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


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.

Quick Facts

Doctor of Philosophy
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Program Components
Faculty of Science



TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement


IELTS Overall Score Requirement


Supervisor commitment required prior to application?

Highly recommended

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.

Funding Sources

The RES program makes every effort to fund doctoral (PhD) students at least to the UBC Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF) level: an $18,200 stipend plus full tuition coverage per year, for four consecutive years. This funding package is often composed of a combination of scholarships, fellowships, Research Assistant (RA) positions and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions.

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, 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. This amount is in addition to the 4YF level of funding above.

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.

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)
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
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.

Alumni on Success

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$102.00$165.00
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,632.61$2,868.22
Tuition per year$4,897.83$8,604.66
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$923.38 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,884.10 (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. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

Due to a change in the way data were recorded in 2016 only a limited data set is available. The program was previously known as Doctor of Philosophy in Resource Management and Environmental Studies (PhD). Data for the previous program / time are shown below:
Offers 7161614
New registrations 7141312
Total enrolment5366696360

Completion Rates & Times

Doctor of Philosophy in Resource Management and Environmental Studies (PhD): This program has a graduation rate of 85% based on 41 students admitted between 2003 - 2006. Based on 31 graduations between 2012 - 2015 the minimum time to completion is 1.66 years and the maximum time is 9.00 years with an average of 5.60 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.

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 (Environmental justice, environmental rights and responsibilities, the rights of nature, the debate between regulation and economic instruments, urban environmental issues)
  • Chan, Kai (Human Ecology, Ecology and Quality of the Environment, Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection, Applied Ethics, Values and Lifestyles, Sustainable Developmentecosystem services, sustainability science, conservation science, cultural ecosystem services, environmental values, conservation finance, environmental assessment, social-ecological systems, resilience, payments for ecosystem services, incentive programs)
  • Chang, Stephanie (Community vulnerability and resilience to natural disasters)
  • Dowlatabadi, Hadi (Energy Production, Economic Planning of Energy, Climate Changes and Impacts, Public Policies, New Technology and Social Impacts, Health Policies, Transportation SystemsThe systematic study of systems at the interface of humans, nature, technology and policy)
  • Giang, Amanda (Atmospheric Pollutants, Climate Changes and Impacts, Chemical Pollutants, Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection, Public Policies)
  • Harris, Leila (Drinking Water, Fresh Water, Water, Resources Management, Development Policies, International Development, Gender Relationship, Ethics and Fundamental Issues of Law and Justice, Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection, Social Contract and Social Justicewater politics, water governance, Environmental justice, gender and social difference, equity and social justice, participatory resource management, Turkey and Middle East, Africa , Ghana, South Africa)
  • Johnson, Mark (Ecohydrology, Carbon cycle, Land use, Water and Sustainability, Biogeochemistry, Data Science)
  • Kandlikar, Milind (Climate Change, Air Pollution, Extended Producer Responsibility, Human Development, Agricultural Biotechnology, Information Technology in Developing Countries, Technology innovation, human development and global environment)
  • Oberg, Gunilla (Science and Knowledge, Language, Knowledge, Significance and Thought Building, Urban and Rural Planning Policies, Urban, Industrial and Agricultural Waste Water Treatment, Learning and Development Approaches, Sustainable Development, Environment and Society, Environmental Health, Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection, Chemical Pollutants, Risk Management)
  • Ramankutty, Navin (Environment and Society, Agriculture, Climate Changes and ImpactsGlobal food security, Sustainable agriculture, Climate impacts, Land use change)
  • Satterfield, Theresa (Sustainable development, environmental health, First Nation & land management, social and cultural consequences of contamination)
  • Wittman, Hannah (Social Movements, Environment and Society, Dynamics of Social Transformationsfood sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, socio-ecological systems, agro-ecology)
  • Zhao, Jiaying (Psychology - Biological Aspects, Environment and Society, Socio-Economic ConditionsCognitive Science, Poverty, Sustainability, Behavior Change, Public Policy)

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Jason Minton Brown
    "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." (November 2017)

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