Doctor of Philosophy in Resources, Environment and Sustainability (PhD)

Overview

The Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is a problem-focused and curiosity-driven interdisciplinary research institute and graduate program, with interest and expertise in a wide range of topics under the realm of environment and sustainability. Our mission is to foster sustainable futures through integrated research and learning about the linkages among human and natural systems, and to support decision making from local to global scales. More often than not, we achieve this through collaborations across students and faculty in a manner that recognizes our collective skills, intellectual histories and methodological approaches, and yet encourages our interdependencies as we consider real world problems.

What makes the program unique?

Over fifty percent of our core faculty are Canada Research Chairs and faculty mentoring has led to a high success rate of our students winning major fellowships and scholarships. There are multi-year funding packages offered for top applicants to the RES program. RES has over 400 alumni since the graduate program started in 1994.

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Program Enquiries

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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

Reading

24

Writing

24

Speaking

24

Listening

24

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

6.5

Listening

6.5

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

RES does not admit applicants to the PhD program unless they have completed a thesis-based master's degree prior to the RES PhD program start.

Course Requirements

There are no specific prerequisites for the RES PhD program other than you must have completed a thesis-based Masters degree from a recognized institution. As we are an interdisciplinary program, we accept applications from all disciples and backgrounds. Anyone interested in studying environmental/sustainability problems in an interdisciplinary way is encouraged to apply.

Document Requirements

The RES program requires all applicants to submit a thesis proposal with their application. Details of this can be found here: http://ires.ubc.ca/graduate-program/prospective-students/how-to-apply/

2) Meet Deadlines

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
15 September 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 09 January 2022
Transcript Deadline: 09 January 2022
Referee Deadline: 14 January 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 09 January 2022
Transcript Deadline: 09 January 2022
Referee Deadline: 14 January 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 Resources, Environment and Sustainability (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.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$108.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,732.53$3,043.77
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,197.59$9,131.31
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,052.34 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,126.20 (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

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2021 or later will be guaranteed a minimum funding package of $22,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. This guaranteed minimum doctoral funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work (TA), Research assistantships (RA), and Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA).

Additional funding opportunities for PhD applicants may come from UBC’s Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF): an $18,200 stipend plus full tuition coverage per year, for four consecutive years.

RES students have also been highly successful in receiving support from the most prestigious funding agencies. Many of our students are Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) or Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)  recipients, and in recent years we have seen our students receive both Vanier  Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship, the most highly-regarded scholarships in Canada. You can review a detailed list of the most commonly applied to scholarships on our website.

In addition to external scholarships and funding options noted above, RES typically distributes one-time entrance awards to the majority of incoming students. The amount of these awards varies year to year, however over the last three years the awards have been in the range of $3000-$5000.

It is important for applicants to the RES program to confirm the details of any funding package that may be available to them prior to accepting an offer of admission to the program.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 35 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 $29,197.
  • 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $6,786.
  • 15 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 15 students was $8,765.
  • 34 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 34 students was $16,897.
  • 8 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 8 students was $32,708.

Study Period: Sep 2019 to Aug 2020 - 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

71 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; for 8 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 62 graduates:


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 (9)
Simon Fraser University
University of Lausanne
University of Victoria
Institute of Biology, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Douglas College
University of Manitoba
Federal University of Sergipe
Quest University Canada
Naropa University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Government of Canada (2)
EPCOR Water Inc.
Aquatic Informatics
Madrone Environmental Services
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas
Compass Resource Management Ltd.
IUU Risk Intelligence
BC Hydro
Amiran Services Ltd.
Metro Vancouver
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Partner (2)
Consultant (2)
Senior Policy Analyst (2)
Principal (2)
Research Scientist (2)
Founder
Early Career Academy Researcher
Senior Fisheries Scientist
Senior Microbiologist
Author, Professor, Activist
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
Disclaimer
This program underwent a name or structural change in the study time frame, and all alumni from the previous program were included in these summaries. 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 current students, alumni and faculty lead and serve on numerous international, national, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and regional bodies dedicated to protecting the environment and improving well-being.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

Enrolment Data

 20202019201820172016
Applications606265725
Offers91414175
New registrations81110105
Total enrolment4339301910
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 22 April 2021]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots.

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.

