Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ page is designed to answer general questions which potential students may have. More questions and answers will be added to this section as time goes on. We also encourage you to provide feedback on what information you would find helpful. After all, the FAQ is all about you and your fellow prospective students.

Financial Questions

Living In Vancouver

Academic and Course Related Questions

Applying and Finding a Supervisor

Financial Questions

What is the funding level per year?

If you do not have external funding, you will be offered a stipend from your research supervisor’s grant. Stipend levels range from $32,000 to $35,000 per annum. Effective for 2023-2024 September intake, our minimum stipend will be $32,000 per annum with a top up to $35,000 per year for a major scholarship holder. You can increase the amount you earn by obtaining scholarship funding from external sources. The most common sources are NSERC, CIHR,and the Michael Smith Foundation.

New BIMB Student Stipend Policy, effective for grads starting September 2023.

How much are fees?

Domestic tuition fees are approximately $5408 per year plus student activity fees of about $1,359 per year. Some activity fees are optional. International tuition fees are about $9500 per year plus activity fees. Currently international grads qualify for the International Partial Tuition Scholarship a $3,200 award, which reduces their tuition fees to a rate similar to domestic students. After three years in the graduate program for domestic PhD students and two years for MSc’s, fees are reduced to a continuing fees value. International students do not qualify for this tuition fee reduction. Please see the UBC calendar for information on current fee levels. Please be reminded that the Board of Governors will approve tuition increase at 2 to 4 % per year.

How can I apply for a TA position?

Course TA positions are advertised on the careers opportunities page. We advertise TA positions in the spring for the forthcoming September and January terms. A 96 hours TA position earns about $3244, to $3,372. There are also casual markers and invigilator positions that are advertised via email through out the year.

Should I apply for an NSERC or CIHR scholarship even if I do not have a set supervisor?

So long as you meet the basic eligibility criteria (be a Canadian citizen/permanent resident and have first class standing for the last two years) you should apply to NSERC/CIHR. Please review Tri-Agency rules and eligibility criteria.

Living In Vancouver

How can I get around Vancouver?

Graduate students are eligible for a year round UBC Upass. The UPass costs $180/term and is prepaid as part of your student fees. This provides students with unlimited travel on public transport in the greater Vancouver area. This includes all buses, the sky train, Canada Line and the sea bus.

Where can I find affordable housing?

There are a variety of on campus housing available to graduate students. There are also two graduate residential colleges, which provide year round accommodation: Green College and St John’s College.

A lot of home owners in Vancouver have basement/attic suites to rent. A small suite can start at $900 per month. Landlords tend to advertise in the following three publications:

What fun activities are there to do in Vancouver?IMG_2559.a

If you can think of an activity chances are you’ll find it in Vancouver. If you’re into hiking, the mountains are only a bus ride away. The local beaches are fantastic for cycling along or for just hanging out. There’s also a thriving music and theatre scene. Check out Upcoming.Com and Georgia Straight for event listings.

Academic and Course Related Questions

Does the BIOC 530 seminar class count as 3 credits towards my graduate degree?


Tell me about the fast track program that lets student transfer into the PhD program without completing a masters degree?

To transfer you must complete at least one year in the master program with a minimum 80% average in twelve credits of graduate level courses. Students must also pass a comprehensive exam and must have an approved PhD level thesis proposal. In Biochemistry eligible students normally transfer during their second year.

Will my supervisory committee approve an MSc to PhD transition, if I choose to do so?

Most students that do want to fast track into the PhD program do so. However approval is not automatic and a student must show they are making enough progress to warrant a transfer.

What is the average completion time for a MSc and a PhD degree?

For a master degree the average time to completion is two and a half years. However many students complete their MSc within two years. For a PhD the average time to completion is five and a half years. This includes time spent in the master program before transferring to PhD.

Applying and Finding a Supervisor

Do I need to find a supervisor before submitting an application?

You can apply to the program. However, the department cannot offer formal admissions without a research supervisor offer from a lab.

What are the application deadlines?

Fall Session (September start): Both Canadian and International applicants should apply by January 15. International applicants should apply in advance of the deadline if possible, and contact the nearest Canadian consulate to enquire about visa processing deadlines.

Winter Session (January start): Canadian, US, and International applicants should apply by May 31. Please be advised that only one to two positions are normally available each year for a January start date. Our main program start time is September.

We will review applications submitted after these dates. However your chances of finding a supervisor and being invited to the interview day are higher if you adhere to deadlines listed above for September starts.

Please note that the department does not transfer applications to other programs. You will need to make another application to the other program.

Can I apply to go directly into the PhD program with an undergraduate degree?

UBC has a fast track program where MSc candidates can transfer into the PhD program after their first year without completing a masters. By starting off in the MSc program you’re giving yourself a safety net where you can gain valuable experience without having to “downgrade” from a PhD. Some students start off with every intention of doing a PhD. However life happens and students can change their mind. Alternatively some students find they’re not performing as well as they expected.

If you meet the general entrance requirements and you selected a direct PhD degree, our admission committee may still offer you a place in the MSc program.

Which supervisors are currently looking for a graduate student?

We do not publish a list of supervisors who are seeking students. However all our supervisors are happy to hear from a good potential graduate student.

How can I find a supervisor?

There’s no easy solution but you can improve your chances by taking a proactive approach. So you need to start contacting supervisors to express an interest in their lab and if possible arrange a visit. The Canadian Association of Graduate Students has published a guide to finding and choosing a supervisor which provides a lot of useful information. G+PS Potential Supervisor search: prospective supervisor.

How do I contact a potential supervisor?

Email your CV and a transcripts to professor. See UBC career resources.

How will a supervisor know about my application?

Once completed applications are approved by our admissions committee, they will circulate to potential supervisors.

How can I arrange a visit?

The admissions committee will invite top candidates to visit the department for the prospective student interview day in early March. If an individual supervisor is interested in you, then they may also invite you to visit. In the last instance you really need to take a proactive approach and start contacting supervisors.