Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (PhD)

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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

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: 92

Reading

22

Writing

25

Speaking

23

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 required by some applicants. Please check the program website.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

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 thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (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.

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.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,838.57$3,230.06
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,515.71$9,690.18
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
* 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.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 21 students within this program were included in this study because they received funding through UBC in the form of teaching, research, academic assistantships or internal or external awards averaging $40,040.
  • 14 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 14 students was $15,348.
  • 9 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 9 students was $8,794.
  • 10 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 10 students was $3,461.
  • 16 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 16 students was $27,263.
  • 2 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 2 students was $38,000.

Study Period: Sep 2022 to Aug 2023 - average funding for full-time PhD students enrolled in three terms per academic year in this program across years 1-4, the period covered by UBC's Minimum Funding Guarantee. Averages might mask variability in sources and amounts of funding received by individual students. Beyond year 4, funding packages become even more individualized.
Review methodology
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.

Graduate 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 supervision. The duties constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is considered a form of fellowship for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement. Stipends vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded.

Graduate 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.

Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA)

Academic Assistantships are employment opportunities to perform work that is relevant to the university or to an individual faculty member, but not to support the student’s graduate research and thesis. Wages are considered regular earnings and when paid monthly, include vacation pay.

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

 20222021202020192018
Applications112118114117100
Offers6651512
New Registrations66482
Total Enrolment4345485154

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 83% based on 37 students admitted between 2010 - 2013. Based on 26 graduations between 2019 - 2022 the minimum time to completion is 4.33 years and the maximum time is 13.32 years with an average of 7.14 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. 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.

Research Supervisors

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (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.
 
Advice and insights from UBC Faculty on reaching out to supervisors

These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a supervisor. They are not program specific.

 

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
2013 Dr. Kenyon investigated why some African HIV advocacy groups choose to use the language of human rights. She found this was due to leadership, organizational structure and the belief that rights-based advocacy changes health-seeking behaviour, improving access to care. This research will be useful to those living with and conducting advocacy on HIV.
2013 Dr. Calvert developed a framework for determining when and how political rhetoric threatens the democratic quality of political judgments. She identified new practices and functions by which democratic institutions might promote good political judgments, despite the fact that the ways people use language in politics are almost always strategic
2013 Dr. Kniazeva studied links between oil rents and political systems in petro-states such as Russia and Venezuela. She found that in times of prosperity, the state provides social welfare, but when oil prices drop the social contract disintegrates. Her compelling argument is that oil rent fluctuations lead to regime fluctuations in oil-rich states.
2013 Dr. Smythe's work examined the defence policies of Canada and Australia. She highlighted a post-Cold War trend of using military forces to address non-traditional security threats, such as disaster relief. She demonstrated the significant, but often unrecognized implications this has had for the training and deployment of western military forces.
2013 Dr. Allen examined the expansion of the party system in Indonesia. He found that patterns of state spending and legacies of corruption shape voter and elite behaviour and impact party system outcomes. This research helps us understand how party politics evolve in new democracies.
2013 Dr. Neville explored debates over biofuels during fieldwork in eastern Africa. She found these fuels were only the latest flashpoint in a long history of conflicts between communities, governments, and corporations. She established a framework to explain cycles of control and resistance over these and other controversial global commodity markets.
2013 Dr. Bower examined global compliance with the ban on antipersonnel landmines and the International Criminal Court. He showed that these treaties can re-shape state policies even when they are opposed by powerful actors. This research sheds light on how diplomacy without the great powers can succeed and holds implications for a wide range of issues.
2012 Dr. Higashi conducted research on peace-building initiatives in Afghanistan and East Timor. His findings and recommendations factored into the decision of the Japanese government to support the reconciliation efforts in Afgahanistan. Because of his outstanding research, Dr. Higashi received an appointment as Associate Professor in the University of Tokyo, and has subsequently been assigned to be Minister-Counsellor for the Japanese mission to the United Nations in New York.
2012 Dr. Belfry-Munroe examined why many Canadian firms and associations supported a national carbon price, either a cap-and-trade program or a carbon tax, after 2006/07. Her work helps us understand why businesses adopt preferences for particular government policies, and sets the stage for future research into business influence on government policy choices in Canada.
2012 Dr. Bendix identified the factors that encourage majority-party leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to seize control of bill development and, as a result, prevent the minority party from participating in deliberations. He also examined the policy consequences of this one-party control and demonstrated that it tends to produce substantively problematic legislation.

Pages

Further 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

Classification

 
 
 
Supervisor Search
 

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