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

Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia is one of the strongest and most broadly based life science departments in Canada, with a scope that spans from molecules to cells, whole organisms, populations, and communities. It is home to approximately forty highly funded, well-equipped research groups that are roughly equally distributed among four overlapping research clusters: evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation biology, comparative physiology, and cell, genetics and developmental biology, with many strong interdisciplinary connections among them. Our faculty are leaders in their respective fields and include Fellows of the Royal Society of London, Members of the US National Academy of Sciences, Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, Canada Research Chairs and a Canada 150 chair. Our program offers trainees opportunities to chose from a broad range of research topics, world-class mentorship, and access to state of the art research and teaching facilities. We encourage you to visit the Department website to check out the specific research interests of the professors in the Department.

What makes the program unique?

The PhD in program in Zoology provides an opportunity to learn in a vibrant, multidisciplinary research environment. Students work closely with individual faculty members who provide exceptional training and focused supervision using a mentorship model. We encourage you to visit the Department website to check out the specific research interests of our professors across our various research clusters. Each research cluster within the department holds a variety of seminars, discussion groups, workshops and other events that allow graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visitors and faculty to enjoy regular interaction. The Department of Zoology aims to foster a community in which diversity is integral and people from all backgrounds are acknowledged and respected and that provides a supportive, collegial, and inclusive environment for graduate training. All students are supported with a guaranteed financial package throughout their graduate training. The most recent information about the stipend package is available at our departmental website.

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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: 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 or electronic copies of up-to-date official transcripts of marks from all post-secondary institutions attended

2) Meet Deadlines

January 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 July 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 July 2024
Referee Deadline: 31 July 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 July 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 July 2024
Referee Deadline: 31 July 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 October 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 October 2024
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2024
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 October 2024
Transcript Deadline: 15 October 2024
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2024
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 08 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 08 January 2025
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2025
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 08 January 2025
Transcript Deadline: 08 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 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.

Clarification: no commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary but you must contact your potential supervisor(s) before applying as many faculty won't accept students who they have not previously been in contact with.

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.
  • 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.
  • The Zoology Computing Unit builds and maintains the computing infrastructure needed for the research, teaching and administration functions of the department.

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

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 support will include any tuition costs not covered by another source.

Please review our detailed funding information.

Award Deadlines:
December 1: NSERC CGSM Fellowship
Mid-January:  4 Year Fellowship or Zoology Graduate Fellowship

Average Funding
Based on the criteria outlined below, 48 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 $39,309.
  • 26 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 26 students was $10,700.
  • 41 students received Research Assistantships. Average RA funding based on 41 students was $11,623.
  • 11 students received Academic Assistantships. Average AA funding based on 11 students was $1,110.
  • 48 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 48 students was $14,772.
  • 14 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 14 students was $29,345.

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

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

 20232022202120202019
Applications3526302330
Offers131110812
New Registrations10910611
Total Enrolment8178838892

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 89% based on 77 students admitted between 2011 - 2014. Based on 39 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 3.42 years and the maximum time is 9.91 years with an average of 6.18 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
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. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. 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.

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Wednesday, 26 June 2024 - 9:30am - Room 200

Pierre Rogy
Integrating Ecological Stoichiometry and Energy Channels Theory Using Invertebrate Food Webs

Thursday, 25 July 2024 - 10:30am - 101, Michael Smith Laboratories, 2185 East Mall

Melody Salehzadeh Moghadami
Effects of Lipopolysaccharide on Local Glucocorticoid Regulation in the Mouse Nervous and Immune Systems

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 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.

Clarification: no commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary but you must contact your potential supervisor(s) before applying as many faculty won't accept students who they have not previously been in contact with.

 
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.

