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 this webpage for full details on how to apply: https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/graduate-program/prospective-students

Award Deadlines:
December 1: NSERC CGSM Fellowship
Mid-January:  4 Year Fellowship or Zoology Graduate Fellowship
More awards information here: https://www.zoology.ubc.ca/graduate-program/current-students/awards-fellowships

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

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 October 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 October 2022
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2022
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 October 2022
Transcript Deadline: 15 October 2022
Referee Deadline: 31 October 2022

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2022
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 31 January 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2023
Referee Deadline: 31 January 2023

January 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2023
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 July 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 July 2023
Referee Deadline: 31 July 2023
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 July 2023
Transcript Deadline: 15 July 2023
Referee Deadline: 31 July 2023

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.

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. 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$112.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,767.18$3,104.64
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,301.54$9,313.92
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,057.05 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $17,366.20 (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, 46 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 $35,594.
  • 25 students received Teaching Assistantships. Average TA funding based on 25 students was $9,444.
  • 40 students received Research/Academic Assistantships. Average RA/AA funding based on 40 students was $11,887.
  • 45 students received internal awards. Average internal award funding based on 45 students was $13,143.
  • 12 students received external awards. Average external award funding based on 12 students was $27,861.

Study Period: Sep 2020 to Aug 2021 - 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

 20212020201920182017
Applications2823303029
Offers118121511
New registrations10611118
Total enrolment8695919297

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 85% based on 47 students admitted between 2008 - 2011. Based on 36 graduations between 2017 - 2020 the minimum time to completion is 4.33 years and the maximum time is 7.83 years with an average of 5.87 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: 7 April 2022]. 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: 19 October 2021].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Wednesday, 28 September 2022 - 12:30pm - 4223, Biological Sciences Building, 6270 University Blvd

Naomi Kathryn Pleizier
Towards a Comprehensive Understanding of Gas Bubble Trauma in Fish

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
2011 Dr. Charish showed that Drosophila septate junctions and Gliotactin are necessary for epithelial cell division. This work demonstrates a new and unconventional role for junctional proteins
2011 Dr. Markel investigated how variable ocean climate, marine protected areas, and the loss of top predators such as sea otters affect rockfish population dynamics on the west coast of Vancouver Island. His findings contribute broadly towards understanding how marine species and ecosystems respond to climate change and overfishing.
2011 Dr. Hall examined the relationship between harbour porpoise behaviour, and oceanographic and celestial events. She found the foraging strategies used by porpoise are specialized and are related to season, tidal direction, and lunar phase. She also discovered two sites where porpoises breed, the first to be identified in British Columbia.
2011 Dr. Eliason Parsons discovered that Fraser River sockeye salmon populations are adapted to cope with their specific upriver migration conditions. This research suggests that some sockeye salmon populations may be more susceptible to climate change, raising conservation concerns.
2011 Dr. Blachford showed that sexual reproduction gains an evolutionary advantage by dampening the good and bad luck had by individuals. He also explained why small mammals diminish their lifetime reproduction during and after a population crash, and how this strategy can be cued from activity of neighbours rather than from the actual mortality agents.
2011 Dr. Vergara examined the function and development of the vocalizations of beluga whales. She identified signals that are important for maintaining contact between mothers and their calves, and evaluated the role of vocal learning in repertoire acquisition. Her study helped identify continuity in vocal communication processes across species.
2011 Dr. Baker examined the physiology of white sturgeon, a primitive fish with ancient origins. Using whole animal, in vivo and in situ approaches, he found that sturgeon exhibit a novel pattern of pH regulation that may be common in primitive fishes and has implications for tolerance to carbon dioxide and vertebrate evolution.
2011 Dr Cohen studied the nuclear entry of a poorly characterized group of viruses called parvoviruses. Many viruses must enter the nucleus of the host cell in order to replicate. Dr Cohen discovered that parvoviruses use a unique mechanism involving disruption of the nuclear membranes. Her work may lead to the development of novel antiviral therapies.
2010 Dr. Barrett investigated the genetics of adaptation to new environments using a combination of field experiments with threespine stickleback fish and theoretical models of population genetics. He demonstrated that ecological mechanisms play an important role in the origin and maintenance of biological diversity in new environments.
2010 Dr. Rummer discovered a novel mechanism in which oxygen delivery to muscle can be greatly increased in fish, well beyond that of other vertebrates. Muscle oxygenation may represent the first step in the most successful adaptive radiation event among vertebrates, that of the fishes.

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.
 

May 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 May 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 October 2022
International Applicant Deadline
15 October 2022

September 2023 Intake

Application Open Date
01 September 2022
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2023

January 2024 Intake

Application Open Date
01 January 2023
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 July 2023
International Applicant Deadline
15 July 2023
 
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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