Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work (PhD)
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.
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
IELTS: International English Language Testing System
Overall score requirement: 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.
2) Meet Deadlines
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 Social Work (PhD)
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
|Fees||Canadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / Diplomat||International|
|Installments per year||3||3|
|Tuition per installment||$1,732.53||$3,043.77|
|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)|
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.
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 provided with a funding package of at least $22,000 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 $22,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.
- 4 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 4 students was $6,244.
- 4 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 4 students was $7,155.
- 5 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 5 students was $29,722.
- 1 student received an external award valued at $11,667.
Teaching Assistantships exclude lectureships; Internal Awards = awards funded from UBC budget; External Awards = government and other funding paid through UBC. Other funding (employment income, work learn, co-op, government sponsorship, independent research agencies, etc.) are not included. Please note that these historical values cannot speak to anticipated changes in future years.
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.
Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals
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.
Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.
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 EducationLangara College (2)
Mount Royal University
University of Northern British Columbia
Vancouver Island University
Sample Employers Outside Higher EducationProvincial Health Services Authority
Providence Health Care
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher EducationSocial Worker
Practice Leader for Social Work
PhD Career Outcome SurveyYou may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on outcomes.grad.ubc.ca.
DisclaimerThese 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.
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.
Completion Rates & Times
|2013||Dr. Nelson examined the ways in which social workers help urban Aboriginal children in foster care maintain connections to their culture, family, and community. This research illuminated the complexity of balancing permanency needs with cultural rights and the ongoing importance of family and culture for Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.|
|2012||Dr. Peters conducted research with social workers which concluded that the use of structural social work theory in practice progresses through a series of six developmental and interactive stages. The framework that she developed has the potential to influence the way this theory is taught and to support social workers in the effective development of their practice.|
|2012||Dr. Chan explored dementia caring in Chinese families and showed how family members draw on different cultures in complex, fluid, and non-thinking ways. The complex co-constitution of culture, emotion, and practice in non-thinking ways suggests alternative modes of knowing and being, such as emotional rationality.|
|2012||Dr. Stern explored intercultural dynamics as they impacted the care of people with dementia in a long-term care facility. Her findings help to begin the acknowledgment and development of more culturally competent and person-centred dementia care in elder care settings as a priority for an increasingly ethnoculturally diverse aging demographic.|
|2011||Dr. Bosma explored the experiences of health care for culturally diverse persons living with a life-limiting illness. He found that individuals combine mainstream and minority cultural practices to meet their various needs. Dr. Bosma's work offers valuable direction to health care professionals for the provision of culturally appropriate end-of-life care.|
|2010||Dr. Douglas examined the health and safety of children who live in marijuana grow operations. Her findings showed no significant difference in the health of these children as compared to others in the population, thereby challenging prevailing assumptions and related practices. Her work will inform child welfare practice in these unique and complex circumstances.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
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.