Doctor of Philosophy in Zoology (PhD)

Quick Facts

Doctor of Philosophy
Life Sciences
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Program Components
Faculty of Science


Zoology encompasses over 50 principal investigators. Research interests of faculty members can be divided into several broad categories with substantial overlap of interest and collaboration among these arbitrary groups. 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.

What makes the program unique?

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

In addition Zoology is actively involved in several interdisciplinary programs of instruction and research including: Fisheries Centre, Centre for Biodiversity Research, Centre for Applied Conservation Research (CACR), Genetics Program, ICORD (International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries), Institute of Applied Mathematics, BC Cancer Research Centre and Life Sciences Institute.


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.

Meet a UBC representative

Virtual Office Hours

Date: Friday, 03 November 2017
Time: 14:00 to 15:00
Are you considering UBC for graduate school? Learn about admissions and academic requirements, application tips and more during this interactive session.

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

Application Notes

Please consult this webpage for full details on how to apply:


January 15th - Deadline to be considered for Four Year Fellowship and Zoology Graduate Fellowship.

Please note: If an applicant does not meet the minimum English language proficiency requirement, they will not be eligible to apply for a Teaching Assistant (TA) role during their first year of study. In subsequent years, students will be eligible to apply for a TA position once the English language proficiency is met.


TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement


IELTS Overall Score Requirement


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
Roadhouse Interactive
Mount Boucherie Secondary
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Postdoctoral Fellow (2)
Wildlife Research Biologist
Senior Behavioural Ecologist and Bioacoustician
Senior Scientist
Fisheries Biologist
Research Manager
Hydro-Impacts / Sturgeon Specialist
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
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.

Alumni on Success

Adam Ford

Job Title
University of Guelph

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$102.00$165.00
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,600.60$2,811.98
Tuition per year$4,801.80$8,435.94
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$923.38 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,884.10 (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. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

New registrations161191213
Total enrolment107103109109107

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 89.36% based on 47 students admitted between 2004 - 2007. Based on 35 graduations between 2013 - 2016 the minimum time to completion is 4.00 years and the maximum time is 8.99 years with an average of 6.01 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 12 July 2017]. 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 September 2017].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Friday, 3 November 2017 - 12:30pm - Room 4223, Biological Sciences Building, 6270 University Blvd

Gigi Yik Chee Lau
Adaptive Variation of Mitochondrial Function in Response to Oxygen Variability in Intertidal Sculpins (Cottidae, Actinopterygii)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017 - 2:00pm - Room 224, Biodiversity Research Centre, 2212 Main Mall

Jasmine Tomie Ono
Genetics of Adaptation in Experimental Populations of Yeast

Friday, 24 November 2017 - 9:00am - Room 4223, Biological Sciences Building, 6270 University Blvd

Ryan Brady Shartau
Vertebrate Preferential Intracellular PH Regulation During Severe Acute Hypercarbia

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 9:00am - Room 200

Dimitri Ariel Skandalis
Form and Function in Hummingbird Flight

Monday, 4 December 2017 - 9:00am - Room 203

Sean Murphy Naman
The Influence of Physical Habitat Structure on Invertebrate Drift and Pacific Salmon Production in Forest Streams

