Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology (PhD)

Overview

The Department of Zoology is internationally renowned for its research in a variety of modern biological sciences including ecology, evolution, physiology, cell biology, and developmental biology. The department has many strong interdisciplinary connections between the different areas of research.

What makes the program unique?

  • Zoology has a solid computing infrastructure of computer labs, computer servers, loaner equipment, colour and poster printers, and three knowledgeable computing support staff.
  • UBC has a great library with full on-line access to almost all journals, as well as Web of Science, etc.

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Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

Program Instructions

Please consult our departmental website for detailed admission requirements and instruction on how to apply: https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/graduate-program/prospective-students

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: 97

Reading

22

Writing

22

Speaking

22

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.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Document Requirements

- Three Referees. Ideally, the referees should be faculty members who have supervised your studies and/or research directly - Curriculum Vitae - Statement of Intent intent outlining your research experience, proposed research project (or ideas), and explaining your interest in working with the particular faculty member(s) - Scanned copies of up-to-date unofficial transcripts of marks from all post-secondary institutions attended

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 September 2021
Transcript Deadline: 30 September 2021
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 September 2021
Transcript Deadline: 30 September 2021
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 March 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 March 2022
Referee Deadline: 01 April 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 March 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 March 2022
Referee Deadline: 01 April 2022

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2021
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 May 2022
Transcript Deadline: 14 May 2022
Referee Deadline: 30 June 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 01 May 2022
Transcript Deadline: 14 May 2022
Referee Deadline: 30 June 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 Zoology (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.

Research Information

Research Focus

Cell and Developmental Biology: molecular and genetic bases of development and cellular function Comparative Physiology: aspects of animal physiology from a comparative perspective, particularly those mechanisms underlying adaptive responses to environmental constraints Ecology: blends field ecology and natural history with ecological theory and conservation biology Evolution: encompasses evolutionary ecology, evolutionary genetics, conservation genetics, theory, and systematics

Program Components

Original research supervised by a faculty member constitutes the major component of work toward the PhD degree. PhD students are not required to complete course work unless it is recommended by the thesis committee or unless the student has been admitted without a Master's degree. All PhD students are required to present a research proposal and pass a comprehensive examination on their research area within 18 months of their program start date. Each PhD student is expected to deliver a one-hour lecture on their completed doctoral research in one of the departmental lecture series before their doctoral dissertation examination.

Research Facilities

The Zoology Aquatics Facility, otherwise known as the Initiative for the Study of the Environment and its Aquatic Systems (InSEAS), is an aquatic animal research facility designed to foster research, and the development of fisheries and aquaculture in western Canada. https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/research/facilities/aquatics The UBC Bioimaging Facility is a multi-user microscopy facility that is open to everyone and provides both training and service. The facility has been known as the most comprehensive biological imaging facility in Western Canada. https://www.bioimaging.ubc.ca/about/ The Zoology Computing Unit builds and maintains the computing infrastructure needed for the research, teaching and administration functions of the department. https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/research/facilities

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

The Department of Zoology has a minimum funding policy for all Graduate students. Support will be in the form of a combination of Teaching Assistantships (TA), awards/scholarship, or Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) paid from the supervisor’s research grants. The minimum level of salary support will include any tuition costs not covered by another source.

Please consult this page on our website for detailed funding information.

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 58 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 $30,609.
  • 30 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 30 students was $8,708.
  • 42 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 42 students was $13,808.
  • 57 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 57 students was $11,008.
  • 10 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 10 students was $30,667.

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

95 students graduated between 2005 and 2013: 1 graduate is seeking employment; 1 is in a non-salaried situation; for 6 we have no data (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016). For the remaining 87 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 (7)
University of Washington (4)
Stanford University (3)
McMaster University (2)
University of Calgary (2)
University of California - Riverside (2)
University of Ottawa (2)
University of California - Davis
University of Victoria
Pennsylvania State University
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2)
BC Ministry of Environment (2)
Vancouver Aquarium
Pure Integrative Pharmacy
AbCellera
Roadhouse Interactive
Hemmera
FISHBIO
Genentech
Mount Boucherie Secondary
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow (2)
Wildlife Research Biologist
Principal
Senior Behavioural Ecologist and Bioacoustician
Scientist
Senior Scientist
Fisheries Biologist
Research Manager
Teacher
Hydro-Impacts / Sturgeon Specialist
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.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology (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
Applications2330302941
Offers812151117
New registrations61111816
Total enrolment95919297107

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 89.36% based on 47 students admitted between 2007 - 2010. Based on 48 graduations between 2016 - 2019 the minimum time to completion is 3.83 years and the maximum time is 8.67 years with an average of 5.98 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
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. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 29 October 2020].

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.

