Doctor of Philosophy in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences (PhD)


The goal of the Graduate Program in Reproductive and Developmental Sciences is to provide students with a broad knowledge of mammalian reproductive and developmental biology, as well as with in depth expertise in at least one area of research, including:

  • reproductive and molecular endocrinology
  • immunology of reproduction
  • maternal adaptations to pregnancy
  • women’s mental health
  • gynecologic cancers
  • prostate cancer
  • fertilization and early embryonic development
  • placental development
  • perinatal metabolism
  • fetal/neonatal physiology and pathophysiology
  • perinatal epidemiology

Other areas of research on human health and disease as it relates to male and female reproduction are also possible, including perinatal and postnatal health topics.

Basic science, clinical or epidemiological research projects are possible.

What makes the program unique?

The RDS program is the only graduate program in Canada that is based in a Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. RDS students thus have the opportunity to interact with both basic science and clinical research faculty, which can lead to the formulation of research projects that address important clinical issues in women (e.g. ovarian cancer, preeclampsia). Moreover, the location of the program in the teaching hospitals in Vancouver facilitates the collection of human samples (e.g. placental or ovarian tissue, sperm and testes tissue) that can be used in thesis research projects.

Program Structure

The PhD program can involve coursework in addition to the manadatory seminar course, but this is not always the case. A comprehensive examination and thesis-based research which produces new research findings, as well as defense of the thesis, are required.


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: 100









IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0









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.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

Students admitted to the PhD degree program normally possess a master’s degree in biological science or related area, or its academic equivalent (MD, DVM, DDS), with clear evidence of research ability or potential.

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
07 April 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 25 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 10 July 2021
Referee Deadline: 10 July 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 04 June 2021
Transcript Deadline: 19 June 2021
Referee Deadline: 19 June 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
04 August 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 29 October 2021
Transcript Deadline: 13 November 2021
Referee Deadline: 13 November 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 08 October 2021
Transcript Deadline: 23 October 2021
Referee Deadline: 23 October 2021

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
13 October 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 25 February 2022
Transcript Deadline: 12 March 2022
Referee Deadline: 12 March 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 04 February 2022
Transcript Deadline: 19 February 2022
Referee Deadline: 19 February 2022

3) Prepare Application


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.


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 Reproductive and Developmental Sciences (PhD)
All applicants need firm commitment from a supervisor prior to applying.

RDS faculty members are listed on the "Prospective Supervisors" page of the program's website. You will be asked to upload a signed Memo of Acceptance (provided by the program) from your confirmed supervisor with the application.

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

Reproductive and molecular endocrinology, immunology of reproduction, maternal adaptations to pregnancy, women’s mental health, gynecologic cancers, prostate cancer, fertilization and early embryonic development, placental development, perinatal metabolism, fetal/neonatal physiology and pathophysiology, perinatal epidemiology.

Research Facilities

Research activities take place in the BC Women’s Hospital, the main obstetrics and gynaecology hospital in BC, and in one or both of the on-campus research institutes: the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and the Women’s Health Research Institute. In addition, research may be carried out on the UBC Point Grey campus, at Vancouver General Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital or the BC Cancer Agency. All sites possess modern, well-equipped laboratories for basic science research. There are also facilities for conducting research on human subjects, and for clinical and epidemiological research. Students whose research involves human reproductive biology may have the opportunity to work with clinical members of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. There are also opportunities to collaborate with the BC Support Unit for students whose projects involve patient engagement.

Tuition & Financial Support


FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$969.17 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,242.00 (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

Students in the RDS program have been successful in receiving the Vanier Graduate Scholarship, CIHR doctoral awards, and affiliated awards.

The minimum funding requirement for PhD students is $22,000 per annum, paid by a Graduate Research Assistantship. Students with external awards totalling less than $22,000 must be topped up to at least the minimum funding from their supervisor's grant. 

