Graduate Program Prospective Students

Why UBC Physics & Astronomy?

  • It has a world class string theory group with varied research opportunities along with a number of other groups studying closely related fields surrounded by forest in a vibrant and beautiful city. - Charles Rabideau, Theoretical Physics
  • The technological resources provided by TRIUMF and the UBC PET Group, the expertise of my supervisors, and the opportunities offered by IsoSiM are all resources uniquely available to me in my current UBC program. I felt these resources would provide me with the best possible graduate program experience. - Andrew Robertson, Medical Physics
  • The ATLAS group at UBC is among the best in Canada. - Sébastien Rettie, Particle Physics

Admission Information

Application Deadline

Applications should be submitted through

https://www.grad.ubc.ca/prospective-students/application-admission/apply-online

before 1 December. All supporting documents (reference letters, standardized examination scores, and transcripts) must be uploaded through the application website by December 15 to be guaranteed full consideration. Applications will be available on October 15.

If you are interested in pursuing a specialization in medical physics at UBC-Vancouver, please apply for the Physics program at UBC-Vancouver.

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section before contacting the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Eligibility

The minimum requirement for admission to the M.Sc. or M.A.Sc. program is a bachelors degree in physics, astronomy, mathematics, engineering physics or electrical engineering (or an equivalent degree from an accredited university-level institution) with an average grade of at least 80% (please see more information about grades from international universities). Students with degrees in related technical fields may be eligible if they have completed graded courses in key subject matter including electricity & magnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics. Student enrolled in our M.Sc. or M.A.Sc. program may transfer to the Ph.D. program after one year if they maintain at least an 85% average in 12 credits of course work and if they have identified a faculty member who is willing to supervise them for the Ph.D. degree. See Direct Transfer Form.

The minimum academic requirement for direct admission to the Ph.D. program is an M.Sc. or M.A.Sc. in physics, astronomy or mathematics with an average grade of at least 80%. Direct admission to the PhD program additionally requires the student to secure a firm commitment of research supervision from a faculty member. PhD applicants should contact faculty members whose research is of interest to them about the possibility of supervision as soon as possible. The admissions process is competitive, thus the commitment of a supervisor does not guarantee admission to the program. Alternatively, students who already have a masters degree from outside Canada can be admitted into UBC's M.Sc. program, then transfer to the Ph.D. program once they secure the commitment of a research supervisor.

Required Application Material

  1. A completed online application. (If you are unable to utilize the online application please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator.) An application fee is required for applicants from most countries.
  2. Academic transcripts (showing all course names and grades, in English) from all post-secondary (college & university) institutions you have attended. For initial evaluation of your application, please upload a scan of each transcript. If you are selected for admission, you will be required to provide an official hard copy of each transcript (along with its English translation if necessary) in a sealed envelope endorsed by your university. Your admission cannot be officially confirmed until UBC receives the official transcripts. Please see required documents for Canadian and international  students for more information.
  3. Three references written by former professors or supervisors. We encourage the use of electronic references, submitted through the online application system. If electronic submission is not possible for some reason, paper letters of reference should be written on the referee's official letterhead, and mailed in a sealed and endorsed envelope.
  4. Official TOEFL or IELTS examination results are required for applicants from a university outside Canada for which English is not the primary language of instruction. For TOEFL, the minimum grade is 90 for the internet-based exam (with minimum component scores of 22 [reading, listening] and 21 [writing, speaking]) or 55 each for reading, listening, and writing in the paper-based test, with 4.0 on the Test of Written English (TWE).. For IELTS, a minimum overall band score of 6.5 is required with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component of the academic (NOT general) IELTS test..

Additional Application Material (if applicable)

  1. GRE scores (both general and a relevant subject test) are requested when available.
  2. Students interested in applying for the CREATE-QuEST program please visit the QuEST website for additional application requirements. The CREATE-QuEST initiative provides special opportunities for condensed matter physics students. Selected full QuEST graduate students receive stipends at a scholarship level, opportunities to work abroad or with a company during graduate study, new course offerings, and opportunities to build communication and management skills to compliment a broad-based scientific training.

All application components can be uploaded directly online. If necessary, you may send application materials to: Graduate Admissions, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, 6224 Agricultural Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada.

