Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science (PhD)
A collaboration between the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Faculty of Forestry, the inter-faculty Soil Science Graduate Program offers opportunities for advanced study and research leading to MSc and PhD degrees. Students are registered in the Faculty of Graduate Studies through either the Faculty of Land and Food Systems or Faculty of Forestry, depending upon their research interests.
Contact the program
Meet a Representative
Professional Programs Info Session from the Faculty of Land and Food SystemsDate: Thursday, 03 February 2022
Time: 10:00 to 11:00
Critical issues like water pollution, food shortages, and rising temperatures could have a catastrophic effect on our ability to meet basic human needs in the near future. Experts in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS) are working on solutions to many of these challenges: we offer five unique professional programs that will provide you with the essential workplace skills needed to address local and global challenges in food science, nutrition, food and resource economics, and the responsible use of the earth’s finite resources.
Join this webinar to hear directly from faculty members and advisors about career pathways, professional development opportunities, and admissions criteria for the LFS professional masters and graduate certificate programs. Read more about our professional programs and sign up for this webinar below.
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: 90
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
January 2023 Intake
Application Open Date15 April 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 Soil Science (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.
Areas of study include biometeorology, forest nutrition and nutrient cycling, mycorrhizal ecology, soil biology, soil quality and fertility, soil-plant interactions, ecosystem services, land and water systems.
The program is enriched through collaboration with colleagues in other graduate programs such as Forestry, Geography, Plant Science, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainabilty, Landscape Architecture, and in agencies such as Environment Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Forest Innovation Investment, and various provincial government agencies.
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)||$1,052.34 (approx.)|
|Costs of living (yearly)||starting at $17,126.20 (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.
- 5 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 5 students was $10,711.
- 4 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 4 students was $9,853.
- 5 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 5 students was $19,293.
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.
Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats
These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Soil Science (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
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.
Black, Thomas Andrew (Biometeorology; Soil physics; Microclimate modification)
Chanway, Christopher (Soil microbiology)
Cornelis, Jean Thomas (Earth and related environmental sciences; Pedology; Biogeochemistry; Soil-Plant Interactions)
Grayston, Susan (Climate change, microbiology, soil science )
Krzic, Maja (Soil sciences; Soil quality; Soil management)
Smukler, Sean (agriculture, environment, sustainable development, ecosystem services )
|2020||Dr. Padda explored the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in supporting the regeneration of lodgepole pine trees at abandoned gravel mining pits. Her research showed that pine trees associate with these beneficial bacteria as a survival strategy to thrive on such degraded sites, offering the potential to be used as a sustainable reclamation tool.|
|2020||Dr. Puri studied plant-beneficial bacteria living inside the tissues of boreal forest trees growing on disturbed, nutrient-poor soils. His work indicated that these bacteria can enhance tree growth via nutrient acquisition, plant hormone modulation and pathogen regulation, thereby suggesting their use as biofertilizers for boreal forest trees.|
|2020||Dr. Stephens studied the climate trends, carbon, and water use of two forests in central Canada for the past two decades. This study helps to quantify the carbon uptake potential of these forests in the future under further climate change.|
|2020||Dr. Jones studied how various plastic films impact soil and crop micro-climate when they are used as soil mulch covers or on greenhouses. Using data that he collected through field experiments, he developed models to help crop producers around the world make informed decisions when they use plastic films to extend a crop's growing season.|
|2020||Dr. Modi investigated the effects of stumping and tree species composition on the soil microbial communities in the interior cedar-hemlock zone of British Columbia. She observed that stumping can have positive impacts on soil microbial communities when performed along with planting mixtures of tree species such as Douglas-fir with paper birch.|
|2020||Dr. Marin studied beneficial bacteria in cherry tree roots. These bacteria promote plant growth and can potentially be used as eco-friendly pesticides in organic agriculture. She also used genomic methodologies to study the microbial biodiversity of Okanagan cherry orchard soils, information critical to understanding cherry soil-borne diseases.|
|2018||Soils play a crucial, but often under-estimated, role in the water cycle. Dr. Roa-García analyzed the properties of common soils in the Colombian Andes, and found that nano-particle size minerals increase the ability of these soils to hold and release water. This knowledge informs management practices to optimize water for food and communities.|
|2018||How does forest management affect the carbon and water balances of mountain pine beetle-attacked lodgepole pine stands in BC? Using measurements and modifying a model, Dr. Meyer found that not harvesting stands resulted in a positive carbon balance with relatively quick recovery and plateauing productivity during the second decade following attack.|
|2017||Dr. Kearney used field trials and remote sensing to evaluate environmental impacts of agriculture in El Salvador. He demonstrated that agroforestry provides multiple benefits at the field scale and stores large amounts of carbon across landscapes. He hopes his work will contribute to programs that reward farmers for their stewardship of the land.|
|2011||Dr. Anand showed that beneficial soil bacteria can enter, multiply and function inside the tissues of coniferous trees, promote their growth and provide fixed Nitrogen to these trees. She suggests the use of these bacteria as an environment friendly, sustainable growth promoting treatment for the propagation of coniferous trees.|
Sample Thesis Submissions
Soil Science covers areas of soil microbial ecology, organic matter, soil physics, irrigation and drainage, biometeorology, soil pollution, soil and water conservation, soil management, and land use, with application to forest, agricultural, urban, and range soils.