  • Abraham, Ninan (Mammals, pathogens, genetic analysis, proper cell funtion, development, maintenance and proper functioning of T- and B-cells )
  • Altshuler, Doug (Zoology; flight control; visual guidance; visual neuroscience; neuroethology; avian biomechanics; aerodynamics; wing morphing; motor control)
  • Angert, Amy (Plant biology; Zoology; Biodiversity and Biocomplexity; biogeography; biological responses to climate change; Conservation Biology; Ecological and Ecophysiological Processes; evolutionary ecology; population biology)
  • Auger-Methe, Marie (Fisheries sciences; Statistics; Zoology; Animal movement; Polar ecology; Statistical Ecology)
  • Auld, Vanessa (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Cell; Cell Biology; Development; Developmental Genetics; epithelia; Genetics; glia; in vivo imaging; Molecular Genetics; nervous system; Neurogenesis and Gliogenesis; permeability barriers)
  • Aviles, Leticia (Community ecology (except invasive species ecology); Animal behaviour)
  • Brauner, Colin (Gas exchange, ion regulation and acid-base balance in fish, Evolution and comparative physiology)
  • Cheung, Wai Lung (Impacts of fishing and climate change on marine ecosystems and their goods and services)
  • Christensen, Villy (Fisheries management)
  • Doebeli, Michael Walter (Mathematical ecology and evolution, evolution of diversity, adaptive speciation, evolution of cooperation, game theory, experimental evolution in microorganisms)
  • Germain, Rachel (Ecology; evolution)
  • Gordon, Michael (Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Chemosensation; Drosophila; Feeding; Gustation; Neural circuits; Neuronal Systems; neuroscience; Sensory systems; Taste)
  • Harley, Christopher (Fisheries sciences; Zoology; climate change; community ecology; Ecology and Quality of the Environment; marine algae; marine invertebrates)
  • Irwin, Darren (Zoology; evolutionary genetics; genomic differentiation; hybridization; ornithology; seasonal migration; speciation)
  • Jankowski, Jill (Ecology)
  • Kremen, Claire (Natural environment sciences; Zoology; agroecological farming systems; Reconciliation of agricultural land use with biodiversity conservation; sustainable landscapes)
  • Leander, Brian (Plant biology; Zoology; Comparative organismal biology; Evolutionary morphology; Evolutionary protistology; Marine biodiversity; Marine invertebrate zoology; Phylogenetic biology; Species discovery)
  • Leitch, Duncan (understanding sensory system adaptations in diverse organisms; contributions of nervous system properties to natural behaviours)
  • Li, Yue-Xian (Calcium signalling in neuroendocrine cells Fertilization calcium waves in oocytes)
  • Maddison, Wayne (Arachnology, Biodiversity, Spiders, Phylogenetic Theory and Programming)
  • Mank, Judith (evolution; How selection acts on males and females within a species; How the genome responds to contradictory selection to encode sexually dimorphic traits; Sex chromosomes; Gene regulation; Sexual conflict)
  • Marshall, Katie (Animal physiology, environmental stress; Environmental Change; Marine biodiversity; Population Ecology; invertebrates and temperature adaptation)
  • Matsuuchi, Linda (Cell signaling of specific membrane receptors, combining aspects of Cell Biology, Immunology , Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
  • Matthews, Philip (respiratory adaptations of animals, primarily insects)
  • Matthews, Benjamin (Genomics; Neurosciences, biological and chemical aspects; Neurosciences, medical and physiological and health aspects; Zoology; Aedes aeygpti mosquitoes; Arboviral pathogens; Chikungunya; Comparative Physiology; Dengue fever; Genome of mosquitoes; Yellow fever; Zika)

Pages

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
2021 Dr. Matthey-Doret worked on methods to detect adaptation and showed that deleterious mutations are unlikely to produce signals that can be confounded with beneficial mutations. He also demonstrated that plasticity can evolve in a constant environment. Finally, he created a high performance and flexible software for population genetic simulations.
2021 Dr. Henriques used mathematical models to study the evolution of cooperative behaviour in nature. He explored how cooperation between organisms affected their ability to adapt to changing environments. His research showed that cooperation can be maintained by interactions between groups of organisms, and that it can promote species diversification.
2021 Dr. Mora studied how DNA is taken up from the environment by two bacteria that are characterized as Gram-negative based on the characteristics of their cellular walls. His analysis was able to predict DNA uptake and explain several factors that influence this process.
2021 Dr. Camacho showed that predation rates and the strength of mutualistic associations decrease with elevation in the New World tropics. His research teased apart possible mechanisms behind these patterns, which are likely ultimately linked between elevation and changes in temperature and productivity.
2021 Dr. Morrison examined how temperature affects the binding of oxygen by haemoglobin in warm-bodied fishes such as opah, swordfish, and common thresher shark. He found that the haemoglobin of these fish have lower sensitivity to temperature than most animals. This comparative study contributes to understanding the convergent evolution of haemoglobin.
2021 Climate change is shifting the distribution of marine fish species that cross international borders. Dr. Palacios-Abrantes's research identified the impacts of climate change-induced shifts on transboundary fish stocks distributions and their management, thereby informing international fisheries governance to prepare and respond to climate change.
2021 Dr. Nelson showed that predation by marine mammals may have a significant impact on the survival of young salmon in the Salish Sea. He then evaluated several management actions that could promote the recovery of salmon, which is critical information for various stakeholders in Canada and the United States.
2021 Dr. Contasti is a statistical ecologist who developed tools to assess biodiversity in human-modified areas. Her work identified strategies to protect mammals and enhance plant regeneration in a rainforest reserve and its surrounding mixed-farmland in Indonesia. She showed that ecosystems can be managed to support biodiversity and human livelihoods.
2021 Dr. Marchant demonstrated the respective roles of the calcium and membrane clocks in cardiac pacemaking of the zebrafish, and determined important genetic distinctions in pacemaking function between mammals and zebrafish.
2021 Tayler Clarke studied the impacts of ocean warming and deoxygenation on marine fish. Her findings particularly help understand how climate change will impact fisheries in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean.

Pages

Further Information

Specialization

The program vigorously promotes integrative research in biology and actively participates in several interdisciplinary programs, including the graduate programs in genetics, neuroscience, applied mathematics, and resource management.

Zoology offers a wide variety of research programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in the following areas: cell and developmental biology, community and population ecology, comparative physiology and biochemistry, neurobiology, and evolutionary biology.

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

VGDPHD-Y3

Classification

 

Apply Now

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

January 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 September 2021
International Applicant Deadline
01 September 2021

May 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 March 2022
International Applicant Deadline
15 March 2022

September 2022 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2021
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 May 2022
International Applicant Deadline
01 May 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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