Program Start Date

Our program starts on September 1. Requests for other start dates (May 1 or January 1) may be granted under certain circumstances for students who have existing relationship with the Department (e.g. visiting students, or transfers from other UBC programs). Please inquire through your faculty contact if you wish to apply for these other start dates. If we decide to accept your application, the deadline for May 1 start is September 1, and for January 1 start is June 1.

Financial support

For financial support information, visit the PHAS Graduate Program Financial Support page.

Admitted MSc students typically need to secure the commitment of a research adviser before the end of their first semester. Then they are guaranteed funding for 2 years to complete their degree.

Admitted PhD students have already secured the commitment of a research advisor, as a prerequisite of admission. Then they are guaranteed funding for 4 years to complete their degree.

It is strongly recommended that you apply for any external fellowships that you are eligible for. If you secure your own funding, you will have more freedom in choosing your research adviser.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Am I eligible if I have a bachelor’s degree in some field other than physics, astronomy, etc.?
2. Am I eligible to apply for the MSc program if I have a 3-year bachelors?
3. Is the GRE required?
4. When is the application available?
5. When is the application due?
6. When will results be announced?
7. Is there any possibility of off-cycle application or admission?
8. I am just finishing (or have just finished) my bachelor’s degree. Am I eligible for the PhD program?
9. What if I applied to the PhD program, then realized that I wasn’t eligible?
10. How can I secure the commitment of a PhD adviser?
11. When should I contact potential PhD advisers?
12. I've searched for medical physics on the application site and only the program at UBC-O comes up. Is medical physics offered at the Vancouver campus?
13. What if I have additional questions?

***

1. Am I eligible if I have a bachelor’s degree in some field other than physics, astronomy, etc.?
Students with degrees in related technical fields will be considered if they have completed graded courses in key subject matter including electricity & magnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics.

2. Am I eligible to apply for the MSc program if I have a 3-year bachelors?
Yes, as long as you have completed graded courses in key subject matter including electricity & magnetism, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics.

3. Is the GRE required?
If you are applying from outside of Canada, the GREs are recommended but not required. We will consider your application with or without the GRE; however, the GREs can provide us with additional useful information about you. If you have taken the GRE general or subject tests, please include your marks in the application and ask ETS to forward the marks to UBC.

4. When is the application available?
The application will typically be available around the end of October each year.

5. When is the application due?
The application is due on December 1. Supporting documents are due by December 15.

6. When will results be announced?
The first round of admitted students will be notified around the beginning of February. We also keep a wait list, and some applicants may be admitted as late as April.

7. Is there any possibility of off-cycle application or admission?
Not for external applicants.
(Occasionally, internal transfers from the MSc to the PhD program are accepted off-cycle.)

8. I am just finishing (or have just finished) my bachelor’s degree. Am I eligible for the PhD program?
Generally, no. External applicants to the PhD program must (a) have a Master’s degree; (b) secure the commitment of a specific PhD adviser at UBC. However, if you are admitted to the MSc program, and you maintain an 85% average in your classes during your first year, and secure the commitment of a PhD adviser, you can direct-transfer to the PhD program after one year, without completing a Masters thesis.

9. What if I applied to the PhD program, then realized that I wasn’t eligible?
Do not panic. Every year we receive many mistaken PhD applications from students who are not eligible. We automatically consider them on equal footing with other MSc applications.

10. How can I secure the commitment of a PhD adviser?
It is your responsibility to contact potential advisers and reach an agreement.
This process can be challenging for international applicants, because it is difficult for a research adviser to make a 4-year funding commitment to an unknown student. If you are an international student who cannot secure the commitment of a PhD adviser, you will be considered as an MSc applicant. If you are admitted to the MSc program, it will be much easier to secure the longer-term commitment of a PhD adviser once you are on-campus, taking classes, and interning in a research group.

11. When should I contact potential PhD advisers?
Some time in the fall before you have submitted your application. If you have not yet secured a commitment by the time you submit your application, you can send friendly reminders to your potential advisers, alerting them that your complete application including recommendations is now available, and asking them to take a look.

12. I've searched for medical physics on the application site and only the program at UBC-O comes up. Is medical physics offered at the Vancouver campus?
Yes, we offer medical physics at UBC-V. Please apply for the MSc or PhD in Physics at the Vancouver campus.

13. What if I have additional questions?
Please refer to Overview of the Application Process for detailed information. For complete departmental policies and procedures, download the PHAS graduate program policies and procedures. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator (gradcoord @ phas.ubc.ca).

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