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.

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Program Enquiries

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Meet a Representative

PhD Funding Opportunities

Date: Wednesday, 31 August 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

Join Dr Julian Dierkes, Associate Dean, Funding and Shane Moore as they talk about funding opportunities for PhD's at UBC. Dr Dierkes will provide an overview of the different awards and scholarships available to incoming PhD students.

This session will cover:

  • Overview of PhD funding at UBC
  • PhD minimum funding guarantee
  • UBC Awards database
  • Advice on writing funding proposals and applications
  • Q&A

Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is for those who are applying to PhD programs at UBC and are interested in learning more about internal and external funding opportunities. 

Applying to research based programs

Date: Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00

There are numerous MSc and doctoral research-based programs at UBC. Typically, these programs have coursework components followed by an in-depth research project or thesis. In this webinar, we focus on applying to research-based programs and highlight the elements unique to a research-based program application.

This session will cover:

  • Difference between research-based and non-research-based graduate programs.
  • Differences in the application process for research vs non-research-based programs.
  • Writing a statement of interest
  • Finding and reaching out to a supervisor
  • References – What we look for and who you should ask
  • Interview tips
  • Q&A

Who is this webinar for?

This webinar is for anyone who is interested in applying to a research-based graduate program and wants to gain some advice and insight on putting together a strong application. 

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

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
18 July 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 December 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 22 December 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 December 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 December 2022
Referee Deadline: 22 December 2022

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 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$110.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,767.18$3,104.64
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,301.54$9,313.92
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,057.05 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,366.20 (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.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 26 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 $45,274.
  • 17 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 17 students was $17,075.
  • 19 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 19 students was $7,560.
  • 25 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 25 students was $22,697.
  • 6 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 6 students was $30,556.

Study Period: Sep 2020 to Aug 2021 - 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.

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

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

 20212020201920182017
Applications117107113100106
Offers65151214
New registrations648211
Total enrolment4548515460

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 83% based on 52 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 28 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 4.33 years and the maximum time is 8.83 years with an average of 6.76 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: 7 April 2022]. 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: 19 October 2021].

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
2011 Dr. Gillies studied the role of American presidential advisers in the fiscal policy-making process of the contemporary White House. He subsequently developed a theory of presidential adviser selection and argues for presidents to strongly consider the benefits of mixed adviser sets to guard against being captured by a particular type of thinking.
2011 Dr. Seekings used an "ethics of care" approach to examine global health aid. Building from the current practices of major donors, he demonstrated how a care approach creates a more responsive and engaging method of developing aid policy that has the potential to better meet the needs of target communities.
2010 Dr. Dragojlovic investigated the way in which the United States? and the U.S. President's global image impacts their ability to persuade foreign publics to support their preferred policies. This research helps us to understand how countries and other global political actors can use soft power to achieve their policy objectives.
2010 Dr. Montanaro developed a non-electoral theory of democratic representation. Her theory provides criteria by which to judge the legitimacy of unelected actors, such as Bono and Oxfam, who claim to represent marginalized peoples. Dr. Montanaro's theory helps us to think about democratic representation beyond its electoral forms.
2010 Dr. Aiken examined the causal relationship between identity, transitional justice, and post-conflict reconciliation in the deeply divided societies of South Africa and Northern Ireland. This research promises to help inform 'best practices' for future justice interventions to be used in post-conflict peacebuilding efforts.
2010 Dr. Boothe's research asks why Canada is the only advanced welfare state that lacks nation-wide pharmaceutical insurance, despite its universal hospital and medical programs. She finds that the key is incrementalism, as approaching policy development in stages makes it less likely that a full range of services will be adopted.
2009 Dr. Fallon examined the politics of diasporas and their effect on the 'homeland' during and after armed conflict. She found that a diaspora's ability to influence is not primarily dependent on material resources but rather on ideational factors and relationships with transnational advocacy networks.
2009 Through a quantitative analysis of surveys conducted during 35 elections in seven countries, Dr. Bittne examines the nature, origins (including partisan stereotypes), and impact of voters' perceptions of party leaders. This is the most comprehensive study ever on the topic
2009 Dr. Ferguson examined why newly established democratic governments fail. He found that economic crises, gridlocked politics, excessive civilian control of militaries, ambivalent international actors and lost public faith in democracy contributed to the failures. His research illuminates the steps necessary to preserve at-risk democratic governments.
2009 Dr Koop explored linkages between the local organizations of Canada's national and provincial Liberal parties. Whereas other accounts emphasize the separation of these parties, Dr Koop found and accounted for significant overlap between them. These findings illuminate the nuanced ways that political parties adapt to federal institutions.

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

 

Apply Now

If you don't have a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) please create an account first.
 

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
18 July 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 December 2022
International Applicant Deadline
15 December 2022
 
Supervisor Search
 

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