  • Boyd, David (Sustainable Development; Environmental Law and Policy; Human Rights and Environment; Rights of Nature; Environmental justice; Plastic Pollution)
  • Chan, Kai (Natural environment sciences; Human Ecology; Ecology and Quality of the Environment; Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection; Applied Ethics; Values and Lifestyles; Sustainable Development; conservation finance; Conservation science; cultural ecosystem services; Ecosystem services; environmental assessment; environmental values; incentive programs; payments for ecosystem services; resilience; social-ecological systems; sustainability science)
  • Chang, Stephanie (All other social sciences, n.e.c.; natural disasters; risk; resilience; climate change adaptation; infrastructure systems; earthquakes; coastal hazards)
  • Dowlatabadi, Hadi (Natural environment sciences; Energy Production; Economic Planning of Energy; Climate Changes and Impacts; Public Policies; New Technology and Social Impacts; Health Policies; Transportation Systems; The systematic study of systems at the interface of humans, nature, technology and policy)
  • Giang, Amanda (Atmospheric sciences; Mechanical engineering; Natural environment sciences; Atmospheric Pollutants; Chemical Pollutants; Climate Changes and Impacts; Public Policies; Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection)
  • Harris, Leila (Critical identity, ethnic and race studies; Gender, sexuality and education; Human rights, justice, and ethical issues; Africa; Development Policies; Drinking Water; Environmental justice; equity and social justice; Ethics and Fundamental Issues of Law and Justice; Fresh Water; Gender Relationship; gender and social difference; Ghana; International development; participatory resource management; Resources Management; Social Contract and Social Justice; Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection; South Africa; Turkey and Middle East; Water; water governance; water politics)
  • Johnson, Mark (Geology; Natural environment sciences; Agriculture; Biogeochemistry; Carbon cycle; Climate Changes and Impacts; data science; Ecohydrology; Ecology and Quality of the Environment; Fresh Water; Ground Water and Water Tables; Hydrological Cycle and Reservoirs; Land and Soil; land use; Running Water Hydrosystem; Water and Sustainability)
  • Kandlikar, Milind (Climate change impacts and adaptation; Product life cycle; Environmental policy; Research, science and technology policy; Environmental impacts; Air Quality and Climate Change; Technological Risk; Technology and Development)
  • Kremen, Claire (Natural environment sciences; Zoology; agroecological farming systems; Reconciliation of agricultural land use with biodiversity conservation; sustainable landscapes)
  • Oberg, Gunilla (Natural environment sciences; Science and Knowledge; Chemical Pollutants; Risk management; Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection; environmental health; Sustainable Development; Environment and Society; Language, Knowledge, Significance and Thought Building; Urban and Rural Planning Policies; Learning and Development Approaches)
  • Ramankutty, Navin (Natural environment sciences; Public administration; Public policy; Public security policy; Agriculture; Climate Changes and Impacts; Climate impacts; Environment and Society; Global food security; Land use change; Sustainable agriculture)
  • Satterfield, Theresa (Sustainable development, environmental health, First Nation & land management, social and cultural consequences of contamination)
  • Wittman, Hannah (Sociology and related studies; Farming systems research; food sovereignty; Sustainable agriculture; socio-ecological systems; agro-ecology)
  • Zhao, Jiaying (Natural environment sciences; Psychology and cognitive sciences; Behavior Change; Cognitive Science; Environment and Society; Poverty; Psychology - Biological Aspects; Public Policy; Socio-Economic Conditions; sustainability)

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
2020 Dr. McDowell examined how people living in the Nepal Himalayas and Peruvian Andes are adapting to changes in glacial hydrology. His work makes substantive contributions to how adaptation is studied in mountain areas, as well as what we know about and can do to address adaptation needs in mountain communities at the frontlines of climate change.
2019 Dr. Kar studied how and why millions of rural poor in Asia and Africa continue to use polluting cooking fuels like firewood even after adopting clean fuels like gas. He mapped the fuel transition process and its underlying behavioural determinants. He recommends that policymakers focus on behaviour change interventions for clean fuel adopters.
2017 Dr. Brown demonstrated that Catholic monks living in the American West blend biblical motifs, religious symbols and environmental discourse into their experience of place and landscape. This research shows that religious and environmental discourses are relationally attached to and molded by experience with land.

Further Information

Resources, Environment and Sustainability fosters sustainable futures through integrated research and learning concerning the linkages among human and natural systems and supports decision making for local to global scales. RES provides a home for graduate students focusing on the integration of the biophysical (ecological), socio-economic, and political realities of resource management within the context of a sustainable, healthy environment.

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-VN2
 

Apply Now

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

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
15 September 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
09 January 2022
International Applicant Deadline
09 January 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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