships (4YFs), Department Funding, Teaching Assistantship, and Research Assistantship.

In some cases, we are able to offer additional funding in the form of RA positions, but these are contingent on several factors, including faculty members having available research funds for RAs.

The Department of Political Science will offer TA opportunities to PhDs when available in order to enhance the financial resources at students’ disposal. Moreover, we consider it an important aspect of the professional development of our PhDs to work as Teaching Assistants, at some point in their PhD program, to develop their teaching skills under the guidance of faculty members.

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.

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

47 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 44 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
McMaster University (2)
University of Toronto (2)
University of Victoria (2)
Memorial University of Newfoundland (2)
University of South Florida
University of Saint Andrews
Sophia University
Macquarie University
University of the Fraser Valley
Western University (Ontario)
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Asia Pacific Foundation on Canada
Government of Canada
Government of Manitoba
Canadian Comprehensive Auditing Foundation
Supreme Court of Canada
United States Department of Defence
Through Conversation
Employment and Social Development Canada
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Senior Policy Analyst (2)
Program Manager
Judicial Clerk
Executive
Director, Oversight
Freelance Writer, researcher
Associate Dean
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

Our PhDs have been highly successful in pursuing academic and non-academic careers.

On the academic front, UBC PhDs hold tenured or tenure track positions at major universities in North America and internationally – including the University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Western Ontario, York University, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary, University of Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, University of Essex, Sophia University, National University of Singapore, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Ritsumeikan University, University of Sheffield, Queensland University, Simon Fraser University, MacEwan University, University of Fraser Valley, University of Manitoba, Memorial University, McMaster University, and Cardiff University.

Our PhDs have held postdoctoral fellowships at a wide range of international institutions including Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, University of Toronto, Queens University, Oxford University, Duke University, and others.

Many UBC PhDs have taken their doctoral training to high-level positions with government agencies, NGOs, and private-sector employers. Our students have pursued careers at Statistics Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada, the US Department of Defense Asia-Pacific Center, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Deutschebank (London), and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, among others.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (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
Applications1131001066368
Offers151214717
New registrations8211611
Total enrolment5154606071

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 78.18% based on 55 students admitted between 2006 - 2009. Based on 41 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 4.66 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 6.94 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.

  • Ostwald, Kai (comparative politics; ethnic politics, public policy, and the politics of development)
  • Price, Richard (International Cooperation, international relations, Ethics and World Politics, International Relations Theory, Global Norms, Moral Psychology)
  • Quirk, Paul (United States Politics, US Politics, American Politics, Congress, Presidency, US elections, US politics)
  • Sundstrom, Lisa (nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), global activism, human rights, Democratization, authoritarianism, civil society, Russian/ post-Communist politics, Western aid, and NGOs in global politics)
  • Tiberghien, Yves (global politics)
  • Tupper, Allan (Canadian Politics, Western Canadian Politics, Government Ethics, Public Administration, Canadian Politics and Government, Public Management, Public Policy and Western Canadian politics)
  • Warren, Mark (Democratic theory)

Pages

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 Why do some armed groups use child soldiers and some let them go? Dr. Plowright's research in Syria and Myanmar shows that certain armed groups will release child soldiers in order to appear more legitimate to international actors.
2018 Dr. Turan asked why people obey political authorities even when obedience goes against their values or interests. By using a historical analysis, he argues that past authorities engineered the socio-political isolation of their subjects to break rebellious communities into obedient individuals. Current practices of obedience reflect this past.
2018 Dr. Stecula examined the relationship between the news media and political polarization on important topics, like climate change, in the United States. He found that the news is increasingly politicized, and that propels polarization. This has implications for how important topics should be covered by the media to avoid political conflict.
2018 Dr. Yaylaci studied the impact of civil wars on citizens' political and social trust. She shows that ethnic wars and ideological wars have contrasting effects and indicate the importance of distinguishing between different war types when examining their consequences. Her research is informative for post war reconciliation and reestablishing political order.
2018 Dr. King analyzed the politics of education reform in Germany and France in response to international comparative assessments. He demonstrated that the resilience of the policy status quo depended on the nature of political institutions, with the degree of policy change resulting from the structure of policy design institutions.
2017 Dr. Westlake studied the impact of political parties on multicultural policy adoption. He showed that the positions of both government and opposition parties matter, and that parties are responsive to competing pressures from ethnic minorities and far-right parties.
2017 Dr. Beauvais studied the importance of talking for democratic politics, and the problem of inequality. Her work revealed that women participate in in political talk at lower rates than men, and have less influence than men when they speak. Her research clarified how inequality can undermine discursive political participation.
2017 Dr. Alger studied the political reasons behind the creation of large marine protected areas. He devised an original framework for understanding global norm diffusion, grounded in domestic political economies. His work increases our understanding of the interplay between governments, environmental groups and industry interests in marine conservation.
2017 Dr. Nuesser asked whether parties follow voters in adjusting policies to popular demand or whether voters base their own opinions on the positions of the party they prefer for other, non-policy reasons. She found that voters routinely follow the party, not the other way around. These results point to a major democratic deficit.
2017 Dr. Afsahi looked at the willingness and capacity of people to discuss cultural and religious values and practices. She designed and tested new and promising methods of facilitation for such conversations. Her research has important implications for both theorists and practitioners interested in finding ways of talking about deeply-divisive issues.

Pages

Further Program Information

Specialization

The program covers the following subjects:

  • indigenous politics, with indigenous faculty members in two different subfields
  • critical political theory and identity politics
  • democratic theory and practise
  • political behaviour, parties and elections
  • comparative public policy and institutions
  • migration, social diversity, and identity
  • environmental politics
  • international norms, institutions and goverance, and human security.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-UF
 
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
17 July 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 December 2020
International Applicant Deadline
15 December 2020
 

Supervisor Search

 

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