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Christensen, Villy (Fisheries management; Global change biology; Ecosystem function)
  • Doebeli, Michael Walter (Mathematical ecology and evolution, evolution of diversity, adaptive speciation, evolution of cooperation, game theory, experimental evolution in microorganisms)
  • Gaynor, Kaitlyn (behavioral responses of animals to human presence; effects of anthropogenic disturbance on predator-prey and other species interactions; socio-ecological dynamics of conservation and coexistence)
  • 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)
  • Hauert, Christoph (Mathematics and statistics; Modelization and Simulation; Evolution and Phylogenesis; Biological Behavior; dynamical systems; evolution; game theory; social dilemmas; stochastic processes)
  • Hinch, Scott (salmon migrations, salmon ecology, salmon fisheries, fish conservation, land use impacts (e.g. forestry) on fish and habitat, Salmon, conservation, ecology, fish ecology, fisheries management, stream, and riperian ecology)
  • 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)
  • 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 (Natural sciences; Cell Biology; Immunology)
  • Matthews, Philip (Animal physiology, respiration; Insect biology; Animal physiology, biophysics; Comparative biomechanics; Animal physiological ecology; Comparative Physiology; biomechanics; Insect physiology; Respiratory Physiology)

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
2024 Dr. Kinney investigated how rapid environmental changes influence evolution in hybrid populations. Using threespine stickleback fish, she showcased the pivotal role of ecological selection in shaping hybrid populations, improving our understanding of the fragility of reproductive isolation. This work advances our insights into hybrid evolution.
2024 Dr. Askelson studied how one species evolves into multiple species over time. He discovered that white-breasted nuthatches, which have been treated as a single species, in fact consist of three distinct species. Dr. Askelson showed that hybridization and gene flow has shaped dramatic patterns of differentiation across these birds' genomes.
2024 Dr. Liu investigated the evolutionary mechanisms underlying freshwater adaptation in ancestrally marine fish. She found that both local habitats and time since marine isolation play a role in the responses to varied salinities in prickly sculpin. Her study provides a possible explanation for how marine fish diversified and colonized fresh water.
2024 Dr. Hendi revealed a novel function of a gap junction protein that negatively regulates the formation of synapses in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This research advances our understanding of the mechanisms required for the precise formation and development of the nervous system.
2024 Dr. Blanchard investigated how early life-stages of fishes cope with temperature variation during development, spanning from the molecular to physiological levels. The findings from her thesis offer fundamental insights that help in our understanding of how developing embryos will cope with climate change.
2023 Dr. Emry examined how the distribution of marine species across environmental gradients mediates response to climate change. She found that species often respond to abiotic stress in ways that correlate with their environmental conditions, and that the indirect effects of this stress can have significant impacts on the structure of communities.
2023 Dr. Clayworth studied how glial cells in the nervous system wrap and protect neurons. She found a novel role for the dystroglycan protein, which is disrupted in muscular dystrophy, in glial wrapping of neurons. Her work improves our understanding of the mechanisms of glial protection of neurons and their potential involvement in muscular dystrophy.
2023 Dr. Davis studied the effects of temperature and resource availability on ecosystem functioning. She showed that rates of nitrogen supply usually accelerate with warming, and documented two important ecological effects of this pattern. She also identified a key limiting resource in a seagrass ecosystem recovering from decline.
2023 Dr. Nelson's work focussed on the role of the carbonic anhydrase enzyme within the unique respiratory system responsible for the success of the teleost fishes. Her work advances our understanding of the function, development, and evolution of a respiratory system present in half of all vertebrate species.
2023 Dr. Kim's research focused on mechanisms that reduce metabolic rate in small hibernating rodents. These comparative studies take us one step closer to understanding and utilizing naturally occurring biological phenomena for biomedical advancement.

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Sample Thesis Submissions

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 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 July 2024
International Applicant Deadline
15 July 2024

May 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 October 2024
International Applicant Deadline
15 October 2024

September 2025 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2024
Canadian Applicant Deadline
08 January 2025
International Applicant Deadline
08 January 2025
 
Supervisor Search
 

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