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MSc, PhD

Biology

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Graduate Degrees

Program Components Duration
MSc Coursework and thesis 24 months
PhD Dissertation 48 months

The Biology graduate program at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC offers tier-one research-based degrees to students in a collegial, close-knit setting.

Our dynamic faculty and students are engaged in a variety of research projects, many in collaboration with partners in government, non-profit agencies or industry.

Our research-based MSc and PhD degrees in Biology provide students with theoretical, practical and analytical expertise, as well as experience in the application of scientific results to real-world problems.

The MSc degree is centered on conducting research in the biological sciences. Graduates of the MSc program are prepared for positions in government, management, industry, education, consulting or for PhD research.

Formal milestones for the program include establishing a faculty advisory committee; preparing, presenting and defending a thesis research proposal; completing thesis research and writing; and defending the work. Most MSc students complete Teaching Assistantships for at least one semester.

The MSc degree also requires 12 credits of coursework, including a common seminar course: Biology Seminar (BIOL 501, three credits); students attend seminars and learn skills required to critically evaluate underlying research.

Exceptional MSc students can transfer to the PhD program if they meet program requirements.

The PhD degree is centred on conducting original research. Graduates of the PhD program are prepared for careers requiring advanced independent research and teaching in academia, government and industry.

Formal milestones for the program include establishing a faculty advisory committee; preparing, presenting and defending of a thesis research proposal; passing an oral candidacy exam; completing thesis research and writing; and defending the work. Most PhD students complete Teaching Assistantships for at least two semesters.

At the PhD level, courses are required only at the discretion of the student's advisory committee. We require that PhD students have completed upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level courses in the following:

  • a taxonomically-based course (e.g. mammalogy, vascular plants, invertebrates);
  • physiology/cell biology;
  • genetics/molecular biology;
  • ecology/evolution systematics.

Students lacking any of these courses prior to entering the program must take the necessary courses as part of their PhD training.

PhD students are also required to demonstrate outreach or application of their results. The method and timing for fulfilling the requirement will be determined by the student in consultation with the committee no later than one year after a successful candidacy exam. Possibilities include presentation of the results to a public (non-scientific) audience; contributing information to a species assessment for the Committee on the Status of Wildlife in Canada; presenting research at a government-led workshop; developing and disseminating educational material on subjects related to the research; and presenting to school groups.

Related Programs


Research & Supervisors

Graduate students can pursue these and other faculty research and teaching interests:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Paleoecology and Climate Change
  • Physiology
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions

The success of UBC Okanagan’s Biology Graduate Program depends on exceptional students.

Please touch base with a faculty supervisor before you start the application process. We look forward to hearing about your research interests and career goals.

