Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (PhD)

Canadian Immigration Updates

Applicants to Master’s and Doctoral degrees are not affected by the recently announced cap on study permits. Review more details

Overview

The PhD in Social Work at UBC is a research degree. Built around a small number of common courses, the program draws on the diverse range of courses available across the campus to advance the student's individualized plan of study. Part-time Doctoral Classification is available for domestic students.

What makes the program unique?

Our students come from around the world and are supervised by faculty with expertise in their particular field of study. No student is admitted without the commitment of a designated supervisor.

 

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: 93

Reading

22

Writing

21

Speaking

21

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 not required.

2) Meet Deadlines

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 August 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 10 January 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 10 January 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2025

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 Social Work (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$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

From September 2024 all full-time students in UBC-Vancouver PhD programs will be provided with a funding package of at least $24,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $24,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 12 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 $36,356.
  • 8 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 8 students was $5,177.
  • 9 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 9 students was $12,743.
  • 4 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 4 students was $15,094.
  • 12 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 12 students was $12,483.
  • 2 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 2 students was $35,000.

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 Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Outcomes

8 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 7 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
Langara College (2)
Mount Royal University
University of Northern British Columbia
Vancouver Island University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Provincial Health Services Authority
Providence Health Care
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Social Worker
Practice Leader for Social Work
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

Typically our graduates become instructors or professors in other departments or schools of social work, though a number also work in social welfare administration, the policy arena, and social development.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

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

ENROLMENT DATA

 20232022202120202019
Applications141016170
Offers77570
New Registrations53550
Total Enrolment2520191613
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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Thursday, 25 July 2024 - 9:00am - Room 203

Tsering Watermeyer
Notions, Structures & Practices of Social Helping: The Tibetan Diaspora as Kinship

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 Social Work (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.

 

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.

  • Baines, Donna (Social work; Age-Friendly Cities; decent work and good care for older people in residential and home care; impact of neoliberalism on Indigenous social work education; impact of neoliberalism on non-Indigenous social work education)
  • Bratiotis, Christiana (Social work; interventions in the context of hoarding; organizational processes involved in hoarding task forces; service utilization)
  • Caragata, Lea (Social oppression and marginalization; Counselling, welfare and community services; Social policy; welfare systems; Poverty; labour markets; lone mothers; social policy; youth provisioning)
  • Charles, Grant (Psychosocial oncology, intellectual disabilities, family interventions and at risk youth)
  • Ibrahim, Mohamed (mental health; addiction among new immigrants and refugees; global mental health)
  • Kia, Hannah (LGBTQ2S+ health; LGBTQ2S+ aging; social work and other professional practice with sexual and gender minorities; effective social work practice with trans and gender diverse people; poverty, sexual and mental health issues among diverse LGBTQ2S+ populations)
  • O'Connor, Deborah (family support to frail or mentally impaired seniors; formal support services, Dementia, the interface between living with dementia, family care, and the use of formal support services)
  • Stainton, Timothy (Developmental Disability, Disability, Social Policy, History of Developmental Disability, Philosophy of Welfare)
  • Wilson, Tina (Social work; social work and environment; history and philosophy of social work; critical social theories; generational standpoints; Social justice; social work rhetoric)
  • Yan, Miu Chung (Issues related to settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees, labour market experience of new generation youth from racial minority immigrant families, and community building roles and functions of neighbourhood-level place-based multiservice organizations )

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
2024 Parent-adolescent disputes tend to be seen through a lens of child noncompliance and parental control. Dr. Ji's studies challenge this view by examining resistance in parent-adolescent interactions at the dyadic level of analysis. He then tested a training he developed showing that social work students can be trained to see conflict complexly.
2023 Dr. Ono explored how mothers facing violence navigate child protection and family law systems. Her research uncovered how practices are ideologically-driven by the legal principle best interests of the child, causing more harm to women and children. This contributes to social work by highlighting how texts can be tools of resistance not complicity.
2022 Dr. Johnson explored the experiences of adolescents who had completed treatment for cancer. Posttreatment is an invisible phase in the cancer trajectory yet holds significant implications for youth. This research highlights posttreatment as a dynamic period of time and compels clinical attention to it within adolescents' cancer survivorship care.
2020 Dr. Khadka explored the exclusions based on race, gender, class, and linguistic and cultural competence that shape the experience of labour market negotiations among Bhutanese refugees in Canada. His research recommends inclusive labour policies to promote successful refugee resettlement.
2019 Dr. Asgarova explored the experiences of mothers who received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their baby and decided to continue their pregnancy. This research study assists us in understanding the social, informational and emotional needs of these mothers, and provides insight as to how their experience could be improved.
2019 Success in employment for people with disabilities is often hampered by the negative attitudes of others within the workplace. Dr. Breen's research has resulted in his development of a questionnaire to measure these attitudes. The results of these measurements will aid in planning and determining the success of workplace training interventions.
2018 Dr. Johnston worked with Inuit mothers in Nunavut to examine child welfare in relation to changes families experience due to mining in the territory. Her research informs standards, legislation, policies and programs to protect Inuit children and youth in ways that respect and incorporate Inuit culture and traditional knowledge.
2018 Dr. Rockwell explored older adults' experiences of moving to assisted living: a relatively new model of housing and support for older adults in BC. By comparing participants' stories with the larger values and regulations of assisted living, Dr. Rockwell identified areas for improvement, as well as promising practices to help residents settle in.
2017 What is meant when we promote the idea of development? Dr. Murray explored political meanings of "development" in one site of social struggle-a public hearing on building heights in Vancouver's Chinatown. She offers an activist method for unpacking the social, material and historical dynamics through which such clashing public truths are produced.
2015 Dr. Kendrick examined the role of relationships in sexual assault disclosures. She found that survivor relationships with peers to whom they described their assaults shaped the responses survivors received. By further understanding responses to disclosures, this research provides insight into how to improve support to sexual assault survivors.

Pages

Further Information

Specialization

Social Work provides students with backgrounds in social work, social policy, social development, opportunities for advanced scholarship, and professional growth in the context of research-intensive programs. Students are prepared for university teaching and research (theoretical and applied), including program evaluation. The program can also provide critical components for professional practice in research, policy analysis, and human service management.

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-WV

Classification

 
 

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
15 August 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 January 2025
International Applicant Deadline
01 January 2025
 
Supervisor Search
 

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