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 )
  • Adamson, Martin (Evolution, parasites)
  • Altshuler, Douglas (flight control, visual guidance, visual neuroscience, neuroethology, avian biomechanics, aerodynamics, wing morphing, motor control)
  • Angert, Amy (evolutionary ecology, population biology, biological responses to climate change, conservation biology)
  • Auld, Vanessa (development, nervous system, permeability barriers, glia , cell biology , genetics)
  • Aviles, Leticia (Evolution of sociality, evolution of sex ratios )
  • Brauner, Colin (Gas exchange, ion regulation and acid-base balance in fish, Evolution and comparative physiology)
  • Brock, Hugh (development; embryology; model organisms (fruit flies); gene regulation, leukemia, Cells, gene expressions, proteins)
  • Cheung, Wai Lung (Impacts of fishing and climate change on marine ecosystems and their goods and services)
  • Christensen, Villy (ecosystem modeling, global ocean, IPBES, Ecopath, Ecosystem modeling of aquatic ecosystems, management systems that are resilient to climate change, policy)
  • Doebeli, Michael Walter (Mathematical ecology and evolution, evolution of diversity, adaptive speciation, evolution of cooperation, game theory, experimental evolution in microorganisms)
  • Gordon, Michael (Neuroscience, Neural circuits, Sensory systems, Feeding, Taste, Gustation, Drosophila, Chemosensation)
  • Harley, Christopher (community ecology, climate change, marine invertebrates, marine algae)
  • Irwin, Darren (How new species arise, how geographical variation within species is produced, and how behaviors evolve)
  • Jankowski, Jill (Ecology)
  • Leander, Brian (Evolutionary morphology, Marine invertebrate zoology, Evolutionary protistology, Species discovery, Phylogenetic biology, Comparative organismal biology, Marine biodiversity)
  • Li, Yue-Xian (Calcium signalling in neuroendocrine cells Fertilization calcium waves in oocytes)
  • Maddison, Wayne (Arachnology, Biodiversity, Spiders, Phylogenetic Theory and Programming)
  • 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)
  • McAllister, Murdoch (Statistical methods for fisheries risk assessment, estimation, decision analysis and management strategy evaluation)
  • Mizumoto, Kota (Cell and Developmental Biology)
  • Moerman, Donald (Formation and function of muscle )
  • O'Connor, Mary (climate change, ocean, seafood, seagrass, eelgrass, invertebrate, ecology, environment, )
  • Otto, Sally (evolution, mathematical modeling, population genetics, genomic evolution, evolution of sex, yeast experimental evolution, Population genetics and evolutionary biology, yeast)


Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Lucas Morgan Brotz
    "People have been eating jellyfish for centuries; however, the magnitudes of catches are uncertain. Dr. Brotz performed the first global 'catch reconstruction' for jellyfish and found that consumption is more than double previous estimates. He also demonstrated that tools from traditional fisheries science are adaptable for application to jellyfish." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Arthur Andrew Meahan MacDonald
    "Dr. MacDonald studied the sources of variation in ecological communities, using the organisms found inside of tropical bromeliads. He found that communities of larger organisms are more easily predicted by the environment. Among these larger organisms, species were different in how well they avoided predators." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Helen Elizabeth Drost
    "Dr. Drost studied Arctic cod, a key Arctic marine food web fish that she collected in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Her research revealed a greater than expected thermal tolerance and a significant acclimation potential from 0" (May 2017)
  • Dr. Zhongqi Chen
    "Dr. Chen used rainbow trout from desert habitats as a model to study thermal adaptation. He illuminated adaptive changes in DNA, RNA and physiology that enable trout to survive and physiologically thrive in high temperature water. His research will contribute to the conservation and management of fish species in the current era of global warming." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Brett Jason Hilton
    "Dr. Hilton demonstrated that ageing plays a role in nerve cell growth following spinal cord injury. He also identified a new form of neuroplasticity underlying recovery following spinal cord injury. This assists us in designing clinical trials and developing effective treatments for paralysis." (May 2017)

Further Program Information


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 2018 Intake

Application Open Date
16 October 2016
Canadian Applicant Deadline
11 June 2017
International Applicant Deadline
14 May 2017

May 2018 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2017
Canadian Applicant Deadline
30 November 2017
International Applicant Deadline
01 November 2017

September 2018 Intake

Application Open Date
25 September 2017
Canadian Applicant Deadline
31 January 2018
International Applicant Deadline
31 January 2018

January 2019 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2018
Canadian Applicant Deadline
01 May 2018
International Applicant Deadline
01 May 2018

Program Information

Application Enquiries

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.