 
Philip Barker | philip.barker@ubc.ca | 250.807.9582
Research interests: Neurodegenerative disease, signal transduction, neurotrophin biology, cell biology, fly and mouse genetics.
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Neuroscience
Michael Deyholos | michael.deyholos@ubc.ca | 250.807.8541
Research interests: Genetics and genomics of plants, especially in relation to pectin, cell walls and fibers.
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
Daniel Durall | daniel.durall@ubc.ca | 250.807.8759
Research interests: Effects of disturbance on ecology of fruitbodies of ectomycorrhizal fungi; below-ground carbon dynamics.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Microbiology
Adam Ford | adam.ford@ubc.ca | 250.807.9773
Research interests: Wildlife ecology and conservation; mammals; temperate forests, grasslands and tropical savannas.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Conservation Biology
Sanjoy Ghosh | sanjoy.ghosh@ubc.ca | 250.807.8162
Research interests: Biochemical aspects of dietary fats and exercise in preventing the development and complications of obesity and diabetes.
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Biochemistry
Deanna Gibson | deanna.gibson@ubc.ca | 250.807.8790
Research interests: Dietary modulation of the intestinal microbiome; immune responses and susceptibility to inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
Miranda Hart | miranda.hart@ubc.ca | 250.807.9398
Research interests: Soil microbial ecology; the role and the applications of microbes in sustainable agriculture, viticulture, and ecological restoration.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Microbiology
Karen Hodges | karen.hodges@ubc.ca | 250.807.8763
Research interests: Ecology; effects of fragmentation and invasive species on population dynamics and community structure; predator-prey dynamics; extinction risks.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Conservation Biology
Melanie Jones | melanie.jones@ubc.ca | 250.807.9553
Research interests: Physiology of ectomycorrhizas and roots of woody plants; effects of fire and silviculture on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities; carbon allocation within and between woody plants.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
Andis Klegeris | andis.klegeris@ubc.ca | 250.807.9557
Research interests: Immune system and inflammatory mechanisms of the human nervous system; pharmacological strategies for treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Neuroscience
John Klironomos | john.klironomos@ubc.ca | 250.807.9254
Research interests: Community ecology; soil ecology; plant ecology; microbial ecology; determinants of plant and microbial community structure; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; microbe's use to help restore degraded landscapes.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Microbiology
Bob Lalonde | robert.lalonde@ubc.ca | 250.807.8764
Research interests: Effects of information use on population and community processes; evolutionary ecology and population ecology of parasitic insects; parasitic insects and the dynamics of parasite-dominated communities; biological control of both insect pests and introduced weeds.
  • Ecology and Evolution
Soheil Mahmoud | soheil.mahmoud@ubc.ca | 250.807.8752
Research interests: Molecular biology of natural products; genetic control of production of isoprenoids and terpenoids in medicinal and herbal plants.
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
Bruce Mathieson | bruce.mathieson@ubc.ca | 250.807.8760
Research interests: Neurobiology of vertebrate behaviour; neurochemical effects of environmental toxins.
  • Neuroscience
Susan Murch | susan.murch@ubc.ca | 250.807.9566
Research interests: Plant secondary metabolism; plant growth and development; conservation of endangered plant species; neurotransmitters, neuroregulators and neurotoxins in plants.
  • Biochemistry
  • Conservation Biology
Louise Nelson | louise.nelson@ubc.ca | 250.807.8756
Research interests: Plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria; nitrogen cycling; symbiotic nitrogen fixation; plant-microbe interactions.
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Microbiology
Lael Parrott | lael.parrott@ubc.ca | 250.807.8122
Research interests: Complex systems; social-ecological systems; natural resource management and conservation; regional-scale landscape modelling; agent and individual-based modelling; landscape science and scenario building.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Conservation Biology
Nathan Pelletier | nathan.pelletier@ubc.ca | 250.807.8245
Research interests: Sustainability measurement and management; life cycle thinking; environmental and social life cycle assessment of food, feed and biomass supply chains; resource efficiency; social license and market access; trade-based externalization of environmental and social risk.
  • Ecology and Evolution
Jason Pither | jason.pither@ubc.ca | 250.807.9629
Research interests: Community ecology; landscape ecology; using statistical and simulation modeling to evaluate local to global scale patterns of diversity, applications of geographic information systems (GIS).
  • Ecology and Evolution
Scott Reid | scott.reid@ubc.ca | 250.807.8761
Research interests: Comparative physiology; physiological adjustments in fish to changes in environmental quality; currently investigating molybdenum metabolism in kokanee and rainbow trout.
  • Physiology
Mark Rheault | mark.rheault@ubc.ca | 250.807.9630
Research interests: Cellular and molecular mechanisms of excretion and ion transport using insect epithelia as models.
  • Physiology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
Michael Russello | michael.russello@ubc.ca | 250.807.8762
Research interests: Population genomics; conservation genetics; molecular ecology; life-history evolution.
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Conservation Biology
  • Genetics, Genomics and Molecular Biology
Ian Walker | ian.walker@ubc.ca | 250.807.9559
Research interests: Limnology; paleoecology, especially using chironomids to trace Quaternary environmental change.
  • Paleoecology and Climate Change
Prof. John Klironomos
Research in soil and plant ecology
Prof. Philip Barker
Research impacting cancer and neurodegeneration

Students & Theses

Meet Our Students

See what our students are up to—check out the Biology Graduate Students page for their research interests, supervisors, alma maters and contact info.

BGSS

Officially, the Biology Graduate Student Society (BGSS) is a student union dedicated to connecting students with each other, the university and the community in order to enhance their research, learning and overall experience at UBC Okanagan.

Unofficially, the BGSS is a big group of friends who support each other throughout graduate school.

Theses and Dissertations

Search all UBC Okanagan Department of Biology student publications at cIRcle, the University's digital repository for research and teaching materials.