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

20 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 Education
University of British Columbia (2)
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Chungnam National University
Gachon University
University of Kentucky
University of Texas
Kyung Hee University
University of Chicago
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
BC Cancer Agency (2)
Izumi Municipal Hospital
National Cancer Centre Singapore
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow
Attending Chief Physician
Senior Research Fellow
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
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

The PhD program provides students with the expertise to take up an academic position or a research position in a clinical setting. In addition, for qualified students there is the possibility of completing a MD-PhD degree.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

Enrolment Data

New registrations52 3 
Total enrolment1817172017

Completion Rates & Times

Based on 6 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 3.66 years and the maximum time is 5.33 years with an average of 4.38 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
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: 29 October 2020].

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
2014 Dr. Benton studied biomarkers in two serious pregnancy complication: pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction. Her studies identified a protein in the mother's blood that identifies placenta dysfunction, a critical cause of these complications. New blood tests for diagnosing placental dysfunction will improve clinical care of mothers and babies.
2014 Dr. Chang showed that growth factors derived from the ovary may regulate theovarian function by cell to cell interaction. He found that these factors play significant roles in the regulation of human ovulation. These findings provide important insights into ovarian biology, and may lead to the development of new approaches for increasing fertility.
2014 Dr. Zhang conducted research into the causes of ovarian cancer. She discovered that homeobox B4, a developmental gene, suppressed invasion of human epithelial ovarian cancer cells via CD44, a cell surface adhesive molecule. This research is the first to demonstrate the role of homeobox B4 in epithelial ovarian cancer.
2014 Dr. Peng studied reproductive sciences in UBC's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He examined the importance of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone in maintaining early human pregnancy and placenta growth. His findings help us understand the mechanism of embryo implantation and may benefit women with infertility or other pregnancy-related issues.
2014 Dr. Nguyen studied newborns whose mothers had taken the anti-depression drug, Fluoxetine, during pregnancy. She found that the problems these babies experienced were due to alterations in fetal brain development, rather than the toxicity of the drug. This research provides information about the effects of depression medication taken during pregnancy.
2013 Dr. Cheng investigated how serous borderline ovarian tumors progress to invasive low-grade serous ovarian carcinomas which have significantly worse prognosis and survival. He found that loss of a cell to cell adhesion molecule, E-cadherin, plays an important role during this progression. This research helps us to better understand this rare disease.
2012 Dr. So studied novel tumor-suppressing proteins in ovarian cancer. He found that they could inhibit cancer cell invasion through maintaining intercellular adhesion, which is important information for ovarian cancer metastasis and developing therapeutics against ovarian cancer.
2011 Dr. Hong investigated the properties of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and its influence on the male sex hormone, androgen, in cells. His study has provided new information about how the SHBG function in cells may enhance and prolong the biological activities of androgen, and this may be particularly important in androgen dependent cancer.
2011 Dr. Hong established human granulosa cell lines and elucidated clearly the characteristics of human ovarian granulosa cells. Additionally, he investigated the effects of GnRH I and II in human ovarian granulosa cells. Thus, his in vitro system can be one of the usual model systems to study human follicular development.
2011 Dr Poon delineated the molecular regulation of gonadotropin-releasing hormone in ovarian cancer and verified the role of this peptide hormone in this disease. Her study provides insights into the progression of ovarian cancer and the development of new therapeutic strategies.


Further Information

Reproductive and Developmental Sciences provides students with a broad knowledge of mammalian reproductive and developmental biology, as well as with in-depth expertise in at least one area of research, including reproductive and molecular endocrinology, immunology of reproduction, fertilization and early embryonic development, perinatal metabolism, and fetal neonatal physiology.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier


January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
07 April 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
25 June 2021
International Applicant Deadline
04 June 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
04 August 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
29 October 2021
International Applicant Deadline
08 October 2021

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
13 October 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
25 February 2022
International Applicant Deadline
04 February 2022
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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