Nishat Tasnim, MSc Student
Researching bioinformatics and gut health
Matthew Glover, Zoologist 
UBC alumnus (MSc 2015)

Admission Requirements

Master of Science Applicants (MSc)

Applicants to the MSc programs are expected to have a BSc in Biology or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study with an A- (80%) or better average. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

Doctoral Applicants (PhD)

PhD applicants will normally have an MSc in biology or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in the MSc coursework and thesis. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience, may be granted admission on the recommendation of the Biology Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full admission and program requirements information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

Master of Science Applicants (MSc)

All applicants to the MSc programs are expected to have a BSc in Biology or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in their third- or fourth-year classes, or at least 12 credits in third- and fourth-year classes in their intended field of study with an A- (80%) or better average. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

English-language competence: For non-native speakers of English, minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 550 (paper version) and 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version).

Doctoral Applicants (PhD)

PhD applicants will normally have an MSc in biology or a related field, with a B+ (76%) average or better in the MSc coursework and thesis. Your background training must be sufficient for advanced work in your chosen field.

English-language competence: For non-native speakers of English, minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are 550 (paper version) and 90 overall with a minimum score of 22 in Reading & Listening and a minimum score of 21 in Writing & Speaking (Internet version).

In exceptional cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements stated above, but who have had significant formal training and relevant professional experience, may be granted admission on the recommendation of the Biology Graduate Program Committee and approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for full admission and program requirements information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Required Grades and Credential Guide

Grades and degree credentials required by UBC vary by country. Search the Required Grades and Credential Guide—a guide to assist international students in estimating their eligibility.

International Advisors

An international student advisor can answer questions about immigration, medical insurance and the transition to UBC's Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC. Visit the International Programs and Services website to meet the team.


Tuition & Funding

Tuition

Program Schedule Domestic (per year) International (per year)
MSc Full-time $4,707.66 $8,270.55
PhD Full-time $4,707.66 $8,270.55

Tuition is paid three times a year at the beginning of each term, and on the first day of the term, as per the Academic Calendar: Winter Term 1, Winter Term 2, and Summer Term.

Visit the UBC Okanagan Academic Calendar* for detailed tuition and fees information; the calendar is a comprehensive guide to all programs, courses, services and academic policies at the University of British Columbia.

* In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct. 

Graduate student stipends are funded through a combination of internal and external funding awards, Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA).

Although funding and stipend amounts are not guaranteed, the Department of Biology has a number of TAs and RAs available for qualified students. Talk to your potential supervisor about funding opportunities.

Students are expected whenever possible to apply for relevant scholarships and fellowships. These include principally, but are not limited to, Canadian Tri-Council scholarships, University Graduate Fellowships, and Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarships.

Stipends

The Department of Biology normally offers the following funding to eligible students:

Program Minimum Stipend Duration
MSc $17,500 per year 2 years
PhD $21,000 per year 4 years

Check the Assistantships tab for more details.

Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships (TA): Providing financial support, TAs allow graduate students to develop skills in teaching, supervision, facilitation and student assessment. TAs may lead seminars, help teach undergraduate courses, or assist in student evaluations and marking. TAs are mentored both from their supervisor and via the Centre for Teaching and Learning.

Research Assistantships (RA): As a paid research assistant, RA students assist their supervisor or other researchers in conducting high-level research, which often contributes to the student's thesis.  RAs are typically funded by the supervisor's external grants, contracts or other sources of funding.

Scholarships & Awards

UBC Awards: The College of Graduate Studies administers merit-based graduate awards at the Okanagan campus. The College manages a number of award competitions each year and administers payment of all internal awards and selected external awards.

External Awards: All prospective graduate students (Domestic and International) should explore and apply for external awards and fellowships, including awards offered by Canada’s three research councils: CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

Graduate scholarships and awards may also be available from foundations, private companies or foreign governments (check with your country’s education authority).


How to Apply

Find a Supervisor

Please contact our faculty before starting your application. Admission to the program requires the support of a faculty supervisor as well as meeting program-specific criteria for admission requirements.

A complete application package will contain:

  • Online application and application fee
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary institutions attended
  • English language test (for non-native speakers of English)
  • CV or resumé
  • Three reference forms or letters

Applying takes time. We recommend you start your application two months in advance.

For full consideration students should submit all application materials by the following:

Intake Application Deadline
Domestic applicants
September January 31
January June 2
May October 1
International applicants
September January 31
January June 2
May October 1

UBC's Okanagan Campus

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. In the Biology graduate program at UBC's Okanagan campus, you gain all the benefits of attending a globally respected university while studying in a close-knit learning community.

UBC Okanagan

UBC's Okanagan campus borders the dynamic city of Kelowna, a hub of economic development with a population of about 150,000 people—one of the fastest-growing populations in Canada. In fact, the Okanagan Valley is rated one of the best communities in Canada to grow your business.

More than 160 buses travel daily from campus to key locations such as Kelowna's cultural district and thriving downtown waterfront. The campus is two minutes from the Kelowna International Airport, one of the Top 10 busiest airports in Canada.

UBC Okanagan is situated within the First Nations territory of the Okanagan Nation, whose spirit of stewardship for the land is reflected in the university's respect for sustainability

A diverse natural region with sandy beaches, beautiful farms, vineyards and orchards, and snow-capped mountains, the Okanagan Valley features sweeping stretches of lakeside and endless mountain trails for biking and hiking.

Check out this 360-degree video: Kelowna From Above*.

* Best viewed using Chrome or Firefox (desktop), YouTube app (mobile)

Full-time UBC Okanagan graduate students can live in residence, which offers modern living with easy access to academic and personal support. Residences are surrounded by hiking and biking trails, plus panoramic views of the campus and valley.

The Student Residence website includes helpful information about Important Dates for living on campus, plus options and resources for Living Off Campus.

Kelowna Off Campus Student Housing is a public Facebook group that shares notes about housing options, finding roommates, and vacancies in Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley.*

* UBC does not verify or endorse information shared on this third-party website, which is offered here as a public resource only.

Join the club! Make friends with similar interests, compare notes, and organize and participate in academic and recreational events in the Biology Graduate Student Society (BGSS).

There are orientation events for all graduate students, but Biology grad students have their own introduction to UBC Okanagan through the BGSS. The club organizes events throughout the year such as the Welcome BBQ, field trips, outdoor adventures, bowling and other game nights.

Stay active. Take advantage of the many opportunities to get involved and play—from workout space in the new Hangar Fitness and Wellness Centre and our 1,561 square-metre gymnasium, to athletic courts, intramurals, fitness classes and nationally ranked varsity athletics. Have a ball in Sports and Recreation.

Relax. The Graduate Collegium is a gathering place where grad students can hang out, eat lunch, spend time with their fellow students, and attend or host special events. The lounge-style room is open seven days and week and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, kitchen facilities, and individual and group-work spaces.

The College of Graduate Studies is your hub for administrative support and such things as graduate workshops for professional development and for assisting you from the admissions process through to your graduation.

The Library's Centre for Scholarly Communication (CSC) supports graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff and faculty in disseminating their research. The CSC provides one-on-one consultations and workshops, including writing support for theses, dissertations, journal articles and grant proposals.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides support related to teaching, TA training and use of technology in educational programming.

Careers and Occupations

With a Biology MSc or PhD degree from UBC, graduates are well-positioned to meet the reporting requirements for membership in the governing body for Professional Biologists in British Columbia (the College of Applied Biology), and to thrive in a variety of occupations, such as:

  • Agricultural technologist
  • Agrology technician
  • Aquaculture technician
  • Bacteriology technician
  • Bioanalyst
  • Biogeographer
  • Biological laboratory technologist
  • Biostatistician
  • Biotechnologist
  • Botanical technician
  • Conversation officer
  • Environmental educator
  • Environmental impact assessor
  • Fish and wildlife officer
  • Fish hatchery technician
  • Food bacteriological technician
  • Food inspector
  • Food science technologist
  • Forensic biologist
  • Horticulturalist
  • Hydrometric technologist
  • Interpretive naturalist
  • Microbiology quality control technologist
  • Park warden
  • Pathology assistant
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Plant breeding technician
  • Pollution control technologist
  • Science policy analyst
  • Seed technologist
  • Soil conservationist
  • Toxicologist
  • Wildlife manager

Career Services

Map out your future and prepare to hit the ground running with resources and services provided by the Advising & Involvement Centre.

Tell your story with resumé and cover-letter strategies, and search Work Study jobs for experience relevant to your degree and career goals. You can also book an appointment to meet one-on-one with our career advisor.

alumni UBC

alumni UBC is a member-driven association that offers a variety of lifetime programming and communications to enrich the lives of UBC graduates.

The 'Your Next Step' program offers webinars, speaker series and professional development sessions. It is designed to provide advice, tips and resources in areas of career development to graduates for life after university.

Realize the promise of a global community with shared ambition for a better world and an exceptional UBC.

Inquire

Dr. Michael Russello
Graduate Program Coordinator
250.807.8762
michael.russello@ubc.ca

Barb Lucente
Graduate Program Assistant
250.807.8935
barb.lucente@ubc.ca

Last reviewed shim4/18/2017 9:03:14 AM